Make every day a Chic day
Developing a chic fashion sense is not something that happens only to the rich and famous. Fashion is for everyone, and available at any budget. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if your parents can afford a yearly trip to New York, Paris or Milan to review the runways first hand, but such extravagance is not necessary nor is it desirable for the average man or woman.
Having a good fashion sense will empower a person to achieve their goals. After all, before we begin to design a wardrobe, first we have to consider where we are going to wear those clothes. It would be really silly to buy a bunch of evening gowns if your favorite entertainment is Netflix®. Your clothes should serve you, not cause an anxiety attack over unpaid credit card debt.
What we wear is related to our effectiveness in life, so to begin your wardrobe design, write down where you go every day. For most people, that will include a work schedule. If you work in an office environment, then Monday through Friday will require acceptable business attire, which can range from jeans to three-piece suits. So your first category will be “work.”
Now, think about your evenings during the work week. Do you curl up in front of the computer or the TV, or are you the more active sort, or most likely, a combination of at-home and out-of-the-house activities? So “Every-day leisure” will be the next heading.
Do you wear pajamas or nightgowns? Even those who sleep in their birthday suits occasionally need to warm their toes, so have a “sleep-wear” category.
Are your weekends an extension of your every-day evenings, or do you do something special on Friday or Saturday night, like visit a lounge, go to the local community theater, go camping, volunteer at the local senior center, or take the kids bowling? You might need a special column for “Weekends.”
Everyone needs to dress up, some of us more often than others. Reserve some space in your mind and in your closet for looking your “Very, very best.”
Now look at your categories, and decide which one is the most important. For the purposes of personal fulfillment, the “Work” category should be one of the most important columns, simply because we don’t need the distractions that inappropriate clothing produces at work. Of course, our goal isn’t “appropriate,” but we have to get past “appropriate” to get to “chic.” The key to “chic” at work is in the details. Even if you work Tuesday through Saturday at a lunch counter, wearing a uniform, you can quickly envision the waitress in your restaurant that has the best sense of style. Take a close look at her, and see if you can decide what makes her special.
It is chic to be well-rested and on time, and well-groomed. At work, “chic” has a certain element of consideration for those around you. (Jackie Kennedy, as First Lady, wore low-heeled shoes to make shorter diplomats feel taller.)
The next category is “Every-day leisure,” which is much more forgiving for your personal preferences. At this point, you can be more in touch with your favorite fabrics and colors, and indulge in exotic styles that might not please those who are not close to you. What makes you happy? Reminders of this aspect of your self can travel to other areas of your life in the form of a subtle ring or eye-liner shade that can blend into acceptable work-wear as well.
“Sleepwear” is the ultimately personal phase of fashion, and a good place to rule out compromise. It can focus on comfort, warmth, or sexiness, and be the ultimate form of personal expression and intimacy. Bedroom chic is the business of those who love you, or perhaps nobody’s business but your own.
Your weekend or out-of the house wardrobe should be a good balance between intimacy and public image. Much like your work wardrobe, it will show an awareness of others, but with an emphasis on your own comfort as much as those around you. Your casual wardrobe can have an edge that demands attention on a personal level, even if it is low-key and inviting. . .and even if it isn’t. Chic fashion style demonstrates awareness of boundaries, and a willingness to approach those boundaries. No need to cross them. Unless you want to.
Your weekend wardrobe will merge with your very special wardrobe to the degree that your normal activity demands it. Some people need a tuxedo every 25 years, and some have two in their closet. What are your needs?
Okay, so now you know where you go, and what your requirements are. You can’t go out and purchase enough clothes on one shopping trip to suddenly portray an image of your ideal self. It’s time to reconcile who you feel that you are with who people see when they look at you. Now, work to merge those two images.
Spend some time with color theory, and skin tone, and become familiar with your ranges of tints and shades. Find a color group that you like that looks good on you, and build a set of classic lines around that theme. Get opinions about what kind of skirt, jacket, pant, looks good on your body type. Speak to professional shoppers that know what they are talking about.
Jennifer Nicole Sullivan gives us some tips from Jackie O. . . Keep it simple. Bright colors are very effective in a scarf or other accessory. Her signature necklace, pearls, were often fake. If you find a classic shape in a blouse or a sweater or a skirt, then buy three or more of each in basic colors that agree with you. Jackie spent a fortune on clothes, but there is no need to go broke imitating her. Her style choices were simple, timeless, and available at retail stores.
Nevertheless, very few people look good in cheap clothing. Helen Gurley Brown, the legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, in her classic 1960’s Sex and the Single Girl, put forth the suggestion that you should buy one good outfit every year, (or was it every season?) and plan on it lasting forever. Spot it in the window, buy it on sale, and have it fitted. While Jackie preferred white and pastels, Brown swore by the “little black dress.” Remember that even if your classic outfit does go out of style, that it will come back in. Until your clothes budget grows to fit your needs, shop for some of your basic items at thrift stores. There is a lot of buried treasure on the donation tables.
If you are interacting with the world, and you are worrying about the appropriateness of your clothes, then you are not dressed correctly, even if you just stepped off the runway. It is when you are completely comfortable in your clothes, facing the world on your own terms, that people will begin to notice your style.