Style vs. Trend vs. Frump (Or, How to Cultivate Style)

style-vs-trendThere were a few intriguing comments in Friday’s open thread about brooches and whether they were in style, with some readers even suggesting it might be a matter of age. To me, though, this kind of comes down to style versus trend — and I thought it might make an interesting discussion here. After all, don’t stylish women wear what they fancy — trends be damned? On the flip side, if something was once very trendy and is not any longer, at what point does it cross the line into frump and being “out of style”? How do you cultivate a style instead of merely following trends? (Pictured: The Glamourai.)

For brooches, for example, I 100% agree that they are not trendy right now. They did go through a brief moment of trendiness in the early aughts — for some reason 2003 sticks in my head, along with an episode of What Not to Wear where Stacy London was suggesting women add two or three brooches at a time to sweaters, coats, and more. Somehow, though, I had found my way to brooches before that — buying a ton of them at the Eastern Market flea market while I was in law school — and I still wear them now. (Here’s my advice on how to wear brooches.) As some readers pointed out, the excellent blogger Adina at Blue Collar Red Lipstick also wears them — and I also think often of a great post on The Glamourai (pictured) about how to wear particularly heavy ones without ruining your clothes.

Now — this brings us to another dynamic: frump. If something was trendy many years ago and you continue to wear it after the trend has passed, are you going down the slippery slope toward frump? I tend to think of frump as being more about ill-fitting, unflattering clothes and, perhaps, a general harried demeanor (wild hair, stains/wrinkles, unintentional half-tucks), but it’s an interesting question to ponder. For example, years after skinny jeans came in style, I insisted that my style was bootcut jeans, refusing to buy any skinny jeans until years into the trend. Now that bootcuts and flares are becoming trendy again, though, I see readers noting that their style is skinny jeans (or, specifically, skinny jeans with tall boots) — but that look is starting to look more and more dated to me as well. (It’s interesting, as I type this and reach for a word other than frump, to realize that the phrase “out of style” is what I hear most often, but obviously it’s maddening to talk about being stylish and not being “out of style” without feeling like it’s devolving into an “orange orange orange orange orange” kind of situation.)

What’s even more interesting is how quickly fashion trends move. When some retailers put out new clothes every few weeks, and others copy runway styles much, much faster than ever before, it feels even more like you should find your own style, rather than be a slave to trends and replace your entire wardrobe every season. So how do you cultivate style that transcends trends, without risking being thought of as “out of style”? I’m genuinely curious to hear what you guys think about it!

Here are a few specific fashion/makeup things for you to ponder — are they stylish enough to transcend trend? Does your thinking change if we contrast a “hallmark look” (think Iris Apfel and her eyeglasses, Anna Wintour’s bob, Carolina Herrera and her crisp blouses) with “I thought it would be fun with this outfit”? And — when does it cross the line into an affected look, where you think, “ah, she thinks she is Miss Fashion,” perhaps like with the bustiers/ties mentioned below)?

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7 Etsy Shops for Workwear

etsy stores for workwearI’ve always been impressed when readers have mentioned some of their favorite stores for workwear on Etsy — and I’ve even bookmarked a few over the years! Still, Etsy can be a pretty big place, so I asked Ashley Wermick, a fashion writer and editor, to take a look to kick off the discussion — what are YOUR favorite Etsy stores for workwear? What are you constantly on the hunt for that you hope an indie/custom seller can help you find? (Welcome to Corporette, Ashley!) – Kat

Sure, you’ve browsed Etsy to find handmade candlesquirky art, or even bridesmaids’ gifts — but how about office attire? There are hundreds of shops that sell professional, well-made clothes that can take you from the boardroom to casual Friday and beyond.

Here are seven Etsy shops to watch for workwear. Not only will you snag some stylish new duds, but you’ll help support indie sellers and small business owners. It’s a win-win.

heartmycloset

heartmycloset

Collage photo links: 123

Does Olivia Pope give you major wardrobe envy? Do you wish you could dress like Beyoncé on the daily? Then look no further than heartmycloset.

With designs based on TV characters, celebrities and vintage silhouettes, shop owner Cynthia creates inspired workwear in your choice of color and fabric, tailored to fit you perfectly. Because items are made to order, you can customize the fit — and the style — to suit your needs. Prices range from $66-$190.

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Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing Review

Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing ReviewWhether you’ve got a small apartment closet or yours rivals that of Kim Kardashian’s, reviewing your clothes on a seasonal basis is still a great idea. I’ve always been a fan of seasonal clothes storage, using clear sweater bags to store out-of-season fabrics, colors, and styles — as well as physically moving out-of-season clothing to the back of the closet, and moving more seasonally-appropriate clothing to the front. I even do this with socks (I only wear no-show ankle socks in the summer) and lingerie (I don’t wear lacy bras with summer t-shirts and dresses, and I’ve also found I have a preference for unlined bras in the summer, as a foam lining or whatnot can feel a bit hot). Some pros to a seasonal clothing review that I’ve found over the years:

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2016 Trends: What WON’T You Wear to Work?

2016 trends to avoid wearing to workI’ve noticed a few trends that seem to be EVERYWHERE of late, and I thought we’d discuss, if only because so many of them seem inappropriate for officewear — I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What trends WON’T you wear to work? Every office is different, of course — know yours! — but it’s always fascinating to hear the reasoning behind them.  I was intrigued to see readers noting that any lace-up shoes (including flats) were inappropriate for their offices, if only because that feels like a trend that’s been around for several years, and while I can see the sex appeal of lace-up high heels, the flats struck me as almost ho-hum.  On the flip side, jumpsuits for work seem to be something that’s gaining ground, with tons of readers noting that they’ve worn jumpsuits to the office regularly.  As we’ve noted before regarding trends and a conservative office, we’re against any trend that’s body baring, illogical, or too “new.”

Pictured, clockwise: Huge exposed zipper / cape blazer / high slit / culottes / off the shoulder top

We haven’t talked about trends in a while, so let’s discuss… Some trends I’m seeing more and more of:

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Work Outfits with Black Heels

classic work outfit ideas with black pumpsWe just rounded up a ton of great black heels for interviews and beyond — and they’re such a basic, versatile piece in your work wardrobe you hopefully don’t need TOO many ideas for how to wear them to work.  Still, I thought it would be fun to come up with a few work outfit ideas, including a very conservative/classic interview outfit.

The Very Conservative Interview Outfit

The ultimate goal of any interview outfit is to not have your clothes distract from your resume, your accomplishments, and your words.  Note that your heels should be walkable — enough so that you can trek to a restaurant two blocks away (and back) in comfort. If you’re buying your first suit, do check out our recent roundup of suits for every budget, as well as The Corporette Guide to Interview Suits!

A note on pants suits vs. skirt suits:  Skirt suits used to be considered the most formal option, but pants suits are accepted almost everywhere these days.  (Stay tuned — we’ll do a poll very soon to get a broader voice on the topic.) Still, there are benefits to the skirt suit that make it worth discussing. First, if you’re buying a budget suit, it’s FAR easier to find a skirt that looks good by itself than suiting pants that look good by themselves.  Second, if you’re buying suiting separates, I always think you should seriously consider buying all of the pieces that are offered — and hey, you’ve got to wear the skirt suit sometime, right? (Pro tip: don’t forget to dryclean your suiting separates together, too, so the wear is consistent.) Finally: if it’s raining, snowing, or other nasty weather, I’ve always preferred a skirt or dress — nothing’s worse than wet pant hems! (Proper rainboots are great for your regular commute, but if you’re going to have limited options for changing shoes once you arrive, you may want to read our old advice on how to interview in a snowstorm.)

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10 Workwear Style Tips for Busty Women

busty women style tips for workOne of our top posts of all time is one a friend suggested I write, back in the early days of the blog: how to dress professionally if you’re busty. We haven’t offered busty women style tips in a while, so I thought we’d discuss. But let me be clear at the outset: there’s nothing inherently unprofessional about being busty — women come in all shapes and sizes.  I’m not about to suggest you go buy a minimizer and try to pretend that you’re a 34B.  But: dressing well while busty can be a challenge because so many clothes are made with other body shapes in mind — and for work it can be particularly trying since so many conservative styles are rooted in menswear. Furthermore, if you wear something that obviously does not fit or has fit issues (gaping, pulling) it reflects a judgement call. So — here are some new tips and guidelines on how to dress for work if you’re busty, from someone who’s been everything from a 30F to a 38G over the years…

(Pictured: If you’re petite and busty this is yet another reason to watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend — her work outfits are mostly hits for me. The video this screenshot is from is hilarious (“Heavy Boobs”), but it is probably NSFW.)

Finding the Right Bra is Half the Battle

  1. Invest in a great bra that fits you. The right bra will lift you up and support you. It will not give you quadboob. It may have an odd size that you’ve never even heard of before (28FF, for example).  The right bra will not make you worry about falling out of it when you bend over. It will not cut into your shoulders (that’s a sign your band size is too big) or fall off your shoulders. (Note that your straps can be shortened at the tailor — and that you can check out lingerie brands just for petites, like The Little Bra Company, Lula Lu, or even the Bare Necessities special section for petites). A good bra will take work to find and may cost you some money, but it will be worth it in spades. I highly recommend going to a bra shop and getting fitted — think Nordstrom, not Victoria’s Secret (link goes to to one woman’s fitting experience at VS with lots of pictures; probably NSFW). In NYC I’ve used Bratenders over the years and La Petite Coquette — I’ve also heard great things about Linda’s Bra Shop — and in London I’ve been fitted at Rigby & Peller. Ladies who have a favorite shop in your city, please shout it out in the comments. Once you know your size you can watch for sales; I tend to get new bras at Nordstrom’s sales, Bare Necessities sales, or even sometimes Amazon.

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