Ask a Stylist: Tricky pants, spring styling, capsule wardrobes


We love to help you solve your fashion dilemmas – especially since we’re brimming with questions of our own. To answer your burning fashion questions, we turn to Casey, the stylist behind our weekly looks here on Spark. Read on for her expert answers to questions submitted by Spark readers on making cropped pants work in winter, transitioning over-the-knee boots to spring, and building the perfect minimalist wardrobe.

Q. “I keep trying to make cropped wide leg pants happen in winter... but I'm not quite nailing it. Any style secrets to make it work?” Submitted by @lenorehume

A. Fashion seems to be all about playing around with volume right now, and wide cropped pants are such a cool-girl way to do it. This is a tricky trend, but one worth the extra effort to get right. Just remember it’s all about proportions.
Because of the volume of the pants, you might think that you should shy away from volume on top when in fact, a chunky turtleneck sweater is one of the best ways to wear this trend during the winter. Just remember to tuck the front of the sweater into your pants to define your waistline. It’s helpful to choose a high-waisted pair that sits at your natural waist. This will create a bell shape that is not only very flattering, but will keep the look from feeling sloppy or overwhelming. Feel free to layer on a jacket, but keep the hem of the jacket in line with the waistline of the pants. For example, a cropped moto-jacket looks put-together yet unexpected.

When wearing cropped pants, your shoes will become a focal point of your outfit, so this is a great time to show off a fun pair. Now, I've found that some girls can rock a flat shoe with wide cropped pants, but if you are short like me, you may feel your outfit looks more balanced with a heel. Regardless of height, adding even a bit of elevation can elongate the line of your leg, making the pant less overwhelming, and your silhouette more sophisticated. Try a heeled boot next time to keep you stylish and warm.

Q. “I need tips for transitioning my over-the-knee boots from winter to spring.” Submitted by @jacintaf__

A. The over-the-knee boot trend pops up every few years and makes a huge splash. It’s a strong and sexy look when done right, but it can also run the risk of veering into the world of costume, à la Julia Roberts in Pretty Women. In order to avoid this, the biggest trick is to remember that the height of the boot makes a big statement, and will inevitably become the focus of the outfit. Most successful over-the-knee boot outfits do something to balance this out. During the winter we have chunky knits and long coats to do this work for us, but as the weather warms it can become a harder feat to accomplish.

Rising temperatures usually mean rising hemlines, and while it's perfectly kosher to pair your boots with a mini-skirt, keep your outfit balanced with a long-sleeved piece on top. You want to keep your look fashion-forward, not headed-to-the-club. In general, I’d caution about wearing anything too fitted when donning boots like these. You are basically always trying to downplay the boots, and pieces with more volume accomplish this and give off a more cool, laid-back vibe.

When you keep these simple tips in mind, you will find there is something very empowering about a well-styled pair of over-the-knee boots, so put them on and be inspired to kick butt all day long.

Q. “I have heard a lot about a "capsule" wardrobe lately, where do you recommend getting started?” Submitted by @emelizvee

A. First of all, congratulations on deciding to start a capsule wardrobe. As a minimalist dresser myself, I could not be more on board.

A capsule wardrobe is usually made up of thirty items or less, and consists of staple pieces in co-ordinating colours. There are so many benefits to streamlining your wardrobe – more space, less guesswork, and most importantly, it can help you to create an effortless look that is always chic and timeless, and never overdone. 

First, you need to concentrate on classic pieces. Well-fitting, well-tailored and well-made clothing is now your number one priority. Remember that because you will be buying fewer pieces, you are freed up to invest in your clothing. Spend on one quality item that will last instead of multiple items that won’t even see you through a season.

Another important building block to a cohesive wardrobe is to stick to a colour pallet. You want to be a able to mix-and-match effortlessly (that’s the dream anyway). While the most obvious is grey-scale (black, white, grey, and everything in between), a palette like ‘fall colours’ can also be an inspiration – think forest green, burnt orange, and browns, with a pop of red. It is also a good rule of thumb to stick to solids. I’d suggest keeping patterns to a minimum, but play freely with texture. This will keep your outfits interesting.

To finish, all you need are three pairs of shoes. A black leather ankle boot, a classic pump, and a simple flat. These are so versatile, they can compliment any outfit.

It can take some time to build the perfect capsule wardrobe, but be patient! The reward is totally worth it. And who knows – with a wardrobe so simple and stylish, you might be inspired to pair down other areas of your life.

Would you like to have Casey answer your fashion, beauty, or styling question? Leave a comment on this post, and you could see your question right here on Spark in a future ‘Ask a Stylist’ post.

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