I have two kinds of days.
The days where I'm embarrassed to leave the house because of the ancient leggings and busted T-shirt I'm wearing. And the other kind: The days where I know I look awesome, and I want everyone to see it.
So why would I wear crap clothes on certain days? Because my long-ass 6'2" body looks decent in only a few brands and cuts, and I'd rather wear crap than something that looks almost good — but is ultimately ill-fitting, awkward, and just plain off.
Happily, I have made a lot more strides toward having an increased number of the second looking-good-and-feeling-good kind of days. How have I done it? Pretty simple. I've gotten better at asking for more advice from friends who are way smarter than I am in terms of fashion and personal style. You already know that Alison Freer knows how to smack me upside the head (in a good way) better than anyone else when it comes to my love life, but she's also perhaps the one person who I trust above anybody else to always give me very honest and incredibly practical advice when it comes to purchasing the best possible clothes I can wear as a tall chick.
In order to sum up the highlights of her wisdom, I've gone through our various text exchanges over the last couple of years to highlight the top five tips she's given me — because I shouldn't be a selfish tall chick.
#1: BUY CHEAP, BUT LOOK FANCY.
Alison: "T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross are obviously the smart shopper's not-so-secret off-price spots to look for cheap, current, trendy pieces. They all get new things in almost every single day, so if you check back often enough, you're going to score pretty regularly. (That's half the battle, really — absolutely nobody finds something awesome on the first drop-in. Dedication to shopping always pays off.)
"I find that these stores tend to serve tall babes exceptionally well because they have a proper 'women's' section, full of dresses long enough to actually cover one's butt — unlike the Forever 21's of the world, who are forever selling us dresses that are actually just long shirts.
"The trick is to learn how to pick out the things in those less-expensive stores that actually look like they cost quite a bit more. One easy way to do so is to stay up-to-date on what the fashion mags are pushing, then keeping an eye peeled for the obvious copies — like you've unwittingly done with this red number. It's clearly inspired by Hervé Léger's classic bandage dress, worn by starlets the world over for one simple reason: It's crazy flattering."
#2: YOU NEED MORE KITTEN HEELS IN YOUR LIFE.
Alison: "I think J. Crew is actually of the ruler in the kitten-heel game these days. Their all-leather 'Made in Italy' styles don't shred delicate feet — and if you do happen to have a random tender spot, try lining your shoes with a bit of moleskin or some silicone gel strips."
#3: MAKE YOUR LIFE EASY BY SHOPPING FOR EASY PIECES.
Alison: "Let me instantly change your life by introducing you to Rachel Pally, L.A.'s own 'Jersey Girl.' Studying dance while a student at UC Berkeley greatly influenced her designs, as it taught her to look at fabric in a fluid way, with an appreciation for how it can be used to beautifully accentuate certain parts of the body — and cleverly draped to hide others. Her modal jersey dresses are machine washable, wrinkle-proof, long enough for even the tallest among us, great for layering, endlessly versatile, and come in sizes 2 to 24. (They're also about half the cost of Wolford's similar styles!)"
#4: INVEST IN BRANDS THAT ARE GOOD TO YOU.
Alison: "Dude! The reason you wore your other Kate Spade dress so many times is because it looks amazing on you! When you do the math, the cost per wear on a $400-ish dress that gets worn 9 gagillion times is somewhere in the neighborhood of .00001 cents per outing. Also, this photo reminds me: You were born to wear a fit and flare dress. Banana Republic has a dozen cute options right now that come in tall-sized versions. You should really just buy every one you ever see. "
#5: COLORS DO MATTER, SO PAY ATTENTION.
Alison: "The most famous fashion designers in the world tend to wear clothes that are almost totally devoid of color, so you're definitely onto something here. The utter simplicity of head-to-toe cream or white is incredibly pleasing to the eye and very soothing to the soul, no matter what your height. If you tend to spend a lot of time stressing over what to wear as a tall babe, cream or white is an easy, safe shortcut.
It doesn't take a lot of mental effort for your mind to process a single-color look, and there is literally nothing more chic than a tall drink of water in a cool white blazer or suit. I enter into evidence one Bianca Jagger and forever rest my case."
Fellow tall ladies of the world, where do you shop? And what are your secrets?
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.