F2014 9: Her Majesty

F14 - 9 (Jewel Tones)

Inspiration Image Source

Perhaps it was seeing Blood Countess at Annex Theater last week, but for some reason I've got medieval queens on the brain! There's such an eerie quality to portraiture from this era -- like everyone was plotting murder or something. (And, as several plays & historical anecdotes suggest, they were!)

While my own thoughts are far from vengeful, I love the sense of power brought on by this royal inspiration. To match it, I tried to choose capsule pieces that give me a similar sense of confidence and richness. Jewel tones are an obvious addition here; the blazer, necklace, and camisole* stand out from one another like rubies, amethysts, and gold framing on a crown. Deep chocolate has always felt luxurious yet comfortable to me, so I used that to ground the palette.

I'm having a hard time staying away from these gray knee boots, which have found their way onto my feet almost every day this week. Their muted tone complements just about anything, yet they always seem to become a statement piece in their own right. To complete the outfit, I added an extra-long scarf. This works double duty to keep me toasty and to mimic the quality of a trailing royal robe.

What will you conquer today, your majesty?

*It's worth noting that the color of this camisole is deeper in reality -- more tumeric than the bright tone you see here.


F2014 8: Good As Gold

F14 - 8 (Good as Gold)

Inspiration Image Source

Everyone reaches a point in their life where they see themselves for what they are. For me, that meant coming to terms with the fact that I'm basically a goody-goody. Straight-edge, prim & proper, well-meaning, with a tendency to adhere to the rules... I'm like Hermione Granger without the asset of a brilliant memory. (Though I won't go so far to devalue my own intelligence.)

Perhaps this inherent quality of mine is why I'm so drawn to preppy clothes. A large majority of my younger years were spent wishing I got to wear a uniform to school; I was positively charmed by tartan skirts, saddle shoes, and knee-high socks.

These days, I'm glad to have had the freedom to experiment with as many styles as I pleased. Still, on days when I'm feeling particularly diligent, I love dressing the part. Argyle patterns, tailored lines, a smart collared blouse, and -- my favorite accessory for the good-girl look -- gold accents pull together this look quite nicely. I can't imagine my capsule wardrobe without a healthy dose of this academic style!


F2014 7: Monochrome vs. Color

F14 - 7 (Black, Mint, & Silver)

Do you remember the 1998 film Pleasantville? The one that starts in black & white and gradually reveals color as characters gain knowledge? That's what came to mind when I came across today's inspiration photo. Featuring a decidedly strong color against an otherwise monochromatic palette almost always looks stunning, and chances are you already have the necessary components in your closet.

Here are three tricks I've found most useful when creating this look:

1) Go for the scarf. I have yet to see someone look the worser for wearing a scarf. Provided you choose one that reflects your personal style (i.e. one that you LOVE!), it's hard to go wrong here.

2) Choose one of your best colors. Black, gray, and white are neutralizing but not necessarily flattering on all skin tones. Opting for a color that matches your eyes, contrasts your hair, and/or evens your skin tone will bring the outfit together best. Teal, purple, periwinkle, and medium navy are considered flattering to most skin tones, so if you're feeling uncertain, try one of these!

3) Up the contrast. Once you've chosen a color, consider what neutral (black, white, or gray) will provide the most contrast. In the example above, I used a black palette to make the lighter mint shade stand out. As the inspiration photo shows, gray would accomplish this as well, but in a subtler way. If you were to choose eggplant or indigo, white or gray would clearly highlight these colors better than black.

What color do you love against a monochrome palette?


F2014 6: Fancy This, Fancy That

F14 - 6 (Fancy That)

 Inspiration Image Source

Why is the Edwardian period so classy? Is it the lace? The pearls? The puffed sleeves? Though some may call it grannyish, I return to this time again and again for a fashion pick-me-up -- especially when it comes to gettin' fancy.

Fanciness doesn't have to be limited to once-in-a-blue-moon formal events. Fancy up a dinner date. Fancy-up to go to the movies. You can even fancy up your work attire, as I've done here.

I know, I know -- some of you are already rolling your eyes at the notion of wearing pearls & skirts to work. Quel demurrrrre. Didn't women like the one in the photo above work to make this very practice noncompulsory? I would argue that these delicate details simply make the stronger pieces (i.e. the oxford shoes and black leather jacket) stand out all the more! In fact, when set against the antique palette and streamlined tailoring, there's no denying this modern jacket is star of the show.

So wear your pearls and heels proudly, but don't be afraid to up the edge factor. Like you, style is multidimensional: at once brave and bold, humble and simple.


F2014 5: Make It Uniform

F14 - 5 (Deep Blue Sea)
Inspiration Image Source 1 2

While seeking justification for today's inspiration photos, I discovered that November 10th is National Marines Day. How's that for going with your instinct?

Truth be told, this outfit is old hat for me: Form-fitting a-line dress? Check. Knee high boots? Check. Funky stocking choices? Check, check. In college, I gravitated toward this combination again and again. Occasionally I'd swap the dress out for a skirt-and-tee combo, but mainly I stuck to these three elements. It became my uniform, and to this day I return to it whenever my creative juices are running low.

To create your own uniform look, ask yourself what styles and silhouettes you find yourself drawn to while dressing, shopping, or people-watching. Maybe you feel right at home in skinny jeans and combat boots. Maybe you've always admired the high-waists and broad shoulders of the 1930s and 80s. Perhaps, like me, your body always feels right at home in the classic hourglass silhouette. Whatever your preference, make sure you have a lot of these uniform pieces on hand. For a personal iconic look, you might even decide to compose your capsule of uniform pieces entirely. Suit up and sail on.


F2014 4: Learn How to Be You in Time

F14 - 4 (The Fab Four)

Inspiration Image Source

Lest you've forgotten my long-time obsession with The Beatles the grandest band of all time, here's a healthy dose of the Fab Four for the 4th outfit in my fall capsule.

The minimalist, urban look of this outfit is something I've only recently come to embrace. By nature, I've always had a knack for pairing the ridiculous with the ridiculous-er -- be it a Peugeot cap with Big Bird slippers or a hospital scrub top with an ankle length paisley skirt.* As absurd as they sound, I regret none of my greenhorn fashion decisions, because I know they came from a place of honest expression. An Aquarius at heart, I've always been particularly fond of going against the grain!

So you may understand why outfits like this once seemed uninspiring to me. A sharp shirt and coat, streamlined pants and boots, shades and sleek silver accessories... it's cool, sure, but where's the personality? But then I got to thinking: while wearing simple suits served to merge John, Paul, George, and Ringo as a unified band, their individual characters were nevertheless unmistakable. Who could confuse McCartney's gigglish charm for the loony wit of Lennon? If anything, the matching outfits only served to better backdrop their unique charismas.

Throw caution to the wind today and be more boring! You might just become more fascinating.

*Seriously. I can't make this stuff up.


F2014 3: The Character Approach

F14 - 2 (Down the Rabbit Hole)

Inspiration Image Source

I have always loved Alice in Wonderland. I don't suppose this is a very unique fascination, but something about the story has always resonated with me. You've heard me wax poetic before about the little blue dress, and Alice could probably be considered the instigator of that trend.

Two of my favorite styling approaches are at play here: (1) mimicking the style details in the character's outfit by selecting similar items from your own wardrobe; and (2) using the colors you associate with that character to build a mini palette.

With the first approach, I might start with the characteristic light blue of Alice's dress as my main color, incorporate the idea of exposed stockings and buckle details, and add the watch necklace as a subtle homage to Mr. Rabbit.

The second approach is less deliberate. Perhaps I'm really feeling a chambray blouse today. The blue immediately reminds me of Alice... Then I remember the scene where she's descending down the rabbit hole and recall the chocolate and gray tones from the background... Gray boots! And -- chocolate shorts? Hmm, can't wear those in this weather without tights. Chocolate tights, it is. Again, the watch necklace is the cherry on top.

Whichever approach works best for you, don't shy away from characters that inspire you. Taking fashion cues from a cartoon may seem silly, but it's a fun way to embrace different styles. After all, as Mr. Carroll says, If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.