When I was but a young whippersnapper whirling about Manhattan with a hunger to be noticed, I dressed in outlandish bowtie and fur coat combinations that propelled me out of college and into the center (or looking back, more aptly the peripheries) of the fashion world. Nowadays, these eye-catching ensembles, seen on every aspiring style blogger and student, are hardly the nouvelle vague and I have since abandoned the overtly eccentric in favor of a more subtle sophistication that suits my new identity as a fashion designer and business owner.
A unique sense of style has played a central role in the trajectory of my life and my continued manner of dress shapes the reality of my world. I never receive anything but smiles as I stroll through airport security in brocade pants, delightful grins if I turn up in a silk dupioni suit and the dry cleaner never forgets my name.
If you dress only in plain, unremarkable clothing, the world will not bother to look twice at you. Maybe this is something you desire –usually that which we project is what we expect or subconsciously want to receive – but if you wish to change your life, you’ve got to change your clothes.
I know two people – one an aspiring artist and the other an aspiring writer. Each has an individually terrible sense of style, which I am certain is holding them back. The aspiring artist has a bit more creative leeway as artists are generally expected to be eccentric, but the writer has a penchant for dressing like she fell out of a dumpster near Echo Park in 1995. Upon first visual examination, one surmises that these are people that cannot be taken seriously, since they do not take themselves seriously. Whether you are trying to sell a piece of art for $1,000 or a screenplay for $100,000, you have to first convince someone that you are worthwhile of their time. Show up looking like a bedraggled fopdoodle and you’ve probably already lost the sale.
While a sense of style cannot be taught, one can learn the basic principles to building a solid wardrobe that can take you from mailroom assistant to millionaire in training.
If you are the typical Western consumer, your closet is already overflowing with things you have only worn once or twice, are no longer trendy, and that don’t even fit anymore. Go through and get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past six months.
What have you left? What are the things you find yourself wearing the most frequently? What is missing?
Invest in basics that never go out of style, can be mixed with a variety of other pieces, and will not fall apart at the end of the season. Every woman should own a black dress, black pencil skirt, fur coat, black pumps, and a discrete designer purse. If you have limited funds, buy only clothes in one color, which maximizes the number of clothing combinations you can make. Most likely this color will be black, but if you can pull off royal purple, then you should absolutely.
Stop Buying Into Trends
It is just a way to waste money on things that don’t suit you and make you look like everyone else. This is precisely why people usually look terrible in pictures of themselves from a decade or more ago. Cultivate your own way of dressing, regardless of what colors are in or out this season. The same goes for hairstyles and makeup.
Never Skimp on Accessories
While a white cotton dress can look fantastic whether it was $40 or $400, the same cannot be said for sunglasses, handbags, and shoes. Here quality shows and there is no getting around the fact that cheap accessories look cheap. If you don’t have a rich aunt or grandmother to pass down a collection of Hermès and Chanel…
Think of the designer resale store as the stockpile of family heirlooms and you will feel less strange about something that has been pre-worn. Considering a second-hand designer dress can be bought for nearly the same price as a new one from Zara, why forgo the quality? The designer piece will likely be made of better fabric, stitched and finished more nicely so that it holds up longer.
A last note – at a certain age, one should stop wearing leggings. For me personally, that age was 20.