I read your blog regularly and love your advice. I was hoping you could advise me on how I can update my style to feel more feminine. I am 5’5, brown hair slim/average build, tend to tie my hair up in a ponytail, wear jeans, jumpers and flat shoes. I would love to wear heels to work but am quite shy and feel it draws attention to me especially when it makes me taller than everyone else. Do you have advice on how I should dress to feel more attractive? I love Asian style and want to dress more feminine just not overly girly. I hope you can help. Thank you.
Nina, 24/London, United Kingdom
Dearest Nina, thank you for being such a faithful reader. It really warms my heart on this not-so-cold morning in December!
We all want to look good — that’s a universal truth. While we all wish that the Instagram hashtag #IWokeUpLikeThis is real, we sadly know it’s not. It takes real effort and time to make ourselves look decently good.
Thus, this is the first rule I abide by when it comes to dressing myself: FIT IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. An ill-fitting garment is immediately obvious. You’re always tugging it up, down or sideways, tucking and untucking, fidgeting, etc. An allowance of a couple of inches or several centimeters is okay but if it’s too tight or too loose, ask yourself if you really want to wear it. This is absolute especially when it comes to foundation garments like bras and panties. So make this the first item on your makeover agenda!
Small and Subtle
Take baby steps when it comes to your transformation. Something as simple as changing your hairstyle or adding hair accessories can do wonders to your appearance. A side part instead of a no-part or central part suddenly makes your face look different. You can also twist your ponytail into a high bun or a lower one at the nape, with a few strategic tendrils framing your face. Invest in a few hair accessories like a cute hairband (or use a short scarf as an instant hairband), beaded hair pins or hair clips, and some lovely beribboned hair ties. It might require a few hours of watching YouTube tutorials but consider this a small but worthy investment in yourself!
From hair accessories, you can also expand to other fashion jewelry like the very trendy chokers, earrings, bangles and cuffs, and even eye-catching watches. If you plan to wear your hair up, make sure to wear something striking on your ears like drop earrings, ear jackets or ear cuffs, or even double-studded ones. If you muster up the courage, you can even make changes to your hair color!
I always recommend that people try updating the colors in their wardrobe first before going for a totally different look altogether. If you’re someone who mostly sticks to white, black and gray, adding red, blue, green or purple is certainly a step up. For you, Nina, why not go for a softer color palette instead? Pastels like lilac, mint green and baby blue are cool and relaxing to the eyes, and create a softer, more feminine vibe. You can also tone down the more vivid colors by pairing it with a neutral shade like gray, black and beige.
Even if you choose to stick to your preferred color palette, you can still add a bit of drama by looking for small yet transformative details in your clothes. Since chokers are all the rage these days, consequently, there are now also choker-neck tops! You get a built-in accessory and don’t have to worry about how it looks with the rest of your outfit. Tiny things like embroidery, ruffles, contrast stitching, lace, beading or even minute pointelle details add visual texture to your appearance.
Don’t forget that certain cuts can also enhance your figure. If you have a slim waist, wear a peplum top or sweater! Trendy bell sleeves are this season’s boho motif and those flared cuffs certainly get attention whenever you use your hands. Shoulder and sleeve cutouts minimize broad shoulders and let you show a little skin without totally compromising your sense of modesty.
Finally, I highly recommend that you wear the heels you want to wear! Darling Nina, don’t worry about looking taller than everyone else at work. It’s not the feeling of superiority that you want after all, but a greater confidence in yourself. And if adding one or two inches of heels makes you feel like you can conquer the world, add three more!
You can do this because I believe in you! Happy shopping, ma cherie!
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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