Dressing Up and Down

This is what people consider most fashionable. It’s the casual chic supermodels are often strutting in paparazzi snaps of their personal lives and the secret of those who are effortlessly stunning – you’re left in awe because they don’t seem to be trying. Genes may be a helping hand for some, but they aren’t the reason the sight of them blows the world away.

A formula for what it takes to look fashionable was discovered in a University of North Carolina study by looking at colour co-ordination. The two dressing extremes of matching and clashing were judged by 239 men and women, with results finding “maximum fashionableness” is achieved when outfits are “neither too co-ordinated nor too different”. Basically the most fashionable outfit hits the sweet spot between matching and clashing, it’s the “Goldilocks principle” of being just right.

basic t-shirt

Basic loose shirt, contrasted with structured ‘dressier’ shorts and loose elegant coat. Bronze tones are matched with a simple watch and this season’s sunglasses .

 

Why does it work?

Author and Harvard Business School doctoral student Silvia Bellezza says “when [dressing down] looks deliberate, a person can appear to have a higher status,” as published by Fairfax Media this year.

She says that nonconforming, such as entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothing, can lend people an air of “competency” and higher status in the eyes of others.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in gym attire on the street

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in gym attire on the street, accessorising to dress “dress it up”.

“So, shop assistants in an expensive store in Milan assumed that test subjects wearing casual clothes were more likely to be wealthy and sufficiently confident in their social status not to need to dress up.”

Ever noticed that some of the brightest stars in the media often take the shine off their day-to-day outfits? More often than not they’re papped in jeans or tracksuits are they not? Given that their job requires dressing up, they keep it stylishly low key except when required to dress up, then their red carpet transformations and special event ensembles send the media into a spin.

Model-Biography-Cara_edited-1-copy

Cara Delevigne (L-R) dressing up jeans with outerwear, bright orange clutch and embellished boots; while making a dress dressing down a dress, with boots.

Two prime examples are Prince Harry’s laidback nonchalance in palatial life and Queen of pared-down, couldn’t-care-less muses Cara Delevingne.  The 21-year-old top earning model sports beanie’s, ripped jeans, ill-fitting T-shirts, Converse trainers and the occasional onesie. Delevigne makes grungy dishevel divine and she’s not alone in dressing down to her advantage, exhibit B) Olivia Palermo and C) Blake Lively show how it’s done, while each epitomising their applauded style.

 

Blake Lively matches a basic shirt to white side-stripes in her pants, heavily contrasting black pants and a statement necklace neither black or white to match completely, but still in-keeping with the look by its grey monotone.

Blake Lively matches a basic shirt to white side-stripes in her pants, heavily contrasting black pants and a statement necklace neither black or white to match completely, but still in-keeping with the look by its grey monotone.

Olivia Palermo's casual leather shorts contrast the colour, texture and diagonally cut shirt. All dressed up with an embellished tote and heeled sandals.

Olivia Palermo’s casual leather shorts contrast the colour, texture and diagonally cut shirt. All dressed up with an embellished tote and heeled sandals.

How?

It’s borrowed directly from the catwalk: Isabel Marant designed a grey tracksuit for H & M; Christopher Kane’s jogging bottoms sell at Topshop; and Balenciaga’s leather-panelled hoodie has similar versions in many a high street store.  As the study of fashionableness found, it’s about coordinating and contrasting elements of an outfit like a tightrope walker – never leaning too much to each side but balancing both.

 

Guidelines:

  1. Take it piece by piece – Start with the item you’ve got your heart set on wearing most.
  2. Do the opposite. If one piece is casual (shorts/T-shirt/jeans/converse) make the second more dressed up (blazer/embellished shirt/satin shorts/heels) and vice versa.
  3. More dressy or not enough? Keep adding pieces until you’re comfortably dressed up or down to feel comfortable for the occasion.

 

Cara Delevigne contrasts graphic T-shirt with solid-black pants, popping matching red shoes and a dressy choice of accessory in the clutch.

Cara Delevigne contrasts graphic T-shirt with solid-black pants, popping matching red shoes and a dressy choice of accessory in the clutch.

Key pieces…

These pieces are your ammunition to hit your dressed up/down target

  1. Outerwear (jackets/blazers/cardigans/jumpers)
  2. Accessories (bags/jewellery/scarves/hats/sunglasses)
  3. Shoes

 

The beauty of it…

Is outfit versatility, take it from day to night or friend’s house to lunch date by pulling on a blazer or slipping of a necklace.

 

Is & B xx

6 thoughts on “Dressing Up and Down

  1. Pingback: Updating your ponytail | Issa & Blake

  2. Pingback: Fashion As Art | Issa & Blake

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