Styling is the art of taking articles of clothing and turning them into a finished look. Today I want to share a few thoughts on styling, why it matters, and how simple it can be to execute.
Styling gives you the power to take pieces of clothing from your closet and create a number of different looks for a variety of seasons or situations. Think of jeans and a white shirt (one of my favorite things to grab in my closet when I’m not feeling particularly creative). Jeans and a white shirt can be worn around the house on a lazy Sunday (no styling required!), worn to meet friends for lunch, worn to work, and even (with the right styling) worn to a fun night out. I would even argue that the right jeans and the right shirt paired with the right styling could pass for cocktail attire. The magic (and the fun!) is in the styling.
Without realizing it, you are probably already stying your outfits. Styling begins with the base layers of clothes you choose to wear. Maybe it’s a cocktail dress. Maybe it’s a skirt and a sweater. Maybe it’s jeans and a graphic t-shirt. Once you have these items selected and know what you are going to wear, the styling begins.
As a guideline, expert styling usually involves five pieces. A piece is anything of note. Basic everyday jeans? This doesn’t count as a piece. Dark, button-front, cropped denim? Definitely counts as a piece. The determining factor in whether something counts as a piece is whether or not there are noteworthy details or qualities about the piece that make it stand out or create interest. Pieces can include tops, bottoms, dresses, coats, jewelry, shoes, bags, belts, hats, and scarves as well as a red lip or an interesting hair style. What you choose and how you put them together communicates your personal sense of style in the finished look.
Is your style minimalist? Maybe you wear basic jeans, a men’s white v-neck shirt, a ballet flat, small diamond stud earrings, a dainty gold necklace, and carry a leather tote bag. There is nothing over-the-top about this look, but it is pulled together and stylish.
Is your style bold? Maybe you wear pink pants, a floral shirt, a striped coat, a chunky necklace, and a fun shoe. It works!
Most of the time, my hair and makeup are neutral, and they don’t really count as a piece. But, if I wanted to elevate jeans and a white shirt, I might twist my hair up into a casual up-do, add a red lip, slip on a loafer, don a pair of earrings, and grab a cute tote bag. Now, with my minimum of five pieces, I have a styled outfit.
The same approach will work for a cocktail dress. Add a heel, a sparkly earring, a statement ring, and a clutch. Those five pieces working together take the dress from an article of clothing to a finished look.
I love using the five piece framework for creating outfits from pieces in my closet, and it helps me think about the choices I am making. Sometimes when a look feels off, it is usually because there are too many competing pieces happening at the same time. Removing a piece or two is usually the secret to getting things back in balance.
The beauty of styling is not only in creating looks you enjoy wearing, but also in giving your closet more bang for the buck. Styling is the secret to taking a few key pieces and reinventing them with fresh accessories or creative combinations. Whatever your personal style, learning the art of styling is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
Photos by Lo Baptista with Lo + Co.