How To Dress Like The Main Character In Your Own Life
There’s only one part of your life where it’s acceptable to have “main character syndrome,” and that’s your wardrobe.
There’s nothing as attractive as a woman with great style, whether it’s minimalist, maximalist, or something in between. Something magic happens when a woman figures out what kind of clothing makes her happiest and accentuates her favorite things about herself.
Whether you’re confident in your style and want to kick it up a notch, or you’re feeling like pre-makeover Andy in The Devil Wears Prada, there are a few principles of dressing like the main character to remember.
1. Know Yourself (and What You’re Not)
One main character who’s known for wearing what she wants (and looking great while doing it) is Midge Maisel from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan. Her vintage style is to die for.
Midge has to figure out a lot of things over the course of the series, but her fashion sensibilities are not one of them. “I found my signature haircut at age 12,” she boasts.
Take a page out of Midge’s playbook and nail down what colors, silhouettes, and styles work best for you. What words would you use to describe your ideal wardrobe? Which style icons embody it?
A lot of ink has been spilled about finding your personal style, but its importance can’t be understated – if you find yourself wanting to be preppy, bohemian, and grungy all at once, you’ll also find yourself with a closet full of clothes that don’t talk to each other and don’t end up getting that many wears.
Almost as important as knowing your personal style is knowing what’s not your personal style. Trends come and go (who can forget when every Gen Zer was wearing a sweater vest?), so don’t worry if it seems like everyone’s dressing dark academia or Y2K. You can love the way an outfit looks on someone else without feeling the need to replicate it.
For example, I think beachy, bohemian outfits are so cute, but when I try that look, my hair looks messy instead of “effortlessly undone,” and my uneven self-tanner shows that I haven’t been to the beach in at least a year. I feel way more confident trying to channel my inner French girl while wearing high-waisted jeans, sneakers, and a vintage bag.
2. When In Doubt, Throw It Out
Do you know what a main character like Elle Woods or Olivia Pope would never do? Wear something unflattering.
Maybe you’re holding onto clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Maybe you sometimes find yourself buying a top or skirt that doesn’t go with anything else in your closet. If a piece of clothing doesn’t work for you right now, let it go. Think of it as making room in your closet for the clothes that will work for you.
I’m an avid thrifter, which means that, sometimes, I buy clothing just because it’s cheap or looks good in the store. When I get home, I quickly realize it doesn’t fit right, or it doesn’t go with the rest of my wardrobe. Time to put it in the donate pile and start the cycle all over again.
Luckily, I’ve gotten a lot better about making these game-time decisions over the years, and now I’ve developed a rubric to help me. Necessary basics like jeans and white tees are almost always a yes, while statement pieces, like vintage dresses and bold coats, need to be in really great condition and fit just right in order to join my collection – because I could fall in love with a million Penny Lane coats, but I only have room for one.
Ultimately, paring down your closet will help you know and appreciate what you actually wear day-to-day, and make sure the majority of your clothing falls into a cohesive style category.
3. Embrace a Statement Piece
Do you know what a main character like Emily Cooper (of Emily in Paris fame) would never do? Be afraid to wear statement earrings, a colorful beret, or a major fur coat. Main characters don’t mind standing out – or raking in a few compliments – so if there’s a bold piece of clothing hiding in the back of your closet, break it out.
It’s easy to want to save our favorite pieces of clothing for super special occasions, but in doing this, you may be cheating yourself out of happiness.
“The power of clothing to boost your mood lies in the associations you have with your clothes,” fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell told Stylist. “Try to wear your favorite items as much as possible – these pieces are often associated with good times which can trigger nostalgia.”
If you’re wondering what embracing a statement piece means for you, look no further than Instagram. For example, fashion blogger Amy Roiland rarely posts a pic without some kind of dramatic eyewear, especially colorful, chunky sunglasses.
Another example is self-proclaimed “kickfluencer” Kia Marie, who is known for her signature sneakers that mesh with her sporty style.
4. Begin with Basics, Then Add Accessories
Many of us envy the wardrobes of our favorite TV and movie characters – but even they tend to start with the basics and then add that “wow” factor with the perfect accessories. Take Fran Fine of The Nanny – costume designer Brenda Cooper consistently used a form-fitting black turtleneck, short black pencil skirt, black tights, and black suede heels as the base for Fran’s outfit, adding colorful vests, and jackets to mix it up.
Other beloved TV characters had outfit formulas too – a basic white tee and medium wash jeans for Rachel Green in Friends, and a collared shirt, A-line skirt, and headband for Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl.
So, who are your style icons, and what basics do they rely on? What kinds of accessories do they wear the most? Take the time to make a Pinterest board with your favorite images, and watch the patterns take shape.
5. Don’t Forget the Hair
Mia Thermopolis’ transformation into the Princess of Genovia would have been nothing without changing her hair. How you style your hair is an overlooked component of any outfit – and just the right hairstyle can pull everything together.
Maybe you want to lean into the French girl look and are tempted to get a chic bob. Maybe you would never part with your naturally curly hair and want a fun, playful style to match. Maybe your love of vintage hairdos means you should explore vintage style!
I find that I prefer quick and easy hairstyles – you’ll either find me with loose 5-minute curls or my hair in a claw clip. That philosophy translates over to my style. Most of my go-to tops, jackets, and shoes mix and match easily, so it’s pretty easy for me to throw on an outfit and get on with my day.
But if you’re someone who loves to tease and curl and create intricate braids, maybe a more glam style is for you.
If you love your hair how it is, let it guide you to your perfect personal style. But if a hair transformation is what you’re after, head to your local salon and find out what your stylist can do.
Fashion isn’t frivolity – it’s how you present yourself to the world and tell others who you are. Don’t be afraid to give off main character energy by wearing what you love.
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