The Movie of Your Wardrobe

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No, this is not a movie plot, but a good way of working out what you should wear. With every good movie there is always a hero (this is the non-sexist, all inclusive version of hero, that includes heroines), there is always a Villain, and to make the story cohesive and understandable, some Supporting Acts. So what has this got to do with your wardrobe? Let’s look at each category in turn.

Heroes (or Heroines)

A hero is a garment or accessory that has enough interest or detail to draw attention to it and make the whole outfit look more exciting. It might be an unusually constructed skirt or jacket, it could be a white shirt that has a ruffle down the front, it might even be a gorgeous pair of strappy sandals, or a big statement necklace.

It makes the outfit less ‘plain and boring’ and creates a focal point for us to look at. It might also be a talking point, or become a signature of your appearance, for instance, I always wear larger scale necklaces, and now I’m known for it. Without these necklaces, my outfit might be deemed boring, but with my hero necklace, it creates action and excitement.

Villains

Villains are those pieces in your wardrobe that don’t fit, don’t flatter, or are just plain worn out, stretched, baggy or pilled. The villains are dragging your overall appearance down. They’re not flattering and they won’t give you confidence or a boost in self-esteem. Nobody wants real villains living in their wardrobe, let alone following them round all day, so remove them from your life and cupboards so there is no temptation to wear them.

Supporting Acts

The actors make the meat of the movie possible, they are the clothes that hold together the outfit, your hero won’t shine if everything you wear is a hero – too many heroes spoiled the plot.

Keep your heroes to 1 per outfit ( or 2 if 1 is an accessory), otherwise we won’t know where to look, and you will probably appear too busy, with too much going on. They are the pieces like the little camis that stop that wrap top appearing too low so you don’t kill them with your cleavage, the bootcut jean in a dark denim that works with so many tops, and the plain scoop neck t-shirt that sets off your patterened skirt. You might not get excited about them but they make your wardrobe work, and without them you’d have difficulty getting dressed.

What I notice with most of my clients, who come to me because they feel that they’re stuck in a rut, are looking boring, daggy, and without style, is that they’re only wearing supporting acts and villains, they’ve forgotten about their hero jewellery, and haven’t bought anything other than a very practical shoe for some time. When we bring the hero back into their wardrobe, they can see the value in taking the 30 seconds in the morning to choose some jewellery to make their outfit pop.

So, what movie would we be filming with your wardrobe?

The leopard top on the left is such a statement piece, it has a detailed neckline as well as a dramatic pattern, it only needs a simple pair of jeans and a plain brown belt and brown shoes to finish off the look.

The pink coat in the middle has a large ruffle collar which makes it a hero, the necklace picks up the colour, but isn’t a big statement piece. The shoes have a touch of leopard which make them ‘secondary heroes’.

The purple and red outfit on the right is more like an ensemble piece, every bit important, a couple more important than others, but no huge bankable stars that overwhelm the rest. The tank and cardigan are the supporting acts.

The leopard top on the left is such a statement piece, it has a detailed neckline as well as a dramatic pattern, it only needs a simple pair of jeans and a plain brown belt and brown shoes to finish off the look.

The pink coat in the middle has a large ruffle collar which makes it a hero, the necklace picks up the colour, but isn’t a big statement piece. The shoes have a touch of leopard which make them ‘secondary heroes’.

The purple and red outfit on the right is more like an ensemble piece, every bit important, a couple more important than others, but no huge bankable stars that overwhelm the rest. The tank and cardigan are the supporting acts.

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35 Comments

  • This is brilliant. I love how you are always coming up with fabulous practical suggestions and solutions. I'm bookmarking this page for future reference!

  • So true. It does give satisfaction to get rid of the villains. With jewelry, my heroes are either a necklace ( big pearls ) and a white gold wrist watch, or big diamond studs+ rings on one finger. I do like bags, so I guess that a great bag would be one hero more. Oh and yes, a nice coat is needed too. When the `heros´are there, it is easier to choose the supporters. Naturally I can choose to do everything the other way around as well. It would be the practical way; knowing what´s on `menu´for the coming day. I have learned so much from this blog of your´s, Imogen. Less is more. Not long ago I thought that I needed a belt all the time. Being somewhat short on the waistline, I now see that a narrower belt or no belt at all, really looks better on me.Thanks!

  • What a wonderful way to conceptualize dressing! And I see the same thing: Folks who feel awful about their style typically employ villains and supporting acts only.

  • This is a fascinating post, Imogen! Love it. I don't have any villains left in my closet but I believe I lack heroes of the skirt/dress/pants variety. My heroes tend to be my long gloves and armwarmers, with my clothes being accessories. I'm not sure if this works.
    Many years ago, Glamour magazine had an excellent piece that I wanted to somehow reprise for my blog. I am thinking that perhaps you could write something on it. They had given points to various accessories (like 3 points for a heavy necklace for example)and a person was not to wear more than 12 points or she would look overdone. I remember adding up my points daily but then forgot all about it when Dawn was born. A wedding ring counted as one point, as did a fine chain around the neck.

  • Yes, great illustration of the concept!

    While I have a friend who will probably never give up her more-is-more style (she's 69 and going strong with it!), I am more of an ensemble person myself. While I gravitate to that outfit on the far right, I agree that it feels great to throw on a "star!"

  • Mater – I love analogies – I'm the analogy queen!

    Tessa – thanks so much!

    Metscan – who needs villains in their life anyway? Thanks so much for your comment.

    S – good work.

    Duchesse – I was using Hero in a kind of no sex way! What do you mean about heros losing their powers?

    Sher – thanks!

    Sal – isn't it so true! People wonder why they find their clothes boring – no HEROES!

    Rosina – I've vaguely heard of that concept – I'll see what I can dig up on it.

    Kristen – thanks so much.

    Vix – if you've got the personality to pull it off – do so! I love a rule breaker who does it well.

    Coolcatana – I think every outfit needs some sort of interest or detail to lift it from boring or dull. For some people it will be more of a statement, others will be quieter statements, even just a few smaller accessories can create some extra oomph for an outfit.

  • I have just read the book "Nothing to Wear" and they call these accent pieces "frosting" and the supporting players "cake." They run into many clients who have all cake and the occasional client who is very whimsical and has all frosting, and doesn't know how to put her pieces together (because nothing is a basic.)

    I gravitate toward basics so could probably use more heroes, but I do have a spiffy collection of unsual shoes. I guess they are my heroes, and if you looked at my closet you'd see why. They are housed up high in cubbies, practically spotlighted, and are the most colorful things in there.

    I am covetous of the red coat in your polyvore!

  • Imogen, a question for you – if you have a Hero coat (my beloved red leather one, for instance) that you know you will take off for at least part of the day, I'm assuming you need another (minor) hero so that the outfit doesn't die the minute you take the coat off? Scarf, jewellery, shoes?

  • rb – your shoes are your heroes by the sounds of it!

    Karen – those citron pants are heroes!

    Tiffany – yes – wear a hero shoe or some hero jewellery so when you take off your coat you're not all basics.

  • What an enlightening post. What a clever way to put it.
    I enjoyed every word in it 🙂
    Will have to chase those villains out!

  • Love these analogies – this is very easy to remember when shopping and also each morning.
    I'm sure it could also be applied to items in a room's design, too.

  • Lorena – thanks so much for visiting and posting!

    Struggler – I'm sure there are some nasty old couches and other furniture that are the villains in many a lounge room!

  • Reading this was so enlightening! Totally explained why many of my outfits, even when coordinated, lack appeal, and why others are too much. This actually compelled me to rearrange my closet – I put the heroes on one end of the bar and all the supporting cast on the other. Makes it easier to remember to choose one (and only one) hero and be more conscious of where the focus will be in an outfit.

    There’s another dimension to consider for this: one’s level of animation and texture. Items that would be standout heroes on low-key people are just background for others who are really animated and have lots of texture in their hair, etc. The latter can carry off piling on heaps of textures and accessories and color contrast all at once (see Iris Apfel as a fabulous example) – any one of which would be plenty on someone more subdued. I’m realizing that for me a hero is an item with either high texture or pattern or brighter color or interesting cut – if it’s got two or more of those at once it’s overwhelming. And that these can be dialed up or down to the occasion – the red ruffley coat in your Polyvore above is great for some social / theatrical outing; would be too much impact for work or a Sunday brunch. On me. But some of my higher-animation friends could practically wear it to the gym and look normal.

    Love your posts…. keep ’em coming…….

  • I love movies so this post caught my attention.
    Heroes: None
    Supporting: Everything I own!
    Villains My trainers which I wear constantly due to knee problems AND my glasses which I hate wearing.

    At least now I KNOW why I have no style. Remedy, have bought some gem stone necklace for my signature look and will turn my glasses from Villian to Hero by matching them to my outfits rather like the girl in criminal Minds who seems to have a pair for every top she wears!! ta da…..

    The trainers will have to stay – but the laces are about to undergo a makeoever…

  • This is so useful. I can’t believe how much easier to understand you make this information. You can see it when you apply it. The rules of aesthetics. Not just for supermodels, fashion designers and hairdressers. Thank you for putting this information in the public domain, you’re helping a lot of people.

  • Thanks, Imogen, Yes, most of my clothes are supporting actors. I tend to wear large earrings but I wouldn’t say statement earrings, but I think my earrings and and( if I wore) a hero necklace, they’d conflict. I have very few hero pieces.

    I think when I got my two dogs and kitty, I started buying a lot of Eileen fisher pieces because of their easy washability, but they’re very very basic.

    So so interesting!!

  • Great post! I wore navy and white gingham pants today with a navy sweater with a fringe detail. Only wore earrings as I though a necklace would detract. Am I correct that the pants are my hero for this outfit? Pleased with myself as I rarely wear patterned bottoms but I felt good in this outfit and it was one of the challenges in Evolve Your Style :))

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