I’ve decided to create a series of blog posts on alternative elegance, because there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of relevant resources out there. Most bloggers I follow tend to focus either on alternative fashion without much regard for glamour, or on conservative classiness.
I refuse to sacrifice my alternative and quirky style just to fit in with the crowd when attending posh events and formal meetings. How do I do it? Well, I do have to compromise a little bit, but I do so without completely concealing who I really am.
The below tips will help you make the right style choices when the occasion demands some conventional elegance. There’s no reason why you should stay away from glamourous and formal events just because you feel that the dress code wouldn’t allow you to be yourself!
1. Don’t show too much skin
As a general rule, you should cover your legs if your dress has a low cleavage or your arms are bare. Likewise, long sleeves will make you look classier when you’re wearing a short skirt. However, showing too much of your thighs in any case will cheapen your look, so think twice about wearing a mini dress!
2. Choose natural-looking materials
The materials you wear greatly affect how elegant you look. Generally, natural materials come across as the most sophisticated. This is very good news for all of us leather-loving goths out there!
You probably shouldn’t wear an all-leather outfit to a formal event, but you can’t go wrong combining a nice leather pencil skirt with almost any other material. Also, a well-looked-after leather jacket can add an alternative touch to any outfit.
Other examples of exquisite natural materials are silk, cotton, wool and cashmere. However, similarly to leather, these can be quite expensive – although they do last longer, too. Synthetics like viscose and rayon are cheaper options that can still look chic. But stay away from rough polyester and PVC!
3. Pick your colours carefully
As with materials, the more natural the colour, the classier it will look on you. Again, goths will be happy to note that black is one of the most elegant natural colours! Others include grey, white, ivory, beige and brown. Pastels are also a good choice, although they’re uncommon in alternative fashion. Bright, neon and overly artificial colours are to be avoided. An important exception is red, which is a classic colour that can look very elegant when combined with more natural tones.
4. Keep it simple
Overthinking is never your friend! Minimalism is classy; simplicity is attractive; less is more – I’m sure you get the message! There’s hardly an outfit more elegant than a classic dress of a single natural colour, such as a little black dress.
5. No t-shirts
You must avoid trying so hard to look normal that you end up dressing too casual for a formal event. T-shirts are never classy, let alone glamourous!
6. Wear a jacket
No explanation needed. Wearing a chic jacket such as a blazer is a quick and easy way to instantly elevate your overall appearance.
7. Find the right fit
If you’re into latex outfits or waist-training corsets, it may feel natural to you to squeeze yourself into very tight clothes. But keep in mind that you’re unlikely to rock an outfit if you’re uncomfortable in it, especially when you need to wear it throughout the evening. Constantly pulling and adjusting a short, tight skirt makes you look insecure. If the clothes you’re wearing are not the right fit, you’re bound to feel way too self-conscious in them.
Whenever you find yourself between two sizes, go for the larger one! I know, we all feel buying the smaller size… But being able to sit and walk comfortably will make you feel even better, I promise.
Comfort is very important for it’s own sake, but wearing clothes that are too tight will also cheapen your look. As a woman, elegance is about feeling and acting like a lady – and a lady must always leave something for the imagination. Wearing an overly figure-hugging dress is equivalent to putting too much skin on display.
8. Choose dainty jewellery
The simplicity rule applies for all elements of your outfit. Your jewellery should merely complement your overall look, rather than dominate it.
9.Don’t wear too much makeup
And once again: remember, less is more! Do wear some foundation, powder and lipstick, and a bit of blush, eyeshadow and mascara, but go easy with the eyeliner! Smokey eyes may work, as long as you don’t overdo it. Red lipstick can look classy, as long as it doesn’t clash with the colours of your outfit. The same goes for nail polish: ensure it matches your clothes and accessories! And if you feel naked without fake eyelashes, go for subtle ones.
If you can’t resist flaunting your make-up skills, set yourself the challenge of making yourself look as natural as possible. Just make sure you don’t follow Dolly Parton’s example, who once admitted: “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”
10. Pick a timeless fragrance
Elegance is a multi-sensory experience! A spritz of a nice perfume will seal a chic look. My personal favourite is the classic Chanel No. 5, which also happened to be Marilyn Monroe’s signature scent.