Do fashion training wheels really exist?
I can't tell you how many times I've wished for these - especially after moving to Boston. And while it's true that you'll see many sports jerseys and flip flops, there are an equal number of well-dressed people walking around too. Dressing the part can be very difficult if (a) you don't know what you're doing (shamefully raising my hand) and (b) would rather not spend all of your extra money on clothes. Here are some ideas to help you make training wheels of your own.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
There's plenty to look at in Boston. People watching will always yield ideas, so the next time you're grabbing a latte, sit back and just watch. I can't tell you how many ideas I've gotten just by taking a look around me. Just be sure you're wearing a dark pair of sunglasses to remain inconspicuous.
READ AND FLIP
Read and flip through publications that can help you identify styles and trends. Don't buy or subscribe to any of these. Just hit your favorite bookstore one afternoon, grab a latte, and peruse the following:
--The Improper Bostonian (www.improper.com) - Get information on the latest fashion trends around town (and local places to shop).
--Real Simple (www.realsimple.com) - RS always has a fashion section displaying complete outfits (from head to toe) with details of where to buy. Most often, the items listed are pricey, so I use them as the foundation for ideas to buy something similar and cheaper at a different location.
--Elle (www.elle.com) or Allure (www.allure.com) Magazine - both contain incredible styles guides with options for all budgets.
WHERE TO SHOP
Ultimately, this is up to you. Some of my favorites:
Second Time Around (www.secondtimearound.net/).
Upon hearing the words "vintage" or "consignment", those of us with little or no experience are reminded of thrift stores where you can buy a pound of mothball scented clothes for $1. Here, I'm referring to the "gently" used clothing market, where clothes are selected for sale. Many clothes are name brand, in excellent condition, and sold for a mere fraction of the original cost. Visit the 3 locations on Newbury Street or the one in Harvard Square.
I'd never thought I'd say this, but I love H&M. I shop here specifically for evening wear and accessories. Staples like jeans, t-shirts and the like are generally better bought somewhere else. Plus this is an inexpensive way to embrace trends or look for styles based off of something you saw in a magazine.
Ann Taylor Loft
When you need to look polished during the day, you can't beat Ann Taylor Loft (www.anntaylorloft.com). The clothes have more structure and refinement than ever, especially since they've redesigned their line. If you see something you like and don't want to pay full price, wait three weeks. Your item will be on sale before you know it.
If you like bold colors and interesting patterns for dresses and tops, visit Boden (www.bodenusa.com). Considering that this online and catalog retailer is located in the UK, you're not likely to bump into someone wearing the same outfit. Buy once from them, and you'll start receiving emails about discounts, which can add up over time.
That's enough for now. More on Accessories in an upcoming post.