It’s interesting how everyone tends to have some kind of personal “uniform” – a certain few silhouettes that one tends to stick to, either out of habit, for comfort or simply because of a personal preference for a specific style of clothing. If you observe what your co-workers wear to work over the course of a week or so, you’ll find this statement to be very true.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that, of course – after all, you know what works best for you. But while some manage to accomplish this without ever looking like they repeated a single outfit, others seem to be wearing the exact same clothes to work day after day.
What is the secret that the stylish folks are privy to? Besides learning to switch up their daily ensemble with an occasional surprise or two, it’s really about playing it smart when shopping for clothes and creatively pairing the garments they already own.
Here are some wise tips you can follow to put an end to your repetitive dress code, as well as additional advice from Debby Kwong, a personal stylist and home organising expert who offers her professional services in these aspects through her company, Sortorial.
BUILD A CAPSULE WARDROBE
What exactly makes a capsule wardrobe? While it essentially means a collection of versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched in endless combinations, and will thus form the building blocks of your wardrobe, what it comprises will vary from person to person, depending on individual dressing habits.
You don’t waste time thinking about what to wear, so it helps to have a tight edit of clothes that have complementary tones.
Remember this when stocking up your capsule wardrobe: It should consist of items that don’t go out of fashion, which means they should be fairly basic, details-free and bought in neutral colours such as black, white, beige, navy, khaki and staple shades of denim. They can be separates or one-pieces that can be layered with other clothing; casual or formal (think blazers, shirts, work pants and dresses).
How will a capsule wardrobe help you repeat your clothing without anyone noticing it? Each piece can be paired with an indefinite number of other garments. For example, a printed top can look surprisingly different when worn with jeans on one day and black pants on another.
Kwong pointed out another benefit of having an effective capsule wardrobe: “You don’t waste time thinking about what to wear, so it helps to have a tight edit of clothes that have complementary tones.”
Best of all, basics are virtually indistinguishable, stylistically speaking, which means that people tend not to notice or remember them. Yet, they can elevate your outfit in a subtle yet powerful way when bought in the right material and a flattering fit.
PLAY WITH ACCESSORIES
Shoes, jewellery and bags are indispensable tools for those who aspire to be style chameleons. “You can switch up a look simply by wearing different accessories,” said Kwong. “A dress with metallic heels versus classic pumps projects a different vibe, while wearing a coloured scarf as a necklace or a simple pendant necklace makes the difference between artistic and classic.”
Don’t shy away from interesting, statement-making styles or colours.
It helps to apply the same technique you use for building your capsule wardrobe on your accessories. The bulk of your collections should be made up of simple staples – in either silver or gold for jewellery; and neutral colours and sensible styles when it comes to bags and shoes.
Don’t shy away from interesting, statement-making styles or colours though – these are likelier to be able to dramatically change up your look. However, it makes sense to keep these to about a quarter of your accessory collection, since these attention-getting pieces are not made for everyday wear – you’ll only want to show them off when you really want to make an impact.
GET CREATIVE WITH STYLING
Have you noticed that some garments can be worn in many different ways? Take a simple white shirt, for example – it can be tucked in or out, knotted at the waist, or worn over a camisole and left unbuttoned.
Even with printed clothes, you can create different looks by colour-blocking or clashing patterns.
Layering is another great way to create multiple looks with a limited number of garments, and there’s more than one way to accomplish it. The safe approach is to use outerwear like cardigans, jackets and blazers; or if you are adventurous and have a keen eye for fashion, experiment by wearing your garments in an atypical sequence such as a tank or T-shirt under a strappy dress, or wear a dress like a top by tucking it into a skirt.
Kwong said we don’t always have to stick with clean and minimalist pieces for the purpose of garment rotation. “Even with printed clothes, you can create different looks by colour-blocking or clashing patterns. If you wear a red top with fuchsia pants and primary-colour accessories, it’ll be totally different when you wear the same top with a black pencil skirt and gold jewellery. So, get creative with the material and colour combinations,” she explained.
SPACE OUT YOUR OUTFITS
It’s common sense, of course – learn to rotate your outfits in a way that leaves enough days in between them so that you won’t be seen repeating looks too closely. Kwong added: “Try to space loud or bold pieces apart by a fortnight or so, and (take note of what you’re wearing) if you’re seeing a different group of friends or colleagues.”
Most people (that you don’t see daily) won’t really notice or remember what you wore, unless it’s a particularly statement-making ensemble.
You might see certain friends on an infrequent basis – if so, try to make a mental note of what you wore the last time you met them so that you won’t wear the same ensemble again. Of course, most people (that you don’t see daily) won’t really notice or remember what you wore, unless it’s a particularly statement-making ensemble. In which case, you probably won’t have trouble remembering it.
SWITCH UP YOUR HAIR AND MAKEUP
How you wear your hair and makeup also plays a part in transforming a look, says Kwong. A strong red lip or smoky-eye look can completely change the vibes your outfit is channelling. The same applies to hairdos – wearing your hair up or in curls can create a polished or casual effect, depending on how you match your hairstyle to your outfit.
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