Feeling Well-Dressed


By Veronica Chavez

Additional contributors: Tanya Silverman, Dane Feldman, Ashley Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Steven Gerner.

Chuck Palahniuk once wrote, “Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.” The point he was trying to reach was that humans reveal snippets of their personality in everything they do–what furniture they buy, how they walk, and how they dress.

Research has highlighted time and time again that our clothing choices are deeply intertwined with our self-perception and personality. Studies have shown that shoe-choice impacts your first impression on others, you’re more likely to wear jeans if you’re depressed, and that basics like a little black dress and blazers are universal symbols of classic confidence.

In a busy city, where the sidewalks are pretty much runways for the average consumer, it can be a lot of pressure to always put your best foot forward. BTR staffers weigh in on the outfits that make them feel the most confident.

Tanya’s Take – A Splash of Flash

Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.

On days that I want to face the world with an amped up appearance and enhanced confidence, I’ll usually add a flamboyant splash of flash to an otherwise basic outfit. For instance, I’ll start off with a simple black dress, then top it off with silky green Hawaiian shirt that’s chock full of goofy tiger and cheetah faces, or wear a plain black T-shirt with loud leopard-print jeans.

I believe that wearing felidae prints helps channel my inner animal, enhancing my self-assurance while I navigate the challenging jungle we know as human civilization. The cat family, alpha predators that thrive throughout many tough climates, makes me feel bold.

A touch of pizazz by means of accessories also works well. In terms of headwear, I rock a dark velvet fedora that’s lined and earth-toned with dotty feathers, or tie up my locks with an oversized floral bow. There’s also my miniature red hat that’s attached to a hair clip. The tiny hat always throws observers off to how I balance such a miniscule item on my head (although I guess I just ruined my secret).

Photo by Tanya Silverman.

Badass boots are essential to my wardrobe. The best pair is pointy and black with narrow strips of tiger stripes, gold snakeskin, and white. These boots also have the right amount of heel height to improve my posture but not hurt my feet.

Wearing too many prints, accessories, or flashy garments can clash and undermine the uniqueness of each piece. Curating an outfit can be like enhancing confidence in your personality–hone in on the specialties you excel at, and focus on one thing at a time.

Veronica’s Take – It’s All About Balance

Photo by Veronica Chavez.

I’m a big believer in the notion that a person looks their best when they are at their most comfortable. That doesn’t mean I necessarily advocate wearing sweatpants and a loose t-shirt everyday (an outfit which personally makes me feel lazy). Instead, you should choose an outfit that can be worn effortlessly, without having to tug at a skirt because it keeps riding up, wobbling in heels, or feeling like the amount of skin exposed will summon a catcall at any moment.

When I’m choosing an outfit I like to keep this balance in mind. For example, if I’m wearing a skirt that falls above the knee, I’ll wear a scoop neck t-shirt, or a men-style button down. If I’m wearing a tight dress, it’ll most likely be maxi-style and black, or a shorter black one worn with a light cardigan.

If I feel like wearing heels, I’ll keep them chunky or wedge-style because while I like to give the appearance that I’m tall every now and again, I always want my strut to be stable and confident.

My go-to “power outfit” is pretty simple: cuffed black jeans, a loose but flattering shirt, and either my chunky-heeled lace up boots or some short black booties. This outfit makes me look put-together but not too done up, and while it’s professional enough for any workplace encounter, it can easily transition from an office day to a night out.

Dane’s Take – Rugged Meets Classic

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Like most aspects of life, it has taken me quite some time to truly get a handle on my personal style. As many teens do, I went through the Abercrombie & Fitch phase, the punk phase, and the skater phase, but by the time I finished college I learned that what I most identify with is a more preppy style that combines both rugged functionality and timeless chic.

So, it is by no coincidence that names like John F Kennedy and Don Draper come to mind most mornings when I get dressed. I aim to appear both put together and effortless at once, which is no simple feat. In the midst of developing a wardrobe that would allow me to do so, I managed to cultivate a personal style that it almost a uniform for myself.

Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.

These days, you can find me sporting some variation of the following: loafers of any kind, chinos or jeans, and a polo shirt, button down, or a v-neck sweater. When the situation dictates, I’ll put on a sport coat or blazer. I’m always wearing a watch and the leather bracelets I acquired while traveling.

What I like most about this uniform is that it allows me to be put together and comfortable while also rarely needing to change outfits as I shift from day to night to weekend. It offers ultimate versatility, which is essential to my confidence.

Ashley’s Take – Start with the Shoes

Photo by Ashley Rodriguez.

I like to be as comfortable as possible, but try my best not to look like a slob. There is a very fine line between the two and it takes great consideration and planning not to cross that line. My choice of outfit really depends on where I am going and what I’ll be doing, but I often plan outfits based on what shoes I’ll be wearing.

While I have a wide range of shoes, I’m typically most comfortable in sneakers, which don’t always work out in the grander scheme of coordinating an outfit. Sneakers can look too clunky or stand out due to varying color patterns.

My sneaker collection knows no limits and resembles that of a child. I own tiger print, camouflage, and bright turquoise sneakers, silver sparkly boat shoes, and a custom made pair of canvas kicks with various characters from horror films painted on all sides.

I’m most confident when I’m comfortable, and sneakers make me feel comfortable.

Sadly, there is a very specific time and place for these shoes, and it isn’t everyday. These shoes require strategic thought when pairing with pants and a top. I choose solid colors like black or blue, and material like denim that goes with most patterns. A more basic top in white, gray, black or nude is also preferable, leaving my shoes to steal the show.

I resort to my more quiet sneakers in basic colors like navy blue, red, or black for day-to-day life and try to pair them as best I can with my other garments. When sneakers just aren’t working with what I’m wearing, I’ll switch into sandals or flats. Sure, they look alright, but most of them scream basic and boring when I’m in them.