What Makes or Breaks an Outfit?

moma art of the in between priyanka chopra
Priyanka Chopra, looking sexy, strong and fearless wearing make-up in monochromatic tones echoing her trench coat dress with dramatic fanned out train.


moma art of the in between lily collins
Lily Collins, styled like a punk ballerina juxtaposing black/pink, hard/soft, edgy/romantic in her hair, makeup, nails and dress.


moma art of the in between thandie newton
Thandie Newton, channeling sultry femininity with her red one-sleeved drawstring dress, while wearing a whimsical floral head piece that draws the attention back up to her charcoal-ringed eyes. 


moma art of the in between wiz khalifa
Wiz Khalifa, tailored yet fresh in white and black.


moma art of the in between kate hudson
Kate Hudson, looking like a modern grecian goddess in this one bell-sleeved white column dress in demure makeup and platinum ode to a Japanese-stylized top-knot.


moma art of the in between rita ora
Rita Ora, all elegantly wrapped up in two giant red silken bows, wearing satiny red lips, red contoured cheekbones, dark thick lashes and slightly arched brows, and a modern take on 1920’s finger waves in a slick platinum cropped pixie.


moma art of the in between solange knowles
Solange Knowles, from the diffused waves of her hair, soft wash of pastel make-up and full dark brows, to her raft of a black-and-white puffy down coat dress, exaggerated long sleeves and micro purse, pulls it all off with a knowing gaze.


moma art of the in between emmy rossum
Emmy Rossum, in another black and white theme, with clean tailored lines from her slicked-back bun, leg-skimming trousers, unfussy make-up, minimal jewellery, short polished nails, with a magical flourish of a fanciful yet structured bow/sash that mimics a flowing ballroom skirt.


“Art of the In Between” exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, May 1, 2017. Getty images.


I scrolled through 106 images twice and picked out the pics of all the outfits that really spoke to me on multiple levels. What did the pics above have in common? While they all were styled in a way that pushed boundaries, their outfits never wore them and they never outshone their outfits.

I felt all of these particular people above were styled impeccably to showcase the design and concept from head-to-toe in a way that celebrated and paid homage to the design house and theme of this event, including make-up, hair and accessories, while still keeping true to themselves as individuals and elevating them at the same time.

Here are four elements to take into account when pulling together a successful outfit:


Where are you wearing the outfit–is it NYC or LA? (Weather/season, urban setting or beach, formal, casual, indoors or outdoors, is it an industry/insider event, or open to the public, etc.).

Because we all live jet-setting lives of the rich and famous, am I right?

You get the gist of what I’m saying here.

While it’s a nice distraction to look at glamourous pretty people dressed to the nines, what you can take away from this is that it’s important to understand (especially women, since more options/expectations means more pitfalls to fall into), whether your outfit is appropriate to the venue. 


Are you inherently modest and shy in the way you dress, are you an exhibitionist who loves to show it all off, or somewhere in between the two?

Do you like to play with silhouettes, lengths, textures, push the boundaries with colour, material, draping, tailoring, prints, transparency, extra flounces strategically placed, etc.?

How comfortable are you stretching outside of your comfort zone, and does it depend on where you’re presenting yourself?


Similar to the venue, in that it’s important to note what the occasion is. The actors/singers/artists above were all attending the same event in honour of a fashion design house. That’s why they all took some risks with what they wore–it’s an event that celebrates extravagant, artistic individual expression through the presentation of one’s clothes, hair, make-up, shoes, purses and other accoutrements.

It was appropriate for the actors/artists above to go larger than life at this type of event, where everyone is trying to be seen in a sea of famous people trying to be seen.

Even if you commit the faux pas of wearing the wrong thing and/or styling yourself inappropriately at the wrong event, chalk it up to a learning experience–that’s life, and no one remembers that stuff except you (and if they do remember that stuff–it actually makes for some good shared laughs).


How many people hate being judged on how they are dressed, do their hair, wear their accessories, or apply their make-up, etc., yet turn around and make similar judgments of others on the exact same visual information? This is not an argument to conform, this is an argument to keep your own hypocritical inner voice in check.

Think about it like this–is your inner self matching up with your outer self? You don’t have to always “match” because we can all have different moods or flights of fancy about how we present ourselves to the world, but when you look in the mirror, do you see you or do you see you emulating someone/something else–or even a beloved and bygone era from your life?

It may take experimenting with different looks to get to where you feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s also good to get outside of your comfort zone every time you’re feeling complacent. Sometimes you need a “radical” change to get back to your centre (“radical” for some might mean cutting off six inches of hair, or dying it platinum, or just parting it to the side), and in a way, give yourself permission to see yourself in a new light and start fresh.  

There’s a nice balancing act you can learn, where you don’t spend too much time on the exterior–at least not more than you spend on developing your interior, but enough that you feel like your outside is a fair expression of who you are on the inside.


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