Oh so chic. What do we mean by that anyhow? When we say something or someone looks chic, we generally mean that there is a smart elegance, a seemingly effortless sophistication. Indeed, to be chic is somewhat hard to put a finger on, but we know it when we see it. Right? But that’s just the kind of explanation that frustrates me. Because, while I may know how to spot chic, I sometimes struggle to create it. You, too? Fortunately, we absolutely can learn how to create chic looks if we simply pay attention to a few key essentials. Let’s talk about five keys to creating chic outfits.
Now first of all, let’s establish that every outfit does not have to qualify as chic. We don’t need to aim to look smartly elegant or effortlessly sophisticated every minute of every day. Shoot. You may not even care for that style aesthetic at all. You might prefer to look cute or plum pretty or relaxed and casual or very preppy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
But if you do ever want to look a little more sophisticated…say, for a job interview, a special date night, a presentation at work or just a normal day out and about…you absolutely can create a chic, pulled together look.
What signals as chic to the eye?
If you think of the most sophisticated woman you know, you’ll probably begin to name some of the traits that make her outfits track as chic to you. These are the same elements that signal chic to most everyone else as well.
We tend to think someone looks chic if they…
- appear pulled together – they’ve made a little effort and our eyes immediately know that
- look easy on the eyes – our eyes don’t feel strained or tired from taking in the elements of their overall look
- seem curated – everything fits together in a pleasing aesthetic
Yeah, we can detect the signals. But how do we create outfits that send those signals???
🗝️ #1 – Classic Wardrobe Essentials
It’s easiest to create chic looks when the base layer of the outfit (the dress or top and bottom pieces) are classic, easy wardrobe essentials.
- classic jeans + a solid tee
- solid slacks + a solid top
- a-line skirt + solid top
To create the most chic looks, select wardrobe essentials that feature…
- clean lines
- minimal detailing
- classic silhouettes and
- solid colors
Can you use other types of pieces, maybe something more unique or a print? Absolutely. But the easiest, fail proof way to create flawless chic looks is with very clean, classic base layers.
Finally, it should be said that you’ll have a much easier time creating truly chic looks with good quality wardrobe essentials. That doesn’t mean they have to be expensive or even the highest quality. But obviously your top, pants, dress or skirt should be clean and in good condition. And it’s even better if they’re also well tailored, created from quality fabrics and made to hang nicely on your body. Yes, fit is essential, too.
Bottom line, begin with classic wardrobe essentials.
🗝️ #2 – Harmonious Color Palette
Our eyes appreciate harmonious color palettes. These are color combinations that are easy for our eyes to take in. They’re restful on the eyes.
The easiest way to put together outfits consisting of harmonious colors is to stick with neutrals such as black, grey, brown, taupe, beige, white or camel. When you create a look consisting purely of those colors, you’re half way to chic already!
But you absolutely can create chic looks with more vibrant colors as well. You can use several different shades of one color. For instance, this tonal look where I used different shades of blue throughout is very easy on the eyes.
Another way to create a harmonious color palette is to combine colors that are close together on the color wheel. These would include combinations such as:
- red + pink
- red + orange
- green + blue
- blue + purple
Can you still create a chic look with contrasting colors? Yep. But it won’t be as easy. The easiest way to create an effortlessly chic look is with a pleasing, harmonious color palette, one that is easy on the eyes, not fussy or busy.
Detour 🗝️: If you do want to or need to wear contrasting colors, simply add in some elements that tie those colors together. Use the colors throughout the outfit or wear a scarf, jacket or shoes to help bring balance and tie the color theme together harmoniously.
🗝️ #3 – Curation
Our eyes appreciate a curated look. In the same way that we are drawn to a home interior that is carefully put together in a pleasing way, we find our gaze lingering on a woman who has put her look together in an aesthetically appealing way.
To curate simply means to select carefully, organize artistically and present skillfully. So you curate your look by selecting colors and textures that complement one another, by putting pieces together that create a pleasing silhouette and then presenting the entire outfit with a few “expert” style flourishes (we’ll get to those in a minute).
When curating your look, consider the following:
- colors – we covered this above, but you want to make sure you choose colors that work together well
- textures – multiple textures in an outfit make it appear more interesting
- head to toe – try to pull the look together by including some of the same colors or textures throughout, from head to toe
- makeup & hair accessories – you can even curate your look by matching your lipstick and nail colors or your head band and purse
Detour 🗝️: When we speak of coordinating your handbag, shoes and belt, we absolutely do not mean they have to completely match. But you can ensure they coordinate simply by choosing leathers of the same tone (warm or cool).
🗝️ #4 – “Effortless” Style Hacks
Those truly chic women we admire from afar have some tricks up their sleeves. They simply know a few style hacks that help them add interest to their looks. More importantly, they take the time to use those style hacks…at least one in each look.
Simple style hacks that will help you accomplish a more curated, chic look include:
- a front tuck
- a full tuck
- using a belt
- rolling up the cuffs of your sleeves
- cuffing your pants at the hem
- rolling up your pants at the hem
- tying a jacket or sweater around your hips or neck
- draping a jacket or cardigan over your shoulders
- popping your collar in the back
- tying the front flaps of your button up shirt at the front
- can you think of more???
Remember, one of the signals that our eyes interpret as chic is simply the indication that some effort has been made. But another signal that our eyes detect as chic is a casual effortlessness. Seems a little contradictory, huh? But somehow that subtle contradiction is absolutely essential to the chic aesthetic. Wouldn’t you agree?
That’s why these style hacks are crucial. Simply scrunching up your sleeves a little carelessly or half tucking your shirt contributes that effortless vibe to an otherwise stuffy look. And that’s what takes it from stiff and stuffed to casual and oh-so-chic.
🗝️ #5 – An Elevated Element
Finally, the last key to creating chic looks is simply to add at least one elevated element to the outfit. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about ways to elevate your looks. So you might want to check those out.
In both of those posts I talk about specific types of items that always elevate a look. These are simply style choices, accessories or silhouettes that somehow add a bit of polish or sophistication to a look. By adding one or more of these to the most basic outfit, you get closer to chic.
Elevated elements include, but are not limited to:
- high-heeled pumps
- pointy toe shoes
- structured handbag
- clutch handbag
- bold lip color
- manicured nails
Take the Chic Challenge
So are you ready to create a more chic outfit today? Why not put on whatever you were going to put on, but amp it up a bit? Try out some or all of the keys I mentioned here and see if your outfit doesn’t go from ho-hum to chic. Let me know what you think!
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Blessed for My Day
I stated in yesterday’s Blessed for My Day that we can choose joy despite our circumstances. The reason we can choose joy daily is because our fate is sealed in Jesus Christ. While we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we do know what eternity brings. If you are a follower of Christ and have made Him the Lord of your life, you know that an inheritance awaits you in heaven.
I believe one of the reasons so many of us are struggling right now is because we feel very insecure. It is natural to long for security. We want to feel safe, held, stable. We want life to be predictable, steady. But right now we’re not sure what the near future looks like. Let’s commit the days ahead to the One who holds eternity safely in His hands. Even if life as we know it has changed forever, we can trust that we will be okay…because He still has us in His grip.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5