Style Stories

No frills style tips for your everyday clothes

Easy ways to feel fresh, according to me
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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One thing I’ve been thinking about as it relates to style is that every time the broader trends have gone through enough of a transition to make you want to change some part of your style, it can feel somewhat destabilizing. There is a sort of dissolution of the self-as-you-know-her implicit in the process, which can feel like an earthquake.

For many of us, how we dress is how we convey what we’re feeling. It’s a reflection of innerworld and these days, there is much more than the usual seasonal change provoking that sense of destabilization. We’re wrapped in a news cycle (or more accurately, unverified social media feeds) that makes it feel like every time we scroll, our world purviews are challenged at best or collapsing at worst, and yet I still feel the desire to convey a point of view through clothes. It’s such a natural and inextricable component of my dressing process. One that often affords me a sense of anchoring when other things won’t.

But I don’t have the energy for an overhaul just yet — the familiar is a comfort I’m willing to lounge in right now, and lately I find myself thinking of ways that I can look and feel good without changing too much about what I’m wearing. So far the best I’ve come up with mostly focuses on contrast to create new dynamics, like this:

Consider your shoes and belt

The best place to focus attention here is within the realm of your everyday clothes. I have been thinking about how to make myself wearing my jeans feel less like a dated parody of last year and more fresh, even present. So far it seems like the key trick has been in the inclusion of supple shoes.

Jeanerica jeans (they’re called the Dover and I sized up 1x), The Row moccasins (but I’m starting to think these in particular are a bit too masculine for my purpose bc of the black leather — thesetwo versions are better but you’ll have to resole the second ones)

Something about the combination of a sleek, “cool girl” belt with unstructured shoes creates this dynamic that is overwhelming enough to keep whatever t-shirt or sweater and pair of jeans you trust most in the background of your overall look.

Bode t-shirt (but the swan!), Khaite belt, Jeanerica jeans, and here is a good sweater for this

The other way this has played out that I’ve liked is with jackets — I love jackets. And with the exception of the suede fringe jacket (dw, you’ll see it later) or maybe an anorak, most jackets paired with refined or structured shoes create an outfit dynamic that reads too one-note. Sneakers are an obvious break-it-up style choice, but even that is a trick worth challenging with a more unlikely casual shoe. Here’s an example within a very basic work look:

By Malene Birger jacket, Soeur white shirt, Khaite belt, Maria McManus pants (the shape on these is really nice too), The Row booties

And then one more way I just thought of that you can interpret this call to action is to consider the belt as a frivolous accessory. So, one you don’t necessarily need but which makes you feel a little more put together or dressed or just better. Instead of a belt, it could be gloves, it could be a hat (tiara…), whatever. The main point is that you keep the look’s bread and butter (top and bottom) very straightforward.

Michelle Waugh trench coat (it swings, which is the main thing; here is another good one for $500 or this one is more oversize for $795; By Malene Birger’s swing coat could be a great, non-trench option), Blaze Milano jeans, Bally boat shoes (not out yet 😬, try these?), and By Malene Birger red gloves

Laid-back pants, uptight sweater

I’m starting to find more pants that make sense for my every day outside the realm of jeans and have concluded that for them to actually replace jeans (that is, serve the same purpose and look good with the same clothes you’d wear with jeans), they’ve got to be made of a utilitarian fabric and look best when there’s some fade in their wash — like these twill pants from Alex Mill, these from Citizens of Humanity, or these from Nili Lotan.

Vince sweater (just encountered this one, like it too), Alex Mill pants (these are them in corduroy), Jamie Haller sandals; the bag is Rodebjer, here’s a nice double strand of pearls (but maybe we also need these), the sunglasses are Delarge and the socks are Swedish Stockings

Lately, I have been styling my Matteau fisherman’s (here in black) with preppy/fancy put-together upper halves, like a jacket or cable-knit sweater, or both.

Veronica de Piante black jacket, Ralph Lauren cable-knit sweater (recently found on The Real Real), The Row’s comb necklace, Matteau fishermen pants, Gabriela Hearst sandals. 👇🏻Here👇🏻 is a shot with the jacket off, and a polo under the crew.

Here’s a good comb alt. The chain bracelet is from Paco Rabanne — metals and precious stones look better against knits than almost any other fabric

The combination creates a dynamic that I call a “compatible conflict.” The result shouldn’t make sense but somehow, it does.

Casual jacket, structured/fancy shoes

I have more thoughts on pants for us — I’ve been drawn to sleek but slouchy flare legs lately. We’ll get to it in a later send.

The next no-frills update returns to the jacket I mentioned earlier and features a combination of casual quilted barn-style coats with structured, feminine shoes.

Yali jacket (but one like this or even this serves the same purpose), Leorosa sweater, Simone Rocha dress, Manolo Blahnik flats

The rest of this look is a wild card — I had a moment of maximalist reflex, but pay attention to the padded jacket with its soft shoulders and comfortable collar (specifically not flap) and how it interacts with the rigid ballet slippers.

I do love the combination of red and gold and the contrasting fabrics, but a more subtle take on the same look could read like this:

Jack’s Wife Freda baseball cap, same jacket as above, Loulou Studios black sweater (this is the closest one online) and white jeans, Saks Potts belt (Toteme has a similar one now too, the white stitching on black leather makes such a difference; this is another vibe but pretty good too), Swedish Stockings socks, Manolo Blahnik flats

I guess it’s also worth noting that structured shoes don’t have to mean flats. They could be kitten heels like the below.

Styled over a white t-shirt and denim shorts you can’t see, sorry about that! The rest of the look is a hat from Pardo Hats, a Skall jacket (here’s the long version; Toteme’s barn jkt works too. So does a straight up Barbour) and Emme Parsons Leandra heels (in suede)

Or loafers/brogues like these.

The red style of jacket from the first couple looks (same vibe as this, this, or this) is more versatile than say, a blazer or a cropped car coat in leather or wool because it does enough to add contrast to trousers, denim, and varying kinds of skirts.

Any crew neck cardigan works and I specify crew because the neckline is more versatile than a V for layering. It looks better with more things.

Sweater as belt

Next up is the easiest and possibly my favorite tip because it’s so simple but I swear it works.

Sessei button down (this one’s taffetaaaaaa), The Elder Statesman sweater (one here, one here, and this one’s on supersale) around waist, Giuliva Heritage pants (they come as jeans too), Jigsaw shoes (they’re like Birkenstocks but with no buckle/strap/hardware; the fancy alternative is these. Just like a Charvet slipper, baby)

All you have to do, I kid you not, is wear a sweater over your most trusted button down and best-fitting trousers, styled as if it were a waist belt.

And the necklace is from Jenna Blake; here are a few similar ones; this is the length I’d recommend for any beads (pearls included) you’re thinking of getting

You tie your sleeves off a bit to the side, make sure it is hiked up high enough to maximize the peplum effect against your shirt and you’re set. (I’m wearing streamlined, slouchy flare legs too, which might be the pant shape of the season — I’ll expand in an upcoming send.)

Victoria Beckham green pants ($580, plus another good pair), Giuliva Heritage khaki pants ($920, these and these may also be good, then not pictured but great are these in brown for $300 and these in black for $215), Toteme tartan button down shirt ($500; comes in navy and green too), Dries van Noten coated jersey shirt ($615), navy and white printed Polo men’s sweater ($300), tie-dye The Elder Statesman sweaters ($408, $437 and here is one more)

My style notes on the sweater pre-testimonial are: if you’re looking for a pick me up amid a sea of neutrals, wear a sweater that’s bright or printed and below, btw, is a testimonial for the green pants in the collage.

Victoria Beckham pants (take your normal size, love these too), Loulou Studios sweater, Marisa Klass necklace, By Malene Birger jacket, The Row suede booties

Pop of color

The next tip is on color. As I see it, there are 3-4 big ticket statement colors that will be infiltrating our wardrobes over the coming season and on. Each color styles especially well (to the extent that it’s less expected and yields maximum impact) with a particular set of neutrals, and gives those neutrals a massive pep that recontextualizes their role in our wardrobes. More simply: you use the neutrals as the shock factor instead of the color.

The example I have for you today includes this silk bag from my collaboration with Soeur that launched last summer:

The Michelle Waugh trench again (this one from Ines is very luxurious and a great, swing fit too), Gucci sandals (calling all size 8’s!; and I’m looking for a good pair of silver sandals — ideally slingback or with a strap across the front of the foot but not wrapped around the ankle, sort of like this. Lmk if you come across anything), Soeur x Cafe Leandra charmeuse bag (it sold out, but check out this Etsy baby; this one too and some Dries ruffles for you right this way)

I’m crazy about how this slimy shade of pistachio green looks against a khaki, ivory and/or white palette.

A reminder

More on colors in an upcoming send but before I send you off for the day, consider this next one a reminder more than anything else:

Tove Studios checkered tunic, Blaze Milano jeans — very simple outfit, but for the proportion of top length (and fabric) to straight denim that hits just below ankle bone creates a precise dynamic that encourages a dose of whimsy, achieved through the shoes and socks

Sheer tights and sandals are still the easiest way to make your most reliable, no-need-to-think-about-it outfits (jeans and a shirt worn plainly as can be!) look like they’re out of a cool brand’s new lookbook.

The sandals are Khaite — here are some alternative options (1, 2, 3). The key is to get use shoe with a strap straight across the foot, with a wide enough sole to let your foot expand no its natural width. The socks are t — they have lasted me three years! But more reasonably priced (and I have them too) are these from Calzedonia

I just hope your feet have an easier time settling into their stockings.

That’s it from me this week. I’m signing off yours,