Fashion rules in general can be very helpful in many ways, but also very confining and restrictive depending on how you choose to incorporate style into your life.
If you are someone who simply wears clothes for functional purposes, these rules are nice because they provide structure which eliminates thought. But if you’re someone who chooses to communicate with your clothing choices or someone who tends to allow how you appear to serve as a reflection of who you are, then you will most likely want to tweak these rules to best fit your lifestyle and personality.
A while ago I came across the idea of style commandments. After a certain amount of time shopping for your body type, getting comfortable with who you are and what life you want to live, you begin to hone in on what works and what doesn’t work for you when it comes to fashion.
So today, why not take 30 minutes or so and discern what fashion choices benefit you and which make you cringe. Eliminate the latter and dive deeper into the former investigating exactly what it is that made you feel your best.
Here are my 10 Style Commandments:
1. Dress to Flatter Your Figure & Your Personality
Dress the body you have now – not the body you had in high school and not the body that you wish you had. When you heed this advice, you will like how you appear in photographs much better and you will feel better in the clothes you choose which ultimately cause your confidence to rise and your days more fulfilling as you are focusing on what you are doing and not how you look (because you know you look great).
Accentuate the aspects of your figure that are fabulous (and yes, we all have fabulousness to flatter). Slim waist – cinch it with belts, beautiful décolletage – pay attention to your necklines and wear beautiful earrings and/or necklaces. Also, know your colors. What undertone does your skin have? (click here to find out) With this valuable information, you will know what colors look better on you when it comes to clothing, hair color and make-up.
2. Strive for Balance
As it is important in life, it is also something to always have in mind when pulling together an outfit. Balance should be paid attention to with regards to textures of fabrics (silk, wool, cotton, linen, etc), styles of clothing (masculine vs. feminine), proportions (remember never to cut yourself in half, but divide the body into thirds), slim-fitting vs. blousing and loose and revealing just enough, but not too much.
3. Quality Foundational Pieces
The basic items that create the foundation of your wardrobe should be as high quality as you can afford. Such as coats, handbags, sweaters, jeans, suits, dresses – items that will be expected to last. When you tend to purchase quality, you will find you need to go shopping less because the items you have last.
4. Keep it Simple
As many of you know, Jennifer L. Scott’s new book (which is being re-released in November) Lessons from Madame Chic has convinced me to down-size my closet for the peace of mind, the relief to my budget and to help create an even simpler way of living well. Scott suggests creating and adhering to a 10 item Capsule Wardrobe – one for each season (fall/winter and spring/summer), so I’d like to show you what mine now looks like (it’s not quite down to 10 yet, but it’s much closer).
~Remember, the capsule wardrobe does not include coats, dresses for special occasions, lingerie, accessories, shoes, blazers, and camisoles~
pencil skirts (beige, navy, gray)
white cropped jeans
navy cropped trousers
ivory lightweight cashmere sweater
silk blouses (striped/prints, solid)
shorts (cotton & linen)
jeans (boyfriend or cropped)
summer dresses (3)
wool and lined cotton pencil skirts (black, camel, grey, navy)
cashmere sweaters (navy, ivory, color)
silk blouses (long sleeve & capped)
straight leg jeans (dark denim)
black skinny jeans
DVF wrap dresses (3)
shift dresses (black, navy, gray)
As you can see, it’s simple – it includes items that will last – paying no mind to trends, and it’s very easy to mix and match, as it is the addition of the accessories you choose that can help change an entire outfit.
5. Only Shop Sales for What You Need
This time of year is ripe for sample sales and end of season sales, but the key is to keep in mind that just because they’re a sale, doesn’t mean you are saving money if you didn’t need the item in the first place.
What works for me is to always have a running list of what I need, and then I am always on the look out. By choosing to stick to a closet of fewer clothes, you will find you have more money to purchase high quality items when you find exactly what you want – sale or no sale.
For the past few years I have been shopping at consignment shops much more than any boutique or department store. Why?
- Most consignment shops rotate their clothing by season and trend, so you will be shown items that can work in your wardrobe for that particular season.
- Designer clothing at a fraction of the price. Here is my story that taught me a HUGE lesson on knowing when to buy something and when to let it go. I came across a Dolce & Gabbana black blazer (leopard lining – yes, you know the one I’m talking about). Marked at $250, I hemmed and hawed, slept on it for a night, and then decided I just couldn’t afford it, but knew I needed a black blazer. Then I got online to discover that the jacket at full retail price was close to $900. I quickly called up the store, but it (understandably so) had already found a new home. Lesson learned!
- You can often bring your own clothing in if it is in good condition and in season to help pay for your future purchases.
- A fashion treasure hunt. So always take your clothing list with you, so to not spend unnecessarily.
8. Stand up Straight
As a child, my father was always reminding me to stand up straight. Being a girl who was always taller than her peers and especially the boys going through elementary and junior high school, it was tempting to slouch, but at the same time why? Now, I always cringe when I see young girls who are hunching over due to their height, and I want to run up to them and say, you are beautiful! Stand proud!
Needless to say, your posture states a lot about your self-confidence and immediately makes the clothes you are wearing appear much more chic.
9. Navy – an often forgotten dependable classic
I am obsessed with this color. Whether it is a cashmere sweater, included in my favorite go-to nautical top or found in a dress or a skirt, I want to have it in my closet. It is such a flattering color on so many different types of skin tones and body types. And it is a choice to keep in mind all year round, a must-have in my wardrobe.
10. Heels & Flats – interchange accordingly
Ballet flats can be just as chic as a pair of luxuriously high Jimmy Choos when worn with the proper length of pant or skirt. But remember, there is something quite uplifting about heels as well. Wearing jeans with heels is one of my favorite ways to dress casually, but still remain stylish, but at the same time a nude patent leather flat is always a safe bet.
29 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Create Your Own Style Commandments?”
Hi Shannon, great article as usual. Can I ask where you primarily purchase your cashmere sweaters? Thank you
For investment cashmere I love mine from Eric Bompard, and Ralph Lauren Black Label is Oprah’s go-to choice, but I have purchased a few from Michael Stars which aren’t as expensive (so unfortunately they don’t get better with time, like high quality cashmere sweaters will, but they are quite soft and lovely to wear), and they last a few years. Also, I have found a few at consignment shops which reveal how well they wear over time – quality at a discounted price. Ideal. I hope this helps. I’m continuing to search out other designers as well, so I’ll keep everyone posted. 🙂
Similarly, I was wondering if you have favorites for sleepwear. As per your ‘polite houseguest’ post, I need to purchase a new set for an upcoming visit with my fiance’s family. Thanks!
My favorite pajamas set for traveling and being someone’s house guest is Frette’s Rigato Ara white pajamas (Cameron Diaz wore them in The Holiday and I tracked them down). Here’s the link http://www.frette.com/frette-to-wear/for-her/pajamas/rigato-ara-pj-her.html They are high quality and will last.
Brooks Brothers makes classic women’s pajamas that look very similar for a bit better price, as well as J.Crew – short and long sleeve depending upon your preference.
Also, there are some fantastic pajama sets from Donna Karan available at Net-a-Porter right now for a great price. You might want to check them out.
Silk pajamas are also a good bet as they work for warm and cool months.
great article. i love the downsizing idea.
Another brilliant post. I have aspired to have a wardrobe along these lines but I always seem to go off course and buy way to much. I should know by now that my style is classic and that is what I wear most.
I absolutely adore Navy too.
Inspiring post! I have whittled down my wardrobe as suggested in many blogs and books, but the 10 item idea continues to illude me. I have however, come up with 4 basic colors (black, white, navy, khaki) and 2 pop (green, orange) colors and pretty much stick with that.
I will continue to try to whittle…..I really want to achieve this goal.
So many of these rules resonate with me as I am slowly changing my wardrobe. My idea is to keep it simple, invest in quality and create a functional wardrobe where I can pair my pieces indefinitely. It’s a small prices – especially give the money limitations & finding out what looks best at me. But it’s fun! thank you for posting…
Great one. I read u constantly and I’m very grateful for your advices.
Thank you for posting your capsule wardrobe. This(along with Jennifer Scott’s list) is helping me to figure out how to do a 10 item wardrobe. Simplicity and quality feel so good!
Thank you for posting your capsule wardrobe. What a huge help this is! I also believe as you do – buy quality pieces. You really do get your money’s worth.
Lovely post Shannon. I think we all “know” these things but keep the ideas stored in the back of our mind. It is always a refreshing reminder that sometimes less IS more.
Cheers, hope you are well!
Thanks for posting your capsule wardrobe – I love seeing how other people do it and am striving to get there myself. Your list for summer has more bottoms than tops on it (although I see that you may have multiple silk blouses) and aside from the nautical top, nothing very casual. How do you mix your wardrobe with these choices? Does this list not include your walking-the-dog, running-to-the-grocery-store, heavy-gardening clothes? Thanks! – Queen Lucia
Good questions – I have many nautical tops, but my silk tops are something I love to wear in the summer quite often as well as my lightweight cashmere sweater for evenings. With regards to the capsule wardrobe (by the way, I know you are going to love Lessons by Madame Chic as it explains everything quite well), I don’t wear any of these ten items to walk my dogs or garden, as I do have workout pants and jackets, as well as an old pair of jeans and t-shirt worn with my Wellies to work in the yard. I certainly want to take care of my capsule wardrobe. So as you can see, my capsule wardrobe isn’t exactly 10 items, but I don’t necessarily include certain items as they are going to get dirty quite quickly, quite often.
GREAT,great post!! I would love to see pictures of the 10 items for the summer/winter wardrobes to see how they mix and match- just as a visual. This would really help me get started downsizing my own closet.
what a great post! I’ve never thought about my style commandments but these are perfect!
I just discovered your blog on IFB by the way and it’s great so I gave you a follow! Check mine out and give me a follow back if you’d like 🙂
Can you please please please let me know where you get your fashion pics (like the ones featured in the article above) from?
Thank you ever so much!
Especially agree with #1. So many trends run counter to the traditional ‘new look’ dresses that flatter my figure so well. I have learned to ignore trends and strive for a classic look.
Great post. Your style commandments are spot on!
What a fantastic post! I especially loved your capsule wardrobe – it is only my list to edit down this far this summer.
I also consider Navy to be a fantastic base/neutral! Much more so than black for me.
Loved this post!
Great advice. Thanks!
first post I’ve ever read by you. Love it. So, so much. Great job! Officially bookmarking your blog aha. <3
New follower, hope you can check out my new posts and follow back 🙂
I may have prefaced another comment this way before but, always begin with the current article and end up reading four or five others. Your titles are intriguing. I noticed that your capsule doesn’t have any trousers but has jeans, which aren’t usually work attire. Do you really only wear skirts to work?
Great question. I used to wear trousers occasionally to work, but recently have preferred skirts and dresses. Now my capsule wardrobe may change in the future, but currently, I have edited out all trousers, but that is just my preference. It is key that you create a capsule wardrobe that suits your job, personality and preferences and never be afraid to tweak it at any time. 😉
I like the idea of capsules and your list is great. Like another comment, I don’t like dresses and skirts, mainly because I take transit to work and have to deal with wet and cold Canadian weather. I can easily figure out how to replace the skirts with trousers, but what would you have in place of the shift and wrap dresses? More shirts and cardigans?
Theresa, If you are condensing down your capsule wardrobe, that is actually a gift in disguise as you can now buy a few more different blouses, shirts or sweaters as well as trousers, pant suits and nice jeans – more mixing options.
I love the idea of capsule wardrobe. It seems totally overwhelming. So I will have a
Good friend help me this next week
One question what does it mean don’t cut your body in half – but in thirds?
Great question! I do go over it more in detail in the book, but briefly: literally measure your body’s height. Wherever the halfway point is, refrain from ever letting clothing end or begin there. Rather divide your body into thirds and allow the hems, waistlines, etc. hit at the two points on your body, never at the halfway point. I hope that helps!