Posted on Jan 18, 2015
As of late I've been feeling myself go through a real style transformation - not just in the clothing itself, but also in philosophy. I've always been someone to dress up and make an effort when going out (even when running to 7-11 for a slurpee run) but those thrown together ensembles, while gallant in effort, didn't always look "put-together." I think much of that had to do with a wardrobe of pieces collected throughout the years that were great deals, but weren't necessarily pieces I *loved* - more pieces I saw and thought, "this is perfect for me as a hijabi!" but when it came down to it, didn't coincide with my style philosophy/body type or overall aesthetic. I finally feel as though I've gotten to a place where I do look put together every time I walk out the door - even on my 7-11 runs (who am I kidding, there's no 7-11 in Dubai... but you get the idea ;) Read on to find out how I finally got there!
1) CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET!
I put this point in all caps because this point is sooo crucial. As Americans, we are products of a hoarding society. We buy things we don't need cause, who can pass up 40% off! We pile things into our closet (and homes!) regardless of whether they actually look good or fit into our style aesthetic because, plainly put, we're products of a consumeristic society.
Take the time to clean out your ENTIRE closet - yes, go through every single item in your closet, try it on (even the pieces you *think* are staples - you'll be surprised at how some foundational pieces have become outdated due to the fit) and ask yourself, will it ever fit me again? Is it compatible with my body shape? Will it ever come back into style? Do I feel good in it? If the answer to any of those questions is no, then get rid of it by selling it or donating it. Don't allow yourself to reach for those unwanted items the next time you're searching for something to wear.
Once you do this, be *very* selective about the things you put in your closet - don't go back to your old habits of buying things just to buy them. Follow this list of 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hitting the Mall as a "should I buy it?" guide.
Bottom line - everything in your closet should be pieces you *love* - yes LOVE, not like or love when I lose 10 pounds.
2) Define Your Style
If someone asked you to define your style, you'd probably have a great response - but if you look in your closet that answer might not coincide with what you own and therefore wear. Or maybe you don't really have your style defined - you just wear what you think you should as a hijabi without really paying attention to your own tastes and preferences.
The key to looking put-together is defining your style and the aesthetic you'd like to portray. After all, your style says a lot about you. Are you a classy kind of girl that loves pearls and lace? Maybe you're in to the bohemian look with lots of layers and breezy silhouettes. Or maybe you're a rock-glam kind of girl with lots of edge. Whatever your style is - this should be reflected in your wardrobe.
Not sure what style suits you? One word - pinterest. Get on pinterest and start pinning. Look for outfits you like and pin them to a style board. Once you've got enough pins on your board, review everything you've pinned - you'll see a pattern start to emerge. After doing this myself, I noticed how much I'm drawn to the monochromatic look - particularly with neutrals. Some things were a no-brainer - I knew I love structured, tailored outfits with sprinkles of ruffles, bows or other feminine touches here and there - but other pinning patterns really helped me tailor my purchases the next time I went shopping. (Check out my "Melanie's Style Inspiration" board if you're interested!)
3) Know Your Body-Type and What Works for YOU
Now that you've cleaned out your closet and have your style defined - you need to know what looks actually work for you and your body-type. You might love the clean look of a blouse tucked into a high-waisted skirt, but as an apple shape this doesn't work as it accentuates your bulky middle. Yes, long tunic-tops are great for hijabi's - but they just don't flatter everyone. Take a look at our previous post, "A Hijabi's Guide to Dressing for your Body Type" to help define not only your body-type but what looks work (and don't work!) for you.
I love long flowy dresses, but as a petite slim woman, they just swallow me up and do nothing for me. It's why I go for more tailored looks. I've come to grips with the fact that not everything is going to work on me and have truly embraced the looks that do.
Trying different looks whether at home with clothes you already own or at the mall also help. You'll get a good feel for what works and what doesn't. When you feel comfortable and confident - you know you've struck gold!
4) Go Shopping!
Ok, now before you get all excited that you have an excuse to go shopping - let me be clear here. Go shopping with a clear goal. After cleaning out your closet, defining your style and looks that work for you, create a list of the items that you need in your wardrobe now. I mean the foundational pieces (you don't already own) you need to build an awesome wardrobe tailored to you. Take a look at my Guide to Building the Perfect Wardrobe of 10 Essentials and 5 Fall Wardrobe Staples. This step is going to be different for everyone. You might not need to go shopping at all, or you may realize you've just gutted your entire closet and need to get some essentials STAT.
The key is, create a list and don't deviate from that list. As always, for these foundational pieces - look for quality pieces that will withstand the test of time. Look for natural fabrics as opposed to synthetic ones, and when it comes to these pieces, you really do get what you pay for, so putting in a little extra will totally be worth it. It's better to have 5-10 really amazing but more expensive pieces that you'll keep for years rather than 25 so-so pieces that won't get more than 2-3 wears out of them or worse, don't really go with anything in your closet/style/body type.
5) Plan Outfits & Take photos
Now that you've gone shopping and you know what works for you and what looks best on your body-type, it's time to create outfits! The key to looking put-together (even at a moment's notice) is having a variety of pre-planned ensembles up your sleeve whenever you need them. I spend an entire afternoon once every few months (especially after I've purchased a few new pieces) in my closet, trying things on, mixing and matching new things and taking photos of the looks I've created. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how many variations you can make by shopping your own closet and mixing things up. Remember those pinterest looks? Re-create some of them with pieces you own!
The key here is take photos! If I forget to do this step - I'll forget all the awesome outfit combos I created. I usually take photos with my iphone and save them in an album so I can refer to them at a moment's notice and re-create the outfit. Don't forget to include the hijab you'll wear, jewelry, shoes, neck scarves or any other accessory so you have the entire ensemble to reference and aren't left frustrated when you can't find a proper hijab to match your outfit. (Be sure to check out "A Hijabi's Guide to Matching Your Hijab to Your Outfit" and "Choosing the Perfect Solid Hijab for Your Skin Tone").
I can't tell you how many times this has saved my life. Often times I'll have a last minute dinner or event (or simply don't have the time to plan in advance due to my schedule) and referring to this album of pre-made outfits is a huge lifesaver.
Voilà! Follow these 5 steps and you'll walk out of the house looking and feeling fabulous - everytime.