I love rummaging around second-hand clothing markets because I am fascinated by what other women throw away.
Call me nosy, frugal or green, but their discarded clothes often find their way to my wardrobe. I pounce on garments still sporting a price tag and ask the owners why they're throwing out a brand new item.
The most frequent answer is, 'I don't know how to wear it.'
Based on my experience styling women, this simple statement can have various connotations and could mean:
- 'I don't know how to mix it with other clothes in my wardrobe.'
- 'I don't own anything suitable to wear it with (because I've not got round to buying the right ______).
- 'I only wear it one way and I'm bored.'
So let me offer you three ideas to help you wear unloved items that might be lurking in the back of your wardrobe.Every great outfit needs a focal point.
When you see outfits that make you stop and think, 'Gosh that looks great on her,' you're attracted to the way the woman's put together her look. In many cases, there is an interesting element or focal point that draws your eye in.
A focal point can be a bright colour, a design detail, a pattern or an accessory like a necklace or a belt. Ideally, you'd position a focal point on a part of your body that you are confident showcasing.
So check your outfit in the mirror. Close your eyes and open them again. What's the first thing you see? If nothing grabs you, chances are you need to create a focal point. So read on.The last thing you put on makes the biggest difference.
Accessories really add oomph to an outfit. Visually, they are focal points because they draw attention and anchor an outfit. And because there are infinite ways of combining them, they allow you to express your creativity. On the practical side, accessories allow you to recycle the same clothes in diverse ways (perfect when the laundry basket is full or you don't have an extensive wardrobe).
Just remember, your accessories add to your outfit; they're not your outfit. You don't want too many different accessories vying attention with each other or with your clothes. Choose whatever category you like wearing ' jewellery, shoes, belts or bags, glasses or scarves - and opt for maximum effect by adding one or two of them at a time.Opposites really do attract.
An interesting ensemble shares many characteristics with a beautiful painting. It has a subject (or focal point) and a background. There is proportion, balance, colour, movement and rhythm.
The good news is you don't have to be an art critic to apply these theories to getting dressed. Just think opposites.
'A fit and flare dress is a classic example of drawing attention to the upper body using a fitted bodice whilst minimising attention to the lower body with a full skirt. Ladylike shape in manly leather works because it's unexpected. Photo credit www.alaceyperspective.com'
For example, if you're wearing something flowy or bulky on top, you will find it most flattering to balance it with slim, narrow shapes on the bottom. And vice-versa. Similarly you can create pleasing proportions when you combine short over long or long over short.
You can also add an element of surprise by combining opposite type of styles.
For example on a feminine outfit, add masculine elements like leather, studs or tweed. If you're wearing a sombre suit, add a leopard belt or pair of bright shoes.
'Balance your proportions by wearing longer lengths over shorts. Photo credit www. champagneandpizza.tumbler.com'
This disconnect creates tension and randomness that makes you look like you've effortlessly thrown something together.
So you know that top you've never worn? Get it out. Experiment with these ideas and chances are you'll have something new to wear this festive season. Sharon Billingham is a personal stylist who helps women express who are they on the inside on the outside so they achieve confidence and success in all aspects of their lives. For information about Sharon's services and her book, Authentic Style, please go to www.coachmebeautiful.com.au
Read Sharon's first article here - Learn secrets from the Wardrobe Whisperer