Do you ever find that the New Year’s resolutions you make end up as theories in your head? Let’s not even bring up the endless pep talk to get yourself to the gym; I’ll confine this article to talking about resolutions of the fashion kind–the kind you make when you realize that your personal style needs some shaking up. Don’t get me wrong, I worship personal style (except, of course, the jeans-and-T-shirt-I-can’t-be-bothered-to-try kind of of style). Personal style is a wonderful thing to cultivate. The trouble though with strictly sticking to your personal style–be it Boho Beach Babe Meets Aubrey Hepburn or Francophile Preppie–is that it can become so terribly predictable. In fact, it’s a double edged sword when your nearest and dearest friends can look at a blue and white striped boat neck T-shirt and say it’s so you. In as much as your personal style becomes your uniform–something you instinctively reach out for when you dress up, something you don’t need to expend much brain cells to put together–it also boxes you in, telling the whole world what you value and the kind of person you are underneath all those clothes.
The easiest way to break away from this rut is to, of course, incorporate with the season’s trends into your wardrobe. I cannot emphasize how much a pair of opaque tights (black if you’re the conservative type; cobalt blue or fuchsia if you’re in the mood for daring) immediately elevates the style quotient of your outfit. The trouble though with today’s trends, like the aforementioned black tights, is that everyone is wearing them. Wearing the trend in extreme, like the said fuchsia tights, is one way to provoke at the very least a second glance. That said, the last of the Siberian winds should be making its rounds about now and as summer approaches, we’ll have to find a new It item to fixate on.
I have this really strange habit of buying clothes and accessories–especially the season’s it item, and then parking them in my closet for use when they’re no longer ubiquitous. (Anyway, I tell myself, I only buy the things I love, so I know I’ll still wear them even when they’re no longer in vogue.) As such, I have all kinds of odds and ends tucked away in the farthest reaches of my drawers waiting to make their debut. There’s a delicately embroidered lavender lace bib I bought in Bangkok in 2005, when Rochas sent out lola-looking Edwardian style frocks on the runway and everyone fell in love (again) with lace. Other items in my closet are just waiting for a "relaunch." I have a pair of gold stirrup tights from the ‘80s that I used to wear when I was still a Reuter Baby and obsessed with theater. The tights are so very Prada now. I always make a mental note to dig them up as they will go perfectly with a white Vanessa Bruno mini-dress, but every time I dress up I do not know why I forget. And when I do remember, the occasion is never the right one.
Styling outfits in my head that never see the light of day is a habit I’ve got to give up. I can’t tell you how many pieces have been assigned to closet purgatory just because I don’t have the clincher piece to make the outfit a star. The lace bib I mentioned earlier is still waiting for its perfect partner: a tailored black waistcoat.
What all of this boils down to is to make time to do the things you love. What good is planning a fabulous outfit in your head? It’s like telling yourself you are going to cook Jean George’s Steak with Four Celery Flavors and Eggless Bearnaise, but you never get around to buying the ingredients. On one level, fashion is meant to be looked at and enjoyed, to feed the imagination; hence our love affair with fashion magazines, blogs, and Style.com. But the ones who get the most pleasure out of clothes are the ones who hunt down pieces and who get creative with them. Like most things in life, the outfits that involve the most thought and effort to put together are the ones that yield the greatest satisfaction. And in the New Year, while we cannot control bombings, force majeure, and stock market dips, at least we know that one totally fab outfit can set you off on a good day.
This article was originally published as Pauline Juan's Fashion Sense for Preview's January-February 2008 issue. You can download back issues of Preview here.