How we look affects how we feel. Style and appearance may seem to have no depth, but actually it’s intimately connected with who we are and how we want to interact with the world.
With the extra time that a lot of people have at the moment due to global quarantine conditions, it could well be the perfect time to rethink your style and plan an upgrade. You could still make 2020 your most stylish year yet, using your time to curate a brand new style for when the world eventually gets going again. The slow down has given us all a chance to rethink how we approach matters of style.
Whether it’s realizing that it’s a not a good thing to hold onto old items of clothing that don’t suit us or make us feel good, thinking about our impact on the planet and resolving to purchase less and better quality, stop panic buying or sale shopping for items that don’t get worn, or making some lifestyle changes to become healthier and improve your looks, such as dropping a few pounds or finally committing to a proper skincare regime – now is the time to make better choices with your style.
STOP BUYING ITEMS YOU DON’T NEED
Most people are guilty of this, and it’s a habit that’s really bad for our wallets, for the planet and even for our self-esteem. How often have you bought clothes for one specific occasion, or because they were on sale for a ‘bargain’ price, only to have them languish unloved at the back of your closet, usually with the tags still attached or being worn once only before falling out of favour?
When we think of real, lasting style, the individuals who possess it very rarely go for cheap, disposable fast fashion in a multitude of different styles. Instead, they have put the legwork into developing an aesthetic that works for them. They understand what body type they have and what silhouettes flatter it, what occasions in their life they need to dress for, the styles and pieces they are naturally drawn to and what color palette compliments their hair, eyes and skin tone.
They have edited their clothes so that only garments which fit into this vision are present, and they reject anything which doesn’t fall into line – great style is as much about what you don’t wear as what you do. They understand their vision for how they want to look – and they certainly don’t fall into the trap of haphazardly buying clothes. Everything in their closet is planned to complement them.
Once you understand this about yourself, you don’t have to make purchasing mistakes any more. You only need to shop for the items that are missing, and this gives you the confidence to buy less and better quality. So learn to say no to those cheap items that never get worn and refocus on cost per wear as a better measure of value. Instead of feeling you need a new dress for every night out, have the confidence to rewear a small selection of items that you look and feel great in. You can always switch it up with different accessories to alter the look and make it feel fresh if needed.
PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS
Often it’s the smaller elements that make or break a look. It can be tempting to think that those details are so small, no one will ever notice, but that certainly isn’t the case – these things form part of the overall impression we give out and are read almost subconsciously by others. So it’s certainly worth paying a little attention to the smaller accessories and details. Try investing in a beautiful handbag – you can find some high quality items at certain discount retailers, or even try buying preloved from a site like Vestiaire Collective or Depop to make it more affordable. Shop around online for things like glasses frames that you wear every day, finding a great website to source good design more affordably. And cover off the smaller details of your appearance, like keeping nails manicured, shoes polished up and trousers hemmed well – these all add up to a far more polished finished product.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR LOOK
One thing it’s very well worth spending a little money on is a good tailor. Tailoring clothing really is the secret as to how celebrities can wear high street and make it look like a designer piece. It makes fabrics and designs sit perfectly on your figure – trousers and skirts hitting at the right point on the leg, shoulder seams aligned and cuffs tapering nicely. It doesn’t have to be expensive to make these alterations, and although they are subtle, they can have a massive impact on how an item of clothing looks and flatters your body. When you subscribe to the ethos of simply buying less, then you can afford to get pieces adapted for you, and it becomes worth the effort as you wear them often and know you will look amazing.
DISCOVER NEW BRANDS
Although understanding your personal style, and investing in items that are classics for you is a time-honoured strategy, style is also something that should evolve over time. When we don’t open ourselves to new influences then we become in danger of hitting a style rut. You don’t have to completely abandon your core pieces and favourite brands, but it’s also good to discover some of the new brands and emerging design talent which is constantly hitting the market. So keep curious and keep exploring using platforms such as fashion magazines, blogs and Instagram to have an idea of what is current. You can still be selective about what out of everything new fits your style, but it will also keep you current.
CREATE A UNIFORM APPROACH
Developing your style is a creative endeavour, and as such it can be hugely fulfilling. However, there are always going to be times when you feel less inclined to make the effort. You have a huge work deadline looming or a lot of things going on and you just don’t have the mental bandwidth to work out clothing. Everyone has these times, so it’s great to prepare a fallback ‘uniform’ to simplify your style at busy times. When you understand what suits you, you can prepare some go-to combinations that you can simply pull on and know will look great, with zero creative effort needed. Finding the perfect pair of jeans or ideal white tshirt, having that one simple accessory that you can throw on and know it will make the look – these things can be saviour. When you have the time and brain space, lay out a few of these simple but classic combinations, and take a photo on your phone. The next time you’re having one of those ‘I don’t know what to wear’ days, you’ll have something to refer back to that gives you an instant option that always looks great.
WHY BUY WHEN YOU CAN RENT?
While it’s definitely worth investing in those core pieces that are the cornerstones of your style, a great way to mix in some more trend-led items, or to have a new outfit for a big event is simply to rent it. Clothing rental services have been springing up all over in recent years as we all try to get smarter about how we shop and become more sustainable in our fashion habits. Services like Girl Meets Dress can ensure that if you don’t have the right thing, but you don’t want to invest in a piece that you know will hardly get worn, you can access what you need affordably. This is a great way of freshening up your wardrobe, or trying out a new style that is a little left-field of what you would normally wear. It also stops those single-serving purchases that are so bad for the environment, so it can be a great fix for a specific sartorial dilemma.
PLAN A BIG DECLUTTER
Cleaning out what you own can also be a path to better style. Most of us have far more clothes than we need or wear, and the result is a cluttered closet where you can’t see what you have. This makes it harder to plan out stylish combinations and see the pieces you can work with. Make a regular clear out part of your schedule – pull everything out and divide it into three piles. The first is for items that don’t fit (either your figure or your aesthetic). The second is for items that work but which need repairs or tailoring to be perfect. And the third is those classic items that work and that you wear often. With the first pile of rejects, pick out some items you may want to sell on eBay or Depop and create a pile for donating to charity. The hang items back neatly and in category and color order, which makes it far easier to style yourself.