Before she left Who What Wear earlier this month, I sat kitty-corner from managing editor Michelle Scanga for roughly 379 days. (Erm, that's one year and seven months, minus weekends, in case you were curious.) I can honestly say, without an ounce of fangirl shame, I had a crush on her outfit every single one of those 379 days. Now, as you may or may not know, up until this last January, I was a beauty editor for Byrdie, and aside from our close-in-proximity office seating chart, I didn't work with Michelle on Who What Wear directly. However, after I became WWW's new associate beauty editor, Michelle became my new, impeccably well-dressed boss. I was excited to work with and learn from her on a daily basis, of course, but I was also secretly psyched to glean just about every fashion, brand, and styling tip she kept up her very chic sleeves.
It's no secret I love clothes, and my slightly scary bank statement is living proof of that fact. That said, a wardrobe and true fashion wiz I am not. While I can outfit a person's face and head all day every day in pretty much any kind of skin, makeup, or hair product (beauty editor, duh), technically, I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing each morning when facing my still well-stocked closet. As a beauty editor, I thought it would make for a fun little experiment to ask my new fashion-editor boss to dress me for a day. What would she choose? What would I learn? And how would I keep her sage advice alive thereafter when shopping for clothes? I'm covering all that and more up ahead. Curious what went down? Keep scrolling to find out what happened when my fashion-editor boss dressed me for a day—photographic footage and ample shopping inspiration obviously included.
Michelle: I basically live in jeans, so I definitely wanted to dress Erin in one of my favorite styles at the moment. Luckily, she was down to try the baggy-denim look, which I paired with a fitted long-sleeve top from Free People.
I always like to keep my outfits balanced. For example, if I'm wearing a figure-fitting top, I'll style it with something loose on the bottom. Or if I'm exposing a lot of leg, I'll make sure my arms are covered.
My thoughts: Considering I pretty much want to steal every outfit Michelle wears straight off of her back (my Instagram likes are proof!), I wasn't too worried about not loving every piece she picked for me. I've actually been riding the looser-fitting-denim trend for a while now, but I hadn't tried a pair quite as forgiving as this one from Citizens of Humanity. Usually, I prefer something a tad more fitted, but the styling, wash, and overall design on these is so impeccable I didn't even care. The sheer number of times I've worn them (and received compliments from my fashion-editor co-workers) serves as ample validation.
Like Michelle, I'm all about balance with my outfits and never like to appear overly baggy or overly skimpy—unless I'm in all sweats at home or in a bathing suit poolside. Free People happens to be one of my all-time favorite brands, so I felt super at home here. Also, how did Michelle know hunter green is one of my all-time favorite shades?
Michelle: I also keep my accessories on the simple side, favoring dainty gold items. Cinco has been my go-to jewelry brand for about a year now—both the prices and designs are great.
It wouldn't have been a full reflection of my style without a bikini or two. It's too hard to pick a favorite 'kini style, but I thought Erin would look great in this playful gingham set, which is a cute collab with Beach Riot and Stone Cold Fox. I also like to accessorize my pool look, so I typically throw on some of my Cinco pieces for a layered necklace situation.
My thoughts: You will literally never find me decorated with large or super-statement-making jewelry, so I couldn't have been more smitten with this demure golden choker from Cinco. Plus, as the comparative fashion and jewelry novice that I am, I'm always game for discovering new (affordably priced) brands I can buy pretty jewelry from. I will definitely be frequenting Cinco in the future in addition to a few of my other favorite fine-jewelry haunts.
Swimsuit-wise, I know bikinis are 100% Michelle's thing, so I wasn't all too surprised when she threw one into her styling mix. (And I definitely wasn't mad.) My personal swim MO is super boring and basic, and—Michelle, don't shudder—I honestly only have a few I love and wear on the reg. Thanks to Michelle, however, I now have another two-piece to add to my arsenal. Due to the print and cut, my eyes wouldn't necessarily go to this suit first when shopping, but I was surprised with how hard I fell for it after trying it on. It's obviously not practical if you actually plan on doing some laps, but if you're content to sunbathe, receive compliments, and snap some really cute pics (which I 200% am), it's pretty much perfect.
Keep scrolling for the top four things I learned from Michelle—with Instagram proof from Michelle herself!
Lesson 1: I need not wear skin-tight denim ever again.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from Michelle is that your jeans don't have to be skin-tight in order to fit perfectly—or make the rest of your outfit look amazing and put-together. Up until recently, and probably due in part to a childhood filled with hip-huggers and the teensiest of skinny jeans, I had always just thought that denim should look like an extension of our skin. Of course, I still own sleek pairs of skinny jeans and the trend is still going strong, but I love the freedom, comfort factor, and overall more relaxed look of a baggier fit or wide leg. In addition to Citizens of Humanity, I'm also really loving Agolde and Rolla's. Plus, I love anything that has some retro inspiration.
Lesson 2: I need not spend an entire paycheck on jewelry ever again.
As I mentioned before, dainty gold jewelry is my go-to when it comes to accessorizing basically any type of outfit, and even then, I go with the bare minimum. Large, thin, gold hoops are about as ostentatious as it gets, and if I'm going that route, that's all there will be with the exception of maybe a super-fine necklace or thin bands on my fingers.
Because of that, I've always told myself I need to spend more money on the small amount of jewelry I do own and wear and that buying cheaper jewelry was only worth if I wanted to try something trendy or statement-making that was sure to run its trend course quickly. Lately, however, I've discovered a few other brands (like The M Jewelers) to counteract my love for other, far spendier lines like The Last Line or Sophie Ratner. I'm super appreciative to have been introduced to Cinco via Michelle and am excited to add a few more dainty pieces to my jewelry collection without dropping a bomb on my bank account.
Lesson 3: I need not fear swimsuits with extra details ever again.
This experiment served as a major reminder that investing in cute, detailed bikinis is just as fun—and important—as investing in other outfit pieces. Before, I never wanted to spend much money on a swimsuit that felt "impractical" or that would run the risk of leaving me with weird tan lines, etc. But I need to remember that there's a little thing called sunscreen to help with that, and having some unique pieces makes a trip to the beach or pool that much more enjoyable and is also a helpful distraction if you don't feel entirely comfortable practically naked in public. Michelle, I'm counting on your IG to continue to inspire my growing bikini wardrobe, but this cute suit from Beach Riot is a great place for me to start.
Lesson 4: I need not ignore balance and proportions ever again.
I've never been one to show a lot of skin, but I am one to sometimes rely on too many layers. I have so many pieces in my wardrobe that I've always deemed too "skimpy" to wear for most occasions, but Michelle's commandment of balance and proportion is a great lesson for remembering I can wear items that show more skin, as long as I keep the rest of my outfit aesthetic more modest.
No, I still wouldn't wear this crop top to the office—even with my looser-fitting jeans—but I did wear it completely comfortably out to dinner with friends and, I kid you not, received tons of compliments from strangers. Especially in L.A. (sorry), it's less expected to show skin just one place or another and not both, so the balance keeps the look interesting.
Now, shop for other favorite pieces to mix-and-match Michelle's fashion formula with.
Accessories to add:
I'm obsessed with Le Specs, and this chic pair of white glasses go perfectly with both the suit and the outfit.
I've been carrying this chic bucket bag with me everywhere I go.
I'm still loving shoes with clear vinyl, and this pair goes with literally everything. Plus, the heel isn't too high for my almost-5'10" frame.
Tops to try with baggy denim:
Meet my favorite tank top ever. Free People has this in every color you can imagine, but I'm partial to this shimmery, nude-gold version, which looks super cute paired with a looser-fitting-jean situation.
I'm obsessed with this romantic blouse from For Love and Lemons. I actually have it in red but wish I had it in this crisp shade of white.
Even though this sweater has some bulk, its cropped styling makes it a little showier against a high-waist, wide-leg pair of jeans.
Bottoms to try with a long-sleeve crop top:
Agolde does the baggier, vintage fit so perfectly. I have this pair (in a variety of washes) and wear it almost every single day.
This is one of my favorite brands right now for denim, and I'm especially obsessed with the wide-leg flare of its Sailor Jeans.
Since this skirt is on the longer side, it still balances out a shorter fit up top.