You Asked It

Damn Girl Ya Look Good

Style advice about subtle witch vibes, dealing with hair loss, and the art of the formal backpack.

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.

Taissa Farmiga, left, and Stevie Nicks, right.

Taissa Farmiga (left) and Stevie Nicks.

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:

Clockwise from left: Lace bell sleeve dress, Urban Outfitters, $69, floppy hat, Nasty Gal, $40, tank maxi dress, Romwe, $40, crochet maxi dress, Nordstrom, $26.98, jersey dress, Bloomingdale's, $27

Clockwise from top left: Lace bell-sleeve dress, $69, Urban Outfitters; floppy hat, $40, Nasty Gal; dolman-sleeve dress, $30, Urban Outfitters; maxi tank dress, $40, Romwe; crochet maxi dress, $27, Nordstrom; jersey high-low dress, $27, Bloomingdale’s.

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.

Lil' Kim looking amazing with purple hair. Photo via Buzznet.

Lil’ Kim looking crazy-amazing with purple hair. Photo via Buzznet.

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!

Clockwise from top left: Embellished clutch, $36, ASOS; holographic bag, $24, ASOS;  quilted handbag, Target, $20, quilted backpack, Urban Outfitters, $20, chain-strap wallet, Urban Outfitters, $29, gold-plated handbag, Target, $25

Clockwise from top left: Embellished clutch, $36, ASOS; holographic bag, $24, ASOS; quilted cross-body bag, $20, Target; quilted backpack, $20, Urban Outfitters; chain-strap wallet, $29, Urban Outfitters; gold-plated handbag, $25, Target.

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 beautyandstyle@rookiemag.com. Please include your name (or nickname), your age, and where you live.

30 Comments

  • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake November 27th, 2013 1:23 AM

    Hey Marie, what’s a cummerbund? :D

  • kittyweasel November 27th, 2013 2:33 AM

    witchy style = my life!

  • GL November 27th, 2013 2:46 AM

    To the girl with alopecia:
    For style inspiration, may I also recommend the excellent musician Nell Bryden (I also recommend her music, apart from her style) who also has alopecia, usually goes bare, and really rocks the eye make-up.

    Her instagram:

    http://instagram.com/p/a75BSOMJ0X/

  • reginageorge November 27th, 2013 3:35 AM

    “ethereal gypsy look”, really? Rookie, I love you, but you need to stop thinking twice before saying things like this.

    Let me guess: Stevie Nicks has mastered the look of someone whose basic rights are often denied, who can’t enter a shop in Europe without being followed (if at all), who is immediately suspected of being a criminal and blamed for anything that goes wrong in her community, whose home is often forcibly taken away from her, who as a little kid had her house firebombed by neo-Nazis, whose sisters died on a beach and nobody bothered to help them?

    Before someone accuses me of being over-sensitive, please read up a bit about the subject. I’d even be happy to provide links and resources on why the word “gypsy” is offensive, and so is the notion of it referring to some magical, quasi-imaginary group of people.

    • Anaheed November 27th, 2013 6:44 AM

      I’m sorry that we missed this. I’m gonna change the language in the post right now. Thank you so much for pointing this out.

      • Amy Rose November 27th, 2013 3:28 PM

        Seconding this—thank you so much for pointing this out.

        • reginageorge November 28th, 2013 10:20 AM

          Thanks, both of you, for fixing that bit. I’m sorry if my comment sounded aggressive, which in retrospect it probably did. I’ve been dealing with a lot of drama and exhausting discussions, both online and offline, so I was probably tired and nervous when I typed that.

          • Anaheed November 28th, 2013 10:23 AM

            You didn’t sound aggressive to me! You sounded very reasonable.

    • Marie November 28th, 2013 6:37 PM

      Thank you for letting us know! Will be mindful of my vocabulary in the future. xo

  • Alice123 November 27th, 2013 4:00 AM

    STEVIEE <3

  • takethreestepsback November 27th, 2013 6:25 AM

    For high heels, I’d highly recommend Dr Martens heels! They’re super comfortable once you wear them in and look fabulous. PLUS they have terrific grip and you won’t slip in water or oil!

    Check them out here: http://www.dmusastore.com/c-113-heeled.aspx?__utma=13918306.1515862081.1383802633.1383802633.1385550189.2&__utmb=13918306.2.10.1385550189&__utmc=13918306&__utmx=-&__utmz=13918306.1385550189.2.2.utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&__utmv=-&__utmk=222927323

    I know it’s a super long link but I hope this helps! :D

    - Isabella

  • justbouton November 27th, 2013 6:30 AM

    Blossom: also, maybe try channelling Audrey Hepburn’s super elegant scarf style.

    http://rsvpmagazine.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/movie-theme-breakfast-at-tiffanys-moon-river_610.jpg

    http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=audrey%20hepburn%20scarves

  • Laia November 27th, 2013 8:38 AM

    nothing awesomer than a tall girl wearing heels, tho, SO MUCH CONFIDENCE!

  • julalondon November 27th, 2013 9:17 AM

    OMG, i always get the “Why are you wearing heels, you are already sooooo tall???!!!” question and it’s soooo annoying. I always tell them “Well, i LOVE to wear heels; it makes me confident and it Looks HAWT SO I DON’T CARE!”. I think you should do that too…=)

  • soviet_kitsch November 27th, 2013 10:17 AM

    to the shoulder injury person: it’s not formal, but if you’re into it and only need a few items at a time, a thigh holster purse would look KILLER and you’d be sparing yourself some serious back/neck pain:

    http://cdn-s3-0.wanelo.com/product/image/3357876/original.jpg

  • whiskeytangofoxtrot November 27th, 2013 10:39 AM

    Liz of the high heel conundrum, one of my closest friends is 6’2″ and wears heels pretty much every day! Throw on those heels and walk proud, lady!

  • christinachristina November 27th, 2013 11:17 AM

    I just bought these heeled boots (http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=26832378#BVRRWidgetID) and they are AMAZING. They’re super comfortable, can be dressed up or down, are FUN and SEXY, and the hiking boot-esque sole is great for clomping around and not taking anything too seriously.

  • lydiamerida November 27th, 2013 12:30 PM

    ugh I was just thinking about how much i love zoe’s style when this popped up!!! u guys at rookie are mind readers srsly

    http://cat-witch.tumblr.com/
    http://somewhat-interested.tumblr.com/

  • lexilikes November 27th, 2013 12:40 PM

    Love all of this advice. The holographic clutch is too cute and love the witchy style vibes!

    http://www.lexilikes.com

  • elliecp November 27th, 2013 1:08 PM

    aw this is awesome! I love being a little witchy…my main inspiration was buffy the vampire slayer

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • phreshtodeath November 27th, 2013 2:07 PM

    Hi,
    I think you are missing the details for the dress in the top right corner?
    I need it on my body.
    Thanks!

  • wendybird November 27th, 2013 2:34 PM

    To Blossom with alopecia, HI!!!
    I have alopecia too, its not severe right now but it roller-coasters up and down. My favourite thing to do is wearing headscarves around the head and the loose hair I would put in a loose ponytail/braid/bun. I make a lot of my headscarves myself so I have one to match each outfit (and also some headscarves are much cheaper to make with your own craftiness because they sell for ridiculous prices in stores when they’re actually really simple to make) (like macarons haha). If you tie up your hair, scrunchies are the best cause there’s usually no little metal or plastic seam that often pulls the hair. If your hair is really delicate and you shouldn’t have it up, berets are the bomb diggity!!! Maybe its different because I’m from Montreal and you’re from Australia but our summers get pretty hot and i still see people who wear casual berets during that time. Also, don’t sleep with any type of hair accessories on! I thought it was good to put my cortisone on and then wear a tuque cause it would be good for the circulation or something, but its actually better for your head to get as much air so the hair follicles can get breathing! :)
    much love, C

  • pizzaface November 27th, 2013 2:37 PM

    The witch clothing thing is EXACTLY what i’ve been on about the last time! That question could just have been asked by me! I love AHS too, and witchy clothing styles are really inspiring me lately.
    Greatgreatgreat!

  • Ozma November 27th, 2013 4:19 PM

    I am 5″7 and I wear high heels all the time. If people stare it’s because you like an stunning amazonian princess, not because you look absurd! Seriously. And the more often you wear them the better you get at walking in them and the less they hurt!

  • Miss Blossom November 28th, 2013 6:43 AM

    Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions! I’m looking at getting a 3/4 wig now! (Although finding the right colour is proving to be a challenge. Curse my fabulous red henna’d hair!)
    Definitely going to start making my own scarves. I already have a drawer full, but I don’t think I can have too many of those. And I imagine they’ll be much less involved to make than macarons, although considerably less delicious. :p

  • DymondMag November 28th, 2013 11:33 AM

    witchy vibes are me everything
    http://fashiondymond.blogspot.com

  • NotReallyChristian November 28th, 2013 12:05 PM

    To the questioner with alopecia: I totally understand that you might want to cover or disguise your hair instead of letting everyone see, but if you wanted to be inspired to bare all the cyclist Joanna Rowsell is really cool. She’s a gold-medal-winning Olympian who sometimes wears wigs but just as often goes without, and looks gorgeous either way!

  • cin December 1st, 2013 2:05 AM

    Also to Blossom! Im 18 and struggling with Trich (like the writer mentioned) and I find that sometimes wearing head things dont work for me becuase I have a big head.
    I tend to choose different hairstyles and sometimes gel to hide the thinning and blading spots on my head.