How to Dress in Shabby Chic

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If you’ve ever picked up a home decorating magazine before, then you’re probably familiar with the term “shabby chic.” Shabby chic refers to something that’s a little worn yet interesting and attractive nonetheless. It’s somewhat messy and definitely imperfect but beautifully or charmingly so. Maybe imperfection in slight degrees appeals to you, especially now in this age where superficiality—from plastic surgery to dyed hair to Botox—rules the world of beauty. If so, know that shabby chic also applies to fashion. You can adopt a shabby chic look while still appearing stylish and, somewhat ironically, put together. Think grunge. Think London rock. And go with shabby chic. Here’s how:

Choose the right colors: Every color creates a certain vibe. There is power and a message behind every shade and hue. Part of shabby chic’s allure is rooted in nostalgia so you’ll want to find colors that appear faded somehow. Consider neutrals and pops of subtle color your staples. Examples include: grays, antique rose, beige, black, burgundy, navy, camel, chocolate, mustard yellow, ivory, and lavender.

Invest in skinny jeans: Embracing the shabby chic aesthetic means embracing casual dress. Don’t equate casual with sloppy, though! Choose skinny jeans for a look that’s both high and low. Faded blues, charcoals, and blacks ground the shabby chic look; avoid bright colors and always opt for the best tailoring you can afford. If you prefer skirts, go with flowing, gypsy skirts instead.

Layer your clothes: The shabby chic look, while unconventional, does adhere to the basic rules of aesthetics, just not necessarily high fashion. This means that it’s about looking good more so than following trends. Layering your camisoles, shirts, sweaters, and hoodies in almost any combination is universally flattering. Thermal shirts and camisoles are especially easy to layer. When layering, always consider color, texture, and the weight of the fabrics involved. You can also try layering your jewelry.

Select the unusual jewelry: Express yourself through your rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings! Choose earthy or antique-style jewelry. Examples of great jewelry for this include: seed bead bracelets, plain bands, small or medium-sized chandelier earrings, ribbon choker necklaces, and lockets.

Don big sunglasses: This look also involves a certain amount of mystery; it’s about looking different in a subtle way. Camouflage and indulge in one of the most surefire ways to protect your eyes from the sun. Wear “bug eye” sunglasses.

Tend to your nails: Shabby chic is a little bohemian and definitely D.I.Y. Do not manicure your nails. Grow them out and paint yourself. Choose one of your staple colors or simply go nude.

Find classic shoes: Shoes complete any look—and finding the right ones for your shabby chic style is no different. Your shoes should be relatively simple yet feminine. Avoid anything too clunky. Equestrian boots, booties, oxfords, Mary Janes, and ballerina flats are all perfect for the shabby chic look.


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