With help from expert stylist Annmarie O'Connor.
In a style rut? Constantly buying things but have nothing to wear? Don’t really know what kind of clothes you even LIKE? Welcome to our club.
Fortunately, we’ve got Annmarie O’Connor on hand to help us out. Annemarie is a stylist and author of The Happy Closet, a guide to sorting out your shopping habits, decluttering your wardrobe, and dressing for who you are.
We put five of our most annoying style dilemmas to Annmarie, who bestowed her infinite fashion wisdom upon us – and we’re sharing that with you. Prepare to want to go through your wardrobe tonight.
Sometimes it feels like there is no end to the torrent of new trends to get your head around. Should you be getting into athleisure? Do you even LIKE off-the-shoulder tops? It’s hard to know.
To figure out what you actually like to wear, Annmarie advises making a To Don’t list of colours, shapes, styles and trends that you definitely do not like, or do not suit you.
“Tune into your feelings. If it doesn’t make you want a private moment in the dressing room, then it’s probably not a keeper,” she says. “By committing to what you won’t (or simply can’t) wear, you’re free to explore other, more fulfilling alternatives.”
Ah, the battle cry of the impulse shopper. You like all the items in your closet separately, but on a whole, nothing really ‘goes’, and you’re constantly looking for bits and pieces to make outfits complete.
The answer to this is to approach shopping like a woman on a mission. “There’s nothing wrong with buying a ‘Well blow me down and call me Dusty’ piece that just deserves to be worn,” says Annmarie. “Where we run into a spot of bother is when it has zero relation to what’s already in our closet. If there’s no dialogue then, regardless of how gorgeous it is, it’ll be hanging on its own like Nelly No Mates and you’ll be obliged to buy it friends who speak its language.”
So how can you be a more mindful shopper? First, make a list of what your wardrobe needs. Commit to shopping for just one item at a time – you’ll find yourself better able to focus on what you need than floating around with a half-baked idea of what you might want.
Then, when you spot something you like, bargain with yourself. “Tell yourself you can buy it tomorrow. Check in with how you feel. Play the scenario out in your head – will you actually wear it in your day-to-day life or are you convincing yourself you will?” says Annmarie.
After shopping, try on the purchases from your haul with a few different things. Photograph how it all looks. Sit, stand, walk around, get comfortable. Try it with heels, tights, whatever you need for it to look complete. If the fit doesn’t make you feel like you want to snog the mirror or dry hump your reflection, return it immediately.
Is everyone familiar with the frustrating experience of wanting to throw out everything in your wardrobe and start all over again? You know it’s impossible from both a financial and practical perspective, but that doesn’t stop you dreaming about tipping it all into the bin. However, there is a way to refresh your wardrobe without going into your overdraft.
“Often it’s not the clothes that we’re fed up with, but the way we’ve been wearing them,” says Annmarie. She advises having regular ‘date nights’ with your wardrobe – really checking in with what you have, and thinking of new ways to wear everything.
Sometimes it’s something as small as wearing that vintage tea dress with a pair of Vans trainers instead of kitten heels, or pairing that pinstripe blazer with cut-off denim shorts instead of matching trousers.
It’s worth remembering this quote from Karl Lagerfeld: “Reinvent new combinations of what you already own. Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to.”
Pinterest it up, baby. Create a board just for pictures of outfits you love or stylish gals you find inspirational, and see what it all spells out.
“If you are guilty of buying the same thing out of habit or fear, use this as an opportunity to curate styles you’d like to try but never had the neck to buy,” Annmarie tells us. Keep pinning photos of leather miniskirts? You probably want a leather miniskirt.
Give yourself time to filter, feel and figure out what makes you tick – the real you who given half a chance would actually have these pieces hanging in your closet. Commit to buying and trialling a few pieces from the list outside your comfort zone, and ask yourself how they feel.
Remember, fashion is above all fun. Have a bit of craic, order the sequinned jacket just for a look – you can always return it.
We all have days (or weeks, or months) where all we can do is roll out of bed and straight into jeans and a t-shirt – and that’s fine, but it’d be good to know a quick way to appear ‘put together’ on those decidedly un-put-together days.
According to Annmarie, it’s all about finding your ‘me piece’ – AKA your ‘thing’, a detail that people will immediately identify with you. Mine, for example, would probably be my bright red Kate Spade handbag, which brightens up even the most plain outfit.
“Whether it’s a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, a leather jacket or a beat-up pair of Levi’s – if it feels like you and others identify you with that piece, then make like Anna Wintour’s tan sandals and wear it as the linchpin for your look,” says Annmarie. Ah! We’re feeling more stylish already.
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