Four Spring Fashion Formulas
Taking a page from the Princess of Wales and embracing a daytime uniform.
Writing about Kate’s ‘Uniform Era’ got me thinking about my own fashion formula. I have favored certain clothing combinations through the years and very much believe in the concept. I also look back at photos from those stretches and, style-wise, similar pieces can feel a tad…stale? By my count, I wore Uniqlo Merino sweaters in our family holiday card photos for four (!) years in a row. Don’t get me wrong — I love those sweaters. But I want to change it up a bit! Studying the Princess of Wales’s recent approach has given me hope that I can streamline my everyday style and have fun getting dressed each morning.
With spring on the horizon, I put together four “uniforms” to consider as you (and I) shop for the season. These are based on silhouettes — or, more simply put, shapes — which I think offer the most chances to try out trends. If you’re looking to center your uniform on color, start with one or two neutrals as your base and then pick a signature hue to make an outfit pop. Extra credit if you embrace a range of shades in that same color family. To keep any fashion formula feeling fresh, make sure to play around with your accessories.
The outfits suggested below include links to current styles. But my guess is that you probably have many of these pieces in your closet already! So start there and check second-hand sites, too, including ThredUp and the RealReal. Happy hunting!
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Four Spring Fashion Formulas
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Uniform #1: Blazer + blouse + denim
This classic combo can be dressed up for a meeting at the office or kept more casual with sneakers for a polished school pick-up look. A ruffle blouse helps to temper the structure of the blazer (although I think this combo works just as well with a T-shirt).
Top row: Navy blazer / Floral blouse / Jeans
(This versatile blazer pairs so well with this Liberty print blouse. These are my go-to jeans in a high-rise cut, which makes it easier to tuck in the top.)
Bottom row: Light blue blazer / White blouse / White jeans
(Dress up your white jeans — I wore this perfect pair all last summer! — with a soft-but-sharp blazer and a white blouse. Sleeveless is always best when layering.)
Accessories: Sunglasses / Brown bag / Earrings / White bag / Flats
(Raise your hand if you recognize these sunnies + bag from Kate’s collection, or the other bag from Meghan’s!)
Uniform #2: Cardigan + tank + cargoes
You might be thinking: CARGOES? Really, Elizabeth? I know, I know. They’re having a moment! But if they’re not for you, try another relaxed silhouette. Tuck in a fitted tank then add a heavy knit. I am LOVING the cropped crewneck cardigans in stores now. Bonus: They double as a coat in spring.
Top row: Navy cardigan / White tank / Olive cargoes
(Ease the preppy-ness of this cardigan with utilitarian vibe of the pants; I have two of these tanks and trust me they are worth the splurge!)
Bottom row: Cream cardigan / Pink tank / Tan cargoes
(This cardigan comes in so many great colors, so you could swap the ‘pop’ on the ‘fit to the sweater and go neutral on the tank. Plus the slim-cut cargoes give you the look without the bulk.)
Accessories: Sneakers / Gold sunglasses / Scarf / Hoops
(Kicks in a brand loved by the royals and a scarf that makes me so excited for the return of spring, aka scarf season)
Uniform #3: Cropped jacket + stripe tee + wide-leg pants
I know we all love our skinny jeans but here’s a nudge to try wide-leg styles. Pair these with a fun stripe and cropped jacket for a fresh spin on a weekend uniform. Make sure you keep the coat short, so it ends before the volume of the denim begins.
Top row: Olive jacket / Striped shirt / Dark jeans
(This top is so good, isn’t it? Obsessed with the pockets on the jeans, too! Try scrunching the sleeves of the jacket like Meghan does.)
Bottom row: Denim jacket / Striped shirt / White jeans
(The ladylike cut of this jacket would make it great over a dress, too. And adding yellow stripes to my navy-heavy collection feels like a welcome spring update.)
Accessories: Brown sunglasses / Tote / Pink sunglasses / Scarf
(I have this tote from a Meghan-approved brand, it’s super versatile. Pink sunnies are less so, LOL, but a lot of fun!)
Uniform #4: Floral dress + trench coat
When I started putting together this newsletter, I was aiming to do three uniforms. But then I remembered the fashion formula that was all over London last spring! (ICYMI: You can read all about it here). Look for a dress with a bit of volume in the skirt, so that it peeks out from underneath the hem. Pair with low-profile white sneakers or Mary Janes and and you’re good to go!
Top left: Blue trench / Navy dress
(I’ve got a light blue trench and wear it everywhere!)
Top right: Tan trench / Dark pink dress
(Bright hues look great under this classic neutral piece.)
Bottom left: Gray trench / Yellow dress
(The hidden closure gives this trench a bit more of a relaxed feel.)
Bottom right: Navy trench / Red dress
(Loving the volume and easiness of this dress)
Accessories: Sneakers / Mary Janes
(The sneakers are on super sale! These Mary Janes come in black, silver, and denim, too.)
If you try one of these formulas OR you come up with your own, you MUST let me know! And send pics. Tag me on Insta at @EHolmes, comment below, or send me a note: Hello@SoManyThoughts.com.
I would love a fashion formula for each season, at the beginning of the new season like you’ve done! It would be something to look forward to!! You’re great at coming up with these! I used the floral dress/trench formula to help me plan for an upcoming trip!
Love this article!! After some googling, I've just ordered a navy trench (single-breasted) from Marks & Spencer... nice price, too! :)