Lately, I've been noticing a lot of outfits that carry a certain cool factor, but it wasn't until Emily Current and Meritt Elliott of The Great, a brand I love and follow, posted on their Instagram stories exactly what I was observing that I realized what it was: mixing "highs" and "lows." As stylists and designers, they've been doing this for 18 years. When I hopped on the phone with Emily she explained, "As stylists, we asked ourselves how to feel effortless and look cool." As they began designing denim, they realized they loved how "tension between slouchy denim with a structured top, or overalls with a Victorian lace blouse" can give a style personality. Since effortless and cool is pretty much how I want to look and feel everyday, I asked them for some tips on how to build a wardrobe and style daily outfits to achieve that perfect balance of high and low:
The good news is you probably already have what you need to start mixing highs and lows into your outfit. For "lows," Emily and Merritt recommend "an army jacket, jean jacket, leather jacket, a white t-shirt, grey sweatshirt or logo sweater, a casual boyish knit and then jeans or army pants or a chill men’s trouser" or "anything comfy or casual that you would wear to the grocery store." Finding your "highs" is a chance to make this style personal by looking for items that feel special to you like "a special jacket or blouse or earrings" or "a pair of shoes that are special - heels or flats with doodads or ruffles."
One of my absolute favorite things about L.A. is how it really is a city of cities—there are so many micro-neighborhoods each with their own styles and cultures. This diversity, coupled with the city's decidedly laid-back and casual culture, are two of the guiding principles on how to dress with "highs" and "lows." Just as L.A. has a mix of offerings, consider adding the same mix to your outfit. "Anyone can pull this look off but it takes retooling your mindset—dressy doesn’t always go with dressy and casual with casual." As a working mom, I also love Emily and Meritt's reminder that "when people feel comfortable, they act comfortable," a great plug for dressing casual wherever you live.
Although I'm more of a recent convert to wearing jeans, I'm much more motivated to build my denim wardrobe beyond just jeans after seeing the limitless ways it adds the perfect amount of je ne sais quoi to a fancy outfit. "Denim is the best for high / low. A denim skirt with a sparkling skirt or a tulle skirt or metallic. Jeans with a ladylike jacket. Jeans with really fancy jewelry. Jeans with a really crazy heel. A jean jacket with a gown or floral dress," Emily said. The list goes on and on, but it's clear that denim can bring a fancy outfit down a notch and give it an air of effortlessness.
Thanks to Emily and Merritt for giving us your favorite high / low elements (aka the Cliff's Notes reference I plan to use when I get dressed tomorrow morning) and for such amazing insights into how to take any outfit to the next (or final) level! Be sure to follow their brand The GREAT on Instagram, and their personal Instagram here!
P.S., See how our editors used this tip to get dressed this morning on our Instagram Stories!