Dictionary.com defines “bold” as not hesitating to break the rules. I am not a rule breaker, not in the slightest. I’ve always been most comfortable operating under the security of rules. If you’ve ever seen an episode of What Not to Wear you’ll know the concept of “following rules” is somewhat true. There are some rules that might be worth following, however, the most stylish people I know are the ones who take risks in what they wear: they dress boldly.
Iris Apfel is one of the best examples of dressing bold and nailing it. She wears rich colors, uses large, chunky jewelry to accessorize, and the fabrics she wears are extraordinary. The first time I watched her documentary on Netflix, “Iris”, I was in awe of her style. The way she dressed was far from cookie cutter. It was truly an expression of herself. After watching I wondered if the way I dressed reflected who I was? Do a cotton tee shirt and clearance jeans reflect who I am? I don’t think so. I was also slightly dismayed because my own closet looked nothing like hers, mine was various shades of black and grey. It lacked dimension because most of my pieces were cotton (or that atrocious sheer fabric that every cheap retailer uses to make blouses out of). In the wise words of Miss. Apfel, “Life is gray and dull; you might as well have a little fun when you dress.”
If you are standing at the foot of your own closet and what you see is somewhat reminiscent of a black hole, here is the most foundational aspect to dressing boldly: color. Growing up I remember asking the question, “What’s your favourite color?” quite frequently. Supposedly, in my elementary mind the response dictated whether or not the respondee and I could be friends–if the response was pink I knew we could be! I do think that the colors we are drawn too speak to elements of our personality. I had distinct ideas about what was a pretty color, and what was not. Pink was the holy grail, and every other color was either boring or ugly or a “boy” color. As I grew up some way or another I began to weed out color from my wardrobe. After all, isn’t black the pinnacle of style? (Hmm, I think Gucci would disagree!). Don’t misunderstand me, black has its place in a well rounded wardrobe, and, yes, it is iconic! However, there is enough dull and mundane in life. I know for me it gives me a boost of energy to look down and see color, and we could all use a little more energy couldn’t we?
Don’t set limits to color. Play with it! Color is SO powerful. You can make a statement with color in mass by doing a monochromatic look (a look I’m very fond of). You can make a statement by wearing a combination of rich colors. Mustard, ruby, and emerald are some of my favourite colors because they capture the eye. They’re not everywhere and lots of people shy away from them because they’re bold. Mustard in particular can be stereotyped as an “ugly” color, but it’s also makes a statement. The traditional “pop of color” is a simple way to incorporate color, but the trends are tipping towards bolder looks. Not that the pop of color is done, but the bolder the better, my friends. I’m trusting that we all know and respect the power of color so onto the second element of bold dressing: texture.
My entire life I have been hyper aware of textures and there are some I simply cannot tolerate. Texture, or rather, material, is so key to a garment. It is what makes up the garment after all! Texture plays a big role in dressing boldly. The materials your clothes are made of determines the dimension your outfit has. Textures, such as cotton, are so commonplace that they don’t make a statement. However, textures that have personality such as (faux) fur, speak volumes. Texture is also the best way to add an element of luxury to your look. Life is full of going to work, paying bills, commuting, making meals, and other drab tasks, so get the luxury where you can people! Silk, satin, velvet, embroidery, sequence…whatever the textures are that you love use them to enhance your style.
I am a self professed coat addict. One of the brilliant things about coats that I love is the canvas they are for textures. Coats can be big and structured and can handle heavier materials. If you want to start playing with more texture: hit up a thrift store’s coat section. It will be an inexpensive experiment, and you’ll find a lot less cookie cutter type materials. (Coats are a great way to make a statement. Toss a bold coat over a simple outfit and you’ve got yourself an outfit to be reckoned with!)
When thinking about writing on this next aspect of bold dressing, honestly, I was intimidated. Mixing patterns is not always an easy thing to accomplish. Part of the difficulty is that people who don’t understand style are probably going to hate it. However, don’t let their opinions stop you. My favorite part of mixing and matching patterns is that you can work off your intuition solely. In fact, in my opinion if you are struggling to get connected to your inner stylist voice, start mixing patterns and you’ll begin to learn what you like and what you don’t. Frankly, there are no rules. You need to play with it. Emphasis on the PLAY. If you look at your outfit and like what you see, then wear it!
Stepping outside of the box when it comes to style becomes increasingly easier with every risk you take. Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from style icons, like Iris Apfel, when first trying to dress bolder. Style should be about expressing yourself, and style should enhance your life experience. Dressing boldly is just a step towards living life bolder, and who doesn’t want that?