The Top 10 Things You Must Have to be Stylish
I can hear you already, "I hate lists like this!" "Well, who does she think she is?" "I never need any of that stuff." Hear me out, this list you need no matter what your lifestyle, how much money you make, or how old you are. By the time you are done reading it you will think I am brilliant (I'm not) and you will agree with me.
Jackie O's hair changed very little through the years because it was perfect for her -a little longer, or shorter but always that signature style.
Item one: The perfect haircut.
Look, you wear your hair everyday, yes, you can stick
it under a hat but that doesn't work for more than a couple of hours.
Have you ever had a really good hair day? If you have, then you know what
I mean. It is like you can hear angels singing, people don't argue with
you -what would be the point? Obviously with perfect hair you have a
superior grasp of everything and they are happy to just bask in your
glow. Now, notice I did not say the latest hairstyle or (insert hot
starlet's name here) style, no, I said "perfect" and that means perfect
for you. This means that it works for your lifestyle, your hair texture,
and your face/body shape. Yes, this is easier said than done.
Here is how you get it. You start by asking people with really good hairstyles where they got their hair done. Let's get the craziness out of the way. You can ask people with poker straight flaxen hair where they got their hair done but it won't help you if you are a curly-haired brunette. So ask people with hair like yours where they went. Once you get the names of a couple of places and or people, book 15 minutes of their time. Yes, pay them if you need to. Stylists are professionals and their opinion/skills are to be valued. Do NOT go in with pictures of X cut and ask how they would make that work on you. You want them to start from scratch so to speak. You want to know what would be the best hair cut for you, so explain a little about you lifestyle and what you are willing to do to make a style work. They should have enough expertise to evaluate your hair texture and condition. Talk with all the candidates and then book a cut with the one that most carefully takes all the information in and gives you the best recommendation. It may not be perfect, yet! Bear in mind, that sometimes getting to the perfect cut takes time to clean up all the other stuff that was done previously but good stylist should be able to give you a plan of where they are headed.
Item two: A way to change the perfect haircut.
Look, we're girls, we get bored, we like a little change once in while. So while you are still sitting in the chair get your stylist to show you a quick "trick" for when you are bored with your perfect hair. Maybe it is a product that takes a minute extra so you can add it for special occasions. Or maybe it is something as simple as a hair band. You'll be happier, they'll think you are a nearly perfect client, and you'll be less likely to run into one of those quick-y places and mess with their plan.
She looks so happy in her bra, of course the diamond earrings and the 24 inch waist don't hurt either.
Item three: A properly fitted bra
You've heard the stats, 80% of American women are wearing the wrong size bra. Odds are the band is too small and the cups are too big. This combination makes us THINK we are built better than we are but we are fooling no one with the pooch hanging over our bra bands and the gaps in our cups. Get yourself to a real bra fitter, spend the money on a good bra, yes, it will cost you significantly more than you think it should. Do it anyway! Here's why. A well fit bra will make you look like you have lost 10 lbs. instantly. It will let you stand up straighter, longer so you look taller and younger. All of your clothes will look better on you because you now have better structure under them. You also won't be thinking that maybe you could get away with taking off your bra in the car on the way home because it is so uncomfortable! If all that isn't worth $60 then I don't know what is? Admit it, I had you at "lost 10 lbs" didn't I? If you really can't find a lingerie store that fits bras, and it is becoming a dying art, then spend the money on "The Lingerie Handbook" and then go to the store where you buy your bras and spend at least an hour trying on different styles and sizes to evaluate the fit. Yes, this is a PITA but it is very necessary for all those reasons above. If a bra slips off your shoulders all the time no matter how tight you make the straps, cut the straps from the back band and sew them back on closer to the center of the band. Half an inch makes a world of difference and a bra that you previously hated may now be a favorite. You will never look at your undies as nothings again.
Everybody can make the perfect black dress for themselves with this book!
Item four: The perfect black dress
Sorry you're not getting out of this one! Even if you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. There are still funerals, court dates, meetings with bankers, you get my drift. Almost anything important, even vaguely dressy you can wear a black dress to. Even weddings nowadays! It should NOT be super fancy, it should NOT have all the bells and whistles, you actually want it plain. Plain doesn't age. Plain works under a jacket if need be or can be worn 3 days in a row if the luggage gets lost and no one will think twice. Plain can be changed with different jewelry or a scarf and the whole look is different. Something in a woven will wear longer than a knit but if that is what you are most comfortable in, do that. And for those of you that think that black is never going to work for you. I wasn't kidding either. Black, in this case, is less about what looks best on you than the social conventions in place in our society. Black has a standing that Brown or Navy, or even Gray just don't. It has to be Black. If Black really drains you, throw on a colored cardigan or a pretty scarf in your best colors and the Black then just becomes the jewel box all the pretty rests in. Look how many things do the fashion editors and the Amish agree on? Black is universal.
Okay, so I got cute but you get it right?
Item five: a core capsule
No, I haven't started recommending "dolls" for everyone. (though there are times...) I am telling you that you need what used to be called the 3 piece suit. Before you start harumpfing I don't mean a tailored suit if that doesn't work for your life. If you work in an office and if it suits your style and if the dress code for your job requires it then go ahead and do the tailored suit. So what exactly am I talking about? Easy, some kind of indoor jacket to pull you together when you need it. To that you want to add a pair of pants and a skirt but, your best shape pants and best shape skirt. So let's say you still live on that farm in the middle of nowhere so your suit needs are minimal why would you need this? Well, a shirt jacket helps you look more pulled together and hides fluff around the middle when you run to the feed store. Pants that work with it are just a natural. And a skirt that works with it dresses it up for when you need to talk to the kid's teacher or you don't want to feel like your life is nothing but chores. (yes, I grew up on a hobby farm) Now if you live in a suburban setting, this works for you too, maybe the shapes are different or the fabric can be less wash and wear but the most important thing is that the shapes and color work for you so you don't have to fuss with it to get going. What color should it be? Your best neutral, obviously! Yes, this is where you "Autumns" want your Brown and you "Springs" can have your Navy. If you are a deep Winter go ahead and make it all Black or if you're a little older Charcoal Grey. You will notice that all of these colors work with your Black dress.
It doesn't need to be tweed if that doesn't work for you. This one is by Theory BTW
Item six: the accessory jacket
Okay, now you really think I am pushing it. One jacket was bad enough now I want you to get a second one. Hear me out and then you can fillet me. Jackets do most of the work in pulling together a style -they do the work so you don't have to. Say you are lousy at accessorizing, throw your accessory jacket on with your capsule pants or skirt and voila! a whole new snazzy look with out any extra effort. Throw your 2nd jacket over your plain black dress and you've multiplied your wearing options even more. So what makes a good accessory jacket? In short, some kind of pattern. I'm not talking big floral print, although that could work too, what you don't want is another plain jacket. This one should have some kind of print or texture or something that your regular capsule jacket doesn't have. It should also pick up some of the color of your best neutral so you can wear the pieces together. I would recommend also looking at a different shape. A change of lapel may be enough or maybe shorter or longer hem but you want something different from the old standby. This is the jacket that you throw on with jeans or what ever and looks stylish without even trying. A little glitz isn't a bad idea if you have a full social calendar either. It will make your basics look like you made an effort to dress up when all you really did was swap out your jacket.
Item seven: casual bottoms
Even if you work in the most uptight office in the most uptight industry there are still days off, company picnics, and other occasions for merriment that don't actually require a suit. Hence the no brainer of casual bottoms, yes, denim, if you wear them or maybe you're a skirt girl, or you live in khakis. These are most people's work horses. Odds are you already have plenty but cull through to find the ones that fit the best and work with your best neutral pieces from above. Oh, did I mention that these should be pretty neutral too. Denim and khaki go with almost everything (including each other!) so it shouldn't be too hard. These are not your cleaning the house clothes either. They should all be nice enough to wear to work and if you have tons then hem some for flats and some for heels, unless like me, you never really wear anything over 1 1/2".
Item eight: the perfect pump
Umm, this is my Holy Grail (more along the lines of Monty Python I am afraid). I have bad knees and a bad back that have nothing to do with being old. On top of that, I'm middle-aged and overweight. Finding shoes that are both stylish and I can wear for more than 2 hours would be a true miracle. I do actually have some though. First, Don't bother looking in the big box stores. If you have difficult feet you need to think outside the box. If you have never shopped Zappos.com go look there first. They are not the cheapest but they do have extraordinary customer service and their customer reviews are really helpful. So look there even if you don't buy from them. After you have purchased a likely candidate, take it to the shoe maker (another dying art!) and have better heel taps put on. It will save you later and by doing it first you won't have destroyed the heel already. Oh, while you are there check in to waterproofing. Rain happens and when it does you can bet you'll be wearing suede.
Item nine: throw on and go tops
Now we are getting to the colorful part of the program. Up till now I have been preaching the gospel of neutrals and for your workhorse pieces I wouldn't have it any other way. But everyone, even me, who lives in black, gray, and navy needs a pop of color. Throw on and go tops are where you can have some fun! Pick some of the best colors from your spectrum and you can't go wrong. Throw them on with your casual bottoms but nice plain Ts also work with your neutral suit separates too. Search for simple necklines that look best on you. A quick hint: if your jaw is rounded go for a V or square neckline, all angles- use a rounded neckline to soften your look. These don't have to be expensive and should definitely be wash and wear.
Item ten: the perfect coat
If you live on a Tahitian island you can forget this one. All of the rest, pay attention. Admittedly this has been a weird winter. NYC has gotten more snow than Chicago. Atlanta has gotten a foot of snow! This is beyond weird. Now I have lived most of my life North of the Mason-Dixon line and if there is one constant it is that for most of the winter anytime you see someone they have their coat on. They may take it off eventually but that first impression, it is not the stunningly crafted outfit, it is the slightly shabby, almost inevitably black coat that hangs in the closet unloved for months till the frost shows and then gets pulled out -again! If you have a beautiful coat show it some love this Spring and get it cleaned before putting it in a hanging garment bag (not the drycleaning bag!) It will look so much better next winter when you take it out. If you coat is serviceable but dull, look into changing the buttons or maybe bringing up the hem to a more modern length. If you really are starting from scratch buy a color! Yes, all the books say that black is the best first coat but let's face it, you don't usually wear your coat with an outfit, you wear it over an outfit. A coat in a gorgeous color that is gorgeous on you will really help you stand out in a sea of black and that is what style is all about.
Bonus Item: the perfect glasses
Oh, wait, there are 11! This isn't going to apply to everyone but a lot of us at a certain age need a little help in this area. I have worn glasses since 4th grade (okay, I got glasses in 4th grade, I didn't start wearing them regularly till high school!) You need great glasses for all the same reasons you need a great haircut and then some. Glasses are like jewelry that says "look deep into my eyes" Trust me, your glasses should be stunning on you. Unfortunately as we get older and become more farsighted ie. your arms get too short to read anything, your prescription has the effect of making your eyes look smaller. The best response is to go diva and get the biggest frame your bone structure can handle. Don't feel hemmed in by the choices at the local mall 1 hour place either. There are wonderful, modern options online and even some independent places that are capable of ordering almost anything and may actually have more selection than you'd think. And frankly, isn't looking fabulous in your glasses worth more than an hour?