Arbitrary Criticism

Dress Big or Go Home

Your outfit should always make a statement. Sometimes that statement is "“Hello world, I’m secretly Katy Perry!”

By Catherine Martin January 21, 2015

Wearing feather shoulder pads is just a matter of pairing.

Image: J-No

Statement pieces are the Jersey Shore of your wardrobe – loud, abnormally colored, and impossible to tear your eyes away from. A statement piece is defined as any article of clothing that causes people to look at you all night regardless of how good your makeup looks.

My personal experience with statement pieces began when I started dressing myself in kindergarten. The first time someone complimented me on how perfectly my socks matched the appliqued Nala (from The Lion King) on my jumpsuit was a high I’m still chasing. These days I’m always trying to make a statement about something, whether its “Please go away and don’t look at me for the next ten years, I’m emotionally agitated,” or “Hello world, I’m secretly Katy Perry!”

The key to making a statement is balance. If you choose to wear your sick new red glitter cowboy boots, for instance, you can’t pair them with your brand new Flava Flav clock necklace. Try to think of yourself as having a limited number of style points each day. Your hoop earrings have ten style points for each inch in diameter; your plain blue jeans (the pair without Beyoncé’s face embroidered on the back pocket) have none. Balancing your style is exactly like balancing your checkbook: nobody really expects you to figure out how to do it until you’re 25. It’s still good to practice for that day as people thinking you’re a prostitute can create baggage that lives on past the 25-year mark.

Imagine if she'd just gone with white tights.

Balance means that if you want to wear something brightly colored, you must balance it out with something neutral. I certainly understand the appeal of having your entire image burned into the retina of everyone you meet, but if your entire outfit is the same color you appear more like an exotic animal than an actual person. That kind of costuming is for Halloween only. For the rest of the year, you can only wear outfits “inspired” by a giraffe or a sexy cop.

Take your contacts out or your glasses off and stand at least ten feet away from the mirror. Can you pick out the individual features of your outfit? You’re good. Do you look like you’re wearing the grape costume in a Fruit of the Loom commercial? Maybe wear your black skinny jeans instead.

Coco Chanel once said, “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” That’s hard advice for me to follow, as I shop every Betsey Johnson clearance sale ever and need as many occasions as possible to show off my glittery leopard bracelets and my oversized faux pearl necklaces, but I imagine this is a good tip for girls who only have boring accessories that nobody was going to be impressed by anyway.

A hard and fast rule for those of us who are a little more daring, but still appreciate being reigned in, is that your jewelry should never weigh more than 20% of your body weight. The good news is that cheap metals typically don’t weigh that much. The bad news is this rule now means I never say no to an extra cookie. The trade-off inherent in this fashion tip is a Sophie’s choice every woman has to make for herself.

Remember that the point of statement pieces in general is to force people to look at you when they’d really been planning on looking at something else. You are a beautiful peacock, your feathers hypnotizing those around you. Heed well this word of warning: dress in flashy, attention-getting clothing and suffer the consequences of more people talking to you in bars, getting noticed immediately when you walk into a restaurant and need service, and cars always stopping when you suddenly start across the street at a trot. The constant pressure of having all eyes on you all the time can be a lot for some to handle.

To those who would rather blend in, feel free to leave that last cookie for me. I’m bulking up for a rhinestone-encrusted collar necklace.


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