Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peter Pan

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday; I stayed home sick and spent the day in my grubbies. Thankfully the cold I felt coming on didn't quite materialize, so I'm back on my feet today.

Today's outfit was built around this little snakeskin-pattern minidress that I found at a thrift store about a month ago; this is the first time I've worn it. I knew I needed a layer underneath, but quickly eliminated anything loose-fitting, lest my outfit end up looking like something from Eileen Fischer, god forbid. Intending this outfit to be a mix of neutrals, I started with a layer of basic black: cabled knit leggings by Kersh and drape-neck tank from Sunhee Moon. I added this khaki button-down top by Susina to lighten up the outfit, and put some more browns into the mix with this faux-croc belt, Bata boots, and Lucky bag. I realize the colors are tough to see in the pictures; the contrast is much more obvious in real life. Wearing this little minidress with boots makes me feel a bit like Peter Pan.

I thought today I'd share a few tips on building outfits. I always struggled with putting together very polished-looking ensembles, and it's really only in recent years that I've developed any confidence in my abilities. Here's the strategy that works best for me:

1. Allot some time to the process. I usually set aside time on Sunday or Monday evening to plan my outfits for the next several days. I start by checking the forecast so that I'll have a rough idea of what items I'll have to work with. If I try to throw together an outfit in the morning when I'm in a rush, the creativity will most certainly be stymied.

2. Get in the right frame of mind. Again, this is a creative process. If you're feeling stressed out or bad about the way your body looks, it will severely impair your ability to put together interesting looks. Sometimes I have to quit and come back to it later if I'm not in the right mood. I think that looking forward to this weekly ritual and having fun with it is at least half the recipe for success.

3. Set the stage. Sometimes this can help with item #2. I start by putting on some fun music and mixing myself a cocktail. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a little alcohol. Not too much, though, or else you can end up with creations that you're not brave enough to wear when sober. Trust me, I know about this.

4. Pick a starting point. I'll either pull out an underutilized item, start with something new that I haven't worn yet, pick one of my favorites, or build on a combination I've discovered randomly. Sometimes an idea will hit me when I'm reading another blog or out shopping or whatever; I usually write these down and end up with little scraps of paper in my closet that say things like, "orange dress + turtleneck" or, "purple top, green pants." I'll pull these out when it's time to plan the week's outfits. Another strategy is to mark photos as favorites on Wardrobe Remix, or to bookmark pages from style blogs and the like, and consult those before beginning.

5. Try anything and everything. I take my starting item and hold it up it next to other things in my closet, including things I don't think it'll go with. It helps if everything is visible and easily accessed, rather than being buried in a drawer or under a pile of other clothes. Sometimes I'll find a good combination right away, and sometimes it takes several tries. The point is to keep experimenting; after all, you've allotted yourself the time to do this, right?

6. Accessorize. Once I have the basics together, then I start playing with additional layers and accessories. Is a necklace interesting enough or does the outfit require the additional texture and pattern that a scarf can contribute? Is my waist well-defined or do I need a belt or a vest? Can I make the outfit cuter by adding a hat? Can I add a little splash of color with a different pair of shoes? Generally it's the accessories that elevate an outfit from good to great, and that allow unlikely color combinations to make sense.

7. Save! Once I have my outfit assembled I hang everything together, including nylons, jewelry, handbag, and whatever else. I will most certainly forget something if I trust it to the caffeine-deprived, groggy state I'm in every morning.

I hope someone out there finds this helpful!


Ally said...

I wish I had the fortitude to prepare my outfits that far ahead. Heck, I wish I could do mine the night before!!

I seem to dwell too long if I do it ahead of time and end up going safe.

Great tips though - I love reading everyone's thought process.

Jane said...

Audi, this is a wonderfully informative post and more than makes up for not posting yesterday (glad you're feeling better, by the way).
I rarely plan, which I think is my downfall. Having a job and four kids makes planning time for clothes not that high on the agenda. However, if I feel badly dressed I feel bad all day as you point out so the investment in time would reap rewards.
Thanks for all your advice and help. I, for one, am very grateful.

Kasmira said...

I've thought many times about posting my process on my blog, but now I don't have to! It's exactly the same as yours! I'll just send people here when they ask me how I plan my workwear.

Anonymous said...

I said it yesterday on Flickr and i will say it again - Peter Pan never looked this sassy or good! I love the mix of neutrals and your Eileen Fischer comment cracked me up!
Hope you are feeling beter! I have heard there are some nasty summer colds going around.
I usually manage to give my outfit a couple of minutes of thought the night before, but perhaps I should set aside some time on Sunday evenings and try the week long thing for a while. Drinking while doing it might make it just that much better! I do make random notes about possible outfits though. Thanks for the tips!

Audi said...

Jane: I'm really glad you found the post useful. I do realize that having kids makes it a whole lot tougher to set aside time to do anything for yourself. One way or another, though, you're going to have to devote some time to it. For me, I can get it all done at once when I'm relaxed and feeling good, or I can parce it out on a daily basis when I'm grumpy, tired, and without a cocktail. It does take some discipline to set the time aside, but I think it's well worth it.

Kasmira: Great minds think alike. :-)

Anne said...

I certainly did find this helpful - and I know all too well how having a bad body image day or being rushed can ruin what might have been a fun ensemble-creating process. Thanks!

Jamie said...

This is very helpful Audi, especially as I follow you and Kashmira every day. I adore how your outfits are both so creative and such a true expression of who you both are. Setting time aside to put my outfits together is a pleasure and how I totally treat myself on Sunday. Thank you for your commitment to your blog and for inspiring me in my fashion creativity. You have a fabulous look and a fabulous eye for fashion art!