1. When in doubt, add a belt. The spot just below your ribs is the skinniest, emphasize it. (Like grandma’s, in Easter Finest.)
2. Tuck a dress into a skirt, see what happens. Similarly, wear a dress over a skirt. Who knows! (Like this denim jacket/dashiki/ikat skirt combo in Square Dance.)
3. Look like a lady in control: wear heels. It’s not that hard to find comfortable high heels these days. (Like my favorite bargain pair in Dashboard Hula.)
4. Sometimes (but not always), you can update an outdated cut of pants by pegging them for a straighter, more modern fit. (Like my old men’s jeans in The Granny Smith.)
5. In the same vein, a boxy or too-big jacket may be cured with a few turns of the cuff. I almost always push up my sleeves for a modern feel. (Like the jean jacket in Shock Therapy.)
6. Try it on backwards. (Like a favorite Rogan for Target number in Officer Truant.)
7. If you’re short waisted, try on petite sizes. The waist is cut higher for a more flattering fit. (Like this dress in First Crocus.)
8. Another word in fit: the single most flattering change you can make with a jacket is to raise the armpit. (A job for the tailor or those really skilled on the sewing machine.) It always works. (Like this Salvation Army find in Le Smoking Room.)
9. Three finishes that will never go out of style: Stripes. Animal Prints. Sequins. (Like when I wore them all together in Centennial Celebration.)
10. It’s incredibly elegant (and easy!) to dress monochromatically, be it with solids or patterns. However, the best way to make a color look good is to add another color; so add a flash of somethin’ somethin’. (Like when I added some gray and brown with blues in Seaside Manner.)
11. It sounds counter intuitive, but the best way to wear varying patterns is to clash. Throw a flower jacket on with a flower print scarf and large flower earrings, or a silver metallic mini with a gold tank top. Just be sure to temper it with something solid. (Like with gray sweatpants, as in Power Flower.)
12. Don’t use the matching belt. If a jacket (trenches don’t count here, btw), dress, or skirt comes with a matching belt, it’s usually no good – for that piece! Reuse the thing for something entirely different, and bring in your own fantastic belt from the bench. (Like in Reader Dig Explained: Blueberry Cream.)
13. Make game plans before shopping. If you feel like your closet is pretty well stocked, only buy pieces that play nicely with your preexisting stuff. Buy clothing that makes you wear the entire depths of your wardrobe well and more often. (Like when I bought my Kenneth Cole ankle boots, seen first in Inspector Gidget.)
14. Spend time trying on! Take a few minutes or hours on a Sunday afternoon; try on all your skirts, make a mess, take risks, record everything. On Monday morning, you’ll come to your closet with a better idea of what to reach for.
15. Cut the manufacturer’s removable stitches around open seams and pockets the second you get home. This sometimes feels like my biggest pet peeve when I see women walking around with a big sloppy X of thread on their coat. Cut!
16. Fake a bow blouse with a similarly toned blouse and scarf. (Like in Mr. Lauren Plays No Polo.)
17. I have exactly ten different blue collared (striped, patterned, solid, checked, starred) shirts. More than half of the time in my regular, non-sketched life, I’m reaching for one of these as the base of an outfit. Figure out what elements always work and let yourself play around within those parameters. (Like in the oft-worn J. Crew men’s shirt in Long Weekend on Lake Gaston.)
18. Make simple sewing repairs easy by keeping a pre-threaded needle nearby at all times. I start with a really long piece of string, and use just enough for a little button or tear. I cut back on time doing annoying chores such as needle threading.
19. When you’re wearing a tights/boots combo – wear socks underneath your tights. Sounds weird. Works awesome.
20. Be creatively ruthless when packing for a trip. Make sure every clothing item can work double duty, bring enough accessories to keep things fresh, and save room for souvenirs. (Like in Reader Dig Explained: Winters in Goa – A Study in Packing.)
21. Another note on travel – sometimes you bring home weird shit (like these ridiculous harem pants). Make it work in your real life with sharply tailored separates. (Like in Reader Dig Explained: Business on the Bosphorus.)
22. Why don’t you overpack bathing suits on your next getaway? They take up less space than teeshirts, plus it’s way more fun to be half nude when you have options. (Like when I jumped off a dock in one of my many options in Lake Effect.)
23. Accessories matter in every season; including winter. The same darn coat can feel new with a steady rotation of scarves, hats and gloves. (Like in this getup in Reader Dig Explained: Snow Angel.)
24. Rules are made to be broken. So, learn how to wear jeans and then break all my rules.
25. Find a perfect skirt (be it A-line, full, pencil, bubble) (don’t be afraid to splurge according to your budget) and wear it to death in as many ways as you can push it. (Like how I rolled on a trip to New York, my perfect black skirt worn here, here and here.)
26. Seriously, it’s all about the right basics. You can wear a black sundress a million ways, with a million different accessories, as long as you get the dress right in the first place. (My favorite one is from Target, which I wore in The Ruins, Incognito.)
27. Color is an accessory, and the most ravishing way is when you use it on your lips. Be bold with lipstick, coordinate it with your outfit, and watch that you don’t get it on your teeth. (My guide to lip color in Reader Dig Explained: How to Wear Lipstick.)
28. You can too wear that sparkly top you bought for New Years Eve the other 364 days of the year! Just keep everything else casual, like wearing it over a turtleneck or striped shirt with jeans or a day skirt. (Like in Reader Dig Explained: Puck’s Midnight Dream.)
29. If you live in a climate that includes five plus months of summer (or even four, lucky you), I suggest you find a ridiculous fan and carry that shit in your tote at all times. (Such as my Spanish tourist fan all ablaze in Sevilla with Frida.)
30. Why not celebrate the joys and varieties of getting dressed throughout the year with some seasonal accouterments? My mom and I both slip on bracelets that stay on from Memorial to Labor Day. How about a pin that follows you through the fall, or a cache of crazy hats that brighten up the darkest days of winter?