|Art by Nick Cave, former Alvin Ailey dancer and fashion designer. Source.|
Although I dress confidently, I am a sucker for how-to's, lists, do-overs, et al. I'll read any fashion article that starts with "Five Ways To . . ." I swear I found one on a lesser website (not a blog!) that was titled "How To Dress More Elegantly" and started with "Buy more elegant clothing".
This little article from Real Simple has some gold in it: Define Your Signature Style. It's real simple (heh), can be applied to any wardrobe, and appeals to my sense of orderliness without being oppressive.
I'm going to take a couple of posts and apply the guidelines to my own wardrobe, and hope that you'll play along, if you choose. And share in the comments! Here's the verbatim text for Step #1:
Step 1: Identify What’s Working
You probably have a handful of go-to pieces you instinctively reach for when you want to look put-together. Now imagine having a rack full of them. The first step toward achieving that goal is figuring out what makes those favorites so, well, favored, says Amy E. Goodman, the author of Wear This, Toss That ($27, amazon.com). “Pull out the five things you would wear every day if no one was keeping track,” she says. (Emphasis mine). Choose something in each clothing category: tops, pants, dresses, and skirts. Then ask yourself a few questions about each piece. Jot down your answers so you can use them as a shopping guide later.
How would you describe the item? Crisp and tailored? Soft and ruffly?
What image does it project? Smart and professional? Edgy and fashionable?
What color is it? Does the shade brighten your complexion?
What fabric is it made of?
What is the silhouette like? Nipped at the waist? Flowing and hip-grazing?
What parts of your body does it accentuate?
What parts of your body does it de-emphasize? Is it comfortable?
Your answers reveal: Your style barometer. Use your notes to help pinpoint what you like. “Be careful of buying replicates,” says Goodman. You may learn you prefer darks and flared shapes, but you need only one good pair of black bootcuts. “Think of it as nailing down a signature look, not getting into a rut,” she says.
OK, here I go. The five pieces I'd wear every day are:
- Dark wash straight leg jeans
- Black long sleeve tee, slim cut but not tight
- Striped long sleeve tee, slim cut but not tight
- Black pencil or full skirt
- Knee length black knit dress, sleeveless for layering
I'm not entirely sure about the image this projects, except it feels like "me", "she likes black", "move to NYC", or "boring!". Not ruffly nor edgy. Everything is soft, easy to wear, neutral and fairly casual. I like body-skimming clothing that shows off my slim form. I like a waistline and I emphasize my upper body. I avoid bright colors/prints.
What this question does not take into account is that these pieces are the backdrop for lots of accessories. So one of my signatures is: blank canvas for creativity.
The warning against duplicates hits home: I keep buying slim black tees and striped Breton tees, because I love them. I probably own enough now for the remainder of 2013.
Next installment will be Analyze Your Mistakes!
Over to you: What are your five reach-for pieces? What do they reveal about you? Or do these articles make you numb?? No wrong answers!