midwest queer fashion

life/style how-tos


9 Ways to Wear the Basics: Chinos + Gingham


This is the first installment of the ‘How To Wear The Basics’ series, where we show you the versatility of wardrobe staples. We’re here to prove that you don’t need a huge collection of clothes to put together lots of different outfits. Instead, it’s about knowing how to style and utilize the basics in order to create various looks. It all comes down to versatility. When you’re buying something, you shouldn’t shop for a single outfit; rather, think of 5 different ways you can wear the item in the wardrobe that you already have. 


With that in mind, we’re starting out with the classic gingham and chinos, which we styled 9 different ways using just a handful of accessories. Let’s walk through some options:


Style 1 —> The most basic way to wear the basics. If you’re going to wear a shirt and pants, why not upgrade from jeans and a t-shirt to this? They’re equally comfortable (proper sizing is key) and you could easily walk the dog or cuddle up with a good book and some hot tea in either. 
Style 2 —> Little details make a world of difference. All I did was tuck in my shirt and add a belt, but it cleaned up the outfit dramatically. This casual look is great for lunch with friends or picking up a coffee from the shop down the street with the super cute barista. 
Style 3 —> Need to get a little more physical with your activities? Just roll up your sleeves and keep the top button undone. It adds some more flexibility within the shirt so you can run those errands without a problem. This look is also perfect for a park picnic date; you get to look good, easily lounge, and even play frisbee if you’d like.
Style 4 —> If you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s probably still cold; if you’re in the midwest, it’s bone chillingly frigid. Layering not only helps you survive the winter, but it can also score you points on your next date to the movies. Having a warm, comfy cardigan to give to your partner when they get chilly is always clutch. Instead of reaching for a zip-up hoodie, opt for a thick, cable-knit shawl cardigan. It’ll keep your outfit cohesive and 100% snuggable. 
Style 5 —> In need of an easy, go-to work outfit? This is my personal favorite; just add a neutral dark tie (or bow tie) and a fun tie clip. These accessories dress up the outfit so it’s more business casual, which makes it perfect for the office or even a nice dinner out at your favorite restaurant. 
Style 6 —> Stemming from style 3, all I did was add a fun, floral-patterned pocket square. It’s a simple accessory and people often forget that you don’t need a blazer to wear one. With that in mind, I’d opt for a smaller pocket square (10”x10”) in a thinner fabric so that it doesn’t get too lumpy in your shirt pocket. I chose an interesting floral print because obviously I love florals, but also because it’s a great conversation starter at bars. It tends to grab someone’s attention and a conversation is born. Perfect for those shy types, such as myself. 
Style 7 —> The perfect combination of cozy and business casual. A cardigan is a great alternative to a blazer when it comes to layering up at the office. Make sure the cardigan has some structure to it (i.e. not big and baggy) and that it hits no lower than your belt line (like with any jacket); this way, it mimics the fit and form of a blazer. Comparing it to style 4 where there is no neckwear, it’s clear that a tie or bow tie keeps this look more professional looking - so don’t neglect your neck!
Style 8 —> The beloved navy blazer; a staple in any wardrobe. Whether you work in a more formal setting or you just want to look super slick, this is going to be the piece that kicks your look up to the next level. Keep the sleeves on the blazer down and you’re ready to nail that presentation; alternatively, roll the sleeves up and show off that lining to make the look more relaxed. When it comes to buttoning a blazer, here are my golden rules: 2 button blazer, never button the bottom button (only use the top). 3 button blazer, from top down = sometimes, always, never. 
Style 9 —> For this look, I’ve just rolled up the sleeves from style 5. As a general rule of thumb, rolled up sleeves are always going to be more casual than those left down. That means this look would be ideal for a work environment that is more on the casual side or a more movement-heavy position. In addition, it’s a great go-to for a school outfit; it’s casual and comfortable, but still put together. Trust me, people will notice (in a very positive way). 

Details  (What I’m wearing // Similar Alternatives)
Crewcuts Gingham // J. Crew - $41 // Banana Republic - $70
J. Crew Bennett Chinos // Land’s End - $40 // J. Crew - $70 
Crewcuts Cardigan // Land’s End - $60 // Club Monaco - $120
J. Crew Blazer // Merona - $40 // Brooks Brothers - $200
Madewell Belt // Asos - $28 // Everlane - $45
J. Crew Tie // TheTieBar - $15 // Nordstrom - $40
J. Crew Tie Clip // Etsy - $15 // J. Crew - $45
Liberty Print Pocket Square // TheTieBar - $10 //  J. Crew - $18 
9 Ways to Wear the Basics: Chinos + Gingham
This is the first installment of the ‘How To Wear The Basics’ series, where we show you the versatility of wardrobe staples. We’re here to prove that you don’t need a huge collection of clothes to put together lots of different outfits. Instead, it’s about knowing how to style and utilize the basics in order to create various looks. It all comes down to versatility. When you’re buying something, you shouldn’t shop for a single outfit; rather, think of 5 different ways you can wear the item in the wardrobe that you already have. 
With that in mind, we’re starting out with the classic gingham and chinos, which we styled 9 different ways using just a handful of accessories. Let’s walk through some options:
Style 1 —> The most basic way to wear the basics. If you’re going to wear a shirt and pants, why not upgrade from jeans and a t-shirt to this? They’re equally comfortable (proper sizing is key) and you could easily walk the dog or cuddle up with a good book and some hot tea in either. 
Style 2 —> Little details make a world of difference. All I did was tuck in my shirt and add a belt, but it cleaned up the outfit dramatically. This casual look is great for lunch with friends or picking up a coffee from the shop down the street with the super cute barista. 
Style 3 —> Need to get a little more physical with your activities? Just roll up your sleeves and keep the top button undone. It adds some more flexibility within the shirt so you can run those errands without a problem. This look is also perfect for a park picnic date; you get to look good, easily lounge, and even play frisbee if you’d like.
Style 4 —> If you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s probably still cold; if you’re in the midwest, it’s bone chillingly frigid. Layering not only helps you survive the winter, but it can also score you points on your next date to the movies. Having a warm, comfy cardigan to give to your partner when they get chilly is always clutch. Instead of reaching for a zip-up hoodie, opt for a thick, cable-knit shawl cardigan. It’ll keep your outfit cohesive and 100% snuggable. 
Style 5 —> In need of an easy, go-to work outfit? This is my personal favorite; just add a neutral dark tie (or bow tie) and a fun tie clip. These accessories dress up the outfit so it’s more business casual, which makes it perfect for the office or even a nice dinner out at your favorite restaurant. 
Style 6 —> Stemming from style 3, all I did was add a fun, floral-patterned pocket square. It’s a simple accessory and people often forget that you don’t need a blazer to wear one. With that in mind, I’d opt for a smaller pocket square (10”x10”) in a thinner fabric so that it doesn’t get too lumpy in your shirt pocket. I chose an interesting floral print because obviously I love florals, but also because it’s a great conversation starter at bars. It tends to grab someone’s attention and a conversation is born. Perfect for those shy types, such as myself. 
Style 7 —> The perfect combination of cozy and business casual. A cardigan is a great alternative to a blazer when it comes to layering up at the office. Make sure the cardigan has some structure to it (i.e. not big and baggy) and that it hits no lower than your belt line (like with any jacket); this way, it mimics the fit and form of a blazer. Comparing it to style 4 where there is no neckwear, it’s clear that a tie or bow tie keeps this look more professional looking - so don’t neglect your neck!
Style 8 —> The beloved navy blazer; a staple in any wardrobe. Whether you work in a more formal setting or you just want to look super slick, this is going to be the piece that kicks your look up to the next level. Keep the sleeves on the blazer down and you’re ready to nail that presentation; alternatively, roll the sleeves up and show off that lining to make the look more relaxed. When it comes to buttoning a blazer, here are my golden rules: 2 button blazer, never button the bottom button (only use the top). 3 button blazer, from top down = sometimes, always, never. 
Style 9 —> For this look, I’ve just rolled up the sleeves from style 5. As a general rule of thumb, rolled up sleeves are always going to be more casual than those left down. That means this look would be ideal for a work environment that is more on the casual side or a more movement-heavy position. In addition, it’s a great go-to for a school outfit; it’s casual and comfortable, but still put together. Trust me, people will notice (in a very positive way). 

Details  (What I’m wearing // Similar Alternatives)

And the winner is…

Catie over at despite-repute won our giveaway! Mimi’s mailing the handkerchief tomorrow. We can’t wait to see Catie’s photos!

Honorable mentions for best outfit suggestions include:

moonage-daydreams
dyke-terroir
lorenacupcake
aduradore
bristone
unicornshittingrainbowsofkandi
queeringstyle

Stayed tuned for our next drawing.

xo,

Mimi + Sean

(PS - we randomly selected the winner. Our method included a lot of small pieces of paper, tiny writing, and one of Sean’s hats.)

Launch Party

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First, THANK YOU all for making our launch party such a success. Chicago, you braved the snow, awkwardly made eye contact with cuties, and got drunk/left your coats at the bar. But all in all, everyone looked fierce and fabulous! 

Second, we are already planning another event, and we want YOUR input. Our upcoming events will be more accessible - for all ages, abilities, and geographies. What do you want to see?! 

Third, be sure to check out the rest of the pictures on our Facebook page!

While you’re there, be sure to like us!!!!

xo,

Mimi + Sean

exsouthernbelle:

these are my essential items (l-r, counter clockwise):

j.crew field jacketlevi’s jean jacketj.crew sweatshirtbrooks brothers red label striped oxford, levi’s 511 jeans, brooks brothers 346 white oxford, o’hanlon mills sweater, calvin klein wallet, canon ae-1, red wing heritage 875,

accessories: moleskine ruled notebook, tom robbins still life with woodpeckerkey chain (with metal comb - from anita over at dapperq.com - and jack tar 207 key fob), j.crew socks, and levi’s belt.

check out sean’s favorite items!

Professional LayeringLike any other outfit, it’s best to start with the basics and then build from there. I paired a white OCBD with slate gray chinos; however, any dark pant and light colored button down combo will also work. This neutral starting point allows more flexibility for what you put on over this, whether it be more neutrals or richly saturated colors. 

It may seem like a silly step, but tucking in your shirt is incredibly important in maintaining a sleek, professional look. Not only does it keep you from looking disheveled, but it keeps your outfit’s proportions in check. Most button downs have longer ‘tails’ which can shorten your perceived leg length if they’re left untucked. I find it best to tuck the shirt in with the pants undone, then zip/button up the pants. 

Don’t forget to add a clean and simple belt. Leather is the most versatile; it’ll look good regardless of the season or degree of formality. 

Next, I added a thin, but super warm, wool cardigan. I went with one that had similar colors/tones that were already in the outfit. It may seem strange to wear a gray sweater on top of gray pants, but the detailed trim and texture do a great job of breaking the piece apart from the pants; this way it doesn’t look like you are one big monotone color blob. 

I then added my favorite navy wool blazer, which is a staple piece for any dapper wardrobe. It pulls together any outfit and upgrades your look from’cute english teacher’ to ‘boss’. Trust me, this investment piece will be worth every penny.

Accessories! This is where you can make your outfit into something unique and personal. Outside the workplace I love rocking bright floral button downs, but that doesn’t work in my own professional setting (this is highly variable based on your own workplace). That said, I still like to incorporate colors and prints into my outfits, just in more subtle ways.

By having the bulk of my outfit fall into the darker neutral territory (navy/gray), my floral tie ‘pops,’ but it doesn’t ‘scream.’ Likewise, pairing a pocket square with a color that is already in the outfit (via the tie) helps keep the color schemes melded together. The key to adding color to any outfit is to not overdo it; you don’t want the eye to be jumping all around to multiple ‘screaming’ parts of an outfit. 

If bold prints aren’t your thing, no worries! The beauty of a neutral base is that nearly any colored tie/bow tie would go perfectly. In addition, you can incorporate color outside of accessories. For instance, a richly saturated rust or forest green cardigan would go perfectly with a dark tie/bow tie. 

Details (What I’m Wearing // Similar Alternatives)
Rugby OCBD // H&M - $40 // Everlane - $55
J. Crew Bennett Chinos // Land’s End - $40 // J. Crew - $70
Madewell Leather Anchor Belt // ASOS - $27 // Everlane - $45
Madewell Cardigan // Crewcuts - $50 // Brooks Brothers - $150
J. Crew School Boy Blazer // Macy’s - $30 // Gap - $98
Liberty Print Floral Tie // TheTieBar - $15 // Topman - $20
Thrifted Handkerchief // TheTieBar - $8 // Tommy Hilfiger - $33
Professional Layering
Like any other outfit, it’s best to start with the basics and then build from there. I paired a white OCBD with slate gray chinos; however, any dark pant and light colored button down combo will also work. This neutral starting point allows more flexibility for what you put on over this, whether it be more neutrals or richly saturated colors. 
It may seem like a silly step, but tucking in your shirt is incredibly important in maintaining a sleek, professional look. Not only does it keep you from looking disheveled, but it keeps your outfit’s proportions in check. Most button downs have longer ‘tails’ which can shorten your perceived leg length if they’re left untucked. I find it best to tuck the shirt in with the pants undone, then zip/button up the pants. 
Don’t forget to add a clean and simple belt. Leather is the most versatile; it’ll look good regardless of the season or degree of formality. 
Next, I added a thin, but super warm, wool cardigan. I went with one that had similar colors/tones that were already in the outfit. It may seem strange to wear a gray sweater on top of gray pants, but the detailed trim and texture do a great job of breaking the piece apart from the pants; this way it doesn’t look like you are one big monotone color blob. 
I then added my favorite navy wool blazer, which is a staple piece for any dapper wardrobe. It pulls together any outfit and upgrades your look from’cute english teacher’ to ‘boss’. Trust me, this investment piece will be worth every penny.
Accessories! This is where you can make your outfit into something unique and personal. Outside the workplace I love rocking bright floral button downs, but that doesn’t work in my own professional setting (this is highly variable based on your own workplace). That said, I still like to incorporate colors and prints into my outfits, just in more subtle ways.
By having the bulk of my outfit fall into the darker neutral territory (navy/gray), my floral tie ‘pops,’ but it doesn’t ‘scream.’ Likewise, pairing a pocket square with a color that is already in the outfit (via the tie) helps keep the color schemes melded together. The key to adding color to any outfit is to not overdo it; you don’t want the eye to be jumping all around to multiple ‘screaming’ parts of an outfit. 
If bold prints aren’t your thing, no worries! The beauty of a neutral base is that nearly any colored tie/bow tie would go perfectly. In addition, you can incorporate color outside of accessories. For instance, a richly saturated rust or forest green cardigan would go perfectly with a dark tie/bow tie. 

Details (What I’m Wearing // Similar Alternatives)