Nikki’s Inbox: The Basics to a Better Style

Where do I start when getting into fashion/styling myself? I haven’t really paid attention to anything related to looking good in the past but I am starting to get into it. I am young so I have relatively little money at around $200-300 to spend.

Sigurd, 16/Norway


Hello, Sigurd! Thank you for your email. I greatly appreciate that you came to me for advice about giving your style a makeover. And just in time for the new year too!

Figure It Out: Your Dimensions & The Style You Want

My first piece of advice to you is to measure yourself. Neck, waistline, hip and thigh circumference, your shoulder widths, arm lengths, back and inseams. It’s something I keep repeating here in my column for years, and I’m happy to say that regular readers know the drill by now! Why should you get your measurements? Because it makes shopping easier, especially online shopping. Remember that there’s no standard sizing across ALL brands so if you’re always relying on a guess-timate of your dimensions, you’ll end up with clothes you’re unable to wear. Knowing your body measurements means you’re a smarter shopper.

Aim for the right fit: Neither too tight(leftmost), nor too oversized (middle) but just right (rightmost)

Second, what style do you want? Is there any look or trend that you want to try like athleisure, smart-casual or edgy? Having a “fashion peg,” as it’s called, makes it easier for you and me to coordinate pieces to achieve that look you want.

Fit and Silhouette

Regardless what kind of style or trend you want to try, it’s important to pay attention to how your garments fit and the silhouette you achieve by putting them together. Fit, of course, depends on your dimensions and the clothes, as I said previously. There are simple rules like wearing fitted or skinny jeans to contrast a boxy top, or making sure the hemline hits the hips if you want to hide a tummy, or to make your upper body look longer.

Layering is a key element in Korean fashion and they’ve even found a way to achieve that look without having to wear multiple garments. Mock two-piece tops such as sweatshirts with faux shirt collars and hems, skirts with inset leggings, and shirts with inset vests are popular and easy to wear.

Details Make a Difference

A simple style like a T-shirt and jeans is fine, but you did say you wanted to learn how to dress up, Sigurd. So make sure your outfit earns extra style points by way of details. A sleek monogrammed leather accent on the chest pocket of a button-down draws attention immediately. A tricolor lining underneath the cuffs instantly break the monotony of plain black jogger pants. Distressed details on a cable-knit sweater give it a deconstructed look to contrast with a classic peacoat. Small things, yes, but they matter.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix

Fashion icons didn’t get to be who they are without being bold and confident about their sartorial sense. Adopting the same thinking can help you be more confident about what you wear, Sigurd. You don’t always have to buy pricy pieces. Mixing high-end and fast fashion, even thrifted pieces, can even produce some amazing results. This is where your creativity comes into play!

Don’t forget that color, texture, prints and patterns, and even fabrics are elements you can play with, too. I love winter fashion because everything is tactile, even just with color.

I hope my advice is helpful. Now the rest is all up to you!

Happy New Year, dear readers, and thanks for being such great company this past year. Here’s to a better, more confident us in 2018!

P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body type or shape, your tastes or personality. You can include a selfie (link only please) or a photo of your clothes (which I will never publish without pre-approval). Thank you!

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