Since introducing the topic of Conversation Starters, I’ve been asked the following question several times about what to look for when shopping for these bold pieces: “Morgan, I have a ton of events where I need to command attention and will be photographed. Why should I spend money on items that I’m only going to wear once?”
Because the times when you need a boost of confidence and want to look your absolute best are not when you want to skimp. Investing in a few Conversation Starters that will stand the test of time is critical.
While a Conversation Starter doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, it does have to be well made. The impression you want to create with a Conversation Starter is one of success, not corner cutting. These items are meant to be seen, so make sure the attention is out of admiration.
Any woman of #SmartStyle, including Kate Middleton, knows it’s better to be seen multiple times in a high quality item than in the latest cheap fashion thrill. And no offense, but if wearing an item multiple times is good enough for the Duchess of Cambridge, then it might be worth a try for us too.
The top 3 indicators of high quality Conversation Starters are Embellishment, Fabric & Fit. These are tips that apply to all garments, but ESPECIALLY garments that will be garnering you a lot of attention.
Embellishment: this if often where the magic of a Conversation Starting item lies. Sequins, or fringe, or beading or metallic threading are what can take an ordinary shape into extraordinary territory and are what will initially get you noticed. But be wary of how these details are executed.
- The embellishment should cover the front AND back of a garment. Many mainstream brands are leaving the backs plain to save money on production. Don’t fall for this okie doke. You need to look just as good going as you do coming.
- Beading and sequins should be well sewn and cover most of the fabric base. You are not Gretel: do not leave a trail of sequins.
Substantial Fabric: The best fabrics are usually made from natural fibers: wool, cotton, cashmere and silk. Yes, garments made out of these fibers will cost more, but they will also last infinitely longer than most items made from the Poly & Ester sisters. But here are a few good ways to test any fabric:
- Hold it up to the light: with a high quality item, the fabric will either be heavy enough or the garment will be lined, so that you won’t be able to see your hand (or other body parts when you’re actually wearing it). This is especially important for synthetic or blended fabrics. If the item is sheer, fake a lining with a camisole or slip (yes, they still make slips!)
- Do a “scrunch” test: ball up the fabric in your hand for a few seconds and then release. If the wrinkles don’t fall quickly, imagine how your going to look after sitting at your desk all day or getting out of a car. Overly wrinkled is never a good look. #Frumpy
Fit: While fit is always imperative, it’s especially important with bold items. If the garment is too tight, it looks like you’re trying too hard to be noticed. If it’s too big, the garment is “wearing you” instead of you owning the look. No matter how much you spent on a fabulous item, it will look cheap if the sleeves are too long, the hem is too short, or the sides of the dress are gaping. Find a good tailor and dedicate the time, effort and money to make these items fit you perfectly.
Remember: The goal of a Conversation Starter is to draw attention to you but not to keep the attention on the item. By adhering to these guidelines, the conversation will be focused on where it belongs: you and your message.
One of my new favorite lines that nails it on embellishment, fabric and fit, is Chloe Kristyn. The Atlanta-based, woman owned and USA-made label has some amazing Conversation Starters for Spring 2018. I’ve experienced first hand their commitment to amazing fabrics, impeccable fit and fun embellishment. The Bethany Fringe Dress speaks for itself.
I want to hear your stories about your favorite Conversation Starter items! Share with me below or via email or my social media channels!
Yours in Style, Shopping and Soul,