Image taken from page 43 of Nina Garcia’s Little Black Book of Style
This post / essay could also be titled 10 things I’ve learned from Nina Garcia.
Or why I’m not buying bell bottoms this season. I’m sure I’m not the only person who gets the urge to splurge (did I just say that??) as soon as the weather changes. I stumble upon something on a blog or vogue.com, and I go from feeling really great and confident to panicked. “I have NOTHING to wear and everything I own is drab and uncool!” It’s a sudden and ridiculous lie! Of course this is perpetuated by the fact that our culture is obsessed with STUFF and how it makes you look. But like Nina reminds us, “Fashion is expensive. Style is not.” So let’s talk about style instead. When it comes to fashion and style, one can exist without the other.
A little narrative to start the conversation: Let’s say that I stop by a certain store that starts with the letter “A” on a Saturday just to browse when I’m wearing a frumpy / doing chores kind-of outfit. Now, even though I think that store “A” is over-the-top (confession: I even make fun of it sometimes), the truth is that they really get me with the smell and the music and the little DIY touches and just everything. I go from being a classic minimalist to a person who thinks it might be a great idea to buy a long, baggy sweater that’s patch-worked floral with bell sleeves and some amazing (weird) crochet detailing (mess) around the collar and a rope belt that has a ball hanging off each end. I will, of course, not end up buying it and later, I’ll forget the thing even existed. But when I’m in that store, everything is beautiful and new and amazing.
Look at all those Nina books on the back of the bookshelf.
That’s how buying “on trend” clothing feels to me. It feels like being duped. Last year, I decided it was time to learn how to be smart with my wardrobe. Partially this is a quirk of mine where I must.know.every.minute.detail.about.fillintheblank if I’m interested in it. Part of this is just plain OCD. But I set out to learn more about style planning and organizing…all in an effort to save $$ and to try to build a wardrobe that is more lasting and of higher quality. I’m still working on it.
So, I turned to Nina. But more on that in a minute.
I want to add the caveat that of course there are some new trends that are just a fresh take on classics or just plain fun. I’m not talking about that kind of thing when I say I feel “duped.” I’m mostly referring to the feeling that you’ve got to update everything to feel current. Or buy that one super expensive thing that is really “hot” this season. Maybe I’m just getting older (hello 30!) or who knows, maybe its the recession, or maybe…maybe it’s really…Nina.
Ms. Garcia (whom I haven’t blogged about yet but I might just start a series devoted to her) has left a huge impression on me. You may be thinking “Isn’t she that lady from Project Runway?” or maybe you know that she is the editor of Marie Claire Magazine. But, really, she’s a very intelligent woman with highly sophisticated taste who knows fashion history. And she’s written a bunch of books about being a woman who’s into fashion but with a critical eye. Nobody is fooling Nina! And she wants you to be just as savvy.
Another Nina book in our house
So, without further adieu. The top 10 things I’ve learned from Nina:
- If you feel confident and beautiful, then you will look it, no matter what you’re wearing. Confidence is everything and you can’t buy that.
- “Your shoes, bag, and coat will reveal your hand right away. Spend your money here. A simple timeless design for these three items is best.” She points out that in the winter, you’re mostly seen in your coat anyways, so make sure its something you love and fits you perfectly. You can be wearing a so-so outfit underneath and you’ll still look amazing most of the time.
- Keep things simple and understated. Rich colors like camel, ivory, navy and black look amazing on everyone.
- Entire outfits in one color are instantly chic. (Example; head-to-toe camel or black or ivory is amazing and doesn’t have to cost a lot.)
- A good tailor is a lifesaver. They can turn anything you find into a one-of-a-kind keepsake. It’s surprisingly inexpensive to have things taken in or hemmed up or let out, etc…
- A miniskirt is okay for a woman of any age. Just pair it with the right shoes (flats usually) and the right silhouette.
- If you’re wearing something big on top, go skinny/fitted on the bottom. The opposite is true. Big/flouncy on the bottom pairs best with tight on top.
- Spend your money on the classic foundational pieces: a white button down, a nice pencil skirt, a cashmere sweater. And pair them with inexpensive items.
- Ballet flats are a must.
- Heels really make the silhouette when you’re trying to step it up. And shoes are a way to go crazy with trends and have fun.
So, I’m working on it. Definitely not there yet… I’d LOVE to hear any tips you have for saving $$ but also looking luxe.
P.S. Bell bottoms look horrible on me. I’m really tall and they just make me look taller and silly, that’s why I’m not buying them even though I know they are obviously cool this season!