*As written for Black Lupo. Original article can be seen here.*
In this age of mass media and mass criticism, it can sometimes be difficult (especially for women) to break out of a personal style box. Fear of judgment, fear of discomfort, fear of just simply not “pulling it off” – all reasons for exercising cautious, safe dressing. This month, challenge yourself to let go of all of that. Regardless of your shape or size, good wardrobe options are more plentiful than you might think. Take a chance on one of these fashion “do’s” and you’ll come out of the experiment better for it – regardless of what you discover. Mixing prints isn’t for you? No problem. Flats keep you feeling happy, healthy, and fashionable? You go, girl.
1. Do: Mix prints
Florals and geometrics; plaids and dots; stripes and checks. You might never think to wear these unlikely pairs simultaneously. In fact, you probably stray from the combinations altogether. Contrary to mythical dressing rules from generations past, differing prints can be a match made in heaven – as long as you’re willing to take the risk. Try alternating large patterns with small to minimize your chances of appearing wild or chaotic. Done right, you’ll come across as just the opposite – calm, cool, collected.
2. Do: Size up your coat
It’s a fine line to walk. Clothes that hug your body too tight or hang too loosely can create the perception that your body is larger than it really is. However, this rule doesn’t so much apply to one category: outerwear. Size up your coat for a look that says: “I’ve got a fashion sense, and I’m not afraid to use it.” Stick to cuts and textiles that maintain a dose of structure to maximize your success. Pair with narrow-cut pants or cropped boyfriend jeans to lessen the risk; both options have received the chic seal of approval many times over. Commendations on your smart, standout style will flood in; and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried this trick before.
3. Do: Consider blankets as scarves
There’s something happening in the world of bloggers and street style mavens. No longer are the experts concerning themselves with a product’s intended end use. Nope, the focus has more to do with a balanced, eye-catching silhouette, comfort (especially now that temps are dropping), and making a statement. With that in mind, let’s talk about neckwear. Instead of searching high and low for a wide knit scarf that offers considerable length plus volume (all the better to wrap you with, my dear), shift your hunt to a different department: home goods. A wool or cashmere blanket might be just the ticket to the perfect combination of cute and cozy. Be careful, though. There are blankets, and then there are blankets. Grabbing any old throw won’t get the job done. With a discriminating eye, seek out finely knit textiles and neutral color palettes. Following these simple rules will ensure that your cold-weather wear will end up looking bold and nowhere near scruffy and old.
4. Do: Wear flats
Hobbling around in pain is just not cute. Even if you are a stiletto-wearing pro, why put yourself through it? Sure, the shape and added height elongates the leg and can make you look, frankly, hot. But you can look just as lovely in shoes that keep you grounded – quite literally. If you’re smart, you’ll take a cue from the mistakes of worshipped style maven Sarah Jessica Parker. Running in heels for 10+ years (think: Carrie Bradshaw) ruins your tootsies and it’s not worth it, it’s not. Thankfully, designers are following suit with a slew of beautiful creations made for style and comfort. Consider a leather oxford with special detailing, a velvet smoking slipper, or a d’orsay shoe in a bold color or texture. You might feel like you’re letting go of your style sense; but really, you’re just proving a solid understanding that a modern woman can dress well without torturing her extremities. Compliments and better moods will abound – I guarantee it.
5. Do: Rock the roomy trouser
It often seems that the only pant style considered by women these days is strictly “skinny.” While there is a time and place for both leggings and skinny jeans, there exists a variety of slacks that do more than hug and cover. As you put together your next ensemble, contemplate a roomier, more uniquely shaped pant. Though you’ll need to pay more mind to proportion (added bulk on top and bottom isn’t so flattering), you’ll come out of the experiment with a far more unique look and a style that imparts a dose of je ne sais quois – something we could all use a little more of. Just ask any of the cool French girls plastered all over your Pinterest and Tumblr feeds. They know.