Dressing well is not synonymous to dressing wealthy. Read on for seven tips to elevate your style without elevating your credit line.
Just because you are not ready to blow your rent on a pair of shoes does not mean that you cannot exude the same level of taste that designer-clad celebrities and street style stars do.
A well-curated outfit does not need to break the bank. A well-curated outfit simply has dimension, a thoughtfully composed narrative. A transformative climax.
It is literally never what your wear, but how you wear it.
7 easy tips for dressing well, regardless of price tag.
Know your style:
Simply wearing designer clothing does not automate style. There are plenty of poorly-dressed walking billboards to go around. Style has more depth than a garment can ever provide. Your style comes first- it is the embodiment of you. Knowing your style preferences takes the guesswork out of shopping and dressing because you can be confident with your wardrobe within a general template. Minimalist, feminine or edgy, it matters not what the label says, but rather how you choose to interpret them within your own aesthetic.
Knowing your style preferences takes the guesswork out of shopping and dressing because you can be confident with your wardrobe within a general template. Minimalist, feminine or edgy, it matters not what the label says, but rather how you choose to interpret them within your own aesthetic.
Identify your message:
Your style automatically introduces you to people you may never even talk to, so it is important to know what you are trying to say. Clothing is merely the vessel with which to convey your message. Once you know what you are saying, filling in the blanks with great outfits is easy. If your message is elegance, poise, classic, your goal effortlessness, tastefulness, quality
Identify your goal:
Furthermore, your clothing should achieve some goal. You don’t want to just stockpile clothes with no strategy in mind. Whether it is a goal to work you budget up to an investment piece or simply a goal to master a cohesive and curated closet, identifying this motive keeps your wardrobe and your wallet within a contextual perspective.
Take your time. Spend smart.
In a world of immediacy, and especially within a world of fast fashion, we can succumb to over-valuing quantity which can drive impulsive and unstrategic shopping. Just because an item is cheaper, does not mean that you should buy it. It will never do you any good to have clothes for the sake of having clothes.
Be choosy with what you let join your wardrobe. If you are concerned with sustainability, don’t forfeit your beliefs simply because Forever 21’s version is $100 cheaper than Reformation’s. Slow down your shopping habits. It will always be easier to rationalize $20 rather than $200, but often our perception of affordability is distorted based on the frequency of purchase. I may buy $20 items ten times over, simply because the items were $20. Instead, I could have more productively allocated my multiple $20 investments, shifting my values from (10x$20) quantity to (1x$200) quality.
Find a budget that keeps you and your closet happy. Just because you are not splurging on designer does not mean you should forego quality in general. Spending more on one piece may mean less clothing overall but quality > clutter.
There are so many less-conventional ball-on-a-budget brands out there that offer unique and quality product lines. We all have the likes of Zara, H&M and Forever 21 permanently tattooed on our credit card statements, but explore stores like Genuine People, Pixie Market and Aritzia. These brands are far from underground, but they also don’t function within the fast fashion supply chain that generally guarantees the frequent twinning-with-strangers scenario.
Value the outfit’s composition.
Turn getting dressed into an artform. This does not require that you spend ages figuring out what to wear as your brood over how well this blouse goes with those jeans. But give thought to texture, color palette, print play, volume contrast, length variation, and layers. How a statement necklace can either compliment or overpower a printed blouse. An outfit’s composition is what gives an outfit dimension, a narrative with a beginning, middle and end, a plot and a climax. Tell us a story. Don’t merely put on an outfit—create it.
This is one of those annoying fashion words that you’ll hear in every magazine or blog post, but it is a great key to mastering style. When you do get your hands on that coveted piece you have been saving every paycheck for 3 months for, embrace the high-low juxtaposition. Nothing simultaneously elevates and keeps an outfit down to earth quite like pairing MiuMiu Flats with a pleated Topshop skirt. Juxtapose feminine with edgy, vintage and modern, delicate lace with strong leather.
Carry yourself according to who you are, now how much you spent.
You are the most valuable asset to any article of clothing, whether it is designer or fast-fashion. As corny as it sounds, your personal substance is worth more than any piece of clothing and that is the true secret to dressing well. That confidence, that display of personal style as it is embodied through clothing, easily transforms a wool-blend skirt or faux leather jacket into a priceless exhibition of Who You Are.
Without your self-value, it doesn’t matter if your outfit is worth $1 million, your clothes will never be able to compensate for that lack of personal conviction. With self-value, it doesn’t matter if your outfit was composed of bed sheets and toilet paper, you will wear it like silk and cashmere. You are the source of your elegance, poise, and taste—you are your only secret to effortlessness, the epitome of your self-published je-ne-se-quois. And that is just something money can’t buy.
Lauren is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing here on Pursuit of Daydreams, Lauren’s daydreams consist of all forms of design: Graphic, Fashion, Web, Interior, Art. On any given day, she can be found preoccupied with at least one of the above. She is happiest with a bowl of ice cream in hand.
Also published on Medium.