5 Ways To Up Your Style Game When You're New To The Fashion Industry

by Casi Johnson

Not all of us were keen on Vogue magazine or New York Fashion Week from the time we were about the same size as a grasshopper. Some of us were barely inclined to wear articles of clothing that matched. (However, mismatched clothing can be a fashion statement in its own right.)

I'm referring to the unconventional bunch who are just now realizing that they too can love fashion, despite never wearing a pair of heels. I'm talking about the distinct few who splurged on 10 of the same black t-shirts and two of the same ratty skinny jeans, and called it a day. I'm talking about the group of individuals who were so anti-fashion, they purposely came to school late so they could miss the fashion face-off between the Regina Georges and Cady Herons of their high schools.

I was a member of that lone group of fashion misfits. Growing up as a jock in every sense of the word, I barely got excited for the new gear at the start of every new season. I didn't care if the stripes on my Walmart sneakers matched my uniform. I only cared that I could take my academic stress out on the court.

Fast-forward seven years. My closet tells a different story that my atrociously-dressed, 16-year-old self wouldn't recognize. It's amazing how life, college and my all-too-eager-to-dress-me mother could catapult my fashionably miserable soul into a stylish one.

The road to fashion appreciation was far from easy for me, but why not make it easier for other girls with humble beginnings like myself? Here are five things I've learned as a fashion late bloomer:

1. Never shop alone.

What's worse than being blindsided by a pop quiz you didn't prepare for? Walking into a clothing store and succumbing to the paranoia of having to sift through millions of clothing items to find a single outfit.

It's completely overwhelming. You already have no idea what you're going to wear, and the racks upon racks of clothes at Forever 21 provide no consolation. It is for this reason that fashion beginners should never shop alone.

Instead, find a fashion-forward friend who finds solace in plowing through the racks of clothes, and bring him or her with you to shop. Chances are, your friend can keep you sane and focused on the task at hand.

2. Find a celebrity with a similar body type.

For many, fashion trends are defined by the celebrities who don them. It's a terrible disappointment to obsess over an ensemble that Blake Lively wore to a red carpet event, only to discover that the dress she wore doesn't suit you in the same way.

It could be because you two don't share the same body type. Finding a celebrity with a similar body type to yourself is a surefire way to find clothing you'll like without any of the disappointment.

3. Shop for comfort and chic, in that order.

I really love the look of oxford shoes. They're just so classic and chic. There's only one problem: Those darn shoes are so f*cking uncomfortable.

It is imperative that when you're shopping for clothes or shoes to add to your blossoming wardrobe, you find the type that is comfortable for you. There is no greater regret than investing in a pair of $98, high-waisted shorts, only to have them rub you the wrong way (literally and figuratively).

This will make you decide to never wear them again. That's a financial faux pas at its finest.

4. Purchase complete outfits.

This is a very important rule to remember. I used to buy individual clothing items -- such as a shirt or a pair of bottoms -- just because I liked the way they looked. The problem was, I had no idea what my newly-acquired piece would couple with in my wardrobe.

After hours of searching for just one clothing item that could catch my attention, I just wanted out of that store and out of the mall. I get it: Shopping can be a trying experience. But it's always best to try and leave with a complete outfit in hand, rather than separate pieces of clothing.

5. Consult an expert when you thrift.

Thrifting has become a popular hobby for many fashion-forward Millennials. It is a way to obtain one of a kind items at considerably marked-down prices.

One thing is for certain, however: Unearthing invaluable fashion jewels of clothing in thrift stores is a God-given gift that requires a good eye and a knack for seeing potential. But expert assistance will be needed for budding fashionistas.

I can never find what I'm looking for in a thrift store. But my mother has an uncanny ability of finding anything under the sun in any thrift store or consignment shop. So, guess who I'm bringing with me the next time I'm thinking about going thrifting?