I love witchy style like Taissa Farmiga’s on American Horror Story: Coven. Is there a way to wear those long black dresses, big hats, and mysterious expressions without looking like a total goth or Wednesday Addams? —Morgane, Belgium
Your questions please the eternal goth in me, Morgane, because the answer is NO. Sorry, but when you combine somber expressions, all-black ensembles, and big, witchy-type hats like the ones Taissa wears, you’re always gonna look a little bit goth! But don’t be scurred—there are different ways to do head-to-toe black that will summon the subtle witchy vibes that you seek without making you look like a total Wednesday Addams.
You see, all-black outfits aren’t just goth—they’re also the definition of chic, and they look timeless and sophisticated on everybody. Consider the wardrobe of our favorite goddess, Stevie Nicks. She’s the queen of the ethereal bohemian look, thanks to her signature long gowns, which often feature extreme sleeves, fringed shawls, and layered chiffon skirts. Instead of Wednesday’s schoolgirl dresses with Peter Pan collars, take a cue from Stevie and wear maxi-length skirts in lots of different materials, such as lace, crochet, and plain jersey. Special details in the construction, like sheer sleeves and asymmetrical hems, can add some extra magic. Accessorize with silver jewelry and distressed metal. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Good luck! —Marie
I have alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Until now it’s been restricted to the top of my head and super easy to cover up (hooray for hats and head scarves!). But recently I’ve lost a lot of hair from the back of my head, all the way down to the base of my skull. This is much harder to cover up, especially as I can’t wear hats to work. I am hoping you lovely ladies might have some alternative ideas. —Blossom, Australia
I feel you, Blossom. I dealt with trichotillomania (a compulsion to pull out your own hair) when I was younger, and I wore the same ugly headband for six months to cover up a bald spot. I wish I’d known about some other options! Like these, for example:
Fake it: Human-hair wigs are pretty expensive, but you can get some nice synthetic ones for well under $100. Believe it or not, you can even buy wigs on eBay or Etsy—search for a seller in your area to avoid high shipping costs.
If you go this route, you have the awesome opportunity to switch your color, cut, and style in minutes! Buy a couple of wigs and go out with a different hairstyle every day. Confuse your co-workers by showing up as a curly redhead on Monday, a short-haired brunette on Tuesday, and a platinum blonde on Wednesday. And when you’re not at work, you don’t have to stick to realistic colors—go for purple like Lil’ Kim, or blue like Katy Perry.
If a full wig feels like too much, there are lots of different partial wigs or extensions to choose from. With a headband wig, you can still show off your real hair in the front, but cover up the bald area in the back. Depending on how much hair you have now, you might even be able to get away with some clip-on extensions, which you can find at most drug and department stores (visit a salon for longer-lasting ones).
Cover it: It sounds like you already have a lot of experience here, so you know this is all about looking like you’re wearing headgear because you want to, not because you have to! The best way to do this is not to have to fake it—stock up on head coverings that are cute enough that you’ll love wearing them. When your bald area is near the front of your head, you can easily cover it with a headband or bandana. But when it’s at the back, you’ll want a more substantial head covering. Find a cool full-coverage headwrap (you can let some of your our hair poke out of it all cute-like if you want) or a cozy snood—and why not throw in a cute hat for when you’re off the clock?
Bare it: The bald look isn’t for everyone, but if you can own it, you’ll never have to worry about a bad hair day again. If you’re in need of some inspiration, look how at stunning Erykah Badu, Grace Jones, and Sinéad O’Connor are without hair! Consider trying it yourself, but if it’s not for you, there are tons more cute styling options to choose from—all of which will look utterly amazing. —Rachael
Because of a shoulder injury, I can’t carry a bag with a shoulder strap. This leaves me only one option: a backpack. My question is, are there backpacks that are appropriate for formal situations, like a New Year’s Eve party or a Sweet 16? —S., Chile
I am sorry about your shoulder injury, but trust that this will not get in the way of your style. For starters, when I’m going to a formal event, I never really carry my “regular” bag—which weighs a million pounds with its books and tampons and what-have-yous—because I won’t actually need all that stuff. I usually switch to a clutch, which holds my wallet (or sometimes just my card and ID), lipstick, phone, and keys, which is all you really need for a special event. Carrying a clutch always makes me feel fancier, which is awesome because I usually AM trying to be fancy in formal situations. I sometimes opt for a teeny bag on a small chain, which, depending on the level of your injury, you can also hold like a clutch—just wrap the chain around your wrist for an extra dose of glitz. I mean, look at how cute these tiny bags (and one adorable backpack) are!
If you’re set on a backpack, I suggest hitting up your favorite vintage/thrift store; no era was better for fancy backpacks than the ’90s. Look for a black mini one, which is perhaps the best option as far as straightforwardly fancy backpacks go, but you can also get creative with an animal print or a cool texture. (Failing that, thrift stores always have great tiny bags—vintage formal purses are often cheaper and more interesting than new ones.) —Laia
I love high heels, but I find it so hard to walk gracefully or for long distances in them, especially in the winter when the sidewalks are frozen over. Also, I’m already 5′7″, and I’m afraid that boosting my height with heels makes me look absurd. All signs say I should just give up wearing them, but I love how they look, how loud they are on hard floors, and how confident they make me feel. Is there anything I can do to make them work? —Liz
You don’t necessarily have to give up your high heels in the winter—or ever! But when it’s slippery out, I definitely forego my stiletto-type heels for nonslip platforms or wedges, which are safer to walk in and generally more comfortable than regular high heels. Platforms and wedges distribute your weight more evenly because the whole bottom of your foot is supported (there isn’t that empty space between heel and sole), and they put less strain on your feet. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your heels slowly sinking into any snow, mud, or wet grass.
Luckily for us, in the past decade, platforms and wedges have become extremely popular (probably because of how comfortable they are), so there are plenty to choose from! I like these platforms by Jeffrey Campbell, these Mary Janes, these wedges, and these ’70s-style platforms.
As for your height—girl, who cares?! Hold your head up high and tower over everyone else looking fabulous. You say you love how heels look and that they make you feel confident, right? Those are the only reasons you need to keep wearing them! —Marie ♦
Looking to repurpose your old baby barrettes? Wondering how to work a cummerbund into your outfit? Confused about what a cummerbund even IS? Send your burningest style questions to Marie and her crew at [email protected]. Please include your name (or nickname), your age, and where you live.