No frills style tips for your everyday clothes
Easy ways to feel fresh, according to me
One thing I’ve been thinking about as it relates to style is that every time the trends have gone through enough of a transition to make you want to change some part of your style, it can feel somewhat destabilizing. There is a sort of dissolution of the self-as-you-know-her implicit in the process of changing your style and that can feel like an earthquake.
For many of us, how we dress is how we convey what we’re feeling. It’s a reflection of innerworld and these days, there is much more than the usual seasonal change provoking that sense of destabilization. We’re wrapped in a news cycle (or more accurately, social feed) that makes it feel like every time we scroll, our world purviews are challenged at best or collapsing at worst, and while I can’t speak for you, I still feel for me the desire to convey a point of view through clothes. It’s such a natural and inextricable component of my dressing process. One that has often afforded me a sense of anchoring when other things won’t.
But even though I feel ready for change, I don’t have the space for an overhaul just yet — the familiar is a comfort I’m willing to lounge in right now, and lately I find myself thinking of ways that I can look and feel good without changing too much about what I’m wearing. So far the best I’ve come up with mostly focuses on contrasts in details to create new dynamics, like this:
Consider your shoes and belt
The best place to focus attention here is within the realm of your everyday clothes. I have been thinking about how to make myself wearing my jeans feel less like a dated parody of last year and more fresh, even present. So far it seems like the key trick has been in the inclusion of supple shoes.
Something about the combination of a sleek, “cool girl” belt with unstructured shoes creates this dynamic that is overwhelming enough to keep whatever t-shirt or sweater and pair of jeans you trust most in the background of your overall look.
The other way this has played out that I’ve liked is with jackets — I love jackets. And with the exception of the suede fringe jacket (dw, you’ll see it later) or maybe an anorak, most jackets paired with refined or structured shoes create an outfit dynamic that reads too one-note. Sneakers are an obvious break-it-up style choice, but even that is a trick worth challenging with a more unlikely casual shoe. Here’s an example within a very basic work look:
And then one more way I just thought of that you can interpret this call to action is to consider the belt as a frivolous accessory. So, one you don’t necessarily need but which makes you feel a little more put together or dressed or just better. Instead of a belt, it could be gloves, it could be a hat (tiara…), whatever. The main point is that you keep the look’s bread and butter (top and bottom) very straightforward.
Laid-back pants, uptight sweater
I’m starting to find more pants that make sense for my every day outside the realm of jeans and have concluded that for them to actually replace jeans (that is, serve the same purpose and look good with the same clothes you’d wear with jeans), they’ve got to be made of a utilitarian fabric and look best when there’s some fade in their wash — like these twill pants from Alex Mill, these from Citizens of Humanity, or these from Nili Lotan.
Lately, I have been styling my Matteau fisherman’s (here in black) with preppy/fancy put-together upper halves, like a jacket or cable-knit sweater, or both.
The combination creates a dynamic that I call a “compatible conflict.” The result shouldn’t make sense but somehow, it does.
Casual jacket, structured/fancy shoes
I have more thoughts on pants for us — I’ve been drawn to sleek but slouchy flare legs lately. We’ll get to it in a later send.
The next no-frills update returns to the jacket I mentioned earlier and features a combination of casual quilted barn-style coats with structured, feminine shoes.
The rest of this look is a wild card — I had a moment of maximalist reflex, but pay attention to the padded jacket with its soft shoulders and comfortable collar (specifically not flap) and how it interacts with the rigid ballet slippers.
I do love the combination of red and gold and the contrasting fabrics, but a more subtle take on the same look could read like this:
I guess it’s also worth noting that structured shoes don’t have to mean flats. They could be kitten heels like the below.
Or loafers/brogues like these.
The red style of jacket from the first couple looks (same vibe as this, this, or this) is more versatile than say, a blazer or a cropped car coat in leather or wool because it does enough to add contrast to trousers, denim, and varying kinds of skirts.
Sweater as belt
Next up is the easiest and possibly my favorite tip because it’s so simple but I swear it works.
All you have to do, I kid you not, is wear a sweater over your most trusted button down and best-fitting trousers, styled as if it were a waist belt.
You tie your sleeves off a bit to the side, make sure it is hiked up high enough to maximize the peplum effect against your shirt and you’re set. (I’m wearing streamlined, slouchy flare legs too, which might be the pant shape of the season — I’ll expand in an upcoming send.)
My style notes on the sweater pre-testimonial are: if you’re looking for a pick me up amid a sea of neutrals, wear a sweater that’s bright or printed and below, btw, is a testimonial for the green pants in the collage.
Pop of color
The next tip is on color. As I see it, there are 3-4 big ticket statement colors that will be infiltrating our wardrobes over the coming season and on. Each color styles especially well (to the extent that it’s less expected and yields maximum impact) with a particular set of neutrals, and gives those neutrals a massive pep that recontextualizes their role in our wardrobes. More simply: you use the neutrals as the shock factor instead of the color.
The example I have for you today includes this silk bag from my collaboration with Soeur that launched last summer:
I’m crazy about how this slimy shade of pistachio green looks against a khaki, ivory and/or white palette.
More on colors in an upcoming send but before I send you off for the day, consider this next one a reminder more than anything else:
Sheer tights and sandals are still the easiest way to make your most reliable, no-need-to-think-about-it outfits (jeans and a shirt worn plainly as can be!) look like they’re out of a cool brand’s new lookbook.
I just hope your feet have an easier time settling into their stockings.
That’s it from me this week. I’m signing off yours,