Putting It All Together

February 11, 2007 • Magazine

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

Sun, 2007-02-11 11:00

Andra explains the art (and science) of the everyday ensemble

Andra Naylor

I recently started a new job and, in preparation, assessed my business casual wardrobe. At first I was excited because it was like I had all new clothes — new to the co-workers who had only met me at interviews. At the same time, it was stressful to pick out just the right pieces that communicate professional yet stylish, serious but fun.

While I appreciate the beauty of simplicity – throwing on a dress or pulling on a pair of jeans with the sweater from the top of the pile, I realized the equation for getting dressed is really quite simple.

Now I was never very good at math, but I derived a fashion formula that I think all students should learn.

1 basic piece + 1 piece of interest + 1 cover up = successful dressing

The basic piece is the bread. It says you’re serious and mature and often serves as the foundation on which to build the rest of your outfit.

You can also start with the piece of interest. This is your new top with the retro print or the one with the cool neckline or maybe the piece that just spoke to you when you walked by it in the store. The French would say this is your flirty piece (only one permitted per outfit). You could put on a sparkly top or a pair of quirky shoes, just make sure you put it on.

Finally, you have your cover up piece. This is the item that normally goes on last (but should not be an afterthought) to complete the outfit. Perhaps it’s a jacket that completes your ensemble, a sweater to keep you warm in a too-cool office (try a cardigan – they’re hot right now) or a scarf you tie casually around your neck.

If you need help, reference new looks from New York Fashion Week’s Fall 2007 collections, like those pictured here. Most importantly, just remember life’s most important equation: the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts.

Photos: Getty Images

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