The Hero And The Sidekick: Finding Balance In Your Outfits



When I am not rummaging through client closets or using my forearms as a makeshift clothing rack on client shopping excursions, I occasionally moonlight as an actor. What kind of an actor, you ask? The Joey Tribbiani, I go on auditions and pretend-to-smell-farts-to-appear-perplexed-kind-of-actor. Perhaps you have seen my blurred out face in some local obscure Portland ads or heard my distress in The Wonderland Murders. But unless you spend your time watching B-level TV shows and enjoy following the life of pixelated models, the odds that you have seen me are minimal.


The success of an actor hinges upon her ability to distinguish herself from the masses. And I know what you’re thinking: how on earth do you do that in a city like Portland, where, well, we are all basically a colony of attention-starved middle children convinced that we are the next “everything”? Good question. The answer lies in finding the “hero” in your auditions. For all the lines you memorize, there is always a hero: a sentence or word that is most important and requires the utmost concentrated creative interpretation. Maybe that means toying with inflection or tinkering with tone changes, but one thing is true: nail the hero, win the role.


In my early days, I made the mistake of thinking every sentence and word had equal value, everything I memorized for my auditions was a “hero.” I played with tones and put inflections on words that made me sound like I was inebriated while passing through the early stages of a stroke. Suffice to say, there is only one hero in a given audition - any more and you will sound like Anchor Man’s “…I’m Ron Burgundy?”

So when it comes to your style, the rule of a singular hero still stands. I credit my beloved Tan France of Queer Eye for his reinvention of the word in the styling arena. In your ensemble there should only be one piece that conjures the utmost creativity. Be it color, silhouhette or texture: remember there can only be one “hero” in any outfit - everything else must play a supporting role – aka the sidekick. Find the hero, win in style.


Rule One: One Pop Of Color (Or Print) Only


While this is not a hard and fast rule that can never be broken, wear multiple pops of color and the consequences are quite simple: you cause visual distress to onlookers and you run the risk of making your two stand-alone hero pieces appear tacky. Remember, in any ensemble, balance is key. In this outfit at the top of the post, my off-shoulder top is a bold and neon-esque pink - the obvious “hero” of the outfit. If you pair this top with white shorts or an overly complicated heel, the outfit would look “overdone” and every item would seem in competition with the others. Instead, I have chosen to bring balance to the outfit with a pair of dark washed black jeans and a simple heel. One color, one hero.


Rule 2: One Interesting Hemline Only


Even if you paired your hero piece with a neutral color like this black skirt, remember, any item that has a distinctive hemline like a pleated faux wrap or an asymmetrical hem will take attention away from the “hero.” Think of a distinctive hemline as it’s own “hero” piece. Here a better choice would be to pair this pink heroine with a classic black pencil skirt as the sidekick since its simple straight hemline compliments the butterfly-esque sleeves of the top and pulls the look together without being distracting.


Rule 3: Save Multiple Textures For The Runway


I have heard it said that textures can be mixed and played with to create interesting dimension in an outfit. And while I love the idea of silk, velvet, leather and metallic being able to coexist together, I respectfully dissent. Here is a fun example of playing with textures lived out in reality:

I would not go to brunch or run errands on a Sunday afternoon in this. However, I would wear this if I decided to be a gorgeous space alien from the future. When it comes to mixing multiple textures in conjunction with your hero piece, respectfully dissent and save that for the catwalkers on the runway. When you have secured a hero piece, choose a single muted texture that won’t compete to compliment the hero’s texture: try denim or a black leather pant. The textures are smooth and muted and bring structure and a tailored effect to the top.


Batman and Robin


We have never seen a movie called “Batman and Batman.” It’s always Batman and his complimentary sidekick, Robin. The same is true for your outfits: find your hero and its supporting cast and you’ll have a blockbuster outfit. When considering color, hemlines, or texture, allow your hero piece to shine and its best features will shine for the world to see. Add too many elements to the mix and your hero will get swallowed up in the shuffle.


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