What is Your Outfit Template?

I had a drink on Saturday evening with Dolly Alderton, who is an English journalist and the dating columnist for The Sunday Times Style, and she asked me this great question: What is your outfit template? Originally, I didn’t really understand what she meant. What is an outfit template? I am not a Polyvore collage. Then it occurred to me that we all, in some way, maintain our own versions of a template. We fall back on this template when we can’t quite figure out what to wear, or feel like shit and want to change that as quickly as possible.

If you’d have asked me three years ago about my template, I’d have said high-waist, straight-leg jeans and a button-down shirt. The shoes change and so do the other accessories and jackets. This is probably still the outfit that I fall back on even though whenever I put it on, I don’t feel especially great anymore. That’s a weird phenomenon too: When the tricks you have identified as foolproof are no longer just that, what do you do? So I had to think about for a second. When do I feel like the best version of myself?

It’s a lot easier to think in terms of templates instead of actual outfits — that puts way too much emphasis on the garment itself and frankly doesn’t allow for much creative exploration.

I guess I’ve been wearing a lot of high-waist miniskirts. They’re easy and casual, but also exude a put-togetherness that I have been very attracted to as of late. What have I been wearing them with? T-shirts? Yes, but I don’t feel especially strongly about myself in these T-shirts. Button downs? Yes. They’re still reliable! But they’re no longer so stiff: I’ve been leaning on silk shirts that look more like pajamas than outerwear but when ironed and fresh, pack such a strong punch. Lately, too, I don’t feel complete without a sweater worn lopsided, either around my waist or neck.

And for the shoes?


Ankle boots are dead to me. Not dead to me, but I don’t feel like wearing them much. So I’ve been searching for loafers. Actually, I’ve been counting down the damn minutes for my collection with Net-a-Porter to launch because I think I’ve finally cracked the code on !the perfect loafer silhouette! That must be it, then.

High-waist miniskirt, fabric at wearer’s discretion; silk pajama blouse, any color of the rainbow will do; knit sweater, go ham; and loafers.

AND SOCKS! Of course! The antidote to all ankle boots. Cut my leg off but do it gently.


That sounds right.

Perfect, actually.

What’s yours?

Photo by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Charlotte Dallin

    My Acne Skin 5s and one of many grey sweaters are the usual basis for my outfits. I’m yet to find a skirt I love wearing. Wish I was a skirt person.

  • Jeanne Harlow

    Okay. Convinced. I need an above-knee, slightly-stiff mini skit, preferably with buttons down the front. NOW!
    My template fro dressing as of late has been puffy, 3/4 sleeves with a puffy body too so you can’t tell, “are there boobs in there or is she packing her middle school hamster in that top?” and something high waist to tuck the top into. Anything from linen, cropped flares to tight-all-over black denim will do. And a light jacket because we’re in that cold morning/evening weather but sweltering at lunch time of year.

  • My favorite outfit template would be high waisted denim with a skinny leg paired with a white blouse of some sort (silk, lace, cotton) and decadent heels. Fail proof outfit for anywhere and everywhere!

  • Laura

    Hmm I usually resort to a high-waist colorful loose skirt (silk or faux leather), coupled with a baggy top – preferably a sweater, but it depends on the weather. Absolutely comfy.

    Which is why I also need some ankle boots (they’re not dead for me) with medium-sized heels to wreck away my comfort zone and also make me feel like a skyscraper, although I’m really more of a one-story cottage. And then I add some grandma-like tights and I’m cool to go.

  • ella

    I love this concept of an outfit template. I think my outfit template reads as modern grandmother, its like a hybrid of steve jobs and kate spade? give me a high waisted maxi skirt, turtleneck black sweater, and a leather jacket, and you have me feeling as my best self ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Molly D

      omg same

  • spiceyperson

    Generally black+bright contrast. Specifics depend on the season- tights with short, loose thing on top during the winter (the shoes have to have sparkles or shine or flash of some sort). The summer is similar, but no tights and the shoes are flat sandals (also flashy).

  • Molly D

    I must be 3 years behind the Leandra times because that is what I wear currently. I do occasionally wear a high-waisted skit with my button down and after throwing on a whimsical red scarf I become an Air France flight attendant. HOT.

  • I can’t live without jackets and high-waist jeans!


  • Abby

    My outfit template is: black boyfriend jeans, button down sleeveless top (chambray or black), and black birkenstocks. Add denim jacket if cold.

  • Alice

    A drink with you, Dolly Alderton & Pandora Sykes would, most probs, be my dream dranks team… I have so many questions for you ALL!

  • Raqui

    I was so stoked when I saw this post!!!

    I think and write about this ALL. OF. THE. TIME!!!!

    Recently I have been thinking about how our template (or super suit as I call them) can help us to feel like the best version of ourselves even when we feel kinda shittyโ€ฆ. (when we put on the clothes of our best self, I think it helps us want to act more like we do when we feel our best).

    My template is a short pleated skirt, with a structured top and shiny loafers, and a bug brooch. When I wear this I feel so clever and put together.

    I love thinking about how clothes can be used as communication tools/ a 6th sense to help you express yourself AND to give others clues about who you are at your core. โ˜บ


  • In the fall my go to is high waisted vintage trousers (in burgundy), tight cropped long sleeve or turtleneck (hello pointy nipples), ankle boots. Then usually a sweater or blazer, depending on how cold it is.

  • Pants, top and cardigan – no patterns, no fuss, but colors and preferably organic materials. Docs. 8 tiny silver earstuds.

  • It starts with the sneakers. The outfit builds towards the heavens from there.

  • boingboing

    Long, slouchy, Kate-Hepburn-esque navy all season wool trousers, a skinny tee, and sneakers. If I need to go a bit fancier, I’ll sub a silk blouse and heels. In fall, a blazer, leather jacket, or oversized sweater and some chunky heeled ankle boots. Like commentator Charlotte below, I wish I were a dress or skirt person, but it’s rare that I’ll wear either.

  • My template is kind of boring… skinny jeans, plain t-shirt tucked in, a flat shoe (be it a loafer, ankle boots, sandals, ballerinas) tiny rings, 3 really thin necklaces and yellow gold bangles. I just rock when I am dressed like this. haha

  • BK

    I am inordinately attached to an oversize black silk shirt from COS which is long enough to be worn as a dress, leggings or sheer tights, meandher loafers, all of my weird jewellery, a bandana and either a sharp blazer or my military coat, depending if I am going out to an evening of dinner, drinks and sparkling conversation, or to loiter around the markets like some sort of teenaged ruffian who is disproportionately attached to buying cheese only from the cheesemonger.

  • rachel

    Consistent for years: black ankle boots (suede or pony hair), black skirt or skinny jeans, black loose t-shirt, blazer. What can I say, I like to keep it streamlined

  • An excellent question! Going to think long and hard about the evolution of my template over the years, but I can definitely say that jeans, a comfortable ‘nice’ top and acceptable shoes (read ‘approved’ brand sneakers, unbranded oxfords) is what I rather dejectedly default to. I haven’t felt like the best version of myself in my clothes for a long time ๐Ÿ™

    Only buy what you love kids! Looking at my wardrobe just makes me think of all the shopping I should be doing (KENZO H&M!!!) to be a little happier with my look, that I’ve been putting off, partly because I’m saving for a trip but mostly because I’m not being very smart with what’s left.

  • Zlatina Tsvetkova

    My recet go to are slip and tea dresses worn over shirts or pants, or under grandma cardigans. Shoes are either sneakers or heels, depending on the context.
    Alternatively, a high waist midi skirt circa 1950s, a graphic t-shirt and a cropped jaket, and tall boots or fun flats.
    Hm, I used to be a pants person… now I’m almost never wearing them, unless its necessary.

  • Beckyshak

    My template is a mini caftan of some sort, worn with Western boots or shoes with fringe or tassels. Black or grey tights or leggings if it’s cold. My style story is: I’m an American country star in the 1960s who has moved to the English (or French) countryside to escape the limelight and spend my time raising horses and dogs.

  • Katy

    Boyfriend jeans, half-tucked top, great jacket

    • Lakirk


  • Rhi

    Silk shirt, high waisted jeans, ankle boots – bold lipstick, skinny or straight leg, colour of shirt and denim all optional depending on mood. Lately it’s been blue frayed hem denim with dark floral silk.

    Fun fact: also my go to date look (except I usually go for whatever jeans make my arse look best for that).

  • My foolproof template is a loose, sleeveless top tucked into denim jeans (or shorts depending on the weather) and ALWAYS tucked in, with either an over-sized button down or cardigan and timeless flats or block heels/booties. Accessories usually overdone, but then I remember Coco Chanel’s quote about a woman removing one accessory before leaving the house, so I faithfully follow this rule. And wa-lah! Oufit complete!

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    Mine is athletic gear of some sorts I hate to say because … I don’t go to the gym.

  • Rebecca Lake

    loose vintage blouse (half tucked in), fringed vintage denim/OR the ever so popular rolled up baggy dad pants, and the pointed toe boots which I searched all over the city for an entire year for.

  • Rebecca Lake

    I have maybe three outfit templates depending on the weather, personal comfort level that day, and of course how much I’m going to eat. these can range anywhere from grandma cool, to fun dad, to poor 20 something year old on their way to some dive bar with too cool other poor 20 something year olds. However, what always remains is my insanely large collection of baggy vintage boy jeans.

  • Shahi Biscus

    The comments are fun, for me it’s always tailored large trousers, any kind of shirt or blouse, a blazer or any light jacket , heeled ankle boots or loafers

  • Tess

    Forever a turtleneck with vintage straight jeans

  • Mun

    t-shirt, boyfriend denim jeans and clogs


  • Currently it’s a turtleneck (with the possibility of things layered over/under it) paired with a skirt kind of similar to the one you’re wearing and chelsea boots. I really need to find an alternative to chelsea boots.

  • My uniform is based on function: getting dirty in studio all day, then bike ride to PO. For fall that means: buttondown shirt, crew sweater, skinny jeans, flat boots or converse. Big earrings and a big ring. Throw on favorite big colorful cardigan and stuff packages in vintage leather backpack on way out door.

  • Sugar Bones

    I dress in themes! It all started summer 2010 when I couldn’t get enough of “Wild West in the 1940s.” It’s of course changed a lot over the years but now I teeter between “Joan Jett of Arc” and “Space Priestess.”

  • Anie

    Nanny McTwee: Hat, oversized sweater, long skirt, patterned tights, boots or loafers, red heart sunglasses. ๐Ÿ’˜

  • Catherine

    Ankle boots, sheer black tights (bonus points for a seam up the back – my 1940’s aesthetic dreams do come true), and any myriad of floaty dresses, chiffon-y skirts, and interesting jewelry. All in cool colors – black, blue, green, grey! A look that makes me feel just three steps away from a Rodarte collection.

  • Alex

    I’m a big fan of the pajama blouse concept. Any further recommendations for where to find one (or several)?

  • Molly McCurdy

    I think more in silhouettes, preferring a 1940s-50s hourglass although I do love 60s trapeze tops as an alternative. basic- roomier top oxford or silk, a cinched waist whether high jeans or a pencil / aline mini skirt, and I can’t get enough of a pointed toe heel or structured loafers with a very mens’ wear hommage. Blazers are a must, always. silk scarf around neck or on purse, pearl studs or http://www.sparedrawerdesigns.com knot earrings. Either cat eye or a bold lip and I love me a high ballerina bun.