What To Wear - Really


This past spring, our sumemr intern, Emily, did a semester in London, and while there, met a group of wonderful, fun, friends - one of them being Bess.  Today, she's agreed to guest host a little  post-Fashion-week advice.

Hello, Domestica lovers!

I’m beyond excited that Domestica asked me to write a fashion guest-blog for their site. I’ve heard many fabulous things about the store, and the only thing that keeps me from exploring it on my own is the 800 miles separating me from lovely Des Moines. That being said, as soon as I’m able to take a vacation from  my home in Pittsburgh, PA, once I cross the Iowa state border, you’d better believe that the first place I’m headed is 321 East Walnut Street.

For those who know me, it’s no secret I have quite a bit to say about fashion. It’s my greatest love, and it’s what I’m most passionate about. Fashion knows no boundaries - no matter your age or your size - so this blog post is filled with ideas for everyone. We’ve all seen some version of “A Woman’s Top 10 Fashion Must-Haves,” or “10 Things Every Girl Must Have In Her Closet” While I certainly don’t denounce the message, I'll admit that even I sometimes find them overwhelming - especially if I don’t own anything that's actually on the list.  Does that mean I have to somehow acquire ten new expensive pieces because Hollywood's greatest stylists told me to? ...Uh, no.

Does that mean I have to somehow acquire ten new expensive pieces because Hollywood’s greatest stylists told me to? …. Uh, no.

As an alternative, I’ve compiled a condensed version of what every woman should have. Instead of the standard ten items, I’ve reduced it to four. Much more doable, no? And chances are, you already own at least one of the four. So take a chance, trust me, and enjoy.

Four For Every Woman

1. The Go-To Shoe

The go-to shoe is a classic staple that every girl must own---no exceptions! This is the shoe that goes with nearly every single outfit in your wardrobe. Ideally, it should be a neutral color---usually black or nude---but choose the style that’s best for you. Are you a peep-toe sling back or a platform pump kind of girl? The possibilities are endless. Wear them to work, wear them during your Friday night out, wear them while vacuuming if you want a great butt workout. Use your imagination!

Steve Madden Darrina Pump

Style tips: Patent leather is a timeless style that usually makes a pair of heels look more chic and more expensive. If you’re uncomfortable in sky-high stilettos, try a kitten heel or a pair of Mary Janes (a timeless classic that I'll forever be obsessed with!).  If you take the time to look, you’ll find any style and any heel height at any price point. Steve Madden, Stuart Weitzman, and Jessica Simpson have their own versions of the go-to shoe at relatively affordable prices.

J. Crew Double-cloth Day Coat

2. The Statement Jacket

Listen up, ladies! Jackets are the best way to make a statement and set the tone for your entire ensemble, no matter your style. When winter inevitably creeps up on us, don’t fall into the trap of wearing the same black pea coat that every other girl has. Instead, take the opportunity to stand out and knock ‘em dead. The statement jacket is intended to be worn for those select days when you want heads constantly spinning in your direction (a lá Linda Blair in The Exorcist). It is an investment piece that you will treat with tender loving care, and as a result, you’ll have it for many years to come.

Perhaps it’s a classic trench with a delicate, girly twist. Military and utilitarian styles are making yet another comeback this season, and I love this unexpected, ladylike take on the masculine-inspired trend. Perhaps you’d prefer a Chanel-inspired tweed jacket, so why not try it in a gorgeous reddish-orange hue that will be fabulous for fall? (Trust me on this one---I’ve seen it in person, and it is to die for. Don’t pass it up!) Often, women tend to shy away from a bold outerwear piece, but don’t be afraid to invest in the statement jacket. Choose the style that reflects who you are, and you’ll be shutting it down time and time again.

Lil Bitty Iolite "Fleur de Lis" ring - at Domestica

3. Your Out-Of-The-Box Piece

We all have our own personal style: We know what we like and what we don’t like, and our style is ultimately a reflection of our personality and individuality. It’s incredibly important to know yourself and to know what works for you. Nevertheless, it is equally essentially to step outside your imaginary fashion box and take an occasional risk. Acknowledge pieces that make you feel slightly uncertain and uncomfortable. Let me tell you, if I had a dollar for every time a girl tried to convince me that she “doesn’t look good in hats,” I could finally afford that quilted Chanel tote I’ve been dreaming about since I was sixteen. For reasons unknown, an unfortunate majority of girls are convinced that they are simply unable to pull off certain looks, and they often make ridiculous excuses to convince others that they’re right. Nearly all girls who make proclamations about what they can’t pull off simply make excuses because they are afraid to take the risk of trying something different.

One of my earliest memories of taking a fashion risk was when I was nine years old.

It was school picture day, and my mom, who always did a fabulous job of dressing put together a killer outfit for me to wear. I arrived for picture day wearing a black turtleneck, beige corduroy overalls, Timberland boots (oh yeah, you heard me), and a chic black beret to complete the look. Apparently, my hat was the talk of the 4th-grade town because I vividly remember the comments:

“Bess, why are you wearing that hat for your school picture?”

"Are you trying to look French or something?”

They laughed and ridiculed me for my accessory choices, and it felt terrible. Even at a young age, though, a part of me knew that they were wrong, and my black beret was très adorable. Twelve years later, I look back on every single one of my school pictures, and my 4th grade photo remains my undisputed favorite. The moral of this story is to have the confidence to do something unusual, despite what others may think. Find an unusual piece of jewelry to wear that you think is special, even if it’s completely different than the look that you usually go for. Throw on a cute hat even if you think you’re convinced that your head is too big. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s only fashion. Go for it, and always keep your head up!

When Emily and I were shopping together at a market in London, I came across this vintage snake bracelet.
Almost instantly, I knew that I had to have it.  Even though it was a much edgier piece than the conservative jewelry I usually wear,  it only cost about $15 and it’s one of the coolest and most unique pieces I own. I die!

4. Your Signature Piece

I strongly believe that we all want to be remembered for something, and whether we admit it or not, we want to leave our mark on the world. That leads me to ask the following: What is the essence of you?  What, in the most basic terms, do you represent as an individual? You may have an answer, you may not. Regardless, if you had to pick one piece to act as a representation for all that you are, what would it be? This is your signature piece. It is irreplaceable, it is close to your heart, and it is one-of-a-kind.

I strongly believe that we all want to be remembered for something, and whether we admit it or not, we want to leave our mark on the world.

Sex and the City fans, I know you’re out there, and I have but one thing to say: the Carrie nameplate necklace. Carrie Bradshaw’s closet is the holy land for all fashion mavens, but beyond the endless boxes of Manolos and the racks of Dior dresses lays her most prized possession: an inexpensive gold nameplate necklace that she bought while shopping with her three best friends. “It costs, like, nothing, but it’s priceless,” she declares. It is special in a way that only she can understand. Find your signature piece and wear the hell out of it. (And if you happen to misplace it, make sure you check inside the silk lining of your clutch before you go running to Dior’s lost-and-found.)

Those pearl earrings above are the essence of me. They might appear to be ordinary, but they hold a special place in my heart. They once belonged to my grandmother, who like me, didn’t have her ears pierced. I love the fact that they’re clip-ons, and I love them even more because they belonged to her.

...the best fashion advice I can give is to remain true
to yourself, not to the trends.

So there you have it. And while I stand by my Top 4, the best fashion advice I can give is to remain true to yourself, not to the trends. Find your fashion niche, wear what you love, and always keep your head held high. Confidence is the best accessory you’ll ever have.

Thank you so much to Domestica! I absolutely can’t wait to visit the store because I can only imagine how many special, one-of-a-kind pieces you have to offer. Hope to see you soon!

Much love,