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Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.
This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.
For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today is a very special You Need Help: Special Fashion Unit.Q:
I don't like fashion. So how do I lazily pull off a gender neutral style that impresses people when I go out, even though in reality I just spent two seconds pulling some clothes off the bedroom floor?
I have a secret for you: every single day I wake up and pull clothes off the floor. My bedroom looks like an episode of Hoarders. Yet nearly every day this one girl at work tells me how great I look. And believe me, I wake up with like ten minutes to get ready and eat a string cheese for breakfast in the car. I am not spending a lot of time on my day-to-day look, but I developed some secret strategies that have made a huge difference for me.
First of all, clean out your closet. If you give away about 50% of your clothing you'll have more to wear. I know it seems like more clothes you have the more outfits you could theoretically wear, but actually it's the opposite.
Think of it this way: Imagine in your bedroom you have a huge bookshelf full of every book you've ever bought since you were 16. Some you've read, some you haven't. At the same time you have the two books you read all the time on your nightstand. If you're trying to leave the house in a hurry and grab a book, there's no way you're going to look through your huge bookshelf. You're just going to grab one of the two books you re-read all the time even if those books are worn out or you're bored of them or you read them both yesterday. You might completely ignore your copy of Bastard Out of Carolina even though you haven't read it yet and might enjoy it more.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? When you have a closet stuffed full of clothes, you can't see the good things you have and you keep wearing the same T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops every single day. I suggest you go through every single item in your closet (and on your floor). If you haven't worn something in a year, put it in a pile. The exception is something that is holiday specific (for example, the shirt you wear to Pride) or if something has extreme sentimental value. Something with extreme sentimental value is the suit you wore to your Prom or your first Autostraddle shirt. This does not include the shirt you wore six years ago on a date with a girl you only saw for a hot minute. Holiday or sentimental clothing should get packed up in a box and put on top of your dresser or in your parents' garage. Everything else should get donated to charity or sold to a consignment shop.
Now that you only have a few articles of clothing on your floor, you can actually see your options when getting dressed in the morning!
My everyday look starts out the same: v-neck and jeans. What changes is the stuff around the v-neck and jeans, by way of layering and accessorizing. Wearing something on your shoulders that's different from what's on your chest is a great way to start feeling more put together. This could be a sweater, a vest, a sweatshirt in a jacket or, especially, a blazer. I know, I talk a lot about blazers, but when you put a blazer over jeans and a t-shirt, it instantly becomes the most put-together outfit ever. I don't know how this happens, it's blazer magic. Though not quite as magical, something similar happens when you put a vest over a jacket over a sweatshirt. It's like the more layers you have, the more time you must have put in to that outfit.
Once I have my shoulders covered, I usually add something around my neck -- either a long necklace or a scarf. If you're masculine or androgynous-leaning, a tie is good, too.
The final touch is wearing something on your feet that's not flip-flops. I think boots are your best choice and I have a wide array of them. If boots aren't your thing, high-top sneakers or loafers are good too. Shoes really signify how put-together an outfit is, but they take no extra time to choose (unless you're choosing heels). I have a go-to pair of boots that go with everything, and then a second-in-command pair of boots for when I'm tired of the first pair.
When you have a formula of t-shirt, jeans, blazer/sweater/hoodie/vest, scarf and boots, you can quickly bring a look that's put together and takes little effort.
I know what you're about to say -- you're like, "But Lizzzzzz, that's the problem. I don't want to spend hours coordinating all those items." It's actually just an issue of choosing the right articles that will go with each other. When you go shopping, ask yourself, "What could I wear this with?" I don't mean that you should only buy neutrals, but buy coordinating colors and styles that work together. I dress on the femmy side, and in my day-to-day wardrobe I basically have:
+ navy blazer
+ patterned green blazer
+ beige cardigan
+ black cardigan
+ jeans (straight leg, skinny, blues and blacks)
+ slew of black and white v-necks
+ a couple of in-season, colored v-necks
+ black wrap scarf
+ multicolored wrap scarf
+ silk patterned bandana scarf
+ low black boots
+ high grey boots
+ pocket watch on a long necklace
All of these items go with each other. You could even swap out the cardigans for a hoodie if you wanted to. The problem comes when, like I said, you have too much other stuff clogging up your floor. Simplify. Layer. Don't wear flip-flops. Good luck.
If none of those help, maybe check out some of these articles:
+Tis the Season to Buy a Blazer
+Autotraddle Jeans Issue
+I'll Have What She's Wearing: Jess
+I'll Have What She's Wearing: Ericka
+Autostraddle Accessory Guide: Part 1
+Autostraddle Accesorry Guide: Part 2
If you have more fashion questions you'd like to see me cover, I encourage you to write me on ASS or ask me anonymously on the autostraddle fashion formspring. If you have a quick question like, "Does wearing green and purple together make me look like a goblin?" then you can also tweet me @OhHeyItsLizz.
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