If you’re going to classic:
If you prefer more whimsical:
Or you would like to be more elegant:
And for those who are bohemians:
Happy Holidays from The Tastemaker Strategy!
It’s that time of year again, party after party after party. And not just with your nearest and dearest friends and family, but with your coworkers, bosses, and more distant (and sometimes more judgmental) relatives. I don’t know about you, but these kinds of events give me serious anxiety, usually because I have little to no context as to what to expect, especially about what to wear. Even if I am told what to expect, “Just dress casually!” I still have a million more questions; what if their idea of casual is my idea of dressed up? Like, “casual” as in yoga pants and a hoodie or “casual” as in jeans and a real top with buttons and stuff?
After some time of stressing and worrying about what to wear, I developed a question to help guide my clothing choices to find an outfit I can feel comfortable and confident in. The question could be asked before picking something out or applied to an outfit idea you already have in mind. The question is this: What would I be comfortable in this if other guests were really dressed up and if others guests were dressed down?
The sweet spot is choosing an outfit right in the middle. I know this sounds impossible, but once you think of the event in this perspective, you start to realize that there can be a happy medium. So, if you have no context to the event, think of an outfit fancy enough to fit in with a dressed up crowd but casual enough if guests showed up in jeans and a tee shirt. The same method can be applied to a designated “dressy” event, because there are hundreds of options in this scenario too. You can show up in a elegant top and dark wash jeans or a full-length gown. If you ask yourself the aforementioned question and still feel comfortable in one of those options, great! If not, perhaps a cocktail dress is the perfect compromise.
In all honesty, most of the time there is a mixture of people in their Sunday’s Best and others who wore the same sneakers that they walked the dog in earlier that day. But if you take this situation into account, you dress to feel confident no matter what the anyone else is wearing. And there’s no better feeling than being comfortable in your own skin. So, party on, people!
Maybe it’s my background of being an artist (a term I use loosely considering my number one patron is my mother) but I believe inspiration is key to creating anything worthwhile. This includes creating a spectacular wardrobe. One of the easiest way to gather inspiration for your wardrobe is to choose a style icon, or a combination of multiple. These icons could include celebrities, fashion bloggers, a family member, or the fabulous mature woman with snow-white pixie-cut hair, red lipstick, and a crisp, starched collar that you see every morning at Panera (true story). Choosing a style icon serves as a continuous source of inspiration, even if you choose someone who is no longer in the public eye, such as Marilyn Monroe, I continue to find pictures and films of hers that I hadn’t discovered before.
In a perfect world, your style icons may include people with similar body types, coloring, and lifestyle. In the real world, go crazy. Find people that really excite you, while at the same time, still seeing a part of yourself in their style. For example, one of my favorite personal style icons is Audrey Hepburn, I love her elegance, and clean but feminine lines of the 50’s, as well as her embrace of bold colors and silhouettes of the 60’s. I mean, c’mon, she was best friends with Dior. As you can imagine, I have no reason to walk around in a couture Dior gown, but I love the essence of her look, her persona. Those are the kinds of elements I try to incorporate in my personal style. Other icons of mine include, Olivia Palermo, Blair Eadie, and Jenna Lyons.
Imagery is so much more powerful than words, like, “I want to look chic,” or “stylish,” or “cute.” Okay, ready? Compare that former sentence to, “I want to look like Audrey Hepburn when she meets her dream bae on a tennis court in a full-length gown in the middle of the night. You know, fabulous but relatable.” So that may have been oddly specific, nonetheless, having a particular person for example will have a similar effect. When you begin to fill your brain with inspirational images, it will automatically be drawn to like-aesthetics.
Creating a great wardrobe does not mean reinventing the wheel; you can take a cue from other stylish individuals, put what you’ve liked and learned in your magical mixing pot, and end up creating something uniquely you. Because we’re not about copy-catting here, we’re here to create something really special and personal to you. So, once you find your style icons, find a way to document them. You could add pictures of them in your favorite outfits to your Pinterest board, cut out pictures of them from magazines and paste them on an inspiration board, or it could just be as simple as a single photograph taped to your bedroom wall (but not like in a creepy, shrine-like way. Just keep them somewhere that will remind you of what you’re going for).
The key is to remain inspired, when I feel directionless I always have trouble figuring out what to where. But when I see one of my favorite pictures of my style icon or just a great outfit, suddenly getting dressed seems is exciting, like a creative process. My closet becomes a wonderland…Maybe a little dramatic until I get a walk-in closet. Point is, you have to know what you like before you can choose what you like. And who knows, maybe you’ll end up serving as inspiration to someone else along the way.