Someone commented on a recent Instagram post of mine that they were feeling a bit frumpy and wanted to know how I “managed to look so good in everything I wear” – what?! That is so kind (thank you Celeste!), and a bit surprising, as this week I was having days where I felt like my clothes were too tight and I was feeling a bit bleh.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how much fun I usually have getting dressed in the morning, and I thought it may be useful to jot down a few things. Not that I am by all means a fashion expert, but I do express myself through my clothes – so I thought I may pass on some style secrets that have worked for me (I suppose this is an expansion of this recent post):
- Don’t hoard. I know I’ve probably gone on about the whole minimalism thing quite a lot, but my wardrobe is one place I definitely apply this mantra to. If it doesn’t get worn often, and it’s not a classic item, or it’s old and kak, then it gets passed on to a friend who’s admired it, or donated. I clear out my cupboard every season, and sometimes more often. This whole process probably started when I did a wardrobe analysis with my friend and stylist Pippa J, a few years ago.
- Arrange shirts/tops/jerseys the Marie Kondo way. I loved this book and although I haven’t fully applied it to my whole life, her handy trick of rolling up your tops and placing them side by side vertically, instead of flat in a teetering pile – has really changed getting dressed in the morning! You can instantly see at a glance what you have available to you, and you can go “hmmm, I feel like wearing this khaki green top, or I quickly need a black t-shirt – here one is!”. It’s a small change but it works. This is what it looks like.
- Buy black underwear. I read a post on Cup of Jo once about a secret trick she has that makes getting dressed every morning so much easier – she went and bought 12 pairs of black panties. This may sound strange but I did it too and it works! I bought bikini bottoms from Woolies – these soft touch bikinis are a great option. They’re silky, comfy and soft, and because they’re black you don’t feel frumpy at all, even though they’re ‘gewone’ underwear and nothing special. I have other kinds too, but I find that unless I’m wearing light coloured trousers, I find myself reaching for these black undies, time and again.
- Good quality shoes + bags. I’m fully aware that I’m privileged to be gifted shoes through my collaboration with various brands, most recently Pesso – so I get a head start in the style stakes, as good shoes are expensive. But I would still rather have five pairs of really good quality and comfortable shoes, than 10 pairs of average or rubbish ones. In summer you need a pair or two of sandals, a pair of wedges to throw on for a party or smarter occasion, some sneakers for the weekend, and then maybe a loafer or pump for work. The same applies to handbags – get 2 or 3 nice ones in black/brown/grey.
- Wear a belt, tuck it in. I don’t understand those who wear pants with no belt! No one wants to see your plumber bum, and everything looks incomplete if you don’t wear a belt. I have one black belt and one brown belt, and I wear them with all of my jeans. I also tuck my shirts in, depending on the outfit, and I’m loving the higher waisted look these days. Wear simple blue jeans with a white t-shirt tucked in (above a belt), throw on some nice earrings and a pair of pumps and you’re sorted.
- Get good neutrals. A grey cardigan, blue and black skinnies, white and black t-shirts (I have three of each – Cotton On makes good ones), a denim jacket (I got mine from Poetry), a white blazer (got mine from Forever New), white/black long-sleeved t-shirts (mine are from Woolies) – these are the basics your wardrobe needs. I build every outfit around these.
- Aim for balance. If you’re wearing skinny jeans then balance it with a looser top. If you’re wearing flowy culottes, then pair them with a skinny vest. If you’re showing off statement earrings, then you don’t need a flashy necklace, and it’s best to keep your outfit simple. And so on, and so on.
- Keep an eye out for vintage. I’m a bit of magpie when it comes to vintage things. I have a gold handbag that was my grandmother’s (it has been to many weddings!), and an emerald ring of hers that I just love wearing. Then there’s the Chinese silk coat that was my husband’s grandmother’s, and an antique brooch of hers that I love wearing to add sparkle to a simple black dress. Keep an eye out when you’re visiting relatives (only with their blessing of course!), or browsing through antique or second-hand stores.
When I was younger I wanted to be a fashion designer – but then I discovered that I could not draw. AT ALL. So I suppose developing my own style has been one way for me to express this interest of mine. I’ve also found that clothes can be a bit like armour as they allow you to express your individuality, but also make you feel stronger and more confident.
Hopefully some of my style tips will help you feel the same way:).
Enjoy this beautiful Sunday.