Chicago Manual of Style—1/11/11

Dos and Don’ts of the New Year

By Jessen O'Brien

New Year’s: It’s the holiday where we stay up until midnight and then remember that, oh yeah, we do that every night. It’s also the time when we make laudable resolutions we cannot keep, or laughable ones we can keep all too easily. If you’re still looking for some manageable vows to make, I’m providing a list of fashion dos and don’ts that will hold for this year, next year, and even the one after that. I make no promises for 2014, though.

Don’t: Buy into bargains. It’s not a bargain if you never wear it, even if it was only $5. Sometimes, it makes more sense not to make the “sensible” purchase. I divide an item’s price by the number of times I wear it to determine its true cost. My haircut? A bargain even if I spent more on it than my jeans. That practically unwearable V-neck sweater I bought for 30% off? Highway robbery. Don’t buy something just because it seems like a good deal. Instead, buy clothing that you truly love and will thus wear often. So have patience. Keep looking for the perfect item; it’ll be worth it in the end.

Do: Wear colors this winter! It’s cold, it’s dreary, and life has lost all sense of meaning, but that doesn’t mean your personal color scheme has to match. Yes, winter white is wonderful. And black is always classic and chic. However, if you find yourself wearing white, black, and all the grays in between every day, consider brightening up your wardrobe. But I don’t mean pastels—I’m talking about rich, bold hues. Baby blue might be soothing, but I find that during a Chicago winter students need a bolt of energy more than being constantly calmed into a coma. You’ll look fashionable, and the splash of color can be therapeutic. You can’t wear red, for instance, without feeling brighter and better. For inspiration, see the 2011 winter collections of Marc Jacobs, Versace, or Vivienne Westwood, where you’ll find lime green, orange, sapphire, yellow, and more.

Don’t: Wear leggings with any top that doesn’t cover your butt. Leggings are not pants, especially when it’s cold out, and I don’t care if they’re fleece-lined. Unless you’re exercising, sleeping, or living in the ‘80s, leggings as pants look tacky. Actually, it probably looked tacky in the ‘80s too, so learn from the past. However, you can take a positive note from the ‘80s and pair your leggings with an oversized sweater or a long cardigan. Or grab a tunic top, something just a little loose and a little too long for jeans. You can also wear them with a dress, skirt, or shorts if it’s too cold for tights. But, as an addendum, tights are not leggings. If you need to, keep them in separate bins in opposite corners of your room, lest in the wee hours of the morn (or, you know, noon on a Saturday) you confuse the two and freeze to death. This might sound obvious, but I have seen this happen too many times not to mention it.

Do: Be creative. Pair green with orange, fringe with feathers, shorts with winter, especially when you feel like everything in your closet is a million years old and looks hideous on you. Treat that old blue dress as a skirt, or even a top, and you might just resuscitate it. At best, you’ll pay tribute to McQueen. At worst, remember that fashion should never lose a sense of humor. Have fun with your clothing and take chances. You might get an odd look, but remember to dress for yourself, not others.