Geeta grew up in Toronto and moved to Edmonton about a decade ago. She currently works in an academic environment, and is also a part-time student. Her hobbies include jewelry design, writing, biking, painting, traveling and cooking. [I got to experience her cooking first hand, and can attest that she has honed her skills very well.] By her own description, her style is “baggy” – which, as it turns out, is something of an understatement. But more on that later. Geeta loves clothes swaps and shopping at Goodwill, which makes her feel good about the environmental footprint of her wardrobe choices. She also likes to shop at Nokomis and Frog Kisser’s Den for unique pieces, and Eddie Bauer and The Bay for staples.
Geeta’s main goal for our session was to find ways to inject a bit of grown-up style into her work wear. As I quickly discovered, Geeta has a tendency to buy clothes that are one or two sizes too big for her petite frame. This, combined with her love of flats (she has one pair that she wears almost every day), contrive to make her appear like a younger and less professional version than the person her resume might suggest. Although she works in a fairly casual environment, Geeta is ready to bring a bit more polish to her everyday looks.
Our biggest challenge in accomplishing her goal was her minimalist wardrobe, which consists of only a couple of dozen pieces. Yes, you read that right. For example, Geeta has two cardigans (if you don’t count the one that she picked up after her grandmother discarded it – and I don’t), and no jackets. Nonetheless, I was determined to show her that she didn’t necessarily need a lot of extra pieces to add a bit of polish and pizazz to her outfits. In fact, all I used were 3 belts and 3 necklaces of my own, in addition to the pieces that Geeta already had. Ready to see the results?
This would be a fairly typical office outfit for Geeta. It’s pretty casual, and not particularly polished.
With the simple addition of a belt and a bright-coloured necklace, what a difference!
Here is another version of Geeta’s typical look. The polka-dot print of the cardigan is super cute, but the outfit as a whole doesn’t really feel “finished”. This might work for Geeta’s life as a graduate student, but not so much her professional life.
Here, again, all we added was a belt and a necklace; suddenly, the vibe is very different.
The same pieces also work with jeans; pearls help to balance out the casual jeans, keeping the look office-appropriate.
Geeta is really fond of long, hip-grazing tops, which can be a little bit overwhelming for petite figures. Still, she doesn’t need to take scissors to her favourite pieces – a belt can be an easy fix, helping to draw the eye upwards, emphasize the waist, and create the illusion of more height.
Of course, another solution is to tuck in a long top. A high-waisted skirt makes one’s legs look miles long – whether or not they really are. Just make sure that the waist line doesn’t get too close to the cleavage; you don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about where your boobs sit in relation to your waist.
This is also further proof that red is the perfect accent colour, especially for a simple black and grey palette. It adds just the right amount of understated sophistication.
If you weren’t already convinced about the transformative power of belts, here are a few quick takes that will hopefully make you a convert. Below, all we did was add a belt to each of Geeta’s three outfits. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
A braided belt is a perfect choice for a casual outfit (and works really well with hippie/boho styles).
A red patent leather belt is a key piece for a sophisticated wardrobe.
The braided belt – redux.
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