I think we all have those things in our closet that seem too fancy to wear on an ordinary basis. But are they? I’ve heard of “dressing down” clothes, but does it actually work? This week, I tried dressing down some of my harder-to-wear fancies and I was pretty happy with how it worked!
First fancy: Sequin Top
I found this top at a consignment store and bought it because SPARKLES, but haven’t worn it that much, because sparkles. But it is a good top – the fit is nice and it’s from Ann Taylor (therefore quality). It definitely deserves to get worn more. But how to wear a sparkle shirt to work and not feel overly dressed-up? In this casual climate, Sparkly Top + Jeans + Heels = the dress code for Going Out For Cocktails With Girlfriends. I wasn’t going out for cocktails. I was going to work. And jeans were still my best option, so I needed Flats.
At that point, I had sparkle top + jeans + flats, all solid colors and all dark. So I either needed something bright or something print, to set off all the dark colors. I was in more of a monochromatic mood, so I decided against a bold color and went for a bold print blazer in neutral colors. So the outfit ended up being sparkle top + jeans + flats + print blazer.
It was a cool outfit – I felt like kinda rock-and-roll, like a bass player in an all girl rock band. Not the lead singer, who would need a more attention-grabbing outfit, but a casually cool background musician. Not trying too hard is the essence of cool. I think the success of the outfit came down to the shoes. If I had worn heels with this outfit, I would have been self-conscious about being too dressy.
My takeaway from this outfit: If the outfit looks too much like a Going Out For Cocktails outfit, wear flats. Also, I really like the mix of sparkles and print. That’s pretty cool.
Second fancy: Major Shoes
These shoes are a lot of shoe. They have black and white and gold and straps and buckles and the things. They are beautiful and intimidating, so I usually find myself going for another pair. It’s like if you’re recording an album and you have to decide between a diva who is notoriously difficult and doesn’t play well with others, and a singer who is almost as good, takes direction well, and gets along with all the musicians. It’s tempting to pick the solid singer and not deal with the diva. Sometimes you don’t want the drama.
That’s how I feel about these shoes. But they have so much going for them, I really should wear them more. I didn’t want anything too matchy, so I tried to limit the black in this outfit. That ruled out black pants, so I went for a pair of maroon skinny jeans. That way I also didn’t have the blue jean problem of trying to figure out whether to go for a light, medium, or dark wash. Because there are codes and standards and self-imposed rules that we believe about jeans. Sometimes it is easier to bypass the blue jeans and all the arbitrary denim rules by choosing jeans in a completely different color.
I wanted some print, because that made the first outfit look pretty cool, so I grabbed a dark floral top. Because everything was leaning towards dark colors, I decided against a black jacket (and a black jacket would have made it look more formal than I wanted). A light grayish/tannish tweed jacket lightened up the whole look. I really enjoyed this outfit and it reminded me of all the things I love about those crazy shoes. I’m going to be more relaxed about what I wear them with and just use them the way I wear black pumps. Don’t be afraid of the diva shoes – learn to enjoy the drama and don’t worry about it!
My takeaway from this outfit: Your statement shoes probably go with more than you think! Do you have fancy shoes left over from a wedding? Give them another try. Heels can literally (and figuratively) elevate an outfit. Life is too short to afraid of your own shoes.
Third fancy: Velvet Skirt
Between the cranberry velvet and the satin cummerbund belt, this skirt falls squarely into the Christmas Party realm (especially if I paired it with the sequin top from that first outfit). It looks so christmassy, it seems a little wrong to wear it in the springtime, but there isn’t any real reason not to wear it and velvet is very in right now.
The first decision I had to make was whether to tuck the shirt in. NO. It was a pretty easy decision, because I think the skirt waistband looks a little fussy and cummerbundish. Also, there’s a random button. Also, it is satin. So it’s a hard no on the tucking in – the added benefit of untucked shirts is that it kicks the formality down a few notches. I went for a black and white buttondown shirt that is loose and long, then added a green jacket a bit shorter than the shirt. A shorter jacket cheats the eye into seeing a longer leg line and draws some attention to your waist. I needed all the leg help I could get, because I wore flats with this one.
My takeaway from this outfit: If you don’t like one aspect of a piece, cover it up. Nobody needs to know that shirt has weird sleeves – wear a jacket. Nobody needs to know how low the neckline is on that dress – wear a sweater on over it and pretend it’s a skirt. Nobody knows and nobody cares. It’s a comforting thought.
Bonus outfit: Easter Shoes!
This one came before I set the challenge, but I loved pulling out the crazy bridesmaid shoes for Easter. I hesitated, because I wasn’t sure whether they would match the tone of the dress and the jean jacket. But I COULDN’T RESIST BECAUSE THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. That is all. Check out all the crazy sparkles!
I enjoyed this week – it made me realize that I put some clothes into an arbitrary Wear Only For Special Occasions category. And they don’t have to be off limits – it’s not like they are beaded ball gowns. I feel like I got some of my clothes back.
Live boldly! Wear your pretty things! Enjoy the things you have while you have them.
Thanks for reading my blog – if you have anything you want me to try, let me know!