I’ve been wardrobe-planning-multi-tasking these days, my friends. And thinking how much styling matters in wardrobe planning.
I’ve been planning for early fall, doing some research on Pinterest, and thinking how I can spin my summer and spring closet into one that will work through September. Not just for the weather, but also to satisfy my yearning for a fall aesthetic and still fend off the desire to turn my closet way too early. Not to mention deciding what works now, what to wear out to dinner with a friend, or to lunch on a patio, when it’s August and still really, really hot. Plus I need to decide what to pack for our trip down east. So… multi-tasking. But my absolute favourite kind of multi-tasking, so I’m not complaining.
And as I choose what to wear with what, I’ve been thinking how much styling matters, as I said. As much as the pieces I choose, surely. Because simple styling tricks can turn an outfit from okay, into just right.
Not that I am the queen of styling tricks. Not at all. There will be no sage advice from me, folks. Except to look around to see what others are wearing that looks just right. And to try what is in your closet with whatever else is in your closet. And when one outfit doesn’t work, to try and try again.
To me a well-styled outfit is all about the mix. The mix of textures, and colours, the proportion between top and bottom, the right footwear, the right jewellry and bag. You know. Plus how all of that looks on my body, at my age, with my colouring. And… if all of that works… does the outfit still look wrong because it’s dated? Because fashion has moved on, and if what I’m wearing looks totally 2011, instead of 2021, my outfit will be all wrong… instead of right.
This is what I wore to dinner with an old friend the other night. I wanted to be comfortable, casual, but still look as if I made an effort. And I wanted to wear these “birch” cargo pants from Aritzia and my new chunky Birkenstock-style sandals from Brown’s shoes (similar.) I’ve been wearing these pants a ton since I bought them. Mostly with my black Everlane tank top and my old Michael Kors flat sandals.
But here’s the thing. I wear the pants full length with the flat sandals, like I showed in this post. But the longer, slightly wide-leg pant with the chunky sandals looked too bulky for a summer outfit. Rolling the leg up and flashing a bit of ankle lightened the look. I tried a trick I learned on IG, to fold the leg of the pant over making it narrower, before rolling up. I thought my black Helmut Lang blazer, bought back in 2015, looked really great with the new pants and sandals. This jacket is quite long and can often look too dressy with casual pants. But with the sleeves of the jacket pushed up, the hem of my tank turned under to make it shorter and a bit neater, and my structured leather Mackage cross-body bag… everything seemed in balance. And looked just right.
I was really pleased with this outfit… as you can see. Ha.
To keep track of looks I like or outfit ideas that I want to remember, I’ve started two new Pinterest boards. My plan is, as I said, to wear my spring and summer clothes as long as I can. Spring is such a short season, and what with being in lock-down, I’ve hardly worn my spring jackets and coats. So I’ll try to pair them with darker jeans, or with sweaters to be able to wear them longer. I’ll wear my summer pants with fall jackets, fall skirts with sandals, or summer skirts with sneakers and a sweater. That way I can stave off turning my closet for as long as possible. Of course that’s the plan for now. I may capitulate once the leaves start to turn and my yearning for my heavy sweaters and tweed jackets is too strong.
Here are a few pins that I saved. The shot on the far left, above, is of Lydia Tomlinson, a vlogger and influencer from Manchester, UK. I subscribe to Lydia’s YouTube channel. I like her style ideas a lot. Despite the fact that she is way younger and much thinner than I am, many of her outfits can be spun into something appropriate for someone of my age and size. Mind you, with less of the tucking in and none of the short shorts. Ha. You can follow Lydia on IG here @LydiaJaneTomlinson.
The other two shots are from Feminique_Official and The_Kimo.Official, two Korean brands which I follow on IG. Back in May, I wrote about them and some of my other style inspirations in this post. My time on Pinterest is not wasted time, in my opinion. I save photos that give me ideas, or contain a piece which I already own, worn in a new way. I save photos which depict a new style aesthetic or trend that I like, or which simply inspire me to up my style game. You can follow my “Last Days of Summer” or “White-ish Pants” Pinterest boards here and here if you’re interested.
While I was trying ways to style my cargo pants, I also tried them with my white Lafayette 148 shirt. I changed up my silver hoops for black ones, tied the shirt in the front, and wore a black belt that you can’t see in this photo. This outfit actually looked a lot better when I was standing up. But sadly, as you can tell from the look on my face, not good enough to tempt me to wear it out of the yard. Ha. Once again, the too-tailored shirt was, well, too tailored.
What I need is a black linen relaxed-style shirt like this one from Everlane. In fact, I may order this shirt when we get home from our trip. When the temperatures cool a bit, I’ll wear the pants and sandals, or my black loafers, with my black Everlane light cashmere crew neck. And possibly my old black Max Mara jacket. As you see, I’m planning ahead.
This combination, below, is one I plan to pack for our trip to New Brunswick. I’m wearing my white Everlane tank, Stan Smith Adidas, and a Theory crochet sweater (similar.) I eschewed jewellry of any kind, except my watch. I like this outfit because it’s super casual for running to the grocery store, dropping in on relatives for a cup of tea or a dip in their pool, maybe stopping off for take-out fish and chips (yum), or even for travel days.
Styling matters a lot. Wearing an old jacket from 2015, like my dressy Helmut Lang blazer, with loose, casual cargo pants and chunky sandals makes it look current. And totally relevant in 2021. That way my old jacket doesn’t sit unworn in my closet. Styling old pieces with new, and investment pieces with more moderately priced pieces, gives new life to old. And makes our wardrobe and our outfits more interesting.
I had lunch this week with with my friend Liz. You’ve no doubt heard of Liz before on my blog, former personal shopper at Holt Renfrew, and more lately at Nordstom. Liz always knows how to style something just right.
When we met earlier in the week, she was wearing a lovely cognac, boxy linen jacket, from the Massimo Dutti summer sale. The short jacket and rolled up sleeves were just right on Liz’s small frame. With the jacket she wore a white tee, dark-wash jeans, a pair of Prada flats the same congac, what Liz calls “luggage leather” colour, as the jacket, and a classic Gucci tote. The linen jacket is new. The Prada flats and Gucci tote are old, bought back when she still worked at Holt Renfrew. Investment pieces. Vintage, even. The jacket, shoes, and bag worked wonderfully together. The bright white tee lightened everything up. She looked great. And that cognac linen jacket will work well into the fall, I think.
I texted Liz later in the day to ask if she could send me a photo of what she’d been wearing to lunch. She laughed when she sent the photo, that she should have brought Lincoln, their dog, to lunch. He matched her outfit so beautifully. Ha.
Building a wardrobe of pieces that work together to create outfits which are just right…. which make us feel like a million bucks, when we haven’t spent a million bucks… is not the work of a moment. Investing in classic pieces like Liz’s Prada flats or my Helmut Lang jacket is wise shopping in my view. These pieces might be styled years later with more current, and possibly much less expensive, pieces like my Aritzia cargo pants or Liz’s Massimo Dutti jacket.
Then, you might roll the sleeve or the pant leg. Change out one tote bag for another. Add a chunky sandal to offset a wide-leg casual pant. Change to a structured bag to shift the balance to a slightly dressier esthetic. Or tuck a shirt in, or not. Until you have a look that is just right. For you. And your body. And for the season.
That’s why styling matters. What you choose to wear with what, and how you wear it is every bit as important as the clothing you buy. And paying attention to styling, observing what others wear and how they wear it, looking for ideas on how you might update this or that in your closet, then trying new ideas and combinations with what you already own might just mean you don’t have to go shopping at all.
Now, how about you my friends? Any styling tips that you’ve tried lately to spin an okay outfit into one that is just right? Care to spill the beans?
P.S. Most clothing links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission. Except for the Aritzia link. I don’t make any commission on Aritzia links.