Opinion by Kelly Tafoya
If spotted on campus, you could place a good bet that I would be found with some sort of lipstick on, a statement necklace or patterned scarf and a variation of a completely black ensemble (I like to think of it as channeling my inner Kelly Cutrone).
Back in the day though, this wasn’t quite the case. In fact, my mother loves telling the story about how on my second day of seventh grade, I wore the same Aeropostale (I know, I’m cringing as I even type this) shirt as I did the first day — I loved it that much. I’ve even been guilty of owning a Hollister shirt or two my sophomore year of high school and even last week was cringing at an outfit I had worn the day before.
Twenty-one years and at least 14 closet switch-ups later, I still struggle daily on what to wear, but I’ve made some serious progress in perfecting my wardrobe.
The journey has not been easy and has been filled with many highs (mastering how to wear heels) and lows (finally giving up on the color orange). And while the journey ahead won’t necessarily be smooth sailing, I’m hoping this column along with my bestie Larissa’s (see page one) at least helps provides some insight, whether you love fashion or not, on how to perfect your wardrobe and find your sense of style.
1. Look at what’s in your closet already. I tend to organize my closet by clothing type and it becomes apparent very quickly what I typically buy: black ensembles, statement jewelry and a lot of blue. That way the next time I’m out shopping, I find myself avoiding the LBD (little black dress) rack and instead opting for a coral cardigan or a red dress to mix things up a little bit.
By inventorying what I already have (and what I have too much of) it’s easier to talk myself out of buying something similar to what I already own and opt for something new and different.
2. Do not shop for the current season – look one season back. Everything from the previous season is on sale, and it makes you actually look forward to the next year. Breaking out a winter coat you grabbed over Memorial Day weekend is twice as fun when you’ve been anticipating it for eight months. Plus you get it at the best possible sale price — it’s worth the discount and the wait.
3. Know when to invest in quality versus quantity. I am just as guilty as the next fashionista for a shopping spree at H&M, but at some point I had to admit to myself that a $4 plain black shirt does not trump a $24 one from a better store when it comes to lasting quality. Sure, these stores are great to try out the latest trends without splurging, but knowing where to draw that line has saved me more money over the long run.
4. Always shop with a buddy. I have learned this the hard way, although I prefer to roam the store by myself, I need someone to tell me what looks ridiculous no matter how much I like it. Larissa is my No. 1 shopping buddy because she is not afraid to tell me when I look like a clown because I love ballerina-esque skirts. She has saved me more than a wad full of cash by simply saying “Sorry, sweetie, but no.” Find that person, and get that second opinion.
5. Try mixing and matching options within your closet. Some of my best outfits have come from a hurried day where I put on a skirt and randomly grabbed a top before realizing that maybe I don’t match or it’s just a pairing I’ve never done before. Larissa and I often help each other on this front as well — she can often see outfits appear within my closet that I never would’ve dreamed of and vice versa.
Larissa’s best advice is always about staying true to you and I agree. I would add that staying true to yourself is essential — but continue pushing your style limits to be the very best you that you can be (cheesy, I know) but so true. This is college, we’re constantly changing and evolving. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and eventually you’ll look in your closet and realize that somehow along the way — you created your perfect wardrobe.
Tafoya is a junior public relations and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org