Editorial Personal Outfit Style

How to Reinvent Basics

Long Sleeve Mens Shirt Ring Belt Outfit Inspiration-5 How to reinvent basics and make your wardrobe go the extra mile

Wearing: Monogrammed Oversized French Cuff ShirtAnna Quan | ‘Roll Seam’ Wool TrousersThird Form | Nude SandalsSchutz | Boyfriend Blazer (similar) | Ring Buckle Belt (Similar)

I was not invited to a great many social outings in my – describable only as –  geeky teenage years, complete with the quintessential vampire fan fiction writing and online forum frequenting phases, naturally. My very limited wardrobe reflected as much. So on the rare occasion I had an occasion, I was invariably, the frumpy girl in the corner in her t-shirt and jeans.

Of course, in those days my tendency to dress plainly was due to a complete inability to grasp fashion or trends. Now that I fancy myself as knowing better, I rather think that I was on the right track after all.

Must we always find ourselves in the predicament of having ‘nothing to wear’, and needing to run out immediately for a new outfit? Last year, I wrote about wearing basics better. Today I’m extending this discussion to reinventing basics. On the one hand, this is to transform something everyday into something a little bit extraordinary, and on the other, to discover new ways to wear things you already have, to make an effective capsule wardrobe go the extra mile.

1Basics with a twist

All basics are capable of being reinvented with a bit of creativity (and courage). And, as always, it starts with selecting versatile, and always classic, pieces – the kind of basics that have a ‘twist’. For example,  pants with a zipper on the leg that can be worn as a straight leg or flares (mine is by Third Form) jackets that button all the way up so they can be worn as shirts, and t-shirt dresses that can also be worn as tops.

2Wear it wrong

Sometimes it’s ok – and highly recommended – to wear something wrong. Instead of buttoning a classic shirt, cross it over and turn it into a drape front shirt.  Reinvent basics by wearing them with something altogether inappropriate, like a cocktail dress layered over a plain white t-shirt, or a slouchy knit over your suit pants. Think, also, deconstructing tailored pieces – I love wearing my Anna Quan french cuff shirt sleeves down, and hitting that awkward spot between tailored and insouciance.

3Cinch everything

Something boxy and slouchy, to me, is always a two-in-one outfit opportunity. My theory is: cinch everything. Belting up my slouchy boyfriend blazer transforms its boxy silhouette into a feminine hourglass. The same applies to anything from shift dresses to chunky knits.

4Layer for effect

Successful layering is another essential way of reinventing basics. The idea is to layer for effect, always creating an interesting juxtaposition, whether it’s of different textures, lengths or contexts. Shirt collars and sleeves are one of my favourite peek-through element, infinitely layerable with all manner of jackets, knits, and even another shirt. Also in this outfit, I have chosen barely there heels with my split pant legs to emphasise a sliver of skin.

Long Sleeve Mens Shirt Ring Belt Outfit Inspiration-3 copy Long Sleeve Mens Shirt Ring Belt Outfit Inspiration-1 copy

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  • JoAnn Goh from The Glam Whisperer
    11 April 2016 at 12:05 am

    Very helpful tips Jiawa! How did a geeky teenager who only wore tee shirts and jeans become someone soooooo stylish? U’re killing it! Xoxo

  • Simi
    11 April 2016 at 1:51 am

    What wonderful styling! Such great advice to give life to basics! X

  • Alice
    11 April 2016 at 4:07 am

    These photos are amazing, those oversized sleeves with the blazer is such a perfect combo! Love the look!

    xo, alice / T Y P E N U

  • Helen-Jayne
    13 April 2016 at 7:00 am

    Love this post babe, and the photos are really strong. Layering works so well with tailoring, and seriously can’t wait to do this more in the coming months. That shirt is such a winner and love how you have styled in so many different ways – with denim, and this post with the split flares.


  • Matt Huxley
    13 April 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I love this look so much!! The oversized cuff makes such a strong statement


  • AR Zantkeren
    14 April 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Your photography and look are absolutely amazing! This combination of clothes is magnificent hope to achieve this creativeness myself, truly inspired!

  • Natalia Bosch
    15 April 2016 at 2:43 am


    Lots of love.
    Lots of love.

  • Natalia Bosch
    15 April 2016 at 2:47 am


    Lots of love.

  • Nora
    16 April 2016 at 9:37 am

    Girl, you are killing it with this outfit! I’m a big fan of basics with a twist, and layering.


    17 April 2016 at 5:42 am

    Couldn’t agree more – lovely look!
    x. Mirjam


  • Helen Chik
    20 April 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Girl I’ve always adored your style and this outfit is so on point! Can’t get enough of it xx

    Sending you love from Sydney.

    I’ve just posted my trip to Ik Kil Cenote in Mexico on my site and would love for you to check it out if you have the time xx

    Helen x

  • Sarah-Allegra
    6 May 2016 at 2:39 pm

    That look! And love your tips, thank you!

    xx Sarah-Allegra

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