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I see so many styles that are tagged as “preppy” when they are made of polyester, dated, low quality cut in general, and an abysmal end of details for the untrained eye. It is the amalgamation of these details coming together that create an entire look.
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If one puzzle piece is off, it makes you look worse and uninformed of the protocols of dressing appropriately. Dressing appropriately is what we deem to be ‘dressing well’, even if one does not necessarily realise it immediately. Elegance is in the details.
On top of that, social media has encouraged this craze of cheap things that are poorly made to seem redeemable to one’s character and attractiveness. A real style lover understands that succumbing to such trends is unsustainable and takes one back chapters in elegant dressing.
To avoid these gaffes, here are ten style essentials you can look for in your wardrobe, or you can purchase for yourself from my Uniform.
- A quality stripe shirt – in pastel or Winchester
- A cashmere wrap – in style of a shawl or sweater
- A warm base layer – turtleneck or long sleeve ribbed top
- Double pleated wide leg trousers
- Straight trousers for off-days
- Rhinestone satin pumps
- Flat loafers
- A wool jacket – herringbone, tweed, tattersall – something with a story
- Gloves – opera or short day gloves
- Your ensemble is not finished without a hat
A quality stripe shirt
You are already on another level of wearing solid shirts. Do not be afraid of patterns or colours. Thin stripes are the most subtle. Avoid deep tones, because you will get tired of seeing these hues everyday, and easily become bored with created outfits with clothes you wear over and over. It is not sustainable to shop statement. Always have a collar, and dress shirts are casual ones they are dark. Opt for lighter hues.
A cashmere wrap
Always have an extra layer on hand, because you never know how predictable the weather will be. Never wrap it around your waist, because one does not let cashmere be sat on. It is literally a fibre that needs to breathe to stay clean. It is anti microbial, so keep it that way by not sitting on it where other people sat previously!
A warm base layer
This layer is best for off-days and casual looks. It is easy, a go-to you do not have to think about, and you will always look good. You will be comfortable as long as it is high quality. I like to use a high neck on colder days.
Double pleated wide leg trousers & straight trousers for off days
They do not necessarily have to be wide leg trousers, but the movement flatters your figure as you walk. Straight trousers are similar, but not as much of a surprise, because there is less fabric to play with. In other words, you want to avoid second-skin trousers. They are obnoxious and scream, ‘Look at me! I am cheap.’ Clothes that make you look uncomfortable are a no-go.
Never wear jeans unless you plan to be in the backyard on your knees in the garden or digging. Working class denim is meant for work. Don heavier materials as wool, cashmere, silk, or cotton. The finer the blend, the more material it uses for its weave and the heavier it is, the more flattering it drapes on your figure.
Rhinestone satin pumps
These go perfectly from day to night if you want to dress smartly and have somewhere to be.
Anything leather moulds to the shape of your foot, looks better as it ages, and wears beautifully. They are also extremely comfortable.
A wool jacket – herringbone, tweed, tattersall – something with a story
It is really hard to find a high quality jacket off the rack, and they do not start to look good unless they are either starting at $1,000 (including tax), or are vintage. If you have one bespoke or made-to-measure, you can tell others the story of the weave and decision process. That is always interesting if someone truly is interested in the craftsmanship of style. If you inherited it from 10 generations ago, even better. Remember that the quality of clothes 100 years ago was usually better deriving from wholesome materials as opposed to blends.
Gloves – opera or short day gloves
I wear opera gloves in the day no matter the occasion, because it is simply a day layer. The occasion has to be me sitting down spending time somewhere for a while though. This can be smoking a cigar outside with Mr. Dixon or attending an event. And typically, the length will not be seen underneath my jacket, because I wear it over my sweater layer for extra warmth. It is pure utility in the day, but also to a white tie evening event.
Short gloves are perfect to keep your hands warm when walking outside, everyday movement outdoors, a set of driving gloves, and even picking things up at the grocery store.
Your ensemble is not finished without a hat.
Certain traditions still follow this rule today. It is a hard guideline that screams, ‘I understand protocol’, to those who know. You can weed out immediately if someone is from the old world, old money, or royalty in general. 100 years ago, if you stepped outside without your hat, it was the equivalent of walking outside without shoes. The same also went for walking outside with only a shirt. You need a jacket. This still exists in London, because formality and heritage are something that still remains, especially around St. James’s Place.
Make sure your hat is high quality, actually suits you, and goes with your ensemble or family tartan if you plan to don a pattern that works. You can even make your own weave, so do not feel too attached to what stores offer. There are bespoke millineries in Chicago and London where your head is measured and hat is made from scratch, because why would you wear a hat that doesn’t suit you?
I cannot wait to get mine, but for now I don a Eugenia Kim city cap of wool. I also want to support local vendors and know the name of the person who made my clothes. It feels good to shake their hand and say thank you.
- Keep it simple.
- Don’t try to stand out or be flashy.
- Take great care of your clothes.
- Learn to layer.
- Make friends with your tailor.
Keep it simple.
People think dressing well is going all out. If you are uncomfortable, fidgeting with your clothes constantly, or do not exactly understand the protocols of dressing appropriately — you can find here in my dress code etiquette guide — you will not understand that your over accessorising is overt for a reason. The simpler, the more formal and more elegant. You are in control of your devices in this sense.
Don’t try to stand out or be flashy.
This is another part of the puzzle where things fall apart. If you are trying to prove something or stand out, with your clothes is not the best way to do it if you do not understand the guidelines in the first place. You can find them here. Standing out can mean negative attention and not being able to focus on your fabulous personality. Showcase yourself. You are the brand. Not the logos who are not paying you to do their free marketing.
Take great care of your clothes.
If you purchase anything with natural fibres, you can actually wash your clothes less. Simply read the labels of the tags and you will never be steered wrong. This is one of the reasons polyester is a problem: it gets dirtier faster, makes you sweat into it, and only looks good the first time you buy it. All you have to do is make sure your garments have no creases or stains. Simple!
Learn to layer.
I have a whole guide on how to layer. It is easy to look bulky and like a homeless person when layering, but sometimes it is something that cannot be attended to. Weather can be unforgiving and your health is priority. There is a way to layer that you can do sleekly, elegantly, and effortlessly.
Make friends with your tailor.
If your clothes do not fit you, they will look like they do not fit you. It does not matter all the style rules you follow, you will look like a fool if your clothes do not fit you. Then, there is a whole other level of your clothes fitting you well. Not every can afford bespoke or made-to-measure, so we opt for off the rack ready to wear. Finding an expert who really has a handle on what they are doing with years of craftsmanship experience and has the style you are looking for is tough to find. When you meet a tailor you absolutely love, treasure them.
If you loved this post, I would love for you to visit The Uniform. These are my actual outfits and a lookbook to look put together, polished, and never have to think when dressing up. You will always look good in these pieces. It is absolutely a no-brainer. Check them out here.
Thank you so much for taking time to read the end of this post. I hope you find some inspiration in this and feel free to share with your friends as a free way to help my blog grow. Your support is endlessly appreciated.
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