While waiting for the bus last week, I spotted this woman and had to snap a photo.  She is such a perfect example of the type of women who reaches out to us for help.  She’s not a fashion nightmare, her look is fine, she’s not getting laughed at for her crazy outfit, yet, she’s not exactly breaking any new ground either.  Clients who call us often fall into this same category.  We call them Acceptably Dressed Nobodies.  

This woman is an acceptably dressed nobody.  Her suit is fine, her shirt is fine, what she is wearing with this suit is all just fine, fine, fine…and then we all fall asleep.

Perhaps this woman doesn’t really care about making her outfit look a little more interesting.  However, if she did, if would be so darn easy to fix it that it’s sad to know that she isn’t taking advantage of how amazing this look could be.

Here is my assessment.

First, kudos to her for choosing a suit that appears to fit her relatively well.  In addition, I like the use of the soft pink as a complement to her grey suit vs. just wearing a white button down.  However, look at that open space near her neck.  I just want to put something there to fill in the gap and finish the look.

Next, the shoes…those shoes!!!!!  This woman already looks masculine enough, but those shoes are the worst.  There isn’t a feminine thing about them!  There they are on her feet, adding no value to the look, all  dumpy and generic looking.

The bag: I guess one could give her some credit for choosing a bag that matches well to the suit and top she is wearing, but it creates a problem with the look, it’s too matchy-matchy.  Add to the fact that the bag brings the look down being too casual, too big and too sloppy.  Perhaps if the rest of look had some polish to it, the bag would fade more into the background, but because everything else she is wearing is oh so humdrum, I just find it sticks out like a sore thumb.

On her other shoulder is a black handbag…an innocuous, snoresville handbag.  I don’t need to elaborate.

This is an uninspired look if I’ve ever seen one and, again, frustrating because it would be so easy to make it not look so boring and forgettable.  How do I know this?  Because just about every client who calls on us for help falls into the acceptably dressed nobody category.  Remember, fashion nightmares are too clueless to know they need help.

So, what would I do to fix it?  Well, if she were my client, I’d strip this down to the basics and start again.  I’d have her keep the suit and the shirt, for that matter.  They’re good solid basics or what I refer to as chicken pieces.  For you newcomers of my wisdom and funny sayings,  I call boring outfits ‘chicken outfits’ which is equivalent to throwing chicken into a pot of boiling water and just eating it…blech!  It’s edible, but it sure isn’t exciting.  Like spices, the best way to pump your basics (chicken pieces) up is through your accessories.

If she so adamantly wanted to keep this shirt suit combination, I’d do the following:

First, I’d rid her of all the black.  Between you and me, this woman was a blonde so I found the black to be too harsh on her.  Next, I would add something at her neck.  I chose the green because it complements the pink shirt and isn’t too matchy-matchy, like this one by Anthropologie.  Following that, I’d add tan accessories to her outfit, for a few reasons.  The first, is that I think for her softness of coloring, tan works better.  Secondly, I find tan to be a much more elegant and sophisticated color to be worn with grey (brown is my second choice.)  This woman looked like someone of success in her work and the black shoes just dumbed her down, I thought.  I’d choose a sensible but more attractive shoe like this (as it seems this woman craves practicality.) I’d lose that God-awful tapestry bag and give her something more structured and sophisticated to carry her things in and, if it could be helped, I’d strongly suggest she carry one bag, not two.  However, if a second bag was needed, I’d encourage that the second bag be in the same color family.

Now, if I had free reign to do what I please with this suit this is what I would do:

First, I’d ditch the pink shirt altogether.  While I think it was somewhat creative to choose an accent color vs. a white one, let’s be honest, that’s a bit of a no-brainer.  Add to the fact that this woman is very fair, I’d want to anchor and ground this whole look with a richer top like this one by Tahari.

Next, I’d want to push her into a sexier shoe, which can often be tough, especially with NYC clients.   However, if she’d be up for it, I’d suggest a shoe in a richer color like the one photographed.  It has a warm neutral with an undertone of red that works with the outfit while still warming it up a bit.  The jewelry I would suggest would be delicate and feminine.  First, while there is a lot of activity going on in the blouse, I’d still choose a longer, finer necklace and then suggest more of a statement earring like this pair by Marco Bicego.  What I like about them is that they are basic without being boring.

Lastly, in hopes of adding a little punch, I’d push her to try more of a statement bag like this one by Michael Kors.  I’d be prepared for some resistance, but really like the way this bag pops yet fits in at the same time.

So, you see, it isn’t hard to make your dull and lifeless pieces look more interesting.  You don’t need to go out and buy an entire new wardrobe, you just need to make better use of what you have!