It’s been about a month since I’ve written about my decision to abstain from purchasing any non-necessary and/or low-quality items. While it’s true that my wallet hasn’t felt this good in years, this decision hasn’t entirely been “sunshine and roses”. Listen, I knew from the start that cutting down on clothes shopping wasn’t going to be without its obvious issues (has anybody seen Jeffrey Campbell’s Seem platform?), but I definitely didn’t expect to have any new concerns related to style and upkeep.
Now, instead of just being afraid of one day cracking and dropping $300 on some stuff I don’t need, I’m haunted by another, even more pressing concern: will my newly limited wardrobe resources lead me to eventually run out of outfit ideas? I’ve seen what’s in my closet: lots of clothes that either no longer fit me or have shoulder pads and ‘80s proportions (remember, most of this stuff belonged to my mom twenty to thirty years ago). Wtf is a modern Millie to do!?
Finally, I convinced myself that that would only happen if I allowed it to happen. Mind over matter, Size J! Or, as my grandfather would say if he were alive, “Coraggio!” That’s when I got the idea for the Fashion Challenge!
The core idea behind the Fashion Challenge segment is that anything can be styled. That’s right — anything. Give me your tattered, your fugly, and your outdated, and I will make them wearable once again. Sometimes, all you need to do is reimagine the world in which those pieces would be worn; other times, you might need more of a nip or a tuck. Either way, anything can be worn again, including your stripper heels and your ‘70s plaid bell bottoms.
Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed by my crazy, immense-scale ideas that I abandon any efforts to get a plan off the ground. Luckily, I know myself well enough by now to know that if I want to pull something off, I need to be organized and consistent, and avoid limiting my ideas. I am very pleased to showcase the inaugural Fashion Challenge post, and the Polyvore style boxes I’ve made to accompany it.
For this post, I decided to style something a little more simple: a black mesh dress.
Mesh is one of those materials that often looks cheap, which is why it’s especially important to pair it with quality accessories. There are ways to make your mesh top the standout piece, and ways to make it more of a “supporting” piece. Below, you will find several examples of how you may stylishly incorporate mesh into outfits without looking like a hot mesh… mess. Sorry — I blame the Sean Connery movie marathon. 😉
SOLIDS WITH MESH
With mesh, it can be really easy to go from night club to strip club. Here are some tips to keep you at the bar and off the pole (unless, of course, that’s where you want to be):
1. Match the solid top to the color of the mesh for a more refined finish.
Click the style box for clothing credits.
2. If you select a solid in a color different from that of the mesh, layer the solid OVER the mesh.
3. Try a more monochrome outfit for elegance and a more streamlined silhouette. Black on black is timeless, sexy, and mysterious. White on white is fresh and modern.
4. If you decide to go the less-is-more route by layering a bra or bandeau underneath your mesh top, there are two styles you can try. If you have a loosely fitting mesh top, go the bohemian route with down-to-earth accessories and more contrast among garment textures and style.
If you have a more tightly fitting mesh top, don’t be afraid to really crank up the sex appeal by channeling the strippers of yesteryear with a leather bra, like I did. If you’re worried about looking cheap, never fear — keep skirt hemlines about knee-length at their shortest, only wear tailored jackets, and style with only good quality (or industry-approved — wink, wink) accessories. For extra impact, go monochromatic.
I’ve already gone into detail about what makes this leather and silk jacket so awesome, but thrown over a mesh top and leather bra gives “ssssssexy” a whole new meaning! Oo la la!
MESH OVER MESH
1. Throwing a really loose net-like knit cardigan over mesh adds some funky movement to your upper half. Select a colorful knit for an even bolder optical effect.
2. A mesh shirt is pretty daring to begin with, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of your outfit can’t have an edge. Just remember that edgy “supporting” garments and accessories should at least be cut in more classic shapes, as your outfit will otherwise run the risk of looking too illogical.
3. Mesh is both a pattern and a texture. Mixing textures creates more visual interest in an outfit, so don’t shy away from mixing the smoothness of leather leggings with the bumps and jags of an alligator handbag. The key here is not to overdo it; make sure at least two of the garments in your outfit are the same texture and/or material.
4. Use neutrals to pull the outfit together.
5. Always know what you plan to wear underneath your mesh. Will you be wearing a t-shirt or a tank top? Will you be making a statement with a bra or a bandeau? Will you be wearing something skin-toned to keep the focus solely on the mesh? Be aware of what it is you’re trying to highlight or play down.
PRINT OVER MESH
Mesh can have the same effect as a print. For a punchy look, mix mesh with something graphic.
1. A uniform print like mesh should be layered underneath a more complex print to keep the focus on the statement garment.
2. To keep your outfit from looking schizophrenic, balance the colors in the selected print with accessories in one or two neutral tones.
3. I love garments with pleats and origami-esque folding. For a ladylike look incorporating mesh, combine printed architectural dresses, shirts, skirts or pants with edgier takes on classic accessories.
4. If you’d like to use mesh to look more “bohemian urban raver tribe child” (I made that up — I don’t know if that’s a thing), try pairing a loose printed dress with unusual shoes, statement rings, and a structured bag.
Lastly, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember to have fun. I had so much fun trying to figure out how I could style a couple of outfits using a mesh top that I completely forgot to feel anxious over the prospect of running out of style ideas. Take that, closet!