Posh Eclectic: A Certain Madcap Glamour

August 8th, 2009 by Bailey in Bailey, How To..., Photos, anything goes

“‘There’s a lot more eclecticism and experimentation in Britain than [there is in] French or Italian fashion,’ says former Chloe designer Phoebe Philo. ‘Although we’re huge snobs, people are into wearing clothes that don’t conform.’ Indeed, when it comes to this category, ordinary conventions of dressing simply do not apply. Instead there’s a certain madcap glamour, made up of equal parts country-estate frumpy and the black-sheep aristocrat’s disregard for what’s acceptable. But there’s a genuine chemistry when it all comes together.”

[I'm sorry I've been MIA lately - I just moved home from NYC this past weekend, so the series kind of fell to the wayside. But never fear, I'm back!]

That last part really puts this look together – it’s a bunch of things that you probably wouldn’t think about wearing separately, but together, they have a certain look about them.

“To wit: Laura Bailey’s loose, fearless layering of decades – ’40s librarion with ’70s punk with ’30s socialite with turn-of-the-century gothic – finished with incredible little couture, vintage-store touches (a sweet cloche hat from the attic, a fur shrug, decadent lace layers).”

Not to be cliche, but these are the kinds of girls that look rather wispy when you see them in photographs – kind of like dandelions, just ready to blow away. But at the same time, they have a certain tenacity about them that makes you know they are grounded in reality. So how do you get that style?

How to Get the Look

Wear an evening dress during the day

“Posh Eclectic women are queens of day-to-night and night-to-day dressing. To them, these are one and the same, and there’s no such things as something too dressy to trot out for lunch. It might be frothy or sequined, or simple and silky – there isn’t really a rule here.”

“To wear it for day, mix it in with two (or more, depending on exactly how eclectic you want to be) pieces that go delightfully against the grain of the dress’ fancy mood, like a tweed blazer and sturdy ankle boots, or an oversize sweater and ballet flats. Dark matte tights make a great instead contrast against light floaty styles, too.”

fjdressThe first dress I thought of here was, of course, the For Joseph Flirty Silk Yonnie Dress that’s been up on RTC for a while.

The other dresses I thought of were other For Joseph pieces, the Jeweled Dress and Dara Dress. Both are very elegant and classy, and I think could fit perfectly into this style, if done correctly. And matte tights are very in for the next season, so be sure to stock up! With the Jeweled Dress, I think a belt could really pull this into a daytime look – with a pretty belt and/or matte tights, you could create a plethora of outfits (yes, a plethora!).

fjdress2 fjdress3

Remember, all the For Joseph dresses run HUGE (from what I hear), so be sure you check with someone before you buy! But aren’t they just gorgeous?

Riding-style trousers

“These trousers have that stealthily sexy element – the lean, flat front is very flattering and chic, but because they’re sporty, you won’t look so much as though you’re in tight pants, but rather than you just wandered back from the stables. Key elements to look for are narrow equestrian lines and lots of seams so taht they seem like jodhpurs, even if they’re not.”

We haven’t had anything like this on RTC, so here’s what you’re looking for.


See, you don’t have to look like you’re an equestrian to wear these pants – they’re super chic any way you wear them.

Layer with lace

“Using a lace top as a layer instantly adds a level of sultry sophistication that might otherwise appear too basic. You can choose a dramatic shape or layer two pieces without overwhelming the outfit. Lace is fantastic for night, but it also transforms something like jeans and a sweater for day. Don’t be afraid to play and pair it with your most workaday pieces.”

Here’s an RTC top that is lacy, and then a few from Polyvore that also work:


The Saint Grace Cloe Cami with LaceĀ  is understated, yet classy and works here – show off a little lace without having to feel like you’ve gone too far.

First, a Lace Insert Oversize Top from TopShop; second, a mesh lace top from WetSeal; third, a diamond lace top from Charlotte Russe. I find that a lot of the “cheaper” stores tend to carry a lot of lace tops – easy to get in on the trend and not have to pay a lot. It’s not like lace lasts forever, anyway, so it might be a good idea to stock up on a few tops that aren’t dear to your heart (and wallet) to achieve this look.

However, make sure your “new lace” doesn’t look too cheap – “new lace is often synthetic and cheap-looking. Loko for lace labeled Bobbin, Chantilly, Needle, and, oddly enough, Machine Lace, which sounds very ’80s prom dress, but has actually been around since the early 1800s.” You’re not as likely to find this kind of stuff in the mall stores, so be sure to keep an eye out for these when you’re buying more expensive clothes.

lace lace2


Now, remember, you are NOT going for the corset/bustier look here – keep those for another day! The lace is here is loose and flowy, not skintight.

Vintage embellished sweater

“When you want a classic cardiagn that’s tricked out in some way – whether with beading, a lace collar, or special buttons – the most logical place to look is in vintage stores. Unfortunately, the pieces you find there don’t always hold up over time (moth holes, lost beads), so try designers like Rebecca Taylor and Jill Stuart, who can be relied on to turn out stellar versions of these most seasons.”

Here are a few suggestions, all taken from Polyvore. The first is from ShopRuche.com – maybe a little more pattern than you were expecting, but I fell in love with this at first sight – it’s gorgeous and perfect here. The second is a Tory Burch silk-blend jeweled cardigan – on the more expensive side, and perfect. Third is a black jewelled collar fitted cardigan by Paul Smith Black.

cardi1 cardi2


Are you afraid of looking like your grandmother in this style? Well, don’t be. As long as you wear it with the right clothes and don’t look at yourself and think, “I look dowdy,” you’re golden. Let the embellishments here be your accessory – don’t overdo it with a patterned or lacy top underneath, unless it looks really, really good and you’re confident in your style.

This is another look where you can get away with the heavier, sweater-type cardigans, so don’t be afraid!

Ruffled skirt

The longer, looser skirt is the item to have here – nothing form-fitting and nothing too short. No minis, no pencil skirts – it’s all about the freedom that a flowy skirt brings. This style is VERY big on skirts – the crazier, the better. A lot of Posh Eclectic girls often wear those insanely sequined skirts – seems crazy, huh? Not on them.

Tweed is also a big hit here, and can look great in a skirt.


The Cino Swiss Dot Skirt fits perfectly here – it’s loose and lightly patterned, and would work well with a more form-fitting top and perhaps a more plain cardigan (with slight embellishment). A few more Polyvore examples include:

skirt skirt2

skirt3 skirt4

A few more tips…

“Take chances at the flea market. You need to have a Portobello-market mentality when shopping for the chic mishmash of Posh Eclectic. Train yourself to be good at scouring fela markets and looking at “funny” things differently. Something crazy – like an old, slightly run-down sequined top – would look amazing peeking out from under a cashmere cardigan or a tweed blazer. Be creative.”

“Search in fabric stores. If you can’t afford a fur (or fake fur) collared coat, or you can’t find one you love, fabric stores are great resources for understated, not-too-expensive strips of fur that you can add on to a coat you already have. Also, check out trim stores and websites for other extras like velvet ribbon, lace trim, and funky buttons fro great additions to your outfit.” I might add that most fabric/craft stores have a “button bin” that usually has an incredible selection of cool, crazy buttons.

This style is all about taking risks. It’s hard for me to dress like this because I like my outfits to go together and kind of match – Posh Eclectic girls can throw anything on and look like rockstars. That’s the key – don’t try too hard to pull off this style, or everyone will know how hard you tried. Just let the breeze (and your closet’s whims) take you where they will, and fate will take care of the rest.

Stay tuned for part two of Posh Electic – how to accessorize!

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