Nina Gracia has been a force in the fashion world for over 30 years. She’s a Colombian fashion journalist, editor-in-chief of Elle, and judge on the reality television program, Project Runway, since its first season. She’s also an author of a few books dedicated to fashion, where she tells her readers how to dress to always look stylish, what items should be in every girl’s wardrobe and gives tips on how to co-ordinate clothing.
We believe in Garcia because she has seen it all, and stood the strain of time. She’s has always favoured classics over trendy, and I am also all for pieces that transcend seasonal bounds. Fashion is subjective and personal, but a few guidelines can help most of us who want to do something different this summer. Also, this is the best season to explore and experiment, as jackets are off and open-toe shoes are in.
‘Filter’ your wardrobe.
Become your own fashion director. Imagine that you have to make a few worthy looks. What will you start from? You’ll look through all the pieces available in your wardrobe and choose the key ones that look great. If something doesn’t look and fit well, get rid of it, as you don’t need ill-fitting garments. Out of twenty you might choose only five things but those will make you look like a princess. When you have finished with the selection, try to analyse what you’ve done and understand which clothes you should buy from now on and use this new knowledge every time you go shopping.
Hire a professional tailor.
A good tailor is as necessary as air and worth every cent he earns. Try to make friends with him, take interest in his life, praise his work and pay him well, because he is going to be one of the most important people in your life. Before you go to your tailor, find items that you like (you can try those on in changing rooms of a store, for example). Pay attention to the design, seams; think about what will make you look slimmer, taller, better. This will help you know better what you need from the tailor.
Invest into key pieces.
Every wardrobe should be based on key clothing pieces and accessories which can be well combined with almost everything and never go out of vogue. These key pieces are not subject to time, trends or geography. They are equally essential in New York, London and Paris and can be worn for years. They include a little black dress, white shirt, luxurious high heels, cashmere cardigan, trench coat, jeans, classic watch, diamonds (can be fake), flat shoes and chic bag.
It might sound ridiculous but practice shows that soft items are perfectly combined with rigid ones, same as elegant ones with casual pieces. A woman should know what to combine and how to do it for maximum effect. Style is an ability to make unusual combinations out of usual things, and the key is to look natural.
Power of accessories.
Famous style icons have always understood the power of accessories: Jacky Onassis and her glasses, Audrey Hepburn and her scarf, Elisabeth Taylor and her diamonds. You don’t have to don an ethereal dress to a party, just add a bright detail and you’re in the center of attention. Accessories should be chosen artistically and according to your individuality. Wear pieces that are important to you: your grandmother’s pendant or an ethnic bracelet. By be careful not to overdo. Don’t wear a massive necklace and big earrings together. Too much of a good thing is bad.
Shoes above all.
It is impossible to have too many pairs of high heels. If anyone tries to convince you it is not true, just smile and do your thing. High heels can do a lot. They can improve your mood, posture and turn a dull outfit into a fantastic one. And your legs will look great.
Don’t be a fashion victim.
A trendy bag (or anything) isn’t the best item you can invest into. It is very likely that in a few days, many other women will have the same bag and you all will look common. It is actually very easy to spot a fashion victim – just count the number of designer items on her.
Money is not everything.
Fashion is expensive, style is not. It may come to you as a surprise that many stylish girls are actually not rich. As their finances are limited, they have to be more particular about their purchases and can’t follow fashion trends blindly. They think more about each purchase, and improve their skill of combining pricey designer items with inexpensive and simper ones.
Invest into pieces that look chic.
If the price tag is rather shocking, make sure that you only buy items that look timeless, spectacular and unforgettable: a leopard-printed coat, a beautiful sequins dress, a chic statement necklace or something of this kind. It is important that you feel gorgeous in it before others can confirm.
Imperfection is perfect.
Nina Garcia names it the ‘Kate Moss’ factor’. Calculated chaos, if you like. You can never tell how much effort she has put into her look as there is always something wrong: her hair, accessories, a rumpled skirt. But, as if by magic, she does look great wearing all these. Don’t aim for perfection. Try authenticity.