Ashley Tries: Volume & Oversize

After the last post and my rash offer to try anything fashiony, I got one request for overalls.  Maybe later.  If I find a great pair of overalls, I guarantee I will post about it.

Another question that came was how to style pieces that are either oversized or have a lot of material and volume.  Oversize Everything was one of the defining trends to come out of New York Fashion Week this year (big trench coats, wide-leg trousers, volume-on-volume-on-volume), so voluminous clothing will be in our fashion futures.

For this episode of Ashley Tries, I set myself a mini challenge:  choose a different voluminous piece every day and style it up.  I didn’t realize this challenge would lead to the entirely different challenge of photographing those outfits.  This is my first outfit photography attempt, so forgive me in advance for the messiness.  Here goes!

Monday, First (Failed) Attempt:

The first morning, I decided to style my wide-leg trousers from Loft.  They are great trousers – soft, a nice neutral green color, good fit, good length.  The only problem is that they require the right styling, because they have a lot of volume in the leg.  I usually go for looser on top and skinnier through the leg, so I have to reverse my formula to style with wide leg trousers.  The first attempt was with a boatneck navy t-shirt and a striped blazer.  It was a complete fail – the color scheme was nice, but the fit was all wrong. The blazer is a little boxy, so it looked like I was wide through the leg, wide through waist, wide through the bust, wide through the shoulder.  Wide all over.  Then the high neck on the tee just smothered me in fabric.  I was covered cloth from my clavicles to my toes. First lesson:  Proportion is everything.  

Monday, Second (More Successful) Attempt:

I kept the green trousers (because they were the reason for the outfit), but ditched everything else.  After being smothered by that boatneck, I wanted a fitted top with a v-neck.  I picked out a black and white print top in a wrap style.  Some great things about the wrap top fit are the deep-v neckline, cinched waist, and fitted shoulders.  This is one of those shirts that requires a camisole, but it’s totally worth it.  Showing more skin at the neck made the whole outfit seem lighter and drew attention up to my face.  Since the shirt had a defined waist, I didn’t have to tuck the shirt in, but that’s another option for getting the right proportions.  The print added visual interest, but the print wasn’t as important as the fit for this outfit.  I topped it with a black blazer that fit well at the shoulders and waist, to keep the top half streamlined.  When I wear wide-leg trousers, I want all the height I can get, so I wore heels with this outfit.  Actually, wearing heels became a steady theme throughout the week.  I’m 5′ 3″, so getting overwhelmed is my biggest danger with oversized clothes.  A Public Service Announcement to all you short women out there – don’t assume you can’t wear stuff.  It’s all about the fit.  Don’t be afraid to try shapes that are unfamiliar to you.  Switching one thing out can add some Oomph to your closet.

Tuesday:

This is a very poofy skirt.  The picture doesn’t show you just how poofy this skirt is.  It’s a heavy-duty little number I picked up at a Goodwill a while back.  Made from rows of embroidered elastic fabric all stitched together, this baby can stand up on its own.  The shape makes it tricky to put together an outfit.  I started off with a black v-neck tee that I could tuck in, because having a defined waist is really important to pulling off this look.  But I don’t like just having a tucked in shirt, because it tugs and scroonches and works its way up and twists around.  So I tuck in the tee, but layer a light and bright cardigan over it.  That way it’s obvious that the shirt is tucked in, but you can’t see much of it.  It was cold that day, so I chose a jean jacket that hit at the waist.  Any longer and the skirt would have been poofing the jacket out like an umbrella.  Because cold, I wore black tights and black heels – matching tights and heels is a great way to give the legs a little more length.  Second lesson:  Where things hit is just as important as how they fit.  This outfit works because the layers hit at the waist and the skirt ends just above the knee, so my waist and legs are highlighted.  This is why I like three-quarter sleeves (I like my forearms), knee-length skirts (I like my calves), and dresses that hit at my natural waist (showing that I’m curvy while still leaving so much to the imagination).

Wednesday:

I bought this shirt in Mexico and it is one of my favorite things – I’ve included a close-up on the embroidery, because IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL AND I LOVE IT.  Also, these colors give me life.  They remind me that there sunshine somewhere on this planet.  It’s a beautiful one-size-fits-all tent.  To balance out the volume, I paired it with skinny jeans and heels.  The black cardigan has some nice weight to it and fits well through the shoulders, so it slimmed down the shoulders and was a nice frame for the embroidered top.  Third Lesson:  If you love something, make it the focus.  It’s okay for everything else to be in supporting roles.  You can balance out bright colors with neutrals, but be conscious of the neutrals – if I wear white jeans with this top, it would look like a summer beach party.  Darker colors help ground it.

Thursday:

For the last official day, I decided to go big – a maxi dress with a big old sweater.  I found this dress at Ross a few years ago and it just made me happy.  It’s a subtle ombré – the top is pale blue and it fades out into white – putting it on is like traveling through a cloud layer into a clear sky.  A loose maxi dress only has to fit through the shoulders.  If the shoulders fit, everything else can float away from the body.  The cardigan has been a favorite as well – it also has an ombré effect from the different mixes of yarn and a fantastic drape.  The shoulders fit and everything else drapes.  Fourth lesson:  Volume is dramatic.  Wearing oversized clothes does not deflect attention – it attracts attention.  It’s possible to do volume on volume as long as you don’t get swallowed up by the clothes.  Height helps with not disappearing into a sea of fabric, so heels are your friend if you are short (like me).  I felt cool all day in this outfit, because it was a statement.  It was immediately noticeable, without trying too hard.

I wore an oversize t-shirt and jeans and flats on Friday, but I spilled coffee on the shirt and it is in the laundry.  Imagine that it looked cute and effortless, okay?  Maybe it didn’t, but it felt easy and comfortable.  A nice outfit for a busy day.

I enjoyed the week, because I got to wear some clothes that take a bit more effort to style. Challenges help me be creative and conscious of what I wear.  It also introduced me to outfit photography.  I am such a newbie, but I’m going to keep working on it and challenge myself in that way as well!  Is there something you want me to try?  Comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading.  I appreciate all of you!

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One thought on “Ashley Tries: Volume & Oversize

  1. I’ve got a dress from the 70s that a) has about 5 yards of material in the skirt alone, b) combines two large-print floral patterns: one for the turtleneck, sleeveless top; the other for the skirt, and c) requires me to wear heels because of the sheer length of the skirt. This thing could be a circus tent. It took me a long time to gather enough gumption to wear it seriously and not just to a crazy hair party or something. But I consider it one of my personal wardrobe breakthroughs because that much volume, pattern, and neck-to-toe fabric in a single piece of clothing opened up some new avenues in what I thought I could carry off. One thing I’d love to read about is how to wear chambray. It seems to be a popular combination with jeans or other denim pieces. Why? I have always avoided wearing more than one jean/denim piece in a single outfit because I thought it looked tacky. But how would you wear it? Also, could you talk about wearing high-waisted stuff? Dresses, mostly, but commentary on trousers and shirts also appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

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