To Repeat, Or Not To Repeat: That Is The Question

April 22, 2010


Huffington Post – Michelle Obama – JCrew coat

I am often asked whether it is alright to wear again the same fabulous outfit one wore at a very visible venue to yet another function. My answer is always, “Absolutely!”. This frequent question has led me to reflect on where our hesitancy and sometimes, even embarrassment, to repeat an outfit comes from! Is it possible that we got caught up in the celebrity frenzy over the past decade whereby we are bombarded daily with the celebrity ‘good life’ and the enviable wardrobe that is different everyday? This, accompanied by stories of the vast free goods these celebs are sent from designers and retailers. Of course, this would trigger feelings of wanting to keep up with the celebrities – I mean we are only human!

It seems that due to the mass media coverage of celebrities and their fashion choices and our salacious appetite for this information, the celebs have become our “Joneses” more so than our neighbors. And what happens if we don’t keep up? Are we then doomed to feel once again that we aren’t good enough? The celebrity fashionistas must feel relentless pressure from their PR agents, business managers, the tabloids, and the public to keep up the daily off-screen runway shows at relentless red carpet appearances and even while running into the grocery store. It is even referred to in media as a repeat offense if the celeb wears the same accessory again. Geez! I guess my fashion crimes would surpass the three strikes law.

Thank goodness for the recession! …well, at least in terms of repeat fashions. We now have visual examples on ways to get the most use out of our own wardrobes. Today, we have more leading ladies in the public eye who are showing us that it is acceptable and worthwhile to repeat outfits. Mentors such as Vogue’s Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour says, “It’s totally okay – I even recommend it” regarding repeat outfits. The most influential woman in fashion who has full access to goods even does it herself. And, of course, there is First Lady Michelle Obama leading the way too. The Huffington Post has created a wonderful photo montage of Mrs. Obama’s fashion repeats. It is such a great learning tool. Even Hollywood celebrities appear to be jumping on board the repeat express. I adore the monthly segment “I Really LOVE My…” in People Style Watch magazine. It focuses on the various ways a celebrity will wear their favorite accessory. The diverse ways they incorporate the favored piece is inspirational.

Most of us have specific ways we prefer to wear our favorite outfit(s) – same clothing, same accessories, same everything styled exactly the same way. This method works well when we distance the timeline of the beloved outfit(s) (eg. once every 2.5 weeks) or when we wear the ensemble to unrelated events (ie. office work, business travel, dissimilar audience, assorted networking groups, off-duty social engagements). An occasion that I really recommend to my clients that they do not repeat an identical outfit is when they have already worn it for business promotional materials including book covers or book bio jacket flaps. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen authors wear the exact same outfit while on a promotional tour for their book (ie. television appearances or speaking engagements) and they are wearing the exact same outfit that is featured on their book. This fashion repeat makes the author appear unimaginative and a one-note writer. It is better to re-style the outfit and wear it for unrelated activities.

There is actually a multitude of ways to alter the look of your ‘go-to’ outfit rather than wearing it exactly the same way every time. It certainly makes getting dressed more fun. To keep you looking your best, here are some style techniques to take your fashion repeats to the next level:

  • Vary one piece of clothing. For instance, try a different blouse with your favorite black suit…perhaps one of the new beautiful floral prints in stores right now. Or, instead of wearing the matching black pants, wear your grey dress pants and keep the rest of the outfit status quo.
  • Mix up the accessories. Add or eliminate one piece in the collection of jewelry that you usually wear with your black suit. Switch up your gold charm necklace with a fresh summer green turquoise bead necklace. Even a simple change from your diamond stud earrings to your thin gold medium sized hoop earrings will alter the overall look of your black suit. Exchange your closed toe black pumps for a platform pair of nude slingbacks for the warmer months ahead.
  • Transform the outfit’s shape. Untuck the blouse that you always wear with your black suit and slip on a waist belt, giving the outfit more dimensions. Or, try putting a belt on the outside of the jacket to create a more prominent hourglass shape. You can even switch the standard black blazer jacket for a cropped black swing jacket to create a completely different silhouette. Swap your black straight legged dress pants for the wide legged version. Instant transformation!
  • Revolutionize the vibe of the outfit. Your preferred black suit can go from the corporate office out to dinner with your partner or friends. Simply alter the outfit’s image. Trade your conservative kitten heel work pumps for a sexy pair of metallic caged platform sandals. Then layer on several mixed metal bracelets. And finally, switch your everyday satchel handbag for a snakeskin clutch bag. Your black suit went from corporate to cocktail with only a few small changes.
  • Make modifications. Change up the way you usually wear an item in your ‘go-to’ outfit. For instance, unbutton your black jacket that you always seem to keep buttoned up or vice versa. Make an effort to further unbutton the button-down blouse that you always wear with the black suit and layer over an impressive cami. Try to double wrap the long necklace that you seem to always wear as one strand or wrap it several times around your wrist as a bracelet.
  • Play with hair and makeup. It is so easy to keep our daily beauty routine sweet and simple, but that doesn’t mean that we need to do the same things everyday. Take a crack at wearing your hair up if you always wear it down with your favored black suit. Even adjusting your hair part will add new zest to your look. Add a bolder lipstick color the next time you wear your black suit. Experiment with an on trend fuchsia colored nail polish.

Do we really have the time to fret about what people will think if we repeat an outfit? No, we don’t! If it is a nice outfit on you and works well for your endeavors, then who cares?! Let’s drop the concern and self-sabotage. We now have plenty of examples provided to us to change up our favored outfits and keep us looking and feeling our best. Give these tips your best shot and repeat to your best advantage.

Has this post changed the way you view the question of “To repeat or not to repeat?” Do you feel liberated from the tyranny of the ‘in our heads’ style police?

vss-logosmall Need help on finding the best pieces to transform your ‘go-to’ outfit? Simply sign up for my new Virtual Styling Services by clicking on the link and I will find the best pieces specifically for you! Don’t forget, I do a wonderful job with accessories, too. Be sure to complete the VSS questionnaire for best fit and, if possible, – include photographs of you in your favored outfit. signaturesmall3

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