Written and styled by Tracy James
Photography by Chuck St. John
Now that we’ve all finished holiday eating, drinking, and auld lang syning, it’s time to get busy working on that list of resolutions. Amid the pledges involving health and finances, how about including a few in the style category as well? Just as your doctor might suggest to cut down on carbs and your financial advisor to save for a rainy day, I consider it my duty as Birmingham’s wardrobe stylist to proffer a few resolution recommendations to keep our city chic and your life simpler!
1) Shop smart.
First off, if you’re a sucker for sales, this is your month. Contrary to popular belief that Black Friday is the best day to find deals (spoiler alert: it’s not), January is actually the choice month for bargains. That said…and hear me when I say this…resist the urge to buy merely because of the discount. Sure, that designer feathered cape used to be $750 and is now $99, but do you live the kind of life that is going to frequently require donning a feathered cape? Do you have other items in your closet that coordinate with said cape? This is where people get into trouble—they buy an item because of the deep discount, then end up having to purchase four other items to go with it, or else don’t wear it at all and there it sits, gathering dust with tags still attached. Suddenly that “great buy” wasn’t such a deal after all. Ask yourself a few questions before making a purchase: Do I already own the correct items to make this garment into a complete outfit? Do I own something very similar and, if so, do I need a duplicate or am I willing to get rid of that item and replace it with this one? Can I think of an occasion to which I would wear this item? In addition, I advise always shopping with a list of wants and needs—shopping with a purpose, if you will—rather than aimless browsing.
2) Pay attention to proportion.
As I am known to often say, “It’s only fashion, not rocket science.” And so is this simple formula: short tops with wider leg bottoms/long tops with skinny bottoms. The goal when dressing is to flatter, so keeping proper proportion in mind is key when putting together an outfit. Skinny jeans have had a monopoly in the jeans world for the past several years, and while there is certainly nothing unstylish about them, I grew weary of the silhouette. Therefore I have been thrilled to see the return of flare-leg jeans which has opened the door to wearing a fresh crop (pun intended) of shorter tops. Many of my clients have wondered why they weren’t wearing certain tops only to realize that they just didn’t have the right bottoms to make them work. To keep your wardrobe interesting, I encourage you to not be a one-hit wonder, with only one proportion in your closet. Mix it up!
3) Visit your tailor—often.
Fit is everything. You can have on the most expensive designer garment, but if it isn’t tailored to your figure, don’t bother. By the same token, a less pricey garment can look like a million bucks if it fits like a glove. As I have said before in this column, very few of us fit “off the rack”—we’re taller, we’re shorter, we’re wider, we’re slimmer, we’re curved and concaved where the fit model was not. This is all to say: embrace alterations. I know it takes time and costs a little extra, but it is worth it! Not only will your clothing look better, but it will feel better too.
4) Upgrade your workout wear.
Goodness knows a lot of Birmingham women like their active wear, so let’s make it nice, ladies! One of the benefits of exercise is improving mood, but there’s nothing inspiring about a shapeless tee and ratty gym shorts. With selections now available in premium fabrics, fun prints and every color under the sun, there is no excuse to be boring. And don’t forget the accoutrements needed for to/from the gym, like a stylish carryall, and post workout, like a jacket or wrap. Local fave resources for workout wear that kicks it up a notch include P2 Platinum Pilates at Lane Parke and Whole Foods in Mountain Brook (yes, really).
5) Upgrade your underwear.
Underwear is one of those clothing categories that becomes an afterthought for many because “no one sees it.” Well, you see it, and style begins with confidence in oneself. Underwear garments are often called “foundations” for a reason—these are where an outfit begins. Whether a lacy set that has you singing “I’m bringing sexy back,” or a high-tech shaping garment that makes clothing fit and feel sexier, let it not fall by the wayside. Your inner voice (and perhaps significant other) will thank you. Note: I know what you’re thinking…“what, no pictures?!” Stay tuned for a lingerie feature in Style Icon for February, just in time for Valentine’s. Consider yourself officially teased.