Feature image via Mochi Mochi Land
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.
To send your question via ASS personal messaging, choose an editor: Riese | Laneia | Rachel
Or ask any team member you’d like: Meet the Team
*If messaging is down, email us! There are so many options, you guys! You could send carrier pigeons!*
For 100% anonymity, contact us through Formspring: Riese | Laneia | Rachel
Please keep your questions to around, at most, 100 words. Due to the high volume of questions and feelings, not every question or feeling will be answered or published on Autostraddle. We hope you know that we love you regardless.
You know, you might have finally convinced me to buy a blazer. This is seriously helpful advice, plus I love getting looks into people’s closets.
(Bring back I’ll Have What She’s Wearing, I loved that column!)
I want to bring back I’ll have what she’s wearing but I ran out of friends willing to pose and I got too shy to go up to people on the street.
go up to people on the street!
the worst that could happen is they say no.
the best that could happen is they say OH MY GOD I LOVE AUTOSTRADDLE AND YOU’RE THE BEST WRITER EVER I’M SO FLATTERED HERE HAVE A PET UNICORN.
Or they could be like, “excuse me! I’m not gay! How offensive!”
Go to a lesbian bar. Get drunk and hit on girls with your camera. Call it “work.” Tough job.
i will do it! for science!
little known fact: “i’ll have what’s she’s wearing” was invented so i could hit on the cute girl who worked in the men’s department at nordstrom’s. unfortunately when i went back to talk to her she wan’t there.
luckily there’s an insanely attractive woman who works at j. crew right now.
STRAIGHT PEOPLE SHOULD BE HONORED TO APPEAR ON AUTOSTRADDLE.
also upon moving back to nyc i now remember that every single girl here looks potentially gay. maybe i’m delusional/maybe it’s the holiday season, but every single lady i’ve laid eyes on this week looks totally fine and totally dtf. am i creepy? is this creepy? ugh i feel creepy. i’m probably just euphoric to be back and am projecting. ANYWAY YOU’RE LOOKIN’ REAL FINE THIS DECEMBER NYC. JUST FYI.
so then you say “WELL DON’T DRESS LIKE THAT; YOU’RE CONFUSING ALL THE QUEERMOS”
and run away.
Have you considered taking submissions? And then coordinate things/stuff/whatever over the interweb/gchat?
Not that I would submit MYSELF, but I’m sure that other people are up to the challenge!
I’d give it a shot, although my favourite outfit is according to most people “scary”
i feel like i’d always look put together with an elbow-patch sweater, but i really just want an elbow patch sweater. SO BAD.
seconded! I think they have them in H&M / Zara right now?
I want an elbow patch blazer, too. Badly.
I just want anything with elbow patches. D:
My cat would be very much opposed to 1) moving 2) having elbow patches stitched on.
“Jeeves! Fetch me my microscope, I am about to have intercourse”
“I can’t, m’lady Paloma, I can’t move with these weird leather things stitched to my joints”
Haha, but oh so stylish! :D
i saw an elbow-patch sweater at target the other day for like eighteen bucks or something! just thought i would pass that along.
OH I KNOW THAT SWEATER. *wants*
i *wish* that gigantic library were my bedroom
I think you have finally convinced me to buy a blazer. I think having all of your clothes out in the open makes it far easier to see and choose but sadly I live with my mum and she tends to disapprove if my room’s a complete mess.
cleaning out the closet is a great idea, I do it often. but I do sometimes look at something I’ve bought and think “this is great but what the hell am I gonna wear it with?”
so I have to settle for choosing outfits the night before so I can get dressed quickly.
I definitely pull off clothes from my floor. They’re all clean, and I’ll be doing it again this morning. When I fold them and put them away, then I pull clothes from my drawers. I need to clean soon. :)
Re: the Beauty and the Beast library – This IS my bedroom.
I always end up not putting my clothes away when I do laundry. I airdry my shit in the laundry room and the stuff that should go in drawers ends up in a laundry basket on my bedroom floor. I almost never wear things out of my closet – I just pick shit out from the basket/floor and the laundry room.
I didn’t even THINK of cleaning out my closet. I will do that…
I regularly bring laundry to my parent’s place and then take it back to my apartment and just pull it out of the suitcase day-to-day like I’m on vacation
sometimes i just wear the same jeans over and over again. it now has holes now after six months of being worn as so, almost daily. is this bad!? or am i just lazy?
In my professional opinion, you only really need like two pairs of jeans. Also jeans never need to get washed ever.
I would never wash my jeans except that after two days they’re all stretched out and start falling off my hips. DOES THIS NOT HAPPEN TO OTHER PEOPLE? It’s the most annoying thing ever. -_- Also I mostly just hate jeans unless they’re jeggings because they never fit. Sigh.
THIS. Happens to me with most pants, but jeans are the worst offenders. Nothing ever fits me properly because I’m short and carry my weight in weird places. Shirts are always super tight across my chest and baggy everywhere else. Pants are too tight in the thighs and too loose on the hips. I wish I were talented/had time enough to make all my own clothes and maybe I wouldn’t have this problem.
Yes! I know exactly what you mean. I have really sloping shoulders too, which means shirts often don’t fit because the neck/shoulders are too wide and they fall off. Also pants always gape around my waist when they’re snug around my butt and hips, and they’re nearly always too long anyway.
I think I should probably learn to sew as well…
I’ve heard that having clothes tailored is a thing people do but I’m not sure how expensive that would be
You are delicious.
Oh, and good advice. That too.
That was creepy. I apologize. I think I was slightly drunk… at 2:00 in the afternoon.
Ah, Lizz. Just the title of this article made my heart sing. You are delightful.
As someone whose wardrobe is entirely on her floor right now, my advice would be to go for a classic look like Lizz is talking about, and then add one piece that is unusual and eye catching. I’m femme and I find I get compliments whenever I throw on an unusual vintage skirt or colourful tights or bold shoes with a fairly plain outfit. I am sure there must be a more gender-neutral equivalent, like a silk handkerchief in a blazer pocket or snappy cufflinks.
My process in the morning: grab random suit out of closet, grab whatever type of shirt I feel like wearing/is weather appropriate (sweater, button up, t-shirt), be dressed in five minutes.
Will you come pick out clothes for me every day?
I would come pick out all of our reader’s clothes every day if I could!
DOES wearing green and purple together make you look like a goblin?!?
A Pocketwatch on a chain! Yay! I just bought one for my GF for Christmas but wasn’t sure if anyone really wore them as pendants. Good to know – not that I am desperate for approval or anything… It’s a little woman’s pocket watch from the 1800’s. Found it buried in an antique store. Now I gotta go find a chain…and pick my clothes up off the floor apparently.
The shoes making the outfit thing is so true! There’s this girl in my English class who always looks super well dressed, and I started noticing that her shoes always set the tone for whatever she’s wearing.
Also, watches are very important. And solid colored/plaid/jean button downs are easy to pick up off the floor and wear with jeans in like 2 seconds to make you look instantly amazing.