Wouldn’t it be nice if there were guidelines on how to look great, any time, any place, any occasion? Well, there are. It may seem to be a tall order, but there’s actually a few basic steps you can follow to make sure you’re always in style, on trend and looking your best. It all comes down to basics, and shaking off unnecessary stylistic shackles to reveal classic fashion principles, and, of course, timeless you. Here’s how to dress for any occasion.
Step One: Know Your Role
The first thing you need to do is have a clear understanding of the occasion. For instance, is it a wedding? And if it is, is there a theme or specific dress code? Most weddings are semi-formal to formal, but some are even black tie, or have specific themes (e.g. Western, Fairytale, Cosplay) that the couple would like the guests to incorporate into their look. This is just an example, but you can see how knowing exactly what may be expected of you is the important first step in deciding how to dress.
Step Two: Know the Venue
Where the event will be will play a huge role in determining what you are going to wear. A birthday party on the beach, for example, demands a dramatically different wardrobe than a birthday party at a country club. It’s the difference between jean shorts and a crop top and a pastel shift dress and kitten heels.
Step Three: Check the Weather
It doesn’t matter if the event is going to be indoors: your outerwear is part of your ensemble, and you should always know what Mother Nature has in store. For instance, if you’re attending a retirement party at a nice restaurant and the forecast is calling for rain, you’ll likely want to protect your outfit, hair and makeup by wearing a hooded trench coat and/or bring an umbrella — the ultimate accessory for a rainy day.
Another example: you’re headed to a beach wedding and it’s going to be blustery. You may love the idea of wearing your hair down in those wavy, beachy curls, but you run the risk of having your locks flying in your face all day. Opt for a neat, solid, liberally sprayed coiff. It can still look easy-breezy beach natural, but you won’t be unsticking your tresses from you lipgloss all day, and you won’t look like Cousin It in all the photos.
Step Four: Build the Foundation
Every single outfit has a foundational piece: be it a stunning LBD, or a pair of pale pink high waisted, wide-legged pants, or a beautiful blouse: this is the main attraction. Your accessories are just window dressing — necessary window dressing, but secondary nevertheless. Once you pick this piece, everything else will fall into place.
Step Five: The Window Dressing
Now you are going to accessories your look. You don’t need to go crazy here. Chanel Coco Chanel, who famously advised, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” They key to accessorizing well is picking complementary pieces, but not overdoing it. Chances are you don’t want to look like Mr. T.
To tell if a piece complements your outfit, consider feel. Not tactile feel, but the vibe the piece emits. Your accessories don’t need to match your outfit in terms of color or material or even style, but they do have to have the same vibe.
For example, a pair of black geometric drop-earrings would look amazing with a LBD or a pair jeans and a white Swiss-dot blouse or a pair of capris and a tee. But, pair them with a boho peasant dress, and they look out of place — even if they ‘match’ in terms of colour. They are too angular and severe for the whimsical, playful nature of the bohemian look.
Of course, the exact design and style of your ensemble will depend on your personal preferences, and this is something no one can tell you. Follow your heart when it comes to forming your own style, and follow these steps to bring it all together. Happy dressing!