Chances are you’re ready for spring, but you may not be ready to store away your wooly winter knits just yet. Keep those knits out a few weeks longer by switching up other parts of your outfit. Here’s how.
Change Your Shoes
When the snow melts ease into it the new season by swapping your boots for ballet flats, heels or canvas sneakers. And then treat yourself to a pedicure.
Photo via Extra Petite
Layers for the win
Spring is all about the layers. Wear lighter-weight clothing as the bottom layer and add your heavier knitwear on top. You can never go wrong with the classic combo of a dress and cardigan or for those cooler days stick with jeans, a cardigan and scarf.
Photo via Stylish Wife
Lighten Up Your Colors
You could be wearing the bulkiest of sweaters and still look like you’re dressed for spring if you’re in light colors. Lighten up your accessories or a couple pieces of clothing. Think light pinks, pastels, whites, coral and turquoise. Select a light denim wash for your jeans. Don’t neglect your makeup. Lighter shades will give you a fresh, springtime glow.
Photo via Hello Fashion
Show Some Skin with your knits
Long pants replaced with capris. Jeans rolled at the hem. Or go all the way with shorts, weather permitting. Bare your arms with a knit scarf…and maybe make it a scarf knit with bare arms.
Photo via Madelinetosh
Socks and Heels
This look can be very chic, but can also go wrong very easily. It’s no easy feat to pull off. If you’re up for the style challenge, select ankle or knee-high socks knit in very lightweight yarn. This isn’t time to go bulky (they won’t feel great in your shoes). Be bold with your colors and have fun with the rest of your items. This is a playful look.
Photo via The Ivy Girl
Which are you going to try tomorrow?
To some of us, the thought of mixing prints can be scary. You want to look chic and effortless and not like you got dressed in the dark.
Pattern mixing is a hot trend this Fall and we can help you feel comfortable in giving this a try. We styled 3 looks on various levels of the pattern mixing trend and provided some tips to get you mixing with confidence!
Patterned accessories, like shoes, belts and scarves are an easy way to try your hand at pattern mixing. Mix them with a shirt, jacket, or pants for an easy combination. Animal print shoes are considered a neutral and go with everything!
If you are feeling a little more bold, an easy pattern mixing combination involves playing with different patterns but in the same colors. This black and white outfit involves stripes and polka dots but looks pulled together and classic because the same colors are though out the outfit. This can work with any color.
If you want to try your hand at mixing two or more patterns, keep proportion in mind. If one print is large, keep the other print small (and vice-versa). It’s also important to have one common color. For example, in this outfit, the common color is the bright red-orange color. It ties the two patterns together.
Tips for how to mix patterns:
Animal print is considered a neutral and goes with everything.
Stripes are a simple pattern and basically considered a neutral to be paired with anything.
Stripes, polka dots, floral, and leopard are the easiest patterns to mix.
Be sure there is one common color when mixing two bold prints. Even with multiple colors in the patterns, it just takes one common color to pull it all together.
Keep size in perspective. If one item has a large pattern, the other item should have a little pattern.
Stay in the same color family shades. Pastels, primary colors, etc.
Match colors, not prints. As long as the colors look good together, most likely the patterns will be a match.
Add in a solid item to break up the patterns. This could be a purse, shoe, scarf, jacket, etc.
What are your thoughts on pattern mixing?
Do you have a favorite combination?
Guest bloggers, Katey and Betsy are identical twin sisters living in Columbus, OH and Raleigh, NC. They share their fashion finds on Two Peas in a Blog. For more tips and great looks, follow them on Instagram.
Do you have certain items in your closet that you always wear together and only together?
I recently had a mishap with an iron that was too hot and a blouse I only wore with one skirt. When it happened, I thought, “just great, I’ve ruined the blouse and now I can’t wear the skirt.”
This is pretty common for me (the styling habits that is, thankfully, not the poor iron judgment). I have necklaces that I always wear with certain blouses, shoes that are always worn with particular dresses and cardigans that I always reach for to finish off my go-to looks. It makes dressing easy, quick and safe, but it also means I’m not maximizing my closet.
One of the easiest ways to mix up a wardrobe is by playing with color palettes.
In this post I’m going to take you back to the basics of colors–hues, tints, shades and tones–to challenge you to find palettes in your wardrobe you didn’t know were there.
As you read, you may think much of this is very basic (of course you know pink comes from red). Stay with me though.
I’ve taken three looks from my closet that I usually style with my Dove Gray Cora. Instead of playing it safe, I’ve mixed up the palettes by accessorizing with a Dark Green Cora.
Noticing the specifics of why a color palette works will help you find the hidden palettes in your closet.
1. Dark & Light Complementary Colors
Complimentary colors often look great together. These are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple). Together the colors create the highest amount of contrast.
In this look red and green are the complementary primary colors.
When white is added to a color it becomes lighter and desaturated. In this example, red has white added to it to become pink. This is called the tint.
Similarly when black is added to a color it becomes darker and saturated. The green of the handbag has black added to it, making it a dark green. This is called the shade.
Try It: Pair light and dark complementary colors together.
Burgundy & Mint Green; Navy Blue & Peach; Rust & Sky Blue; Eggplant & Pale Yellow; Lavendar & Mustard
2. Tone Friends
This look is using the same two complementary colors as the previous look–red and green. Even though the same colors are being used, it’s a bolder combination.
The boldness comes from the colors being the same tone. Tone is when both black and white (gray) are added to a hue.
A couple common tone families are jewel and dusty.
Dressing in all the same tone makes it easy to add several colors to a look. It is also one of the tricks for successfully mixing prints.
Try It: Pair two colors of the same tone together.
Emerald & Ruby; Sage & Dusty Rose; Chocolate & Raspberry; Kelly Green & Royal Blue
3. Analogous Colors
There isn’t a speck of green in this busy blouse, but somehow the green clutch works. Actually, it’s not really “somehow.” There’s a good reason.
The orange, yellow and green are analogous colors meaning they sit next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous palettes are commonly found in nature (hello, autumn leaves!).
What’s really making these analogous colors work well together is they are all the same tone.
Try It: Combine two or more analogous colors in an outfit.
Greens, Blues & Purples; Yellows, Greens & Blues; Purples, Reds and Oranges
MAKE IT STICK: To help you remember to think about these basic color principles the next time you get dressed, share with me your favorite color palette. Then use the color jargon–complementary, hue, tint, shade, tone and analogous–to explain why the palette looks so good.
You tried on all the clothes in your closet and created a Style Guide based on the clothes you feel most comfortable in. Then you created a Pinterest board of celebrities and fashion bloggers wearing the colors, cuts and styles you listed on your Style Guide. Now it’s time to bring it all together.
Fashion has a lot of rules. I find this humorous because I see fashion as a form of expression (artistic and emotional). What artist is fully able to express himself if he has restraints placed on him?
Fashion is also a tool that can be used to boost our confidence. If you feel amazing wearing navy and black together, do it. If you want to mix two prints, why not throw in a third?! Gold and silver together? I do it all the time.
Ultimately it comes down to how you feel in what you’re wearing.
When I was a teenager I had a skirt I loved. It was made of leather squares in bold pinks and purples. I paired it with a soft lavender blouse. I remember receiving a couple comments before heading out the door that those two pieces didn’t go together. I didn’t care. To this day, I will insist that skirt and blouse looked great together. And I felt great in the outfit.
In contrast, I’ve stood in front of the mirror layering on accessories, adding a belt or a cardigan, tucking and untucking my shirt, trying to emulate a look I saw. After all the fuss and finally achieving a similar look, I simply was not comfortable. I felt awkward and not like “me.”
That doesn’t mean we throw inspiration out the door. If there’s a style you love and it matches the types of clothing you feel great in, using street and celebrity inspiration is a great way to go. Here’s a few tips to help you out:
1. Identify why a look works
Inspiration from a photo can come in many different forms. Look at Liz, pictured above. One method would be to try and match every piece she’s wearing. Chances are you’d end up needing to substitute a piece here or there. For example, you may own a chambray blouse but not a cobalt midi skirt. You substitute the skirt with your closest option–a navy blue pencil skirt. Not having black heels you throw on black flats. You now have an entirely different look. That’s fine if you feel great, but if you’re trying to accomplish the look photographed, you’re a far cry from it.
Instead, evaluate why the look is working. Consider the color palette, fabrics, accessories and silhouette. This photo could inspire you to put together a look using the same color palette, but not with any of the same pieces Liz is wearing. Or it could be encouragement to try one piece in a bold color and the others in neutrals.
Another approach would be to look at the silhouette–a full skirt, her waist defined and a tailored blouse.
You could also see that she is dressier on the bottom by wearing the midi skirt and more casual on top. She is wearing a blouse, but the fabric is chambray so it’s casual.
Don’t try to match one for one. Look closely at the details to identify why you like a look.
2. Would my style icon wear this?
When I’m in a dressing room deciding to purchase a garment, I sometimes second guess myself wondering if the garment is right for me.
It can be hard to distance ourselves from our style. If someone asked you, “what’s your style” you may have trouble answering. If you asked a friend to describe your style, she could probably do so easily.
Likewise, you could probably describe the style of your style icon without too much thought, whether she be a friend, celebrity or fashion blogger.
I’ve started a new habit when standing in a dressing room or styling a look at home. I ask myself, “would my style icon wear this? How would she style it?” I then picture the garment on her.
This is the best little trick!
Instantly I know if the garment is going to help me accomplish the look I’m after. No, I’m not trying to look exactly like my style icon. I know that the type of clothing my style icon wears is what I feel comfortable in. I can use my style icon’s look as a base and build on top of it to be uniquely me.
3. Are you comfortable?
Lastly, it all comes down to how you feel in the clothing you’re wearing. That’s where the confidence comes from. If you’re wearing jeans and shirts every day feeling amazing, do it. If you’re wearing jeans and shirts but feeling sloppy and not like yourself, it’s time to push yourself and switch it up. If you get inspired and try a look, but don’t feel like you, keep trying. It’s not the right match.
Liz of Downtown Demure is a modest fashion blogger–my translation–beautifully classy fashion blogger. She shares with us her formula for adding some punch to drabby the “business casual” look.
What do you picture when you hear the term “business casual”? A white button down with a dark trousers? An austere skirt suit lacking personality or oomph? Yea, that’s what I used to consider business casual too.
Fortunately the world of fashion blogging opened my eyes to new, creative possibilities for business casual attire, and I learned that it’s OK to have some fun with the “casual” part!
However despite being a fashion blogger who loves refining my style, I can be a lazy dresser sometimes. I believe looking polished and classy shouldn’t require excessive effort, so I tend to follow simple fashion formulas and invest in key pieces.
In this post I will share some of my favorite simple fashion formulas for business casual dress so you can easily recreate these looks with your own flair!
Monochromatic with Bright Pants
Simple Fashion Formula: Bright Trousers + Monochromatic Blazer and Blouse + Polished Accessories +
A Clutch = Fun Business Casual
I stole this look from the Spring 2012 J. Crew catalog, and it has served me well for years. The key to this outfit is balance–if you wear fun, bright pants to work, balance them with a formal blazer in a dark or neutral color and a structured blouse. I love the effect of a monochromatic palette, so I typically pair my blue blazer with a blue chambray shirt.
As with any outfit, the little details–like a nice leather belt and a chic clutch–complete the outfit and make it that much more stylish. By the way, how perfect is it that the Cora includes a detachable clutch and wristlet?!
A Sharp Blazer and Black Pants
Simple Fashion Formula:
A Sharp Blazer + Black Pants + Dainty Jewelry + Polished Shoes = An Easy Business Casual Outfit
Unless you work in a very laid-back environment, I don’t recommend wearing jeans to work. Instead opt for bottoms in cotton, silk, wool, or blends. Ann Taylor carries really nice pants, like these cotton ankle trousers, that are business casual staples.
Black pants don’t have a ton of style on their own, so I dress them up by simply adding a draped blouse with a structured blazer that has unique details, like pleats that create a peplum fit, and polished heels (like Victoria Beckham, I simply “can’t concentrate in flats”). It’s polished; it’s simple; and better yet, it requires ZERO ironing if you properly hang your clothes.
An Easy Chic Dress
Simple Fashion Formula:
A Chic Dress + Polished Shoes + A Classy Handbag = The Easiest Business Casual Outfit
We all have those mornings–you know, the mornings when we hit the snooze one too many times and end up getting out of bed with 15 minutes to spare before work starts. For those crazy days, it’s good to have a simple, chic dress that you can quickly grab, throw on, and go.
The H&M dress I’m wearing has enough style on its own with its cute tie-collar, so I don’t need to over accessorize. To ensure it is office-appropriate, I pair it with refined accessories, like my pointy black pumps and my lovely dove gray Cora, which adds a nice dose of polish to any outfit.
I hope these looks and tips were helpful for you! Your sense of style shouldn’t be restricted by the “business casual” dress code. Here’s an easy rule of thumb for business casual dress:
For more fashion tips or simple fashion formulas, follow Liz at DowntownDemure.com, on Instagram and Pinterest.
Our style changes as we get older. As a child you may have defined your style as anything pink with sparkles, or maybe you were adamant that you would wear nothing girly. Through school it was keeping up with whatever the cool kids were wearing. In your twenties you experimented with styles and selected the best of what was on the sale rack.
Now you look at your closet and see a mix of clothes you don’t really like and a limited selection of styles you do.
The problem? You’ve never taken the time to think about and define your style. You keep making purchases in the moment, rather than building a wardrobe that works together and is “you.”
In Part One of Finding Your Style you tried on all the clothes in your closet and used my Style Guide to record what you do like and what you don’t like.
Now it’s time to put all those notes to work.
List Your Style Icons
Yes, we’re working to create a style that is uniquely “you,” but it’s okay to learn from women who do style really well.
Create a list of at least five icons (celebrities or characters) whose style you love. Here’s the catch. The style of these women needs to match with the style guide you created back in part one.
For example, if your style guide says you feel great when wearing bold, bright prints and pleated skirts, as much as you may love the impeccable style of Claire from House of Cards, her name doesn’t belong on your list. In this example, Zooey Deschanel’s character from New Girl could be a better fit.
You’re creating a style you feel good in.
Also pay attention to the height, body shape and age of your style icons. For example, if you’re 52, selecting Taylor Swift might not be the right pick for you.
If you’re not on Pinterest yet, get an account today. Create a board called, “Style Icons.” Search for and pin images of your icons wearing silhouettes, styles and colors that match your style guide.
Pay attention to details and identify what it is specifically about an icon’s style that you like. Expand your search by looking at the pins on other people’s boards who have pinned images of your style icons.
Did you just discover a fashion blogger with a style that matches your style guide? Follow her. Just as you identified the details of your style icons, do the same for the fashion bloggers. Their looks are going to be easier to execute as they’ve already been translated from celebrity style to average woman, every day style.
Keep building your board. When you’re ready, tackle Part Three.
Share with me some of your style icons. Need some help? Share with me a few key items on your style guide and your age in the comments below. I’ll toss out a few ideas to get you started.
The thought of wearing gingham may bring up images of Dorothy skipping down a yellow brick road, Toto in tow. While the girl did know a thing or two about never letting go of a great pair of shoes, her dress isn’t one anyone is in a hurry to add to her closet. But that doesn’t mean gingham needs to get doused.
Gingham can be playful for the day and sophisticated for the evening. Here are three classy ways to style gingham.
You know that woman who has a very defined sense of style? She doesn’t jump on the latest trend, her clothes suit her personality, and she always looks polished.
A well-defined style may seem unobtainable, but with some effort, you too can create a style that is uniquely you–a style that makes you feel strong and confident.
It all starts with understanding what clothes you’re comfortable in, what looks good on your body type and most importantly, why those clothes make you feel great.
Let’s get to work.
Set an afternoon aside, do your hair and makeup as you would on an average day (this is important), blast some music that makes you feel great and pull out a notepad and pen. It’s time for The Great Closet Cleanout.
This is a different type of closet clean out. The purpose is not to make room for your clothes to be seen better or to purge unworn garments, although both of these will happen. Rather the purpose is to help you begin to define your style.
Try on Everything
I mean everything–the clothes in the hamper, the bridesmaid dress from six years ago and last summer’s shorts. This isn’t to be done in a haphazard fashion. Sort the clothes into categories. Try on all your sundresses one after the next, then all your party dresses and so forth. Once you’ve tried on all dresses, move on to the next type of clothing.
On your notepad write, “Keep – Why I Like It” as one page’s heading and “Toss – Why I Don’t Like It” on another. As you stand in front of the full-length mirror trying on each garment, take note of how you feel wearing it. Really pay attention to why you like or don’t like it. Do the sleeves end in a place that makes you feel self-conscious about your arms? What’s the shape of the garment? Is it too tight, too loose? Does it pull to the side? Does the color make your eyes pop or does it wash you out?
Write down a quick description of the garment on the appropriate page of your notepad and what you do or do not like about it. For example, on “Keep – Why I Like It” you could write, “gray plaid pencil skirt – sits on true waist, good length (just below knee).” The “Toss – Why I Don’t Like It” page may say, “green V-neck top – loose fabric, shows too much cleavage.” Try to pinpoint why the garment does or does not work well on you. Note the colors, prints, print size, type of fabric, fit, shaping, length, neckline, denim wash and sleeve length.
This may seem tedious to do for every garment you own, but it’s the most important part of this exercise. The more thorough you are, the better your guide will be at the end. Trying the clothing on by group will make it go faster and help you stay organized. You’ll begin to see patterns in what you do like and what you don’t like, what fits well and what is not comfortable.
Toss/swap/donate the clothing that isn’t right for you. It may be difficult to get rid of some of these pieces, but recognize these clothes are not doing you any good. Chances are you’re not wearing them anyway and after doing this exercise, knowing you’re uncomfortable in them, you definitely won’t be reaching for them.
Sometimes there’s a fear you’ll miss a garment after getting rid of it. If this is the case, box it up, date it and store it for 6 months. After 6 months, if you haven’t had any need for the items, it’s time to get rid of them. But don’t open the box! You may get reattached and then need to go through the process again.
If there is clothing you love, but never wear because you don’t have the right garments to coordinate with them, that’s okay. They can go in a sub-pile of the keep lot. You’ll want to make note of what you need to purchase to make these clothes wearable.
The Style Guide
By the end of this exercise, you will have a very long list of the styles that work well on your body and the types of clothing you’re uncomfortable in, but it’s probably a mess. Let’s clean it up.
Review your “Keep” list, looking for patterns. On the style guide under each category write down what styles work best for you. For example, under the heading “Dresses” you could write, wrap dresses, sheaths, 3/4-length sleeves, etc. Detail the shapes, lengths and types of fabrics you like. If you don’t know the official name of a style, write down a description of the garment you own to help remind you of the style. After completing what is your style, fill out the “Not My Style” page in the same manner.
Whew, great work! You’re ready for Part 2 of Finding Your Style.
Was this guide helpful? Think it could help a friend? Share this post with her and for some extra fun, go through your closets together.
T-shirt and jeans, t-shirt and jeans, t-shirt and jeans.
Does this sound like your Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday? Maybe even your entire week? Who has time for more effort than slipping each leg into a pant hole and pulling a shirt over her head?
Because whether that shirt is a tee, blouse or sweater it takes the same amount of time to put it on.
You may be surprised to learn, the effort you put in to getting dressed each morning can affect your mood, productivity and confidence.
Here’s three ways to add some style to your daily uniform while keeping it casual.
The Non-Cotton Tee & Jeans
Ditch the cotton t-shirt, girl! There is a world full of beautiful fabrics and prints waiting for you. Upgrade to a crisper fabric, like the polyester tee shown here. It won’t wrinkle and can be thrown in the washing machine when your two-year old squirts mustard on it. Even many garments that state, “hand wash only” on their tags can be thrown in a machine. Have you tried the hand wash setting on your machine yet? Don’t let laundering hold you back from taking your style up a notch.
T-Shirt & Skirt
Nothing makes me feel quite as feminine as wearing a dress or skirt with heels. Pair your tee with a slightly dressier skirt and you’ll instantly get that bounce in your step. Wearing heels may not be practical for your day, but your shoe selection is important. Wearing flip flops, tennies or sandals is going to hold you back from hitting that more polished look. Instead try wedges or ballet flats.
The Magical Blouse
“Hi, my name is Blouse and I’m magical. Have we met?” Blouses have the wonderful ability to make an outfit look more sophisticated. The blouse could be crisp and white with a sharp collar or made from a luxurious crepe that softly drapes around the body. Replace your tees with blouses and I guarantee you’ll be feeling more stylish. To style, tuck your blouse into your pants and accessorize with a thin belt. On cooler days pair with a cotton jacket or thin V-neck pullover sweater.
Collect all the blouses and non-cotton tees into a designated area in your closet. Add the skirts that style well with a tee. The next time you’re tempted to throw on your standard uniform, force yourself to select an outfit from this section of your closet. Accessorize with a necklace and a cute pair shoes. You’ll quickly have a new outfit you feel more stylish in.
What’s keeping you in your style rut and how are you going to push yourself out of it this week? Share with me in the comments.
Have a friend that could use some help stretching herself beyond jeans and a t-shirt? Share this post with her.
Discovering Maddie Flanigan’s blog was like uncovering a gem in miles of sand. Her writing is engaging, her images, beautiful, and her topics, truly helpful. She’s found her calling as a professional blogger, photographer, patternmaker, seamstress and teacher. She got her start as a technical designer for Urban Outfitters, moved over to intimates and knits for Anthropologie (you know those beautiful sweaters we all love) and today is the internal blogger for the company.
With such an impressive resume, I hesitated to contact her. Would she really respond to my email? But her post about making bras had me hooked (no pun intended). Making my own bra had never even crossed my mind and here I was seriously considering it. I needed to share my discovery with you. Maddie responded and is just as delightful as her work. Enjoy her post about creating the foundation for any look. Then grab a cup of tea and pop over to her blog, Madalynne for hours of good reading. -JP
You’ve probably heard it before, but let me remind you again. Great outfits start with exactly this – good undergarments. Foundations create the shape clothing accentuates; it’s not the other way around. Have you ever worn a lacy number underneath a knit tee? While it’s not as disastrous as Marilyn Monroe’s skirt flying up in the movie, The Seven Year Itch, it is a sartorial blooper I think women should avoid, unless the lumpy, bumpy boho look is what you’re going for.
Below are the 3 types of undergarments I could not live without. I’ve forgoed the strapless, demi, plunge and other varieties because in the last 5 years, maybe even more, I’ve worn them only a handful of times. While they serve a need, that need comes once in a blue moon and I’m not going to spend my precious dimes on a “just in case” scenario. That’s why I have car insurance.
The T-shirt Bra
Printed or not, t-shirts are a wardrobe must-have. During both winter and summer, they stand alone or are paired with jackets and accessories. And let’s not forget the tee on tee layering trend! Because they cling to the body, it’s important that the bra underneath be smooth. Opt for full coverage, molded bras versus a demi cup. The latter produces an unsightly horizontal line. If you’re purchasing a bra, Gap has a wide variety of these types. If you’re a seamstress, Amy Chapman just released The Watson Bra, which would be a perfect t-shirt bra if made with a fabric like milliskin.
The Underwire Bra
An underwire bra will provide the best support and the most natural shape. The problem with underwire bras, and probably the reason why so many women have cursed them from their wardrobe, is the underwires. Underwires should encapsulate the breast and should not poke or dig into your skin. If they do, the wire does not fit. If you’re buying a bra, try on many until you find the one, and then purchase in multiples and repeatedly. If you’re making a bra, I suggest buying the underwire you think you are and then one size larger and one size smaller. Whichever fits you the best, keep and use on repeat.
The Sports Bra
I’m a gym rat, so having a good sports bra – and numerous amounts – is important not only for looks but for comfort. Even at my small size A cup, not having the right support is painful. Let’s not even get to sagging issues over time! For women with smaller breasts like me, compression bras that use strong fabric with lots of recovery is the best option to restrict movement. For women with larger breasts, encapsulation bras with actual cups will reduce bounce the most.
Share with us in the comments. What bra can you not live without?