When it comes to style, I’m a blatant plagiarizer. I used to be a lot more original, I swear. When I worked in an office in Manhattan, where the streets can seem like fashion runways, getting ready in the morning was an exercise in accessories coordination. My purse collection was growing beyond the bounds of my one-closet apartment.
Then I moved to a new city and started freelancing from home. Now the only person I see daily, besides my fiancé, is the barista at my local coffee shop. I haven’t lost interest in fashion, I’ve just lost the will to spend hours on what I wear.
The secret to stealing, and getting away with it, is varying the theme. I take a basic look and add accessories or twists—a belt here, an unexpected splash of color there—to make it my own. Accessories are key: I frequently fool people into thinking I’m more fashionable than I am by throwing on one piece of interesting jewelry or pair of shoes with a basic outfit.
These easy-to-do looks are comfy enough for the weekend, easy enough for a work-from-home freelancer or stay-at-home mom, but chic enough to impress when you venture out.
The French Artiste.
Take some leggings and ballet flats, throw on a tunic or long button-down shirt, cinch it with a belt if you wish, accessorize, et voilà—you’re ready to ride a vintage bike around town, shopping for tulips and baguettes. (Just don’t, for the sake of the French, even think about those Wicked Witch of the East striped leggings.) Variations on a theme: a bright-color ballet flat; layered shirts; a long necklace; an interesting headband.
Boho Glam (aka Movie Star’s Day Off).
We’ve been trained to consider jeans comfortable, but IMHO, they can be stiff and restrictive. I live in my Anthropologie cargo pants. Pair cargos with a pretty, lightweight cotton top and flat leather sandals. Accessorize with bracelets, ponytail, you-don’t-know-me sunglasses, oversize purse, and a latte.
The Shift Dress—Modern Mod.
Now that summer is coming, my favorite lazy/easy fashion secret is back. The dress. How much easier can you get than throwing one item of clothing over your head, slipping on some sandals, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet? Instant outfit. No fuss. I’m seeing A-lines, shifts, and trapeze dresses everywhere this year. When the temperatures rise, I feel bad for men.
The secret to wearing jersey material and not looking like you just rolled out of bed is to wear tailored jersey. A fitted cotton/lycra baby-doll top works over leggings or with cargo pants. Brands like Ella Moss and Velvet make super-comfortable and -stylish cotton-blend dresses and tops.
You know how some people just “throw on” shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers and look fabulous? Don’t you hate them? Looking great wearing shorts and a t-shirt requires two things: a good fit and clean, new-looking pieces (not the free oversize tee you got from a team-building exercise). A sharp-looking pair of kicks (I love Vans—no laces! But nearly every sneaker brand makes some stylish models) with crisp white socks, straight-leg, just-above-the knee shorts, and a plain, well-fitted tee will get you through a day of weekend errands with aplomb. Accessorize with a wide-band watch, a colorful belt, earrings, and a canvas shoulder bag. One of my favorite sources of casual-but-cool shorts (with ample pockets!), pants, and bags is skateboard shops. Who knew?
On Yer Feet.
I just can’t deal with laces or straps for day-to-day wear. Too much work. Two basic types of shoes are all you need in spring and summer to up the style ante. First, the ballet flat: it works with jeans, capris, longer shorts, skirts, and dresses. A sound investment. Secondly, the leather slip-on sandal: you just can’t make a plastic flip-flop look good. Investing in one pair of comfy leather sandals dresses up cargo pants and looks great with skirts. And in the end it’s more comfy than having that thong between your toes anyway.
Relevant Story: Look What I Bought!