Even the biggest fashion fanatic can fall into a style rut or get in the habit of creating a "uniform" each season. You buy a new blazer, a top in the season's biggest color, and those pants that make your butt look great in four colors and voila! — you can mix and match a week's worth of outfits with what's already in your closet. But how about instead of buying your basics in a new cut or color, you invest in some items to take your look somewhere new and exciting?
A Trendy Collar
A detached collar, like this Ivory Sequin Collar from Nasty Gal, $48, is on-trend this season but will still be useful once the buzz fades. Right now, style it as a statement piece with an open neckline like on the model. But you'll find yourself reaching for it to completely change the look of crew neck tops and button down blouses for a long time.
A Big (Faux?) Fur Coat
Fur was EVERYWHERE for Fall 2013, so there is no danger of a voluminous fur coat going out of style any time soon. Fur fell out of popularity for a while but with many of the fashion set unabashedly embracing real fur and the quality of faux fur improving by leaps and bounds, it's definitely back. I'm not talking about fur trim, I'm talking about the bigger the better full on fur coat — get it in a bright color for even more style points. This Band of Outsiders coat from the Fall 2013 runway is my absolute obsession, but this Whistles Natalia Faux Fur Coat has a similar look for a fraction of the cost (and no cruelty) and is available now (on sale for $239.52 at press time!).
A fun pair of stockings or tights is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to liven up a dress or skirt that just doesn't get you excited anymore. A colorful pair of tights in a bold or contrasting color gives any outfit more of a downtown, indie, Zooey Deschanel feel. Adding a pair of sexy faux-thigh-high stockings, like these ASOS Pattern Sheer Tights, $14.03, takes any LBD from work to a date, no problem. There is so much fun printed hosiery out there right now there's really no excuse for black opaque tights.
Let's be specific: when I say a hat can reinvent your wardrobe, I don't mean anything knit. If you live in a cold clime, a fun fur-trimmed hat could be a great statement you'd get a lot of use out of, so I won't ban all practical warmth-bestowing headgear from the stylish pile. I also don't mean a fedora. These are a lot of don'ts, but a hat as a style statement is hard enough to pull off so keep it to simple, delicate and feminine pieces. A fascinator can be awesome if it doesn't get too costumey, or get a little Downton without looking like a dowager with this San Diego Hat Lace & Wool Cloche, $48.
A Classic Scarf
Again, I do not mean anything knit. A classic silk scarf is an item most young women aren't as at ease with as older generations, and therefore it will get your creativity flowing as you style it. A scarf like this one from the Hermes Fall 2012 catalog, shot by Olivia Bee, is so luxe you'll want to show it off and that will inspire you to find new ways to wear it. I really think the best place to search these out is vintage shops to get a truly unique item.
To really make a difference in your wardrobe, you have to think of statement jewelry as more than an eye-catching cocktail ring and more as an accessory that changes the look of your entire outfit. Usually, this is going to be a necklace, like The Leather Atelier's Demi Necklace $425. (Does anyone else think you could make something similar out of a $50 dream catcher?) But it could be a thick arm cuff or collarbone-skimming earrings. To really shake up your closet, find a way to wear an unconventional item to work, or a super dressy dazzler with a T-shirt and jeans. Reinvention is all about the unexpected.
As often as not, when you find yourself asking "but what would I wear them with?" the answer is "everything!" I found this to be true of a purple metallic handbag and red patent shoes, just for starters. Sometimes a piece is so outlandish it becomes a neutral. My favorite designer for this category of footwear is obviously Jeffrey Campbell. This Taco Combat Boot, $178, would definitely inspire some creative styling or even just make jeans look more interesting. Or, if you're used to loud shoes, perhaps a classic ballet flat would really throw you for a loop and result in a completely different look.
A Loud Printed Basic
Your closet is full of basics, your go-to items in neutrals and your favorite colors. Why not subvert the idea of a basic buy buying one of your favorite pieces in a crazy print and color? If pencil skirts are your go-tos in every situation and you have one in every neutral, but one in an offbeat plaid. Or, check out this stunning LOFT Floral Variety Drapey Crepe Blazer, $98, it comes in regular, petite and tall.
Something That's So Not You
I called out Jeffrey Campbell as an "outside the box" choice, but that's only if his aesthetic is not your everyday look. If it is, go in the opposite direction and buy something super preppy. Basically, just choose an item that's as far away from your signature look as possible. Always wear heels? Get a pair of stylish stand-out sneakers. If you always carry a big purse, try a clutch for day. You get the picture. If you have to, think of a friend with a style very different from your own that you still admire. Pretend you're shopping for her.
This is not the addition of a piece to your wardrobe, but rather the removal of a piece. Your killer sexy-cut pinstripe suit? Wear it on a date with nothing underneath a la Selena Gomez in Atelier Versace at the Berlin premiere of
Something That's So Not You
I called out Jeffrey Campbell as an "outside the box" choice, but that's only if his aesthetic is not your everyday look. If it is, go in the opposite direction and buy something super preppy. Basically, just choose an item that's as far away from your signature look as possible. Always wear heels? Get a pair of stylish stand-out sneakers. If you always carry a big purse, try a clutch for day (like this Sophie Hulme Textured Envelope Clutch, $655). You get the picture. If you have to, think of a friend with a style very different from your own that you still admire. Pretend you're shopping for her.