Ohana Birthday Project: I Can’t Find a Thing to Wear!

Fashion staplesThis outfit embodies three staples that I think can dress up or dress down any outfit: a classic jacket, shoes and bag. 

I’m flattered by my first #ohanabirthdayproject blog request from my dear friend Clare on fashion, style and how to dress for the corporate world without being so, well, corporate. It’s no joke that like Eva Chen, my idea of an investment comes with the terms jumbo, cambon and caviar. But expensive accessories ladened with double C’s or LV’s does not a style icon make. It’s really about how you wear it.

fashion_style margarget oliphant

Part I: Whatever your style may be, here are some key tips:

Know what works best for you. The mom jeans are back (sorry), and my girlfriends are rocking them.  I’ve been trying to get into them, too, but after having tried quite possibly every brand, have come to the realization that they don’t work for my body type. And that’s okay.  Forcing yourself to wear something because it’s in won’t make you fit in or stand out.

Euro chic“Keep it simple” can also be applied to wardrobes. I love the way Europeans dress because they transform simple outfits to the most chic things ever. This A Line style skirt works best for me — and I have a closet-full in various lengths to prove it!

Own it. Oscar de la Renta once said, “Walk like you have three men walking behind you.” Whatever outfit you choose, make sure it embodies you and you feel empowered in it. My friend Ken started a Facebook page of his colleagues to showcase their outfits, called Chic in the Office. It’s one of my favorite fashion inspirations, because it’s real people (many whom I know) in a real office — and PR office like me! One of my most recent faves is this outfit, from Opal, on her last day working there:

Opal Chanel

Denim on denim is a Glamour Don’t you say? Not for Opal, who wears it with confidence and can make a mumu look chic (also proven and on the Chic in the Office page).

Invest but don’t be afraid to Mix high and Low. In my first PR job in entertainment PR, I had a talent publicist assistant, who worked with stylists for JLo and the like ask me if my top was from Marchesa (it was from Target). One quality piece can make your entire outfit stand out.

Less is more. There’s a saying that when you get dressed in the morning, remove one item from your outfit before you head out. No need to have your outfit scream — your style should do all the talking. The words that constantly come to mind are classic and neutral. That doesn’t mean it has to be just black, white, and tan. But have it be something you know you’d wear over and over again without fail. One of my favorite staple pieces is a pair of orange flats.

Part II: Key Pieces for a Chic “big girl” wardrobe

Staple Outfit

This is almost pretty much my staple, mindless (สิ้นคิด) outfit: white t-shirt, jacket of some kind, dark jeans, a classic flat/boot/heel, bag. Do I know what brand all this is? Nope. And it doesn’t matter. (although I think the bag is Margiela, fwiw…)

Dark Jeans. A flattering, neutral (read non-distressed) cut and style works best to take you from your cube to going out.

Blazer/Jacket. Yes, tweed (read: classic Chanel jacket) with the most delicate, customized buttons would be lovely, wouldn’t it? But let’s face it, most of us aren’t there yet. The semblance of that, unless tactfully done, should be avoided. Choose a jacket or blazer that again, works with your style and personality and shape. My favorite go-to blazer is a black, lightly printed Armani Exchange jacket I got probably 5 years ago. It says “me” because it’s 3/4 sleeve (long sleeved blazers seems so corporate to me sometimes) and has zippers on the sleeves, instead of buttons.

White t-shirt. And I don’t mean Hanes. Again, find the cut and material that works best for you. I can’t do the sheer JCrew tissue tees, but I intently wait for the Club Monaco sales because their t-shirts scream quality. A white t-shirt, whichever length sleeve, can be both dressed up and dressed down. Throwing a blazer on top of a white tee that’s been paired with dark jeans instantly makes your outfit client-friendly. Wrapping a cardigan around you on one makes it comfy cozy. Putting a statement necklace on a simple sleeveless one that’s paired with a skirt can instantly make you ready for an after work event. (Note: White button downs can also have the same effect.)

Shoes/Bag. Yes, I still believe in this investment. And like Eva Chen says, it doesn’t have to be Chanel or Louis Vuitton. It can be a Coach bag that’s been passed down to you, or a classic-shaped Marc Jacobs. Either way, stay neutral. If you’re investing in a long term use bag, pick one that doesn’t scream who its maker is. One of my favorite bags that I keep in constant rotation is a Cuyana tote. Plus, their motto is “fewer, better things.” To me, there is something special about carrying a bag that you know has been made with quality that will withstand time and be passed on. There’s a reason why vintage is so popular: the designs stand the test of time. Same goes for shoes — invest in a good pair you know you’ll wear over and over again. Your feet will be happier, too.

I leave you with this photo of my dear cousin, Nat (also part of the Chic in the Office clan, and how I met these fab folks). She has always had impeccable style (with a past gig at Chanel as a stamp of approval), and here she is, owning this marvelous pleated top with distressed mom jeans.

Natjala chanel

Liked this post? Help me help the Ronald McDonald House Charities for my birthday, and I’ll answer any questions you may have. Yes, even why I even attempted mom jeans:  http://RMHCGroupGive.kintera.org/global/tayav