Last week at Camp Mighty, I partnered with Old Navy to present a workshop called "Fashion Forward: 5 Rules For Changing Your Life From the Outside In." Now, I am not actually very fashion-forward in the definitive sense of the word, but I do have some rules for dressing that make my life much easier and help to ensure that I don't look like an Olsen twin exploded all over my closet. As you may know, my favorite wardrobe theories are "French Person" and "Elegant Cowgirl," and I find that these rules help me to achieve both looks with a minimum of work and a maximum of awesomeness. In my presentation, I shared the five rules, and now I am sharing them with you. Let's go! (All clothing and accessories are from Old Navy except where noted.)

1. LESS IS MORE: This is pretty straightforward -- having good style is a lot easier when you have fewer things to choose from. Restrict your color palette, define your neutrals, and build a traditional foundation of classic pieces. Pictured above: The New Neutrals. Our color palette may be restricted, but stripes, metallics, animal prints, and dots can definitely stand in as neutrals.


2. TAKE YOUR TIME: It takes a while to build a wardrobe of good, quality basics, so don't be afraid of a blank space in your wardrobe. Build slowly and you'll find that you have fewer clothes, but the ones you have will be high-quality classics that you can wear for years. If there are items you really, really want but find they are out of your price range, make a list of them and save for one every year. It's like a life list for your outfits. Pictured below: The vintage man Rolex, number one on my "That One Thing" list.


Photo: Rolex

3. FOLLOW YOUR HEART: If it makes your heart skip a beat, buy it. There is no start too small: it could be a white t-shirt or a pair of gloves. If it evokes a reaction, it’s the right decision!

4. BE BRAVE: Confidence is the most important aspect of style -- if you act like you know what you are doing, you will look like you know what you are doing, even if you're wearing a gigantic neon pink hair pouf. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and take risks! Don’t be afraid. If something doesn’t work out, move on. One way to get started being brave is to wear something ridiculous, but awesome (see: Gigantic neon pink hair pouf).



Left and right-hand photos:; Nail polish: Essie; Pineapple handbag: Kate Spade

5. HAVE FUN: The whole point of this is to have fun and feel good while you're doing it. So don't stress -- once you have your traditional foundation in place, it's time to go nuts with the fun. One way to do this is to pay attention to the details, whether that means getting crazy with your nail polish or wearing a jacket with a secret bright yellow lining. Jonathan Adler's decorating motto, "95% chic + 5% fun" totally applies to your outfits, too. So go forth and accessorize like you mean it.


Before my presentation, I shopped for props at Old Navy and chose several items that illustrate the traditional foundation + 5% fun thing, and also that were just really cute. Please review:


So now you know my fashion secret: follow a formula, then accessorize funly. That's it! I hope you have enjoyed this time we've spent together. Get out there and figure out your neutrals, y'all!



Photo: JetKat Photo

Old Navy was kind enough to provide every person in attendance with a gift card for a free pair of jeans, which meant I got to fulfill one of my greatest wishes: to holler, Oprah-style, "LOOK UNDER YOUR SEATS!" Whee! It was basically the greatest thing ever.

PS: In addition to free jeans for campers, Go Mighty found out that Larkin Street Youth Services needs both jeans and gift certificates as part of its holiday gift drive for the homeless teens they support. They are sending certificates for 50 pairs of jeans -- thank you, Old Navy! -- but you should also note the wish list of simple things they need by December 14.

So, while you're building that traditional wardrobe foundation, go ahead and throw a gift certificate or clothes in your cart for the kids. If you do so, please let me know in the comments honor-system style, and I'll enter you to win your own free pair of jeans from Old Navy. Hooray!


I'd like to extend a huge thanks to the sponsors of these shenanigans: Camp Mighty, who were so kind to give me the opportunity to do this; and my partner extraordinaire, Old Navy, who were all-around awesome and made me feel even better than Oprah. Yay! Let's all go put on something cute.

AuthorAB Chao