Do you have strict compartments and rules in your wardrobe?
- This top goes with this skirt.
- This pair of shoes goes with this dress.
- These are my non-work clothes…
I’m here to tell you that this way of organising your clothes and combining outfits is unnecessary, boring and outdated. Instead I’ll show you another (better) way.
What is high/low dressing?
You may have heard this term before and scratched your head. Or maybe it’s new to you today but let me tell you, it’s genius! When you get high/low dressing right, you’ll find you have more to wear without adding anything extra into your wardrobe.
High/low dressing can mean 2 things:
- Mixing higher end (expensive) items with high street (cheaper) pieces in one outfit.
- Mixing smart/occasion wear with more casual pieces in one outfit.
I first heard about this concept many years ago over lunch with a very good childhood friend. My friend, let’s call her Kirsty, could probably afford to buy anything she ever wanted. She loves clothes and style and has the kind of lifestyle where she socialises with some very influential people. Her wardrobe is amazing and she always looks fabulous. But she also loves a bargain and she likes to mix things up. Over lunch, she was telling me about a posh dinner she’d been to, where everyone around the table was wearing head-to-toe designer. Kirsty had put together a high/low outfit and it was the ‘low’ piece that got ALL the attention – an H&M top. Not the luxurious Max Mara trousers or the fabulous Gucci heels, but the H&M top which she wore with pride.
Examples of high/low dressing
- A (smart) midi-length dress worn with a leather biker jacket or long knitted cardigan and your favourite flat boots makes a stylish and comfortable high/low outfit. This combination allows the opportunity for the dress to be used more regularly than twice a year, when you team it with your glitzy heels and your clutch bag.
- Your ever-so flattering tailored trousers that you only ever wear as part of a suit, could be worn with a chunky knit and some leather trainers for a more off-duty look.
- Your most comfortable and well-worn high-street jeans, worn with a basic t-shirt and trainers might be a favourite weekend outfit. When you pair it with a high end/designer belt or handbag you change the outfit from basic to high/low.
I’ve long been harping on about fast fashion being a VERY bad thing. When you mix things up and start wearing more of your clothes more often, you’ll likely be happier to spend more on individual pieces that are better quality and that will be more hard wearing. And then you can mix your more expensive show stopper pieces with your every-day M&S basics and look and feel a million dollars. There’s no question that as a nation, dress codes have become more relaxed over the years which makes high/low dressing a great solution to getting good wear out of everything in your wardrobe.
How to get high/low dressing right.
1. Decide which are your ‘high’ pieces. Maybe you’ve splashed out on magnificent boots, a silk blouse or a designer handbag but hardly wear them? Now there’s no excuse.
2. Tweak things you already own, but don’t love, by changing things up. It’s amazing what new buttons or a different belt can do to a relatively inexpensive piece. Using what you already own is SO satisfying and now that we are more educated about the devastating effects of the fashion industry on the planet, we really need to change our shopping habits. If you are going to buy something new, make sure you’ve thought about all the different ways you could wear it and how you could incorporate it into high/low outfits.
3. When you are buying ‘low’ pieces, check the quality before you purchase. If a garment already has a pull in the fabric (I’m looking at you Zara!), or a few loose threads, leave it on the shelf. Imagine how it might look after a few wears…low doesn’t have to mean poor quality.
4. You might find it easier to dress down a smarter piece than dress up a more casual piece, so a great way to start is to take one ‘high’ piece and make the rest of your outfit ‘low’.
5. The one piece that makes high/low dressing easy-peasy, is a great coat. Wool for the winter or a trench coat or mac for the in-between seasons.
6. Don’t save your sequins for Christmas! Bring out your ‘going out’ tops and wear them with more casual pieces. You’ll feel amazing!
Still stuck? Leave me a comment here and share the item you are struggling to make into a high/low outfit and I’ll give you some suggestions.
I urge you to get creative and start merging your categories. Maybe set yourself a challenge to wear everything in your wardrobe before the end of the year! Have more fun with your clothes.
And don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know how it’s going!
Did you enjoy reading this? Then let's keep in touch!
I send out my popular Style Notes newsletter once a fortnight - it's full of my favourite tried and tested style tips to help you shine and feel at your best. Because it's not about what clothes you wear, it's about how they make you feel - and I believe every woman deserves to feel her very best, every day! Sign up below to join my mailing list - and you'll receive the next issue direct to your inbox.