This may come as shock to some people, but, I'm not wealthy or well-off—not even close. In the last year, I've really had to buckle down financially, and I haven't been able to buy things as carelessly, and frivolously as I once did. It can be annoying at times, but, I look at it like a challenge more than a burden. I get a lot of compliments on my clothes and shoes choices, and often times, people assume that everything I own is designer, or really expensive. I can assure you, that that's not the case, at all. This look is basically an ode to the Classics, as I like to call them, they are the building blocks of my wardrobe, essentially. They can make anyone look just as good, or expensive. I think something like a trench coat, simple shirt, skirt, and the right heels can go a long way. These are the kind of pieces that have longevity in my closet, and can be mixed and matched with other pieces in as many different ways as I can think of. I think the key for looking really put together is getting the basics down, and serving it with a whole lot of confidence.
FIRSTLY, FOCUS ON QUALITY RATHER THAN ON QUANTITY—not only is having a closet full of clothes that you don't wear incredibly frustrating, and space consuming, it's also impractical. What's the point of having clothes you don't wear? Donate or sell what you don't wear anymore, and really narrow down your wardrobe to the most essential things.
In the last year, despite not really buying many new things, I've purged a large portion of my closet. I got rid of things I wouldn't wear in a million years, and what I have left is a carefully curated collection (yay alliteration!) of pieces that are essential to me. How does cleaning out your closet work to keep you looking like a million bucks? In my opinion, it changes your mindset on shopping for your wardrobe. By setting your sights on not overstuffing your closet in the first place, you will be more careful as to what you bring into it. Having a smaller selection of clothes is much more enjoyable, and manageable, and will also allow you to actually see what you have and don't have— and, then you can shop accordingly.
QUALITY DOESN'T HAVE TO MEAN EXPENSIVE—quality is in the details, you just have to pay attention. I've purchased things for $30 that look just as expensive as something that cost me $300, and I've purchased things that were higher end that actually look kind of cheap. You really have to look at things such as stitching, fabric, cut, color, and construction. Cut, and construction are things that can really make a huge difference, not just in how an item looks on a hanger, but how it looks on you. I think one of the best ways to look more expensive, is to simply wear clothes that fit you properly.
STOCK UP ON THE CLASSICS–there are just some pieces that no matter what, never go out of style. I posted my Top Ten Basic Wardrobe Essentials a few months ago, but, I'd also like to expand that into making sure you have some basic outwear like a Black or Camel wool coat, and even a light trench coat. Simple slacks, button down shirts, and sweaters in various colors or patterns are also great to just have on hand, as well. Classic silhouettes work on a wide range of different body types, and can look just as unique as something more trendy, depending on how you style yourself. Thrift and consignment stores are perfect places to start your hunt for these items, the majority of my more tailored, and designer pieces actually come from thrifting—it's amazing what people get rid of.
DON'T WORRY ABOUT LOOKING TRENDY—obviously, we all love to indulge in trends, because they can be fun, and in some ways, they can help you develop a better sense of your own personal style by process of elimination, but, they are fleeting. Style isn't about wearing the newest thing all of the time, it's about expression, and mixing it up! Keep a closet of things you can wear year after year, and then, when you have something trendy on your hands, find a way to incorporate it with what you have.
SPLURGE, SOMETIMES—this might sound counterintuitive to my post, but, incorporating more expensive pieces into your wardrobe, will make you appear more expensive (duh). That being said, you don't need to pay full price, in order to do so. Again, shop at thrift and consignment stores, Ebay, or Etsy to find lightly used designer pieces, at much more affordable prices. As much as I love saving money, and getting bargains, sometimes a moment of 'Treat Yo Self' has to happen. I'm not saying I go to the mall and buy everything in sight, I just mean, sometimes, I go a bit out of my normal budget to obtain something that I really want. Also, I feel that wearing looks consisting of both high and low end pieces is a great way to balance things out; and when you get really good at mixing high and low, people won't know which thing is expensive, or which thing is inexpensive—it's kind of fun, actually.
POSTURE, POSTURE, POSTURE—oh yes, how you stand has quite a bit to do with looking expensive. I'm not asking you to stand like you're in a Miss America Pageant, I'm telling you to stand up straight, and claim your place in the world. Keep your chin up, and your shoulders back, and walk with confidence. Good posture, and confidence are great accessories for your outfit. You can convince anyone that anything you choose to wear is awesome, simply by owning it. You know those times where people say, "So-and-so could wear a potato sack, and it would still look good," yeah, that's because So-and-so is oozing confidence, and confident people can wear potato sacks and look good; ultimately, it isn't about the clothes, or potato sacks, or any of that, it's about you.
TAKE YOUR TIME—Rome wasn't built in a day, and your wardrobe can't be built in a day, either—believe me, I know, I've tried. It will take time for you to clean and organize yourself, it will take time for you to find things worthy of owning, it takes time to hunt down bargains, and it takes time to find your own style. You definitely have to have patience! It's taken me a year to get this far, and I still feel like I have a lot more to do, and to purge! So take your time, there's no point in driving yourself insane over clothes, trust me.
Now that you know all of me secrets, go forth and create awesome wardrobes! And, let me know if any of these tips are helpful you, or if you need suggestions on how/where to shop for certain things!
Top: Forever 21 // Trench: H&M // Skirt: Cotton On // Shoes: Shoemint // Bag: Ona Bags
Photography by Chris Cain, edited by Tasha James