Fashion Mathematics

Step 1: The Basics

The body-con skirt: the pencil skirt’s younger, sassier sister. While the latter could take you from the work wear to winebar, its more modern counterpart is a tighter, shorter, more student-friendly staple that reigns supreme in lecture theatres and nightclubs alike. But for all its versatility, the body-con skirt is one of those essentials that holds the perils of being all too generic and perhaps a tad tarty without a rich milieu of on season accessories – I’m thinking fur coats, silk shirts, and dramatic necklaces for starters.

As an evening piece it has the figure hugging benefits of sleek silhouette and providing it’s a good fabric the effect should be more Herve Leger than Jane Norman. To keep it classy balance out your bottom half with delicate floatiness, luxe layers or rich textures. By clashing the demure femininity of beads or lace with the undeniable sexiness of a great ass you’re set to straddle the style stakes from formal hall to the sweaty depths of Kukui. Then, in the headachy haze of your hangover the same little number, smothered with scruffy tees, granny knits, tights and boots, lends itself to a grungy easiness that will make tangled hair and the smudges of last night’s make-up seem deliberate.

The tan camisole is a perennial wardrobe staple that, contrary to what you might think, doesn’t have to scream ‘underwear’. With the right cut and good quality fabric – no Primark special will do – a camisole (in any shade) is an indispensable and versatile piece, perfect for injecting a bit of slink to a pair of jeans or a casual skirt. Layer under lace t-shirts or sheer blouses to nail the current trends, or under low-cut tops to keep you covered up for work. Tan or camel – the colours of the season – make a perfect accompaniment to an all black outfit.

Cigarette pants are an essential piece of any capsule wardrobe, the ideal solution to get you out of jeans and into smart power dressing. Yves Saint Laurent pioneered the androgynous look with the ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo for women in 1966, and the cigarette pant has transcended fashion fads as a style staple you can rely on to be smart, sexy and effortlessly cool. For an evening out, team with sky scraper heels and a glamorous top or sharp shirt and accessorize with statement jewelry – be bold and embrace your inner macho ego. The beauty of every statement piece is its versatility, so dress down a pair of cigarette pants with a casual tee and slouchy cardigan or grunge it up with boots and a leather jacket, guaranteed to turn heads in early morning lectures.

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Coco Chanel introduced the LBD way back when in 1920, and what can I say? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. No capsule wardrobe is complete without the little black dress. Forget all your fair weather florals and high-waisted acquaintances the LBD is a gal’s best friend: always there in a time of need and never fails to put a smile on your face. With so many styles to choose from we have settled on this structured version from Zara which provides a powerful silhouette and is perfect for the winter weather. The simplicity of the dress means you can accessorize to the hilt with all things spangly and colourful. Brogues and patterned tights soften the look for daytime wear, whilst bright heels and Breakfast at Tiffany pearls will have you turning heads at any cocktail party.

As winter chills creep over Oxford, the one item that should never be missing from your capsule wardrobe is the classic blazer. Loved throughout the generations for its versatility and stylishness, it is the go-to piece to brighten up any outfit. Throw it over a light tea dress and ballet flats for easy chic, accessorising with studded gloves and ripped tights for that grungy edge. Or, for the hungover tute we all know so well, team with an oversized tee, leggings and comfy boots to gain extra style kudos. To take the look from day to night subtract the leggings, add a sexy body con skirt, sky high heels, pile on glamorous statement jewellery and exaggerate your make up. It’s effortless, elegant and sexy. Who would say no?

Step 2: The Accents

Keeping your basics to a monochrome palette makes it easy to co-ordinate an ‘look’ when you’re hungover at 8.45am before a 9am lecture, but sticking to black and white does not a stylish outfit make – no matter what the OxStu try to tell you. ‘Accents’ are the subtle, barely-noticable features that make separate pieces come together as a coherent whole, the glue that makes the parts stick, and are the most important part of fashion mathematics. You, and the people who compliment you on your outfit, probably don’t even realise you’re wearing them. The classic nude heel, the silver wrist cuff, the skinny tan belt – these little touches are the difference-makers and the definition of effortless style. Choosing the right accents can transform your outfit from drab to ‘dahling!’, and they are so subtle they can be worn to anywhere with anything – no worries about going from homework to happy hour!

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Step 3: The Personality

This is where the fashion fun begins – open the dressing up box and start playing! There are no rules here – this stage is all about trusting your instincts and putting your personal fashion fingerprint on each item. Think back to the days where you used to dig through your mother’s jewllery box and make up bag and unleash that inner wild child again. The final step of fashion formula is all about expressing your creativity and making the basics your own. The key word here is statement: the statement shoes, coats and jewellery that provide pops of print and colour and turn heads everywhere. Think jewelled clutches, quirky necklaces, and bright tights that glam up your outfit and give an extra personal touch. Add on the accessories, multiply your confidence and the fashion equation is complete.