Try one – or several — of these easy strategies to give your traditional pieces a more edgy, contemporary feeling. Best of all,  you can probably apply them to clothes you already own.

Experiment with pattern mixing .  The easiest way is to use one tiny pattern – something that looks almost like printed texture – and combine it with a larger print, plaid or – in the example below – lace.  The repeated berry color gives it continuity.  These splatter-bleached jeans add yet a third pattern to the mix, but if that‘s too big a stretch you could certainly substitute a dark wash jean or a gray dress pant.

fashion, wardrobe consulting, CAbi

For a bolder look, mix a geometric like the subtly-dotted sweater (above) with a print piece that includes the same colors.  The paisley shell looks dominantly pink at first glance.  But it includes both the gray and the green of the sweater, and those colors really pop out when you combine the two garments.

Another option:  Combine a garment with a casual personality with one that would typically be considered more formal.

The gray skirt, reptile print blouse and sleek bag below all say “career”.  The more casual anorak says “edgy” when combined with an on-trend bootie.   Take care to be extra-polished so you don’t look like you just didn’t have a coat nice enough for your outfit.imagre consulting, wardrobe consulting, wardrobe planning, CAbi

The lace skirt above could easily say “cocktail” but the cotton fiber keeps the lace matte rather than shiny so you can play it for fun with your denim shirt and a big, fun scarf in a not-too-tidy wrap at the neck.  The rolled sleeve over a longer T is another updated detail.

Staggered hemlines can move from sloppy to chic if you do them well.   But the look can add pounds in a hurry if you aren’t careful.  Both of the examples below keep the hem of the under-layer top moving in a flattering diagonal direction rather than straight across the hipline.  And the right-hand version benefits from the gentle contrast among the colors – no abrupt color change to stop your eye.image consulting, wardrobe consulting, CAbi

The white shirt is actually cut with a diagonal hem.  The aqua top is cut straight, then ruched along one side seam to create the diagonal drape.

The pushed-up-plus-rolled sleeve treatment also adds to the care-free effect.  It is easier to execute if you layer the two pieces on a hanger, push up the sweater sleeve, then roll the shirt sleeve … all before you slip the double-garment onto your body.

The skinny belt over the sweater is a fun touch, but only if you have a long torso and not too much bustline.

You can also spice things up with one killer accessory item.  It could be a vintage piece, a treasure you’ve kept from the 60’s or a brand new find like this furry-front vest.  It gives an entirely new meaning to a print tunic and jeans.  It takes your sleek exercise clothes out into the world with style.  And it even works as a wrap with your LBD for cocktails, theatre or just a special dinner.  What a great way to help your classic wardrobe say “Look out, World!”CAbi

How can I help you find the best way to add some new pizzazz to your own look without stepping too far outside you comfort zone?

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Sue P. on October 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    It works! And thanks. Don’t feel quite so exotic as a huge furry vest, but LOVE the lengthening look of one color w/ a texture difference (the black vest w/ the LBD). Enjoying the videos, too.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks Sue. We always try to illustrate our style concepts with specific examples, but the down side is that artwork sometimes causes readers to focus on the specific and lose the big picture. GREAT that you have the savvy to adapt the concept to your own tastes.
      BTW – the vest is only furry in two narrow front panels – almost like a draped scarf – and is smooth knit on the sides and back. I wouldn’t want any of our readers to look like a grizzly bear!

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