When you feel blah, like you have “no style” (the most common refrain I hear from friends and clients), typically it’s because your wardrobe is made up of … basics. They can be bland and lacking in personality—certainly they don’t have as much personality as you do.
In fact, they they may well fail at one of clothing’s most basic functions: expressing who we are. A black pencil skirt, white button down shirt—alone, these things don’t convey personality and point of view. They just can’t.
How you express yourself
At the other end of the wardrobe spectrum are all the things that distinguish one woman’s wardrobe from another’s and express to the world exactly who she is and what she stands for. The jewelry, the jackets, the belts, the scarves. The things that are quirky, picked up on a trip to India or Mexico, retrieved from a grandmother’s jewelry box, or thrifted.
In rare instances, a client will have all that fun stuff and almost no basics. A recent client, for instance, had several vintage silk kimonos and a couple of fun skirts made of antique saris. She’s got poufy Nepalese pants. She’s got red cowboy boots, and a nice little collection of what she calls pin-up dresses. Plus a chest full of tribal silver jewelry.
By and large, what was hanging in her closet was wonderful. The problem was she didn’t have any “background” or basic pieces to pair with all those special things—a pair of black velvet skinny jeans, for instance, a long sleeve ivory T-shirt or sweater, or an ivory and black or navy T-shirt.
Sure, pattern-mixing is the way to go right now, but not everything goes with everything else, and in her case, almost nothing went with anything else.
The eye has to rest
And you’ve got to have those pieces; only in certain instances will someone want to wear one special and unusual piece on top of another and another, the whole outfit unique. (Caveat: That is possible, but only with huge wardrobes, which this woman’s isn’t, or an attitude of insouciance about how pieces work with each other vis-a-vis silhouette, etc.)
So during our initial session, we created a short shopping list for her, and we will tackle that next. Then it’s back into her closet to make outfits with a few carefully chosen new pieces, like an ivory silk shirt and some up-to-date jeans.
With a pair of jeans and some fresh T-shirts alone, she will have many more options. She’s got a bustier top made of men’s ties, all in the purple family. That will be fantastic with jeans and a white T-shirt underneath. Or the same base with her fabulous heavy black silk kimono. Maybe even with her awesome Wonder Woman dressing gown. The options are endless.
Do you have unique special things in your closet? Or mostly simple basics? What do you feel is missing and why?