Fashion Magazine

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks

By Bridgetteraes @BridgetteRaes
Effortless and Interesting

I love sharing behind the scenes stories about clients because they can be very relatable. When Mrs. Sassy gave me the green light to blog about her I was thrilled because I think her style situation is something most women can relate to.

A little backstory about Mrs. Sassy, whose alias was given to protect her identity, sassy is an interesting choice because she doesn’t immediately come across that way. In fact, my first impression of her, while incredibly personable, was actually more understated until I realized that underneath this calm demeanor was this dry sense of humor that could knock you on the floor with laughter. She’s plucky, grounded, courageous and my type of woman, which explains why whenever we have a session we go over our time chatting and laughing. Mrs. Sassy doesn’t knock you on the head with sass, it takes you by surprise, which is what makes her so fun.

Mrs. Sassy lives in Nebraska with her husband and son, works in tech and recently taught herself new skills to take bigger steps in her career. In the male-dominated casual tech world, she doesn’t need to fuss over her wardrobe but still wants to look pulled together.

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks

In our last wardrobe session, Mrs. Sassy sent me some photos to look at of her current wardrobe. While looking over some of the looks, a few that fell a bit flat. At the same time, however, it was hard to justify fixing them to be overly styled. While going through the looks with Mrs. Sassy, I kept saying that we needed to create looks that were both effortless and interesting.

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks

I kept coming back to Mrs. Sassy’s look on the left and explained how even though it was essentially comprised of the same pieces on the right, a cardigan, top, and jeans, it was still visually more compelling. This would become our benchmark; that without extraneous additions like accessories or pieces that wouldn’t make sense in her workplace she would still look styled.

How well can you relate to this? Isn’t this the goal of most of us when we look at the reality of our lives? Sure, a perfectly styled look may be fun and interesting, but is it realistic for how you spend the majority of your time?

Bridgette Raes

During my session with Mrs. Sassy, I explained that I use this strategy all the time and cited this look I wore last spring. When you look at the pieces, they’re pretty basic, but it’s how I played with the colors that made it effortless and interesting.

If this is all relatable to you, I have put together five examples of effortless and interesting looks to give you some ideas for how you can do it too.

Outfit #1

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks
effortless and interesting

This first outfit is a variation of the look Mrs. Sassy created that has been taken one step further. During our session, I suggested the idea of using shoes to take the look she created up a notch. In fact, this is the exact striped short sleeve t-shirt from J. Crew that Mrs. Sassy owns and says it hasn’t worn out after many wears and washes. I styled the shirt with a burgundy cardigan from Banana Republic, navy pants from Frank & Eileen and yellow flats from Everlane.

Outfit #2

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks
effortless and interesting

Next, I offered the suggestion of using an interesting pair of shoes to a more basic look. Comparing Mrs. Sassy’s look to the one I created, the only difference is the shoes which are a fun loafer style from Boden that I styled with jeans from Madewell and a basic boxy turtleneck from Cos.

Outfit #3

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks
effortless and interesting

Another idea is to work harmoniously with color. This is different than monochromatic. Working harmoniously takes different colors that share similar value and chroma (the degree of vividness of a color) that work together. I like Mrs. Sassy’s outfit but can also envision it with pants in olive, for example, to make it more interesting.

In the outfit I created, I styled this russet-colored top from Mango with a pair of olive pants from Court & Rowe. I finished the outfit with these medium-brown booties from Marc Fisher.

Outfit #4

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks
Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks

When Mrs. Sassy showed me an outfit with a basic white button-down shirt, I was stumped. Sure, we could have talked about adding a scarf or some jewelry, but I wanted to come up with a way to solve this without adding anything to the outfit. I then remembered the power of novelty basics. Novelty basics are pieces that look novelty but can be worn like a basic.

An example of a novelty basic is this is the amazing sweater Jane Fonda wore on an episode of Grace and Frankie. It can act like a basic but the neck detail gives it something special.

Effortless and Interesting: Creating Simple Yet Compelling Looks

In the outfit I created, I styled this novelty basic white button-down shirt from Cos with black pants from Theory with a basic pair of black slingback low heeled pumps from Linea Paolo. I purposefully kept the pants and shoes basic to show how the shirt alone can make this outfit more memorable.

I won’t be every day that you will have a desire to create effortless and interesting looks. Some days you will just want to wear something incredibly basic, and that’s fine. However, on the days that dressing this way feels boring, you can use these handy and easy strategies to add some excitement to an outfit without straying from an outfit being easy.

My special thanks to Mrs. Sassy for so generously allowing me to share her photos and story.


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