Thinking back on my approximately quarter-century of a life, I have quickly evolved from Juicy velour track suits - which may have somehow won me the title of best dressed in middle school - to timeless leather boots and solid midi dresses. As I reflect on my birthday, and how my style has changed over the years, I wanted to round up my best style advice to share with you.
1. Pay attention to fabric (and washing instructions).
There have been so many wonderful pieces I have bought only to soon realize I dry cleaned it when I wasn't supposed to, washed it when I was supposed to dry clean it, it's itchy, it makes me sweat, it's synthetic and smells weird, or it's natural and smells weird, whatever the case may be. One of the first qualities I check now when I'm going to purchase something or especially if I'm going to spend quite a chunk of change on an item, or purchase online, is the fabric. Perhaps the beautiful polyester dress you wanted for your friends wedding isn't going to be a great choice for dancing all night? Always pay attention to your fabric and washing instructions, or you will be throwing a lot of money away.
2. Invest in basics.
I know it's not the most exciting piece of advice, especially for the bold fashionistas, but as much as I might want to drop half a paycheck on the most gorgeous statement shoes or embroidered dress, I can't wear either of those all that often. Basics can be dressed up, dressed down, accessorized, changed, used through different seasons...but your statement shoes are going to make the same statement every time you wear them. Which shouldn't be once a week. I have a few of my favorite dresses in a rainbow of colors and can wear them with everything from sandals and a baseball hat to heels and diamonds. I wear them to work, to dinner, to wineries, to grocery shop - anywhere. I have never regretted a purchase and have never had a dress go very long unworn.
3. Unless yours is unlimited, don't waste your money on trendy pieces.
I learned my lesson a few times, but the first time with a pair of knee-high, Stuart Weitzman gladiator sandals. I HAD TO HAVE THEM. I saved up a little while and treated myself to them. I absolutely loved them. Honestly, I still do love them - so so much. They are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I have ever owned and they certainly make a statement. I wore them regularly for that spring and summer. However, I think I spent about $500 on them and honestly, have worn them sparingly since. They're still amazing, but I can't really wear them every day, and gladiators aren't as huge as they were a few years ago. I would have rather saved for some 5050s that are much more versatile and much easier to wear multiple days a week and in different settings. Lesson learned. I love a good statement piece, but I love basics more. No shade to the beautiful SW gladiators at the top of my closet, I still love you and will wear you when the time is right. Kiss kiss.
4. Seek the boutique experience.
I can't stress enough how much I love shopping in small and local boutiques. Nothing against department or chain stores - I still do a lot of shopping at designer flagship shops and my favorite malls - but what you should be after is a personal experience. There are a handful of great boutiques I am a loyal customer to and they are always my go-to places when I need or want something new. I love the fact that I can shop new arrivals immediately via Instagram or contact boutique owners directly for questions. Often times when I arrive at my favorite store to try on a dress, they have already picked more they think I'd like, in my size, and put them aside - ready to drop in the dressing room upon my arrival. The loyalty is very much a two way street.
This can hold for larger stores as well - get to know the managers in your local department stores or high-end stores. I worked with the manager of my local Gucci on my last purchase there - she was super helpful and also gave me her personal contact information. She also sent me a postcard a couple months after my purchase to see how I was enjoying my new bag. I'm sure lots of customers got postcards, but it was a nice personal touch to guarantee that next time I need something from Gucci, I'm going there, working with her, and I know I will receive excellent care.
5. Just because you own a pair of Loubs doesn't make you a style icon.
I think this is the most important thing I can say. I have seen many people envy or idolize others because they have a couple Louis Vuitton bags or some expensive shoes. Trust me, I love designer pieces, but if that person can't tell you anything about what they own or why, besides that, "it's Louis Vuitton" and they love it, do yourself a favor and don't take any fashion tips from them. Designer goods are only worth something if you understand the design process and work behind each piece. It's not something to be bragged about. I think the best kind of luxury is inconspicuous luxury. Simplicity is luxury. Appreciation is luxury.
I may silently sling a monogrammed duffle over my shoulder for the weekend and if someone likes it, cool, but you will never hear me say, "Yeah, it's Gucci. Do you like it? It's Gucci. This is my new Gucci bag. I love Gucci. It was so expensive." What I can tell you about is the season it was made for, the ideas behind that runway show, what Alessandro Michele was going for, why the color palette is a little different from Gucci's previous bags, how rad the new zipper design is, what similar pieces are coming out next, and what they represent for the company. There is a big difference between being drawn to a name versus an entire fashion house. A little insight and appreciation go a long way.
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