As I poked through NYFW street style photos in search of “easy” DIY styling ideas, I found myself struggling to parse inspiration from admiration. Was I pulling an outfit because I thought it genuinely reproducible — an idea you or I might be able to iterate on — or did I love it for a more ephemeral reason: a specific garment, perhaps, paired with a certain attitude, framed in a particular setting? Both hold their own kind of value, but only the former is immediately useful. What’s the point in my suggesting you wear a bralette under a blazer, for instance, if really only works on her, you know?
In essence, I needed to know whether I was full of shit, so I decided to check my work. Over the course of a Sunday afternoon, I tested the 13 styling ideas I pulled, on my own person with my own closet, and concluded whether or not I was.
Idea #1: “Wear a blazer over a bralette.”
This girl looks so cool and not like she’s at Coachella, which is impressive considering she’s wearing a bralette sans-top. Mathematically speaking, she’s showing less skin than a turkey on Thanksgiving, but when I tried the look myself, I felt surprisingly exposed. If I wore this for real, my nipples would freeze off on the subway and I’d spend all day tugging my blazer closed.
Reproducibility: Low to medium, more so great in theory
Idea #2: “Make your menswear matchy.”
Pants and a coat rendered in varying shades of the same hue paired with an all-the-way-buttoned shirt and sneakers, as presented on the woman above, struck me as a perfect fall equation. On me, it worked pretty well, but suit pants would’ve looked better, plus I think I just need her coat?
Reproducibility: Medium, because without the right stuff it won’t pack punch
Idea #3: “Belt your blazer with a fanny-pack.”
You couldn’t swing a cat in New York this fashion week without hitting a fanny pack. I found this instance on the left to be a particular treat, because look at her socks. Considering her ingredients are top-to-bottom designer, I worried my own stuff wouldn’t do the trick, but I was wrong! I loved it.
Reproducibility: Surprisingly high, copy-cat-magic
Idea #4: “Wear a button-down as an undershirt.”
Wearing a T-shirt over a button-down sounds cool in my head and looks really great on Bryanboy, but layering things that aren’t designed to be layered can sometimes result in IRL disaster. I’m pleased to report that was not the case here, but you have to have a thick T that has some structure to it for this to work. Güd luck.
Reproducibility: Higher-than-you-might-think (a.k.a. medium)
Idea #5: “Make a lemon and mustard sandwich.”
DUH. Love Gen-Z yellow, love mustard and have already worn this particular combo. This is a no-brainer-please-do-try-at-home-immediately.
Reproducibility: High as a sunny kite, baby
Idea #6: “Go white-on-white post-Labor Day.”
White-on-white, which was all over NYFW, was another duh. I used to be picky about whether the shades matched, but now I’m pro-clash. On Reese, her creamy white shirt against her stark white pants almost pleases me more than her pom pom shoes. This one was easy as pie, although I wish my sleeves contained 4x their volume.
Reproducibility: High, high, high, do right now
Idea #7: “Wear oversize denim over oversize denim.”
I know the Canadian tux is older news than Jennifer Aniston’s engagement to what’s-his-name, but I liked how she sized it up here. (Canadian jammies?) Although my recreation is suspect, I felt so personally fulfilled and comfy in this outfit I almost smiled with my teeth.
Reproducibility: 100 if you have baggy denim stuff
Idea #8: “Don a big beige suit.”
Big suits were all over runways in February, but I hadn’t thought to pair my beige blazer with my beige pants until I saw this vision of a woman on the left, then I felt dumb for not. I loved this look, although I recognize not everyone will have the goods on hand. Also, I’m not sure where I’d wear this?
Reproducibility: Probably low 🙁
Idea #9: “Wear a dress over a dress, over jeans.”
Dang, Christene Barberich looks so great here. I knew this would be tough to approximate because her red coat is a literal dream, but something about the layering combo called me, and seemed somewhat copyable. It was harder than expected though, as I’m sorely lacking in button-up dresses. This turned out fun, though, if pretty different from hers.
Reproducibility: Low-to-medium — but worth a try
Idea #10: “Layer big shirts and soft sweaters.”
This is the kind of outfit I always see, always want to copy, always assume looks better on a dude than me. I want his trousers and everything, really. Anyway, I felt safe and cool in this, and think most people would. It’s a Yes with a capital Y.
Reproducibility: High, going on my fall circuit
Idea #11: “Give your miniskirt a peek-a-boo.”
This girl is cuter than a clementine and, as a fan of creative buttoning, I was immediately compelled by her approach here. I’m not a XL fan of miniskirts, and haven’t worn this one in a couple years, but this outfit was really easy to imitate! Her ‘tude, less so.
Reproducibility: Pretty high if you’re into minis
Idea #12: “Opt for super utility.”
I obviously had to try this utility lewk. I have a talent for making all outdoorsy clothing immediately read camp counselor, and I count this among my talents. This ‘fit was perhaps too easy for me to recreate, although I was dying for a cargo assist. I’ll admit this would be a bit much for an everyday office look, but I’ll be packing it next time I go upstate.
Reproducibility: High! Although not sure you’re interested?
Idea #13: “Ditch color and add volume.”
The pieces of this were so simple, all volume, that they struck me as fairly easy to imitate. Of course, you need to have big black pants (these look and feel like ski pants, pleasingly, though I wish they were even bigger), but the off-the-shoulder is easy enough to fake. I would 102% wear this.
Reproducibility: Medium-to-high, ingredients-willing
This was an affirming exercise in that it proved admiration does not always equal inspiration. Sometimes, a look belongs solely on one person, in one moment, with one backdrop, like art. It was an oddly refreshing exercise, though, to see an outfit I liked and then immediately try it on myself — so rarely does that leap happen this directly. For me and most people, getting dressed is a very personal experience, but copy-catting had me stumbling across combinations I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it was all worth a try.