I’ve got friends who are serious contenders for the most fashionable lists: Clothing imported from Europe, found in the depths of the internet’s cool bin and with the self-confidence to rock it all looking like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Surprisingly, one of these friends texted me the other day with a fashion dilemma that even super-stylish she was unprepared for. A summer wedding invitation for an ex-boyfriend who was marrying a legitimate fashion designer. The guest list was sure to be swanky and more horrifying – full of fashionistas. What does one wear to an event full of women who have the latest bags, the shoes in the magazines and the dresses which will be shown on runways of the future? In a jungle full of fashion lions, how does a gazelle survive?
Your first reaction might be to run to your nearest high-end store and buyout the newest collections. Trust me, this will do no more than leave you with massive credit card bills and regret. The uber-fashionista can suss out the fact that every item you’ll be wearing is brand new and not edited into a look like hers. This is also the surest way to show a lack of confidence in yourself and that is where true style comes from – having confidence in the way you look.
I’ve discovered the hard way that there are three rules to surviving this type of event and I’m going to share them with you.
Rule #1 (and overarching theme): I am timeless, not a trend
You simply can not outdress a trend-setting fashionista by going to the store and picking up a dress in the latest colour or cut. These women are already on to the next trend and your outfit will look hopelessly outdated even though it just came off the rack. I survive these things by having cultivated a collection of vintage, timeless looks that I can both wear and repeat over and over for years. Picking timeless pieces means they bypass trends. I’ve started collecting timeless designer pieces through vintage shops or consignment stores to have at the ready when needed. I buy them, have them altered and cleaned and then they are timeless, personalized, fits-me-like-a-million bucks pieces. Also – if you’re really sleeved out by vintage clothes and just can’t get past it, check out some brands known for replicating the vintage look, like Milly. If you’re unsure of what to look for, here are a few of our favourite timeless vintage looks from our Pinterest board.
Don’t get me wrong. I love and adore expensive handbags, but the amount of money that people spend on trendy bags is shocking. Spending thousands of dollars on a handbag that will be as stylish today as when your great-great granddaughter wears it is one thing – it’s an investment then- but spending that money on a bag which will be obsolete next season? Quelle horreur! But for this event, word for the wise – those with half a fashion sense can suss out a designer bag. It’s why you have two options:
- Buy an exquisitely plain designer handbag (think Salvatore Ferragamo) in a solid colour (think brown, black, camel) and wear it for years to come. Will cost you some money at the outlay, but buying a bag with timeless lines will enable you to use it over and over again and the cost-per-wear will be much lower than you think!
- Buy a vintage designer bag in a classic style and recognizable pattern. Yup, this is the one and only time I’m going to recommend buying a vintage Louis Vuitton bag in the brown initial logo pattern. You can pick up authentic ones (and we’re ONLY talking authentic here, ladies) on eBay for $100-400 and they will serve you well. No one will ask you about your bag, and no one will doubt that “this old thing? I’ve owned it for years”
Perhaps the old adage of looking in the mirror before leaving and taking one thing off will serve well – don’t try and outdo a diva with oodles of diamonds or draping yourself in pearls. The best way to look classy and timeless is to not flaunt huge jewels (unless you can back it up by having them be Harry Winstons). Pick some subtle earrings, a classic necklace and plain bracelets or jewels. Or, go all out in one and exclude the others. Just don’t try to camouflage your insecurities with piles of jewels.