My Boyfriend Styled Me For A Week – Here’s What Happened
Ben, my boyfriend, has really good style. He’s a minimalist, with a clinical wardrobe of oppressively pristine white T-shirts, a penchant for slim dark Sandro jeans, scuff-free Tods and tonal J Crew cashmere, with the odd shacket and James Perse cap thrown in for good luck. He reads GQ and loves Mr Porter. He’s pretty much got it covered when it comes to male dressing.
And me? Naturally, I’m drawn to on trend pieces – the odd furry loafer here, a metallic jacket there. And it’s not unusual for us to clash on my fashion predilections – rarely has a kitten heel boot or statement jumpsuit gone unnoticed. He definitely likes some of my wardrobe – stilettos and skinny jeans go down a treat – but it’s fair to say he’s not sold on all my sartorial choices.
So if he thinks he knows better, it’s time for him to step up to the plate. I gave him free rein of my wardrobe for five days in an attempt to prove that, when it comes to dressing a female fashion editor, he may be out of his depth. Five working days, five important events in and around them – how would he fare? Here’s how it went….
DAY 1: Girls' Night
That’s right, Monday night is girls’ night. That means dinner and drinks with my school friends. Do you know what Monday also means? It means work. A day at the office. A commute in rush hour, then a day spent writing, recording, shooting and meetings. Comfort is, therefore, key for me when getting dressed in the morning – if I’m going to spend 12 hours wearing something it better not irritate or annoy – so a long day at SL HQ followed by an evening out would usually involve skinny black jeans, an oversized knit and white ankle boots; fuss free, comfortable and appropriate for good old day-to-night.
And Ben? Well Ben didn’t really think about any of that. First came the wide leg Zara pants – OK, he’d seen me wear these the previous Saturday night, so he knew they were current favourites. But then came the black polo – weird colour blocking – and then lashings of glitter and sequin; a green Topshop evening jacket more appropriately layered over a white tee or slip, plus a shimmering Nasty Gal bag that I wore to a black-tie wedding in January. This takes no account of the fact that I carry around headphones, wallet, make up, spare contacts and other girly paraphernalia, and the addition of clashing red heels – a terrible decision both practically and sartorially – convinced me we were off to a horrible start.
But the look did get me thinking. I love those crazy long trousers, but I’d never think to wear them to the office, they always feel a little ‘done’. The addition of a black knit gave them daytime appeal, and there’s something quite chic about the head-to-toe modest look. The sequin bag may be a little much, but I’m always trying to find a balance between comfort and ‘fashion’, and just by ditching that mermaid jacket I’ve achieved that significantly more than in my old jeans and knit routine.
DAY 2: Fashion Event
It’s Tuesday, and tonight I have a fashion dinner. Ben opts for a Hush maxi dress (suspect he chose this either consciously or subconsciously remembering I wore it for an in-store event for the brand last year) with classic black courts. The bag is a pleasant surprise – this Mango minaudière always provokes comments and acts as easy fashion armour for me. It’s one of certain choice accessories that always make me feel more street style worthy at industry events.
The knit and maxi look is very now, so I just added a chunky sweater to Ben’s choice to modernise it a bit. The courts are a real no-no for me – definitely not fashion – but these Marni block heels bring clashing prints to the equation – another style device I use for big events. And the bag can absolutely stay.
DAY 3: Date Night
There’s something deeply upsetting about this date night look. It came as no surprise that Ben opted for a slick, tight edit: he’s always suggesting skinny jeans and heels when we go to dinner. But I try very hard to avoid any outfit that makes me look like a Khloé Kardashian-bot – my J.Lo bum (generous) and chunky thighs make cropped jackets and skin-tight leathers a profoundly poor choice for me. Plus, an ankle strap with a skinny trouser is a terrible mistake – the last thing I need is my short legs cut shorter. Taking none of these body image concerns into account, Ben selected a seriously outre combination, featuring a gold structured jacket (shoulder pads only make my thighs look bigger, it’s some kind of proportion issue), leather skinnies, pale shoes and a Chanel bag. Unless we’re off to Novikov, I fail to see how this could possibly impress.
If I’m going to make a cropped jacket work, it has to be with a wide leg pant, so the skinnies and polo neck were the first to go. In their place I subbed a culotte jumpsuit – much more fashion, much more me – but I stuck with the gold jacket. I hardly wear the Outnet purchase from five years ago, but Ben’s selection made me reconsider its value – I like the statement look on top of a subtler black edit.
DAY 4: Important Meeting
Today’s a smart day at SheerLuxe – less fashion, more business. Banker Ben unsurprisingly nails this one – used to seeing women in a corporate environment, it doesn’t take him long to pick out a structured blazer and black pants, along with a smart silky blouse. It’s only the shoes that throw me – my Gucci fur loafers are easily the most frivolous item in my wardrobe, ideal for off-duty but certainly not a look I’d go for when trying to be taken seriously. I asked him if this look required a handbag. "No, you don’t take handbags to big meetings," was his retort. Good to know.
The loafers obviously had to go, but the sensible courts from Tuesday make the ideal substitute – like I said, less fashion, more business. And Ben may not take handbags to business meetings, but I certainly do, so the Chanel can come too.
DAY 5: Dress-Down Friday
Friday means comfort dressing, and I thought that was pretty hard to get wrong. It all started quite well actually, a shacket and black jumper combo is exactly what I would usually wear for a more off-duty work look, and even the red velvet slippers didn’t offend me too much – in the right circumstances the military-meets-luxe combo surprisingly works. But then came the trousers. Silky, navy, side striped cropped sweat pants are far from the black skinny jeans I would have paired with this look, and the khaki-red-blue hybrid outfit would only raise serious eyebrows in the SL office.
The top half was easily redeemable with aforementioned black skinnies, whilst the ‘fashion event’s’ Gucci loafers would be better placed for a more casual work day. That doesn’t mean the velvet slippers were a disaster, but if the red and green duo is avoidable, try.
WHAT I LEARNT:
When it comes to dressing for business meetings, Ben can definitely get involved more often. But I now have a suspicion that the reason his wardrobe is so tonal is that he is partially colour-blind – clearly everything works better when he just plays it safe. I was surprised to come away from the experiment having learnt some lessons – it was only writing this piece that I realised my reliance on skinny jeans and a black colour palette, and turning to a statement jacket or dramatic accessory every once in a while may help breath fresh life into my wardrobe. But as for sequins for girls’ night and bodycon date night – I think they’ll have to remain a pipe dream for Ben. My J.Lo booty won’t be baring its soul in leathers again.
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