Ever seen someone in a pair of jeans and white tee who looks so fashionable? Yet you feel frumpy in your khakis and cardigan. Some people just know how to pick up a trend. We think they are those who “have it” and those who don’t, so we don’t even try anymore. I mean, it’s a pair of jeans and an undershirt. Obviously, we don’t get it.
There are ways to make any outfit fashion forward without investing in fleeting trends.
Somewhere along the line, we heard that gold and silver don’t match. The same goes for bronze, rose gold, antique gold, and other types of metals. When pieces of jewelry incorporate more than one type of metal, it doesn’t even match itself! It’s as if the fashion industry is taunting us.
Au contraire! What the fashion industry knows that we do not is the wonder of mixing metallics. Mix gold, silver, and bronze with abandon! As long as it appears intentional and purposeful, it’s quite fashionable.
Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize
Last week, I was feeling under the weather. I want to wear my dark trouser jeans in the classroom somehow. I decided to pair the jeans with a dark grey cami, long necklace, blazer, and animal print shoes. You would be amazed the sheer number of compliments I received. Take off the accessories, I looked like I was cleaning the house.
It’s amazing how a wide belt or a hat dresses up an outfit. Part of the appeal of the outfit in the previous paragraph was the shoes. Statement jewelry and accessories with detailing such as buckles and bows, add interest to an outfit. Even if the outfit is plain or nothing special, the accessories take it another level. It’s the difference between lounging-around-the-house-binge-watching-Netflix attire and business casual chic.
How much is too much? I’m not really sure. I’ve heard guidelines like take one piece off or wear statement earrings but no necklace. Then I watched Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, and she’s all blinged out with statement jewelry. She looked fabulous! I think accessorizing requires practice. It takes skill to pair certain items. Experimentation is key.
Anyone can wear full length pants or capris. How about swapping those styles out with an ankle pant? Exchange the traditional blazer for a cropped or 3/4 length sleeve jacket. Look for pieces with asymmetrical cuts.
I must add a word of caution with suggestion. Not all cuts work for all people. Peplum tops are a good example. Peplum is great for women who want to balance out a heavier top. It creates a nice hourglass silhouette. If you are heavier in the hip area, too much flare gives the illusion of girth. I avoid peplums at all cost for this reason.
Nothing is more fashion forward than a new cut to an otherwise traditional black suit. Find ways to introduce flattering cuts to your outfits.
Neutrals are a great backdrop for any outfit. Most people are familiar with taupes, black, white, navy, and greys. A new wave of neutrals are making their way into people’s wardrobes. Most darker blues, metallics, and deep purples are in this category. Nail polishes have introduced several new neutral colors — red, light pinks, dark purples, metallic navy. You use the new neutrals as you would any other neutral color or mix it in with traditional neutrals.
One word of advice — never dress exclusively in neutrals. A little pop of color here and there is nice. With the exception of black, which is timeless and chic, sticking to one color can be drab and unflattering, especially greys and browns.
While we’re talking about pops of color, mixing colors is a nice way to update an outfit. One of my greatest frustrations in fashion is sticking to two colors exclusively in an outfit and matching everything. If you ever frequent Pinterest or Polyvore, you know what I mean. The teal top is nice. The matching teal shoes, bag, necklace, and earrings are a bit much, even with neutral pants. Teal is hard to match exactly, but many chain stores will cater to this obsession by mass producing accessories in the exact color to match most of the clothing on the rack. Remember last season’s color? Everything was coral. Coral is nice on some people. Too much coral is visually overwhelming.
It’s understandable. The human brain likes symmetry and sameness. Our mothers taught us that it is socially acceptable to match our clothing. That’s what civilized people do. We don’t want to disobey mother or society.
To add an element of forwardness to your wardrobe, mix colors. Your outfit will still match, I promise. I won’t let you out the door looking a mess.
Remember the color wheel and the primary colors? Red and yellow make orange. Blue and red make purple. Blue and yellow make green. What matches with orange? Red and yellow of course. I love green and blue together.
What hues of red and yellow match orange? All of them. And it is perfectly proper to match different shades of the same color. Colors match themselves obviously. Neutrals match other neutrals.
So choose two different colors and add neutrals for an overall fashion forward and polished look.
Mixing patterns take skill. I don’t necessarily have this skill. I try to do it, but I’m still in the baby steps phase.
Here are my suggestions. Choose a semi-non-pattern, like an abstract mixing of two colors. Pair with a small pattern like tiny polka dots. I generally keep the two patterns a safe distance from one another. Another way to mix patterns is by introducing patterned tights with a patterned top. It’s not a glaring difference.
Fashion designers mix patterns all the time. It is possible to go overboard. It’s also possible to get it altogether wrong. Experimentation is always a good idea. So is texting a picture of the outfit to an artistic friend for approval.
We are creating looks, not just outfits. Makeup can add extra dimension to an outfit. Opt for bold lipsticks, trendy nail polishes, daytime smoky eyes, and seasonal makeup trends. YouTube and Pinterest have plenty of tutorials. My favorite YouTubers are JaaackJack (Jackie Perdue — a spunky boho woman with a ton of creativity), Lisa Eldridge (makeup artist to professional models and celebrities), and Shirley B. Eniang (a British woman with a fabulous fashion sense). There are many others too.
Many makeup retailers like Mary Kay, MAC, and Ulta offer free makeovers with their products. If you are unsure about a look or need some advice, visit a professional makeup artist at your local mall.
This step is last for a reason. It’s the most obvious. I tend to eschew trendy colors unless it looks fabulous with my skin tone. I’m never trendy for trendiness sake. If I do purchase a season’s color, I usually do so in the form of a cami or jewelry. When the season is over, I can still wear the color but as an accent and not as a primary color. Some colors die hard like neons. There is no way to resurrect offbeat colors after the season has ended. And as frugal fashionistas, we know this is a waste of money.
Of course, you can mix and match these steps. Don’t incorporate them all into the same outfit. Choose three or four ideas and play dress up.