Stuyle Corner: HOW TO FASHION
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Note: This feature marks a revival of senior Julia Panas’s “Stuyle Corner” column, the intent of which is to offer commentary on fashion both in and out of Stuy and foster a greater interest in fashion among our readers.
We all have those days when we open our closet looking for the perfect outfit and end up with a pile of discarded clothes on the floor, exclaiming “I have nothing to wear!” So, here are some tips on how to always look your best, whether it’s to get dinner with family, study at school, or go shopping with friends in SoHo.
The easiest way to start your outfit is to pick a focus piece. This can be anything from flashy jewelry to oversized colorful pants to a bag with a unique shape. The rest of your outfit should remain simple in contrast, using solid colors or basic patterns. An outfit with too many focal points can look chaotic and messy, while one which is solely composed of “basics” will be boring and unnoticeable. For example, we could use a statement jacket: an oversized nylon bomber jacket with a bright blue lining, cropped at the waist with an elastic hem.
A focus can also give you the opportunity to highlight certain parts about yourself: large earrings will draw attention to your face, while bright shoes will emphasize your height.
The key to establishing a silhouette is to combine fitted and loose pieces in each outfit. Skinny jeans, stretchy tops, and slim-fitting mini skirts are all examples of fitted items, while oversized tees, wide-cut trousers, and flowing dresses exemplify looser ones. It’s possible for a single piece to fulfill both characteristics, like a blouse with a body-hugging bodice and oversized puffed sleeves. Mixing and matching these garments allow you to stay comfortable while still producing a dynamic look.
To decide on a silhouette, build around the focus piece you already picked. For example, a fitted top, like a cropped high-neck sleeveless piece, would work well with a loose, oversized jacket. Since we already have the small top, we can pair it with something looser on the bottom, like cargo pants. Though we will have two loose items when the jacket is zipped up, the cinched waist of the top and cargo pants will provide an overall semi-fitted silhouette.
Once you know the general shape you’re going for, it’s time to select the clothes which will complement your focus. When doing this, the most important thing to keep in mind is coordination. The colors of the garments should match in tone, as if they were part of the same color palette: soft pink pairs well with muted browns and other pastels, while bold colors match with black, white, or other bright hues. Coordination is also important when considering patterns or graphics in our clothing. While layering multiple patterns can create a fashion statement, the patterns shouldn’t clash and should instead work together. Using a recurring texture, such as leather or satin, is yet another way to coordinate your outfit, which will also make it more memorable. To continue our previous example with the black and blue bomber, black nylon cargo pants that match the jacket material could provide cohesion.
As for the color theme of our outfit, simple monochromatic colors—like grey and black—will easily complement the rest of the look. The crop top can be a dark grey so that when the jacket is taken off there will be a variation in color.
Finally, you can use an accent color to coordinate your outfit, by selecting a color and using it in multiple pieces. In this case, the bright blue lining can be an accent by adding a pop of blue eyeshadow, which will expand on the ‘80s theme of the bomber jacket.
A good accessory is the finishing touch to an outfit and can elevate it by pulling the look together. Adding delicate gold-toned jewelry will make a simple look more classic; a scarf tied in your hair will create a vintage vibe; and a patterned leather belt can enhance your street-style aesthetic. When accessorizing, keep in mind Coco Chanel’s advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror, and remove one accessory.” It’s easy to stack up on bracelets and bags, but it’s necessary to strike a balance and let your accessories shine on their own. For our example outfit, silver jewelry—like stacked rings and small hoops—will be a good addition because they’ll match with the cool-toned palette of the ensemble. For shoes, we can wear black high-heeled booties to complement the cargo pants. Finally, for the bag, a small boxy crossbody will complete the look; its structured shape will contrast with the looseness of the jacket without detracting from the focus.
These guidelines can apply to any outfit for any occasion, so next time you’re stuck staring at your closet, don’t give up! Just remember to pick a focus, maintain a dynamic silhouette, coordinate your colors, and always add that final touch. Of course, these tips are merely suggestions, not rules. Fashion is unique to each person and their style and can be expressed in many different ways. In the end, it is most important to wear what you personally feel confident in, as your confidence is the key piece to making any outfit look inspirational.