Easy Style Tip: Wear something 5% fancier than your normal.
I love this “wear something 5% fancier than your normal” easy style tip because it breaks you out of your humdrum style without triggering your internal “things are changing” alarm bells. We run into a lot of resistance/upper limit/imposter syndrome/”lil old me”/monsters/”stuff”/etc when we’re in the process of leveling up our clothing.
Intuitively we know that dressing better will ripple into other parts of our life. Even when change is good, it can often be scary.
Stacking tiny incremental steps is a great way to initiate the changes you want to make, and sneak around those parts of ourselves that want us to remain the same. (You are enough of a special occasion to wear something special.)
When to use this easy style tip:
Obviously, you can use this whenever you want. (I first mentioned this tip here in a pre-Valentines Day pep talk.) But here are two instances when I particularly like encouraging someone to dress 5% fancier than their normal style.
1) When you “just can’t even…”
5% fancier is great for when you’re on the precipice of a style rut. And you can tell you’re getting close when you start hearing yourself say “why bother?” or “I have nothing to wear” or “there’s no point” or “I’m too busy.”
These are great signs it’s time to pull out dressing 5% fancier.
2) Use “wear something 5% fancier than your normal” for medium-big days
The other instance this tip works really well is for medium-big days. We’re not talking wedding-sized big days. But rather performance review sized big days or reunion sized big days. Days when you want to look good and feel confident, but you also don’t want to over do it.
These kinds of medium-big days can get us stuck in our own heads pretty easily. We’re standing in our closet wondering what to wear – thinking and re-thinking and re-thinking again – and before we know it, we’re running late. So I like the 5% fancier tip to help you look your best without spiraling.
Put on a perfectly acceptable outfit, and then make it 5% fancier.
How to most effectively use the 5% fancier easy style tip:
Remember 5% of an outfit is teeny!
You can think of 5% fancier a little bit like the inverse of the Coco Chanel quote “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
Chanel’s advice works great if you have a habit of over accessorizing and are aiming to embrace understated elegance. But remember Chanel was born in 1883, when “getting dressed” even in the most basic outfit, meant something a century away from “throwing on a t-shirt and jeans.” (For reference Vogue magazine publish its first issue in 1892, and this is what Vogue covers looked like at the time, and this is a nice then and now story from Vogue in 2017.)
If you have a tendency to fall into style ruts, you don’t need to pile it on 1890s style, but you do need to give yourself more oomph.
5% fancier is simply a fraction fancier than your normal. (A fraction of 5/100 fancier to be exact.)
Choose ONE thing: an accessory OR makeup OR garment
Because 5% fancier is a smidge fancier than your version of normal, choose ONE item of your outfit to elevate. Choose an accessory OR your makeup OR a garment.
5% fancier could look like: adding a necklace OR statement earrings, OR bumping up your eye shadow OR choosing an elevated lipstick, OR nicer shoes OR swapping your tee for a blouse.
Please note the OR. The key to keeping 5% fancier from looking overdressed is “OR.”
If you start with a casual t-shirt, jeans and sneakers look. To invoke the 5% fancier tip, you could: swap the sneakers for heels, OR swap the t-shirt for a blouse, OR swap the jeans for a skirt, OR add a statement necklace, OR add a bright lip, etc.
If you were to make all of those swaps and additions at once, you’d bump the “fancy” of the outfit way up from where we started.
But if you choose to make ONE swap or addition, you retain the causal-vibe of the outfit but 5% fancier.
Obviously 5% is not a hard and fast percentage. We’re not doing cross multiplication in our closets (until or if we decide to). We’re simply using 5% fancier as kind of a mental hack to break out of a rut, feel more confident without overthinking, and lower the stakes of getting dressed for a medium-big day.