Style & Wardrobe Help: How I come up an outfit – Part Three
I am reviewing my style inspiration, sources, ideas and today, focusing on personas in my current style repertoire.
Method 1: Style Questions
For instance, if I were to build an outfit right now, I’d touch on all of these questions:
- Where am I going today?
- What am I doing today?
- Will I need to wear something special?
- What piece do I want to start with?
- What colour story do I want?
- Do I want textures and layers with this look?
- Does it feel comfortable in it?
- What jewellery would (if any) go with this?
- What footwear?
- What bag?
If I am going to an outdoor market versus a lunch date with a friend, I would dress slightly differently because the first look would likely require more walking and carrying items, which means flats, and the second look with a friend, I could do a heel of some sort.
If the weather is inclement, maybe I need to bring an umbrella, wear a raincoat and rain boots – will that all feel comfortable with my outfit underneath? Will I get too warm? Can I remove layers?
Method 2: Anchoring Pieces
Sometimes I pick a piece I want to wear, and then build an outfit around it.
In this, I wanted to wear my turtleneck with this tuxedo longline blazer. From there, I just added some ripped jeans and a statement necklace to stand out, and I was done. It’s pretty simple once you have a starting idea of what you want to really wear that day, and then build around it either with colour, texture, or shape.
Then I wanted to wear that tuxedo blazer again, so I thought about it over a dress to make it into a psuedo-dress!
Method 3: A Mood
Remember my style personas from Part Two?
- Dark Biker – An offshoot of my goth tendencies as a teenager
- Assassin – My workwear look, sleek and sharp for the most part like with sheath dresses
- French Country – Parisenne chic with a laidback country feel
- Garçonne – A sleek, tailored version of “Rock & Roll style” with hints of menswear
- The Priestess – Think: Floating on a cloud with lots of patchouli and accessories
- La Femme – Very feminine, girly pieces with lots of skirts, dresses and a retro vibe
Sometimes I start with one of those – how do I want to feel today? Like I am out picking zucchini at the farmer’s market in Lyons?
I know it sounds dumb, but when you can come up with the vibe or mood that you want for your day, it makes picking pieces a lot easier to go with that narrative of what you are aiming for that day.
Embrace Trial and Error
I sometimes come up with what I think is the perfect outfit… IN MY HEAD. Then I try it on and realize the shirt is too long, or the pants are too loose, and on the fly I will change it out for something else I had in mind, but sometimes, I wear these mistakes.
I wear these mistake outfits I did not feel 100% in because I was running out of time, I didn’t have any other ideas / thoughts on what to wear or do for a look, and that’s that.
I usually feel terrible or not quite at ease the entire day, and I try to pinpoint why. Is it the shirt? Is it that the colours clash? Do I not like the silk underneath the wool? Over the wool? I interrogate my style/outfit with nitpicking details so that the next time I reach for something or try and build an outfit, I don’t make the same mistake.
From all of these thousands of errors I have made, I have built up a structure in my head of what I know I feel comfortable in and like, and what I do not. That’s something only you can do for yourself, or failing that, stick to a uniform.
Sticking to a uniform + twist
By this, I mean you just have 10 great blazers, 10 great tops, 10 great pairs of skinny pants/jeans, and you mix and match just these 3 elements over and over again in. various looks.
10 x 10 x 10 = 300 possible combinations, technically speaking. Of course, not all of them will work, maybe a red blazer won’t go with that particular shade of blue you had as pants, or whatever, but you can at least just find what uniforms you love the most, and wear them.. over and over again. Just change up the accessories, footwear and jewellery, and you’re good to go.
Example: Blazer + Top + Jeans
Same uniform basically, but I changed the footwear, made the jeans not ripped any more, and added a top instead:
You can start with your favourite base outfit and then…
- instead of brown heels today, wear red ones
- go bold and try a red blazer instead of black
- stay in the same colour family with complementary colours (yellow on top of pale pinks) or monochromatic (all whites/neutrals)
- add an unexpected twist – instead of a plain top, take a printed one in the colour family
- check the sizes – you don’t want anything too big or too small and off balance
- throw on a patterned or printed scarf or belt.
- unbutton the bottom button and then tuck in just one half
- layer two shirts underneath one another – long button-up underneath short sleeves
- layer three shirts underneath each other
- layer jackets – a thinner sweater/jacket underneath a thicker oversized one
- button the shirts with the second button in the third buttonhole to give an asymmetrical twist to the look, and then tuck it in or tie the bottom
- wear the shirt backwards
- drape a sweater over a sweater like a scarf
- cuff the sleeves in different ways
- knot tie the front of your shirt
- tuck in the front of your shirt – a simple French Tuck
…check out my styling tip videos here and here is one on how to do two different front looks:
Finally.. use style books
My favourite book to ‘find your style’, is this one: The Curated Closet and this Curated Closet Workbook is very helpful as a starting point.
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