If there’s one thing that I think every wardrobe needs it’s a great assortment of neutrals. They’re ideal for mixing and matching and are ultra versatile, but because of this, they might be considered a little flat or boring. But I think they’re anything but. In fact I think they’re the ultimate workhorses of any wardrobe because not only can they be treated as a blank canvas but they can also be quite impactful by employing accessories or various textures into the mix.
The benefit of working with neutrals is that it provides the perfect base to start with and allows you to elevate it easily with a few simple style tricks.
A great way to bring neutrals to life is to mix textures. By bringing a tactile element into your look whether it’s mixing a soft cashmere with a luxe linen in a neutral shade, you can instantly add a little depth to your look. Also incorporating things like denim and leather into your outfit can easily amp up any neutral tones.
As always accessories are key. Given that neutrals tend to be quite pared back, they can easily be lifted by adding strong accoutrements like jewellery, shoes or bags. This will also allow you to incorporate a few contrasting colours and textures into the mix making for a more impactful outfit.
Adding touches of colour
The beauty of neutral tones is that it acts like a blank canvas and you can easily incorporate touches of colour into it. Choosing strong shades like punchy pinks or deep blues act as the perfect complementary hues, instantly lifting a palette featuring beiges, creams, tans or whites.
Block and ombre styling
Playing with a neutral colour palette and its various shades makes for an eye catching look. You could try working similar neutral shades together for a colour blocking effect — something that was quite prominent at this year’s Fashion Week. Another alternative is working with one neutral colour and incorporating varying shades of it for an ombre effect.
How do you elevate the neutral tones in your wardrobe?
Who’s your style icon? I have a number of women whose style I admire and whilst they may make it look effortless, I’ve found that often the thing with looking stylish is it doesn’t have to be difficult—as long as you have a few key things in place. If you get into the habit of doing a few things regularly then you can instantly make walking out the door looking polished and pulled together a whole lot easier.
I’m betting if you’ve ever really loved someone’s look it’s because everything works and there’s cohesion. The shoes work with the outfit, the bag is in keeping with the colour palette… it all just works. And to do this isn’t hard, it just requires putting in the effort of doing a little outfit planning. If you stop and put together a few outfits ahead of time, whether it’s the night before or you do a weekly styling session, you take that hurried mad dash for clothing out of the equation, which is when outfits tend to go awry.
Doing a tight edit
I think an outfit always has to have an individual element but also a considered edit that allows everything to work together. So always think about striking a balance and ensure that no elements are competing with each other but are instead complementing one another.
Adding one special piece
Aim to incorporate one standout piece when styling an outfit. It could be a great pair of earrings, a beautiful bag or a striking top, but whatever it is, ensure that it’s the kind of thing that can elevate a look.
Ensuring everything is in good condition
One of the things that can let an outfit down is if anything looks a little worn or shabby. Get into the habit of checking you clothes for damage so that you can get onto repairs straight away or replace it if need be. Also little things like pilling, discolouration, fading and even tiny stains are all things that can compromise the stylish feel of an outfit so be sure to either attend to the issue or phase it out of your wardrobe.
Wearing the right undergarments
The right underwear is so important to the overall finish of a look. A rogue bra strap under a cami, or underwear that’s the wrong colour under what you’re wearing are all things that can make you look less than pulled together. Invest in quality undergarments from bras to slips and underwear (including Spanx if you want a smooth finish under certain clothes) and you’re already ticking all the style boxes.
Aim for the right fit
Bid adieu to clothes that don’t fit perfectly. If it can be repaired then get them altered straight away. If not, then it’s time to donate them to charity so someone else can enjoy them. Also those “someday” clothes you’re saving? It’s time to farewell those too and instead focus on clothes that work for you now. You deserve to look nothing less than stylish after all.
When it comes to shopping it’s easy to get caught up in the process and end up with something that you may only be interested in for a short period of time. It’s these purchases that often end up gathering dust in your wardrobe and ultimately wind up on a ‘to throw away’ pile in the not too distant future. These purchases often add up and once you’ve done a final tally you’ll often realise (much to your dismay) that you could have bought a big ticket item that you truly love.
So how can you go about making sure you end up buying things that you won’t fall out of love with in a week? Here are some key things to keep in mind:
Do some research
Shop around and check out what’s available out there. Whether it’s shoes or a dress you might find that you had one particular style in mind but once you’ve looked further you may find another style that you love even more.
Give yourself a cooling off period
Regretful purchases notoriously happen when you’ve seen something and immediately snap it up without giving it much further thought. Sometimes these purchases work out but more often than not you could end up something that you’ll lose interest in.
This is why it’s important to give yourself a cooling off period. If something catches your eye, sleep on it and reassess in the morning. If you’re still thinking about it then buy it. You’ll know it’s true love when you can’t get it out of your head.
Do the wardrobe test
Ask yourself if what you’re about to buy will realistically work with the rest of your wardrobe. Think about where you could wear it to, what you can wear it with and how many outfits you could pull together now if it were sitting in your wardrobe. If your answer to any of those questions is a bit sketchy then it might be worth reconsidering.
Consider cost per wear
Bear in mind that something is not cheap (even if it’s on sale and been reduced drastically) if you only end up wearing it once. That’s why I always factor in cost per wear whenever I’m buying anything.
Sometimes it can be easy to opt for something that may be slightly cheaper but not what you truly want however if you find that it hardly gets used then you’re not getting value for money. The same goes for buying something super expensive but then finding you barely wear it.
It makes much more sense to hang out for something you truly love. If something works out to be expensive but then you end up wearing it to death and the cost per wear ultimately ends up being $2 a day then you’re definitely onto a winner.
With a growing movement towards approaching fashion in a more conscious way, never has it been more important to build a functional, versatile wardrobe. Ensuring women have the building blocks to create myriad looks that they feel confident in is something Kristin Todd, a stylist for over 10 years, has worked hard to do in her personal styling sessions and workshops.
Now Kristin has penned Style Sessions: Perfecting the Art of Dressing, a book that aims to change the way women dress by arming them with the knowledge and advice to help them feel great in what they wear, and also to make the sometimes intimidating world of fashion a whole lot more accessible. Here she shares her valuable advice on the key items every woman should have in her closet, to the secrets of being stylish and why we shouldn’t be a slave to trends.
What are the key pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe?
Every women, no matter her taste, should have a CORE wardrobe—her “perfect fit in every category”. It is the backbone of a wardrobe. Some people like to call these the classics or the basics.
These pieces are:
The colours to look out for when building your Core Wardrobe are neutral, black or white. They should be without detail, print or pattern. They have no real identity or genre in their appearance, so that they can take on any identity. Once you have a Core wardrobe in place, you will always be able to create an outfit. Add in your Taste pieces after the Core has been established.
What’s the secret to good style?
The secret to good style is marching to the beat of your own drum! Allowing your individual flavour shine through brightly. Knowing what works for you as an individual is important, every woman has very different boxes to tick. Tick your boxes in the way your outfit fits you, and represents your taste. Understanding what are your best parts and using your outfit to bring them to the surface…now that is style.
What’s the key to a functional, wearable wardrobe?
You may have a hundred pair of stiletto heels sitting neatly on your shoe shelves, but if you are a PE teacher, those investments are really just ornaments!
The key to a functional wardrobe is equipping yourself with items you need for what you are doing with your time. Before you head out to the shops, break your life into categories. The biggest category should represent the largest part of your wardrobe. If it doesn’t you need more items in that category to fill those gaps. There is no need to fill your wardrobe with cocktail dresses if lounge bars aren’t a part of your weekly lifestyle. Take the time to think about your lifestyle needs, then stock up on your needs first, before your wants.
I also find it helpful to invest in items that can do a lot for your wardrobe, like jeans, they are trans-seasonal, can move from casual to smart casual, hardwearing, day and night, comfortable, practical and the cut I wear, makes me feel comfortable and stylish. They tick a lot of boxes in my lifestyle.
What are the common mistakes you often see women making when it comes to fashion?
Many women are so focussed on trend they may lose sight of whether or not that particular trend is working for them. Style and trend are two different things. A stylish women knows what works for her, and builds her wardrobe based on careful selection. A women who is focussed on trend will wear an outfit just to fit into a trend, regardless of how the trend may take shape on her shape. I see this mistake a lot, especially with teenagers.
What’s something you wish more women would do when it comes to styling themselves?
I often see looks that are almost there! I say, if you’re going to go for it with a look, then really go for it!
Putting together a look is a head to toe concept. All the pieces of the puzzle come together to make a picture or to communicate a single message. Consider how your nails, lip colour, hairstyle and your accessories fit into your look…not just the clothing items. Complete your whole look ladies!
For women who feel a little intimidated by fashion, how can they become more comfortable with it and make it a part of their lives?
Every women needs to get dressed every day. Dressing is a necessary part of life. Instead of looking at dressing as “fashion”, use dressing as vessel to promote your personal wellbeing, if you feel good about the way you present yourself, you’ll set a positive tone for the day ahead. Don’t get caught up in fashion and trend. Wearing things you love will immediately get your good endorphins going. Focus on dressing in colours you love, prints and patterns that make you feel good. The garment shapes in those colours, prints and patterns will need to be right for your body, but the market has never been bigger or more accessible, you will be able to find your best fits in your favourite fabrics, enjoy hunting for them.
I also find it is helpful to align yourself with a few boutiques, brands or labels who get you! They get your size, your style, and your lifestyle. Every brand comes with its unique attributes, and your best brands/labels will be your first go-to when you are looking for a new outfit. This will save you from wandering aimlessly from shop to shop. Good stores also have the right accessories for their collections, the complete look is already done for you to save the thinking.
What are some things you think women need to retire from their wardrobes?
I am hesitant to advise the removal of a single fashion item from the wardrobe, as fashion moves so quickly, I may end up eating my words and that item may be happening again very soon. There are always a handful of women, who can absolutely use their creativity in ways which can make even the most hideous statements appear attractive. With that in mind, I won’t comment on a single item.
I do have some tips for clothing removal on a broader scale which I like to stick to…
The bane of my existence is pilling! If you garment begins to pill and it cannot be saved, it requires a quick exit from the wardrobe. That garment is done! To counteract the pilling, always invest in the best quality you can afford and care for your items properly.
Aside from the pilling garments treat your wardrobe as valuable real estate! Anything that is not relevent for the style that represents you best right now, is clutter, and a cluttered creative space won’t allow you to reach your outfitting potential. Take out the items which are no longer relevant! It’s not necessary to completely part with those items, they may be required again one day, just keep them away from your wardrobe for now.
What are your tips for dealing with an “I have nothing to wear” moment?
Get the Core wardrobe sorted, with the CORE in place, you’ll always be able to make at least three outfits with any ‘taste’ item you bring into your creative space.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a stylist?
Without hesitation, it’s helping women enjoy the reflection they see in the mirror. It’s not important for women to change who or what they are to be stylish. What is important is to find a style that fits who or what they are perfectly.
Instead of focussing on the things you don’t have, draw your attention to the things that are truly great about you and help those parts along with a great outfit that celebrates all of your best parts. Clothes cover, that’s what they do; cut and detail will showcase. Dress in outfits that are working for you not against you.
What are some fashion rules you live by?
Goodness, there are a few..
Quality over quantity.
Invest in the real.
Belts, sunglasses and bags are important!
Good style is being an individual.
You only get a single opportunity to make a first impression. Make it a good one.
If you could only wear one outfit forever, what would it entail?
Relaxed tailoring head to toe, drawn in at the waist with a belt!
I love the casual/elegant look! Comfortable yet chic ticks my boxes, for my body, my lifestyle and my taste.
Heading out for an evening to ourselves is something Luke and I try and do every so often. I think when you have been together for awhile, especially when kids enter the picture it’s nice to be able to reconnect and remember what it was like during the early days. It’s also the perfect time to enjoy the process of pulling a great outfit together and getting all dolled up! Here are a few of my tips on how to elevate your next date night outfit.
Push your boundaries
I always like to make a point of wearing something that’s just a little more special than what Luke would normally see me in. That could be something such as a great dress that I’ve been wanting to wear or just an outfit that I would never usually wear when I’m just in everyday mode. Also it’s a great time to experiment with a new look — if there’s a particular trend you’ve been wanting to try or something that you’ve been eyeing but haven’t found the occasion to wear it, why not do it during date night?
Pay attention to your accessories
When I’m looking after the girls, simplicity and comfort is key. I don’t have time to fuss around with earrings or bags because kids just don’t wait for things like that! So I always like to make an effort when it’s date night. Statement earrings are always a great option to consider but it’s also the perfect time to introduce a new bag into the mix or a beautiful necklace. I know it’s easy to stick to your tried and tested pieces but consider this the perfect time to do something a little different.
Throw practicality out the door
Date night is the perfect excuse to wear something that’s a little bit sexy and yes, completely impractical. That means letting your fave silk blouse out for the evening or wearing your favourite skyscraper heels—it’s the time to just focus on feeling and looking great and not if you’re going to be able to run after a toddler in your outfit.
Wear amazing shoes
I think wearing a killer pair of shoes is always a guaranteed way to feel great. If you’re always in flats or sneakers then the next time you head out, take it up a notch and let your beloved statement heels take centre stage. Think of it as a way of getting more out of your wardrobe too.
Spend time on your beauty look
Don’t let your look down by forgetting about your hair and makeup. Date night’s actually the perfect reason to stop and take your time with your beauty look. Try a new hairstyle or do a smoky eye or statement lip and enjoy the process of getting all dressed up.
A brand new year means it’s time to take a good hard look at your wardrobe and pinpoint the things that you need to say goodbye to. Doing a big purge of your closet means that you’re left with the pieces that you’ll wear often and genuinely love, meaning less style dilemmas. Here’s what to consider ditching this year…
If you’re still hanging onto things that you hope will fit sometime in the not so distant future it’s time to bite the bullet and toss them. If “someday” does come you can always make a few new additions to your wardrobe. In the meantime all those clothes are just taking up valuable real estate.
Clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle
If you’ve got a closet full of party dresses but you barely go out these days or you’ve got corporate clothes aplenty but have started working at a more casual office then perhaps it’s time to consider farewelling those pieces. You can always hang onto 2-3 favourites then donate the rest to charity.
Scuffed and worn shoes
Shoes that have seen better days are probably best retired. You want to always put your best foot forward (pun intended) and wearing footwear that looks tired doesn’t make a good first impression. If shoes can be re-soled or revived in some way then by all means go for it but if they can’t be salvaged then it’s time to bid them adieu.
Shoes that are uncomfortable
While we’re on the topic of footwear, if there’s a pair of shoes that leave you in agony every time you wear them which in turn means they hardly ever see the light of day then it might be time to retire them.
Investment jewellery is an entirely different thing so it’s exempt from a wardrobe purge but inexpensive costume jewellery is fair game. I’m talking earrings that you only wore once, tarnished necklaces, or bracelets that are gathering dust are all things you can afford to farewell.
Anything that doesn’t fit right
Looking polished is all about wearing clothes that sit well. If you’ve got things in your closet that have never sat right then consider having them tailored. If they’re beyond the alterations stage, for example if you’ve already tried to have it fixed but it still doesn’t look right, then it’s a sure sign that you should probably let it go.
What are some things that you’re vowing to ditch from your wardrobe this year?
Whilst I do like to top up my summer wardrobe with a few great trend buys I always like to start with a solid foundation. This means having the key pieces that I know I’ll be using throughout the season on hand so I make pulling outfits together a whole lot easier. Whilst this list might differ slightly according to your own tastes and style, I do think the majority of what I’ve included will be the same for the majority of women. So if you’ve found it hard to find a decent outfit the last few weeks, it might be time to stock up and ensure that you’ve got all the right pieces for the perfect look.
1. A versatile lightweight dress
I’ve all for having at least one summer dress that you’re absolutely in love with as a go-to throughout the season. Whether it’s a wrap style, shirt or slip dress there are a plethora of silhouettes available to suit everyone. The great thing about dresses is that they require minimal styling—just add shoes and you’re pretty much done.
2. A neutral sandal or slide
Speaking of shoes it’s a good idea to have one trusty pair of sandals or slides in your wardrobe. If you get one in a neutral colour such as tan or black then you’ll be able to mix and match it with several different outfits. Keep it simple and you’ll be able to maximise how much use you get out of it.
3. A straw bag
If you’re going for one bag in summer make it of the straw variety. I like a small straw bag that I can use for going out but you can invest in one that’s slightly roomier to carry your essentials for a day of shopping or hanging at the beach. If you work in a relaxed office environment you could even take it to work.
I am a sunglasses person through and through so I’ve got a collection of frames I rotate. However if you prefer just having one trusty pair you can wear to death then choose one in black or tortoiseshell to ensure you get plenty of use out of them.
6. A quality swimsuit
A great swimsuit is a must living in Australia. I am particularly drawn to a classic one piece style at the moment in shades such as black, navy or khaki to ensure that I can wear it on multiple occasions. Be sure to try on a few different style to make sure you find the one that’s flattering to your shape.
7. A white tee
I couldn’t live without a white tee, especially in summer. I’ll often pair it with everything from a skirt to denim shorts and pants. It’s ultra wearable so stock up!
8. Anything in linen
Who else is in love with all things linen? Nothing screams resortwear more than a gorgeous lightweight linen number. Whether it’s a dress, a skirt or a pair of cute shorts, it’s definitely the fabric of choice this season.
9. A statement skirt
I generally love a statement skirt most days of the year but they’re especially great in summer. Whether it’s a wrap skirt, mini or a sleek midi, find a style with a standout print or colour and you’re guaranteed to wear it to death this season.
10. Statement earrings
There’s no better time to have fun with your accessories than summer. If you’re going to invest in one particular piece I’d highly recommend a pair of statement earrings. You could wear them to drinks with the girls, date night or a work function so you’re definitely going to maximise the cost per wear.
A few weeks ago a lovely reader named Melissa messaged me on Facebook asking me for tips on how to dress when you’re petite. She found that often clothes would be too baggy and would look like they were overwhelming her frame. I can definitely relate! Finding things for your shape when you’re diminutive in size and stature can often involve a few extra steps to ensure the right and most flattering fit. If you’re in the same boat then rest assured that there are some easy ways to have a great wardrobe that works for you.
Get everything tailored
This is my number one tip to anyone, especially when you’re petite. Find yourself a great tailor that you like and start getting your clothes altered to fit perfectly. Often buying off the rack can mean that clothes can be a little too loose, too long or just not sitting perfectly and it pays to take the time to get everything tailored to fit. This is especially true of pants and jeans which can often be miles too long. The added benefit of getting clothing tailored is that you’ll always look polished. Win-Win.
Go for cropped lengths
I tend to favour anything cropped, especially when it comes to pants and jeans. I’ll usually make sure that my pants hit at the ankle or slightly above as I’ve found this can help elongate the frame. If you’ve got a pool of fabric gathering at your feet it can look messy and also end up making you look even shorter.
If something has too much volume it’s going to really swamp you so always pay attention to the proportions you’re working with. Try to go for pieces with structure as opposed to anything too floaty as this will help define your shape. Anything high waisted is great as it draws the eye upwards and ends up giving you a longer looking frame. Also if sleeves are too long try rolling them or pushing them up so you don’t look like you’re walking around in oversized clothing.
Avoid clunky shoes
I avoid anything with too much bulk and gravitate towards a streamlined aesthetic. Most of my heels tend to have a stiletto heel as I’ve found this helps elongate my figure and looks more in proportion. As for flats, I don’t really do flatforms or styles of that nature as I’ve found they just look too bulky. I go for sleek flats, sandals and slides that are quite minimalist in nature and don’t have too much extra ‘padding’ to them. Even my boots these days tend to be of the sock boot variety as I like the tighter fit compared to regular ankle boots.
Incorporate a fitted silhouette
I steer clear of anything too voluminous these days as I’ve found a fitted silhouette is far more flattering. I’m not saying you need to live in bodycon dresses 24/7 but you do need to be mindful that what you’re wearing is cut close to the body in some way. At a minimum, I like to keep one aspect of my look streamlined. Whether it be a pencil style skirt, a fitted top or a dress with either a tight top or bottom or a close fitting pant, there’s always got to be one element of my look that’s a little more figure hugging. This avoids the issue of looking like your clothes are wearing you and not the other way around.
Once you’ve found ways in which to ensure that your clothes fit perfectly, dressing when you’re petite doesn’t seem so much of a drama. In fact, you’ll probably learn to appreciate even more that good things really do come in small packages.
Do you have a fashion question you’re dying for advice on? Leave me a message below and I’ll answer it in a future blog post.
I’ve spoken of how much of a fan I am of a statement skirt whether it be for casual wear or something a little more special. Whilst this skirt style holds its own simply because it will usually feature striking colour or print, the key to letting it truly stand out is what you pair it with. And there’s such a plethora of choices you really will have no trouble making it your new go-to (especially when it comes to party season). So here are some amazing options for the next time you want an outfit that truly delivers.
The statement top
Even if you’re wearing a skirt that’s already a focal piece on its own it doesn’t meant that you can’t also take it up a notch with your top. If your skirt is in a vibrant shade, has extra embellishments or lots of texture just be sure to keep your top a neutral colour but feel free to go for a design with elevated details such as a dramatic sleeve or ruffles such as the one I’m wearing below.
A logo tee or sweater
A tee or sweater emblazoned with a logo is still very much a thing and it’s a dream to pair with a bold skirt. To keep your look cohesive try and incorporate a similar colour palette in your top as what you have on your skirt.
A tonal top
There’s something quite chic about incorporating similar tones throughout an outfit. I wore the below pink top with a midi skirt in a similar shade and loved that it worked to elongate my shape and also had visual impact. It’s an easy styling trick to try when you want a look that looks polished and pulled together.
A glam top, one that incorporates luxe finishes such as lace is great with a skirt that features rich shades or a romantic print such as flowers. It also incorporates a little bit of extra texture to create a look that’s got flair.
A bold accessory
Whilst not in the clothing category a great accessory really makes for the ideal finishing detail when it comes to an outfit featuring a statement skirt. A great belt and a structured bag fall into this category and are easily paired with many a skirt, regardless of its print, colour or texture.
Classic, timeless style is one thing I always aspire to. I like to keep my looks on trend but with an overarching sense of polish and generally don’t venture too far from what I know and love. One of the main reasons I do this is because it ensures the longevity of my wardrobe. If I stick to pieces that I believe will last the test of time I won’t have to update them as often and I can guarantee my favourites will have plenty of outings ahead. Having adopted this as my approach to shopping and how I dress for many years, and also observing the stylish women in my life whose ensembles just don’t seem to ever date, here’s what I consider to be the building blocks of having a look that will endure the years to come.
Scrimp on trend buys
I love purchasing trendy items as much as the next person but I keep them to a minimum. If I like the look of the signature silhouette or colour of the season I will buy a handful of pieces and work them back with what’s already in my closet. I avoid wearing one trend from head to toe and like to give it my own spin.
Embrace timeless fabrics and prints
There are certain prints and fabrications that won’t date. Polka dots, stripes and plaid have remained in the mix most seasons and will add a fun touch to any outfit that won’t look dated. Long-lasting fabrics such as tweed, silk, wool and cashmere are worth adding to your wardrobe as they really stand up well to the wear and tear of everyday use.
A classic black bag is definitely worth the splurge
Invest in classic pieces
Think of the pieces that have been around for ages and have remained a constant and they’re likely to be things like a black blazer, a white button down shirt, denim jeans and the little black dress and a simple black bag. These are the wardrobe buys that are worth investing in as they’re not going away any time soon.
Tailor your clothes
Ill-fitting clothes will make you look unkempt so it’s best to invest in tailoring pieces so they perfectly fit. Find a good tailor and have things taken in or up or out, depending on your needs, to ensure that whatever you’re wearing fits you like a glove. A perfectly tailored outfit just screams timeless style.
Know what suits your body shape
Learn to pinpoint the styles and silhouettes that work with your shape. Go on a shopping expedition and try on a few different silhouettes in key staples such as pants, tops, skirts and dresses and see what works. Be brutally honest. If what you see doesn’t put a smile on your face then keep searching until you find something that does. Once you’ve pinpointed what works for you then you’ll have a handful of go-to styles that you can always come back to time and time again.