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Getting to eight

Expand your style options

Dior hat art, featuring Jennifer Lawrence

Photos courtesy of vendors


“I have eight patterns I choose from when I play tennis,” my husband explains to me. “When a ball comes at me, I decide which of my eight ‘go to’ reactions makes the most sense.” Huh, I thought. Really? I understood his approach, but I was surprised. I never thought of that. I have one way to deal with a ball flying at my head: make it go away. Sometimes I wonder if I approach dressing the same way, with only one default, one mode, one reaction. “A turtleneck,” my daughter observes. “That’s what you like, right?” Want to avoid getting reduced to one article of clothing? Do you want to expand your own style options? Try making a list of outfits you haven’t explored before, and treat it as a training exercise:


Ms. Mysterious.

Undersized is overrated. Try something substantial. Think a Georgia O’Keeffe drape. Let the fabric wrap and move, with a focus on the quality of the material. Come as close to letting the outfit wear you as possible, and keep the colors sophisticated, like in a Uniqlo wool wrap coat.


Fast Forward.

Channel your inner AI. Find something in silver, even if it is a turtleneck dress. Or really embrace sci-fi and consider a pair of metallic jeans from Topshop.


The Chill Pill.

Let the outfit counterbalance a hectic schedule or an even more hectic emotional state. Dress as if in total relax mode; the clothes are a mantra. A long skirt with a yoga drop waist or wide-leg pants and a long draped silky blouse. A little on the sloppy side without being, well, sloppy. Don’t forget the long necklace. Clothes and accessories should have a hypnotic, swinging pendulum effect.


I’m the Boss.

Pin up the hair, spray some perfume, and slip into wool crop pants with a clean line and a heavy leather shoe; top it off with a luxurious sweater. Pretend you are the boss of the hottest new incubator.


Metallic silver pants from Topshop


Overdressing U.

Spend a week dressing just a little bit over the top, for everything. Get that E for Effort.


Reality TV. 

Identify a favorite television or movie character, and recreate the look. Let life imitate art. If this means sewing Ikea rugs into coats like on Game of Thrones, so be it.



Experiment with what happens when your shape becomes a silhouette. Dress in one color. That color cannot be black. That color cannot be interrupted by shades or tints, no lighter or darker. Think silhouette. One color. But not black.


Character Acting.

The outfit is all about one thing, like a dramatic shoe or a hat, or a piece of jewelry, one controlling device that does all the lifting.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am out to find a pair of silver metallic pants that I can wear with my favorite black turtleneck. Then I will put that outfit on and go to Wegmans.     


For more fashion insight, read this month's article, Chili and cherry dressing, by Catherine Berlin. 


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