While many of us who have spent the last year adjusting to life working from home have relished in the opportunity to wear our comfiest clothes day in day out (okay, comfiest joggers and Zoom-appropriate tops), even the slightest mention of an eventual ease on lockdown is bringing up a lot of questions when it comes to our post-isolation wardrobes.
Are matching tracksuits appropriate when we return to ‘real life’? What shoes did we ever wear to the office? Do I still like my pre-lockdown clothes? Do I need to buy an entirely new wardrobe? What’s on-trend any more? Do I even care?
If any of that sounds familiar, fear not. Our Fashion Editor is here to reveal her 13 top tried-and-tested styling tips and fashion formulas that will work for and transform any wardrobe.
1. EXPERIMENT WITH COLOURFUL ACCESSORIES
Colour can – particularly in this era of beiges and browns – feel a little intimidating. They do, however, add life to just about any outfit. If you’re not into coloured clothing then it’s a good idea to stock up on brightly coloured bags, jewellery and shoes. They’ll lift your mood as much as they do your look.
2. BANK SOME ALL BLACK BASICS
Having said that, we all have those days when we feel utterly unmotivated and not particularly keen to ‘stand out’. I recommend having a small selection of super subtle basics, such as a black maxi dress and a good pair of boots, to bank on and still feel great in when you don’t feel compelled to #curate a #lewk.
3. BE CLEVER WITH PROPORTIONS
As someone who tends to steer towards a looser silhouette, this one has been a learning curve for me too. To avoid looking drowned beneath fabric (or entirely squeezed-in, for those of you on the other end of the spectrum) it’s wise to balance things out. Top half vs. bottom half is an easy way to try it, but cinched cuffs/waists/ankles also drastically impact an overall shape.
4. CONSIDER VERSATILITY
Another one I’ve historically not been good at, when you’re buying a new item try and make sure you can come up with at least a handful of different ways to wear it – and I don’t just mean ‘with four different tops’. I’ve this shirt dress buttoned up to the top with boots in autumn, open at the neck and beneath the knee with sandals on holiday, atop a slim-fit roll neck for dinner and unbuttoned from the waist over jeans for a more casual weekend look.
5. INCORPORATE DIFFERENT TEXTURES
Playing with textures is a really easy way to make an outfit look and feel more expensive; whether that’s layering sheer outer atop more basic staples beneath, having a peek of ribbed knitwear appear at a neckline and wrists, or even incorporating a little sequin action as and when the occasion calls for such a thing (post-lockdown, we’d imagine).
6. PLAY WITH OUTER LAYERS
For too long ‘outerwear’ has been seen as primarily functional, but considering it forms the shell of your look – and the only bit anyone actually sees right now as no one is meeting up indoors – I think it deserves a little more credit. Why not flip your thinking, even just momentarily, and pair a basic under-layer with a super vibrant coat or embroidered maxi cardigan?
7. FRENCH-TUCK EVERYTHING
A great way to refresh your existent wardrobe is by rethinking the way you wear your every day looks. The French tuck – aka the ‘half tuck’ – is a super easy way to sharpen up any look that feels a little sack-like whilst retaining a sense of ease and nonchalance (see, French).
8. LEARN JEWELLERY FORMULAS
Not as complicated as it sounds, a great way to make a simple, timeless look feel more contemporary is via the art of jewellery layering. But rather than just putting on all of your necklaces at once, it’s worth understanding the art form that is ‘stacking’. Odd numbers tend to work best, with three proving the most commonly successful, while different chain densities is a vital component. Having one with a pendant is always good, too, as it creates a different, more pointed shape alongside the rounded chains.
9. WORK WITH YOUR INSECURITIES
We all have our – often entirely irrational – insecurities (I’ll go first, I’m not keen on my upper arms or my knees), but rather than curse them it’s far more productive to learn to work with them. And, hey, doing so will often encourage you to be more sartorially creative than you otherwise might. Layering loose-sleeved t-shirts beneath thin straps and trousers beneath dresses are some of my personal favourite tricks.
10. TRY A TONAL LOOK
If you find ‘colour coordinating’ a look quite tricky and all-too-often revert to black and white as your safe staples, try experimenting with ‘tonal’ looks for a more contemporary take on colour. Creams/beiges/khakis look particularly great together, but so do several other variations. If you’ve got a favourite pale blue top, for example, pair it with navies, royal blues and even seafoam green. Varying tones instantly make a look feel more pulled together.
11. PLAN AHEAD
Speaking of feeling pulled together, nothing looks happily accidental about a matching nail polish/outfit combination. Whether we’re talking toenails and sandals, or fingernails and dress/bag/trousers, if your beauty look is in-keeping with your outfit you’ll instantly look and feel a million times slicker than if you were sporting last week’s red toes with a blue sandal.
12. SOFTEN BLOCK LOOKS
Sometimes wearing a block colour from your shoulders to your toes – whether that be via a dress, a jumpsuit or a trouser suit – can feel a little dense. Breaking it up with a layer between the outfit and your skin – via roll-necks, long sleeved cuffs etc. – will make it look more like you’re wearing the look than the look is wearing you.
13. INVEST IN A GOOD COAT
If all else fails, there’s little more rewarding in the wardrobe world than investing in a bl**** good coat. As I like things oversized, I find belted coats balance out the proportion of big sleeves and longer lengths, while your weakness may well be a great print, a luxurious fabric or a cosy hood. It doesn’t look like we’ll be socialising indoors any time soon, so this may just be your smartest investment move for 2021.