Unless you’re totally cut off from all social media or are uninterested in anything fashion-related, one cannot have missed all the Fashion Week frenzy going on in the world right now. The world being New York last, London this week, and soon to be Paris and Milan.
Clothes, shoes and all things sartorial – from gingham and florals to the latest It Bag and flats, it’s flooding social media.
Girls, boys, young women and adults are tuning in (and tuning out, granted) to Instagram, Twitter and all the latest technology that streams the catwalks directly into one’s lives at the touch of a button.
I have to ask myself then, why does this love of style not translate into everyday life?
This post is about overdressing. I’d prefer to call it dressing well, but when I look around and see the majority of folks kicking around in leisure wear, dirty shoes and generally looking unkempt, I realise I may be in the minority.
It’s not about money, it’s not about buying designer togs. It’s about finding a style that one likes, trying it in baby steps – or full-blown Sod it, let’s do this – and then going with it.
How one dresses reflects so much – it’s a way of saying who one is without the need for words. Perfect for the passive-aggressive Dorothy Parkers in the world (moi).
Angry? Wear black. Such a cliche but it works. Happy? Wear red. Understated elegance? Grey – all fifty shades of it.
It’s about originality. Okay, maybe not Isabella Blow levels of it, but surely everyone has found a page in a magazine that’s made us stop and say “Wow, I love that look.”. Why not try it out? Sure the mag spread comprises Bottega Veneta or some other out of our price range designer, but it’s about experimenting with what one has…a fashion hack if you like.
Look at the overall image and key details – not just the colours, though these are important of course. Skirt length and style – A-line, tulip, pencil, ankle-length? Where does it fall – below the knee or on it? The fabric, unless we’re talking Dior Haute Couture or an uber cool Japanese fabric that took 6 years to make – is not important. Look at the outline shape of the ensemble – is it slim-fitting, voluminous or flowing? Again, mimic it so one keeps the key messages.
Shoes. Oh dear god. My general feeling is: What one wears to work or the gym should not be worn elsewhere. If one wears gorgeous heels to work (or the gym), this is different. Gorgeous heels, in good condition (no scuffs) can be worn just about everywhere and anytime. If, like most people, fancy heels to work are a no-no, invest in a couple of nice pairs for evening – they’ll lift both the outfit and one’s height, not to mention the derriere and swagger.
If a 2 year old gal can march about in heels and climb a slide in them (looking at you, Amelia Yau), so can all of us grown adult femmes. Firstly, buy a pair that doesn’t cripple you in the shop. Walk about the showroom for at least a few minutes. Take them off then come back. Try them on in the late morning but never in the afternoon if feet are swollen or tired. Then practice at home, in the bedroom, up and down the stairs, on carpeted and wooden floors. Practice makes perfect, or at least might save us from face-planting in the street. Nothing worse than seeing a woman walking in heels that force her to strut like a deformed flamingo. We’ve all been there, done it and seen it on strangers. Don’t be that woman.
Those that are firmly anti-heels, rejoice – flats are back. Even trainers/sneakers are a la mode for 2015. Just make sure the trainers are not dual-use. Those worn to work out are not for wearing with your skirts, jeans or trousers – EVER. The fashionable trainers are colourful and fun – some are $1000 of course, but like everything else, find an alternative that does the same sartorial service. Nike and Reebok have some fantastic trainers for the flat-loving fashionista. For night-time, low-heeled evening shoes are gorgeous – Kate Spade et al do some gorgeous ones with bejewelled low heels. Ines de la Fressange, La Reine of Chic always wears flats – day and evening. Google her and Swoon.
Look at mags for clues as to what heel or shoe style works with your outfit. The wrong one can ruin your look in a heartbeat.
PSA about wearing all one colour heads to toe – make sure it fits very, very well. Get trousers tailored. Rarely does an off-the-peg pair fit properly. The same with blazers and jackets – nothing cheapens an outfit faster than a poor fit. In black, although you may wish to disappear and become invisible, every seam and tuck is exaggerated and more obvious. It doesn’t cost much to get them tweaked by a proper tailor and it’s worth every single penny. You’ll feel amazing and look incredible. Seriously. I promise this on my son’s shoe collection.
Have fun with it all. Dress up to the cinema, supermarket, playgroup. If an outfit makes YOU smile, wear it as often as possible. So what if people look – unless you’re dressed in an evening gown in Wholefoods at 3pm, chances are people are looking at you with admiration – probably jealousy actually – but that just means you look spectacular – win-win. Tip: supermarket trolleys are marvellous props if one’s heels are too high or are a bit painful.
Another PSA: the higher the heel, the longer the skirt hem. Don’t be that girl. Wear a killer heel, platform or stiletto – but if it’s higher than 2 inches, make sure your skirt or dress hits just on or covers the knee. Believe it or not, it elongates the leg and makes the outfit a whole lot more sexy and mysterious, and a LOT less cheap and tacky. Save the thigh flashing for the beach. Everything has its place.
The same goes for gentlemen – a well-cut suit (get it tailored to tweak the too-baggy legs and too-long sleeves PLEASE) will win the women (and men) over. It’ll flatter the figure (bye bye beer gut) and lift the spirits. There are SO many collar options available out there now – the Cut Back, the Spread, the Rounded etc.
Ties come in many different fabrics – silk, cotton, wool – wide, narrow. Not to mention the different ways of knotting them. Wear the trousers a little short a la Thom Browne, show some ankle and fun socks (no cartoon characters once one has left high school, please) – or brave the elements and go without socks.
These days, men have almost as much of a choice in footwear as women. Boots, mocs, loafers, brogues, oxfords, monks…and yes, the trainers are there too. Inspiration is everywhere.
Seriously, sneak a peek at a female friend’s Pinterest page under GORGEOUS MEN – there is tons of inspiration there. From the edgy, yet immaculate Nick Wooster of NYC to the classic and beautiful Italian chap in Milan – and get extra tips about how to knot a tie or what colour shoes to wear from mags such as Esquire or GQ. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES.
Most important PSA of all: a red lip fixes EVERYTHING. Maybe even a LuluLemon outfit.