By Chantal Brocca
We are now in need of putting an end to Basic Bitchery more than ever. For it is the basic bitches of this world who still trust our governments; who believe everything the media tells them, and who dress according to fashion norms. You can spot the basic bitch easily, despite – or because of – their ‘blending in’ camouflage. Their outfits, like their ideas, never break the norm.
The real secret of personal style is turning your mind into a sort of gazebo: open all around for great ideas and unfiltered inspiration to flow through freely, yet a bit closed on the top to stand in as the voice of reason. You could argue that this filter isn’t required – that if you feels it, you feels it – to which I would point out that not all of the crazies prowling the streets of NYC are stylish – they are simply crazy.
Getting a groove going also most definitely includes altering your perspective when observing the many seasonal outputs of the fashion industry: learning to take remote inspiration from versus stealing the look from head to toe. Emphasis on “remote”. That sounds like a duh statement but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to simply replicate without ever knowing you’re doing it.
When that finally clicks, you can truly say you have gained a fresh outlook, not only digging out some independence from years of brand communication brainwashing that insists wearing item X gives you some sort of exclusive “in” with a fabricated clique that only exists on TV, but also freedom from more subtle, modern forms of brainwashing (ahem “Instagram influencers”).
That’s not to say a few relative guidelines aren’t just good sense, like permanently having a snack in your bag for when you feel peckish during work, or not following strangers down dark alleys in the middle of the night with no bars on your cellphone. Like street smarts, there’s style smarts, so here’s a couple of sensible style hacks me and my bro have learned along the way.
1. Don’t believe the hype
Or at the very least, question it. ‘Hype’ is just the translation of millions of dollars spent on advertising. Don’t be a fool – or worse, a basic bitch. Ignore whatever the media is trying to dictate to you – whether they’re trying to tell you ‘genderless’ is a thing, or that nude makeup is ‘in’ – it’s all totally irrelevant when you listen to your inner fashionista.
2. Be a lion!
Fear is the silent killer of all things aesthetic. Even a tiny bit of it can eat at the confidence in your choices leading to last minute swaps for a basic item to ‘tone down’ an electric new pair of trousers. And for what? To stave off the disapproval of people in the street you’ll likely never, ever see again in your lifetime? Unless you’re heading in to a work meeting with Anna Wintour, girl, you gotta chill out.
3. Above all, SHOES
The ultimate touch of whimsy just so happens to happen on your feet, and feet are especially democratic. They’re not as capricious as thighs and abs, making this a one for all, and can either make or break your outfit. Shoes have a transformative, potentially subversive, power. Imagine, for example, that most basic of bitches, Kim Kardashian, in one of her typical nude hued, skin tight dresses with matching heels. Now, imagine her wearing the same outfit, but with say, a pair of badass motorcycle boots. See what I mean?
4. Know thy body – and work with it
Okay, so every stylist on earth will tell you this – it’s basic tenet #1, and the ‘rules’ still apply – low cuts on a large chest look a bit trashy (but if that’s the look you’re going for, cool). Thinner legs rock patterned trousers better than heavier ones. Tall people pull off voluminous layers better than the vertically challenged. The issue here is a classic case of eyes-bigger-than-stomach at the buffet. If it only looks good on a hanger, then its safe to say we’re looking at an aspirational sculpture rather than an actually wearable design made for the average human body.
5. Money doesn’t = style
Style isn’t cyclical – it’s perennial, your visible soul, and you know that can’t be subject to market whims. On that note, being stylish also doesn’t mean shopping all year round. The most stylish people I know just so happen to be broke AF and unapologetic about it, turning their wardrobes inside out and upside down in order to make their same few pieces look fresh.
6. Be a sponge
Nothing was ever built from nothing. Ever. Aspiring authors have years of reading behind them, architects looking for the innovative new shape take on fresh perspectives on fundamental mathematical patterns, and designers look to portfolios where analyses of other designers’ works, style icons combination choices and patterns in the environment all combine into waves of inspiration. Draw it all in, and no – that doesn’t mean copying. Inspiration isn’t found in editorials: it’s found in history, in nature, in different cultures, in different industries, in the randomness of the streets – anywhere.
7. Don’t be a label whore
While it’s all fine and well to stick with your favourite brand of, say, peanut butter because you know it’s the one whose taste and texture you like the most, the same cannot be said about fashion labels. You change, your body changes, designer’s whims change…so what makes you think you should always shop the same labels? And speaking of which, who needs them? People don’t look at your clothes tags, they look at how awesome your unique style is.
8. Favourites stay favourites
Whilst being loyal to a label is just silly (they don’t care about you, honestly!), staying faithful to your favourite wardrobe staples makes perfect sense. Why bother buying what is essentially the same blazer in orange when you know the one you have in blue works just fine with your skin tone? That blazer knows you, and you know exactly how to make it stand out without becoming overkill. Plus, with faves, loyalty pays – I just so happen to be wearing a silk top with black leather shorts that my mom adored in her late twenties; this stuff isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
9. Rethink it, rework it
See that yellow and black top? It used to be a dress. Style is basically the clothing derivative of creativity. Painters create masterpieces from the three basic primary colours, they didn’t go out to look for extra glitter. Don’t jump from one horse to another; your filly’s still got a few tricks up its sleeve – if something feels tired, ask yourself – how can I bring this back to life? And then take it to your local tailor.
10. Think alternative shopping outlets
The chicest people are not only comfortable looking for clothes in thrift shops, they thrive on it. They love it! Charity shops are absolutely the most important hub of unique rarities, but you’re not comfortable with vintage yet, that’s okay – there’s also the internet. We spend hours researching for the perfect hairstylist or flights to far off destinations, why not the same for fashion? Niche designers abound (many are featured in Eluxe’s fashion section, in fact!) and there’s nothing cooler than knowing you’re fighting the current.
Images via Chantal and Andrea Brocca.