How To Break A Style Rut

Alison Syrett | January 14, 2016


Today I’m dressed in a boxy turtleneck and moderately high waisted vintage jeans with an ankle length crop. There’s a yellowing blotch on one leg of unknown origin. While absentmindedly poking at it during this morning’s commute, a disquieting realization came to mind: I’ve already worn these suckers twice this week — and that would be thrice if I didn’t stuff the wrong pair in my gym bag yesterday.

Those were also mildly high waisted and vintage. With an ankle length crop.

Meanwhile, my sweater’s all like, “Oh hey, you basically own me in five different colors, so that’s not predictable at all.” Screw green juice and 30 day barre challenges. It’s my wardrobe that’s in need of some resolutions. You feel me?

If so, join me in these five style goals and, better yet, shopping for each. Because if we have to cut back on our 501 habits, there better be new shoes involved.

1. For goodness sake, give the jeans a breather.

Not the Ross Geller kind of break where you move on too fast and sleep with a FedEx employee — just enough distance to get some space and perspective. And new pants!


2. Add some structure to your life. Or at least your purse collection.

Box Bag, meet Reader. Reader, meet Box Bag. You two are going to be so happy together on job interviews, dinners out and getting dressed up for the hell of it on Wednesday mornings. There’s no need, of course, to donate all your leather backpacks and crossbodies (unless it’s to a Goodwill in my neighborhood — I’ll DM you my address just in case!), but throwing this innately sophisticated shape (filled with Skittles or not) in the mix tells the world you’ve got your shit together.

3. Just pony up and buy the coat.

You know the one. It appears in all its unicorn-sourced cashmere, fairy-stitched glory at the start of the season, taunting you with its sheer perfection and four digit price tag. You almost talk yourself into buying it five times before going for the Diet Coke version at Zara instead. Save your closet from more disposable outerwear and get something that lasts. You’ll be glad next year — and the five after that.

4. Learn to love pumps again.

You soured on them for a split second during the Stan Smith mania of 2015, but it’s time to rekindle the old flame. The latest version not only has a blocky, completely manageable heel, but just makes you feel so gosh darn pretty. Oh yeah, and the extra two inches of leg real estate aren’t so bad either.

5. Massive earrings heal all wounds.

Alright, maybe not flesh and blood ones. If your brain is, like, literally pulsating in pain trying to think of ways to make a black turtleneck interesting, though, this here’s your Advil. Only better because it sparkles.

Photographed by Harley Weir for Self Service Magazine. Carousel Photographed by Harley Weir for Pop Magazine. Collaged by Krista Anna Lewis. So now you’re all gussied up, and ready to go out. How about on a date with yourself?


  • I only wear jeans. And sweaters. I am most definitely in a style rut. I’ll have to go home and rethink my life (closet) today.

    • i totally know this problem. But a jeans and sweater is not always bad 🙂

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    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      Me too! BUT I think that if you wear something out of your norm once a week, it really adds the spice back into your life. Be that heels or a dress.

      Also, one of my resolutions was to start wearing big earrings and I’ve gotten so many compliments. I’m not in it for the compliments, but they don’t hurt, let me tell you!

      • That’s what I was doing, but with makeup! I would wear a cat eye on a random day and my coworkers would be like, “oh man, you look good! you should wear it more often!”. But I think I might try a non-jean diet (at least once a week!) and see how it goes. Big earrings are such a great way to do it too! Ugh, if one of my piercings wasn’t all wonky, I would wear dangling earrings more.

        • Lyla

          I’m all about doing the crazy lip color if I feel the need to spice things up. Electric pink or watermelon can perk up a really tired look.

  • Miranda Babbitt

    The outfit you described yourself wearing though was on point! I want. But this article gave me the feels for sure.

    On another note, is there any way to incorporate cheaper options into the suggestions mix/show the prices below in more articles? My heart rises and falls each time I click on items that I love but they turn out to be way-hay-hay out of my price range 95% of the time.

    • Alison Syrett

      Thanks Miranda! Although you are definitely enabling my vintage jeans habit. 🙂

      And I hear you on the lower priced options. More of a mix coming your way in the future!

      • Thanks Alison although I agree on the coat splurge. Definitely worth it! My Topshop one is way to heavy and scratchy.

  • I published my fashion goals precisely last week! I’m afraid I am not getting rid of my jeans, but I’ll totally go for the box bags (everything is so organised in them!) and the mega earrings, which I am not brave enough to wear out of my house… But they still look amazing so I’ll give them a chance.

  • Am I the only one around here that tries to not buy similar items of clothing? Pretty much all my jeans are different washes/colours, all my sweaters and tops are different textures/prints/colours, etc. If I see something that’s similar to what I already own I won’t buy it …

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      Ugh, Maria, you make it sound so easy! You are so wise!

      I think my biggest way to mix it up is with structure and proportion. If I wear jeans every day, at least they will go from skinny to straight leg to cropped to oversized. My real secret weapon for a rut though: a good skirt.

      • Haha thank you! I get it, I mean it’s not like my wardrobe looks like 2010 Lady Gaga’s. I have things that are similar – for instance I have coated black jeans and ripped black jeans, pale blue and medium blue jeans, etc. I just make sure that they’re different enough from the rest of my jeans.

        That being said I have also fairly recently discovered the joy of basics, but again one white v neck, one black v neck, one black round neck, one white round neck etc.

    • Alison Syrett

      Okay, so here is very complicated conversation I have with myself while shopping: If I buy something similar to another piece I have/love, I KNOW I’m going to wear it. Like, it’s good to have back ups when something is in the wash. BUT then I think maybe I am enabling myself not to take chances? On the other hand, there’s always the chance that I’ll buy something outside my comfort zone and it will just languish in my closet. Maybe I need to give my favorite jeans away like Leandra and see what happens…

      • Alison Syrett

        Hahaha, who am I kidding, that will never happen.

    • Joy

      I used to not do this… And I ended up with an awesome wardrobe which was pretty much non wearable because of the lack of basics. So safe to say it didn’t really work for me. Recently I bought loads of basics and colour variations of those basics and I’m now mastering my wardrobe again (if I may politely say so myself)


    • Lyla

      I get where you’re coming from, but one pair of black skinnies can never be enough. Other than that I agree about mixing things up.

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I own 15 J.Crew tissue turtlenecks. So.

  • Alison

    Massive earrings *do* heal all wounds!

  • Tiana

    Think we are all in need of a rehall in the closet!

  • Liz

    Couldn’t agree more on ‘Buy the Coat!’ It elevates the ol’ jeans-and-sweater game. Speaking of, my ol’ jeans-and-sweater game is actually an ol’ print-dress-and-black-tights game that I need to shake up. Jeans and sweaters to the rescue!


  • No more Zara bags and black leggings is my fashion resolution for the year!

  • Sushee

    Oh no – I’m coming out the other side of this! Much chopping and changing and then I saw that the things I wear again and again are me, my personal style. I wear blue button-down shirts all the time – so I buy more. Ditto leather skirts. And cashmere jumpers. I have my staples and then change shoes or whatever, but why mess with a good thing? Now I just make my staples amazing (and damn I love a cropped jean)

  • Katlin Stewart

    Well I was GOING to pay rent, but I think I’ll update my closet instead.