‘Chop Your Jeans With A Bread Knife…’
I love a list of tips and this one, from October 31 Grazia by style advice writer and beauty expert Sali Hughes, is clever and a bit outside of my box. According to the article, Ms. Hughes has perfected how to dress with zero stress. It’s a fun read.
I ’VE BEEN OBSESSED with clothes my whole life. Fashion is the way I communicate myself to the world, the way I honour my moods and rise to any occasion. But there are some things about my wardrobe and style that never change with it. Trends have come and thankfully gone (low-rise bootcut jeans and smock tops, anyone?), income and expenditure has ebbed and flowed, babies have been grown, parties have been thrown. But every outfit has taught me a lesson or a trick that even now helps me to dress without stress on the daily. Here are a few of them.
ODD NUMBERS ARE BEST
Unless it naturally comes in pairs (earrings, for example), jewellery tends to look more stylish in odd numbers than in even. One or three bangles looks better than two, a ring or three per hand is somehow cooler than two or four. One ear piercing is minimal and chic, three is a whole vibe.
REACH FOR THE BREAD KNIFE
The best way to create perfectly distressed cut-offs is not with scissors, but with a serrated bread knife. Lie the jeans flat, waistband folded in half so the legs perfectly line up, then start sawing with your knife until the fabric pulls effortlessly apart, leaving frayed seams. If you’d like a few further holes or rips, take some tiny nail scissors and, using the points of their blades, nick the denim to make small holes, then make bigger or roughen up the edges with a coarse nail file.
GET AUTUMN WRAPPED
Coats are an investment that should last years, so I avoid getting bored of them by treating myself to one gorgeous new scarf every year. A luxury knitted scarf costs less than a high street coat and makes your entire outerwear vibe look fresh and new.
A high street designer dupe is a wonderful and satisfying thing, but an only slightly cheaper substitute for your dream item is the worst of all worlds. Trust me, you will never, ever love the thing-that’s-similar-to-the-thing-you-really-want as much, even if you can afford it two months earlier. You’ll go right back to craving the real thing, maybe hundreds of pounds poorer. Bide your time, be patient, don’t get derailed.
IGNORE COLOUR RULES
Anyone who says navy and black shouldn’t be worn together is entirely wrong. There is nothing more chic, more expensive-looking, more self-confident than combining navy with black in one outfit. Throwing a navy trench over a black cashmere sweater and twill trousers, for example, adds dimension and gets around the problem of two black fabrics rarely being a perfect match.
…EXCEPT FOR THIS ONE
The Three Colour Rule is as old as time, and used in all design disciplines, including fashion. It works on the principle that three colours makes for a coherent and more stylish look and, since I would always include any bold lipstick or nail polish as a third colour, I generally won’t add a fourth to my clothes unless it’s simple black or white. For example: blue jeans + camel jumper + red nails + black chunky loafers.
If you find a top or pair of trousers you really love, you’ll like them in another colour, maybe wear them often. But I guarantee a third will prove a waste of money because you will never, ever like or wear it as much, and may soon tire of the style altogether. Multiples only work with basics, such as plain vests and T-shirts.
ALL-NATURAL IS OVERRATED
Knitwear with just a teensy bit of spandex, nylon or any other manmade fibre mixed in with the natural yarn will deter moths better than anything designed for the job. And these days needn’t negatively impact the texture of the fabric.
The (quite literally) uncomfortable truth is this: the right-sized jeans feel half a size too small when new. Not painful – they should do up with relative ease and you shouldn’t have to hold your breath. But they will feela tiny bit more snug than you’ll want them – and than they soon will be. Stretch denim will usually ‘give’ about half a size within a wearing; rigid denim may take up to three wearings to relax and become perfect. And don’t give a thought to the number on the label – it’s there to help you, not haunt you.
80MM IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
If you love heels but struggle to walk in them for long, consider an 80mm. This is the only heel height with the power to attract both stiletto lovers and haters. They are more leg flattering than 100mm (genuinely) and, in any case, everyone looks way sexier when they can strut and stride, rather than take wobbly baby steps.
STRAPS: OWN IT
Fact: bras with ‘invisible’ clear straps are, in fact, always visible, become grubby and look nowhere near as nice as a lacy bra that makes no attempt to hide itself. Keep a really great style on hand for when straps are on show.
HIGH NECKS ARE FOR EVERYBODY
I can’t stand the body-shape police telling women with big boobs that they can’t wear high-necked jumpers. Nonsense. Just choose a style with a close fitting neck (like a skinny polo) and wear your hair up loosely. The contrast of the hair exposing the narrow neck is extremely flattering.
PREP YOUR SOCK DRAWER
Struggle to find the right coloured socks or opaques when bleary eyed at 6am? Dark brown, black and navy hosiery is almost impossible to identify in dim lighting when you’re late for a bus and need to get out. So when the light is better and you have more time, fold the black, ball the navy and knot the brown. Then you’ll know exactly where you are as soon as you open the drawer.
AVOID WOODEN HANGERS
Wooden hangers halve your wardrobe space as soon as you load them on to the rail. This not only decreases your storage, but makes it harder to slide your items for a clear look at what you have. Get skinny velour-covered hangers instead.
SKIP THE IRONING
Life is too short to get out the board for a creased collar. Smooth out the crinkle in seconds with your hair straighteners.
HOW TO FAKE TAN YOUR BACK
Grab a long-handled body brush from the bathroom, or wooden spoon from the kitchen. Pop a tanning mitt on its head and secure with a rubber band. Use it to reach around and bronze your back.
LINE LIPS UPWARDS
If you’re trying to make your upper lip look fuller with a lipliner pencil, never use downward strokes. Instead, start your pencil in the inner corners of the lips and trace the pencil upwards, towards the Cupid’s bow. Your action will more naturally follow the line along the outside, subtly enlarging the overall shape.
Sali Hughes’ new book, ‘Everything Is Washable And Other Life Lessons’ (£26, 4th Estate) is out now
Ate this up! So good! Thank you for sharing it!
Such sensible reminders – especially the Odd Number and Three Color rules and the “slightly tight denim.” Thanks for sharing!
Love this! Thank you for sharing.
What a wonderful list ! The rule of 3 in jewelry is just the beginning – odd numbers work ALWAYS . Thank you !
Hello Preston, Sali always has down to earth amazing advice. Know what’s more amazing? Her story.
Amazing! So great, and with lovely good humor too. I believe with gardens planting in odd numbers is also a thing. My daughter read a friend’s text to me on the way to school this morning “There’s a rainbow if anyone needs it!” in the context of a school science project they’re doing. It might be my new motto. This great post, and your blog, are a rainbow to my everyday. Thank you! 🙂
I just ordered her book! Thanks for these tips, so useful.
I’ve been following Sali for years, she has a great YouTube interview series called “In the Bathroom” I’ll be using her book when it is published in Canada so thanks for the early snippet.
I never heard of the three color rule per se, but I agree that less is usually more. I also think counting bright lip and nail color as one of the colors makes sense, as they are part of the statement. Learn something every day!
Great tips, Preston! Thank you for sharing these today.
The serrated bread knife reminds me of my junior high trick for frayed jeans: one of my mom’s steak knives. Of course, I got grounded once she found me tearing the bottoms off a pair of 501s with one of her knives, but once I could leave the house, I was the belle of 9th grade.
My first experiment with pinking shears was a dismal failure.