When you’re seeking style inspiration, the powerhouse duo behind Homeroom have your back. Their website offers tips on what to wear to the office, on a first date and at the party of the year. It’s also a go-to resource for the latest looks from heaps of Australian designers, and a sense-checker for the latest trends, like why we’re seeing so much red in the shops right now.

In Homeroom’s fourth column for Broadsheet, founders Sophie Barker and Annie Carroll urge us to embrace metallic Mary Janes, silk hair bows and pastel shades to bring out some fun and flair into your everyday uniform without falling into the trap of boring basics on repeat.

Hey homeroom: How can I create a personal style uniform without looking like everyone else? – Seeking Simplicity

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Dear Seeking Simplicity,

The year is 2018. Pinterest boards everywhere are a homogenous mass of beige, white and black dressing inspo, and influencers are waxing lyrical about the role a “capsule wardrobe” can play in solving our style woes. The thinking wasn’t illogical: strip things back to timeless, quality essentials and you’ll not only have a long-lasting wardrobe, but your mornings will become less complicated. After all, with a wardrobe full of neutral-toned classics, you will never put a foot “wrong”.

Problem is, in our collective quest to reach Steve Jobs-level uniform nirvana, we all started dressing the same. In aiming for a style “uniform” we could count on, we lost our personal style along the way. So, how do we keep the (financial and environmental) benefits of having a style uniform without forgetting the very thing that makes fashion so much fun: our individuality? With some conviction in what you love and a little understanding of what makes you feel your best, we think anyone can find a truly personalised style uniform that stands out from the pack, while still enjoying all the benefits of a condensed, simplified wardrobe. From metallic-coloured footwear to bold accessories, pops of colour and prints, we’ve identified three ways to mix up the capsule wardrobe.

Insert colour where you’d normally rely on a “neutral”

This trick is all about relying on those “classic” wardrobe building blocks, but swapping it out for something a little bolder and brighter. For example, a tailored black miniskirt paired with a flat-heeled black riding boot is always going to be chic for day-to-night wear, but instead of relying on a crisp white top, try tucking in a mulberry-hued linen tee instead. Timeless accessories remain key: a pair of black cat-eye sunglasses, a quality leather tote bag and a silver chain necklace will anchor the look. If we were styling this look tomorrow, we’d add a black silk bow to our hair to bring it home.

For workwear, keep your favourite tailored white shirt and, instead of relying on a black or beige bottom, opt for a subdued take on a more vibrant colour, like this pistachio-green softly flared knit. This hue works wonders with cooler shades of grey, too – so you could layer over a lightweight cropped wool bomber and lean into some silver accessories: a pair of classic Mary Janes will work with jeans, too. Finish with your failsafe earrings and a cream crossbody bag that will see you through virtually any occasion.

And when it comes to that most versatile of uniform pieces – a well-cut blazer – step back from black and into something a little more interesting. Red is having a moment, but it’s also a timeless stylish colour – this perfect crimson blazer is a prime example. Paired with all your usual friends like a pair of straight-leg blue jeans, a white tank top and pair of minimalist leather sandals, and you’ll be well and truly running your own style race. Don’t forget a timeless pair of sunglasses (tortoiseshell will always be a go-to) and a bucket bag that could be vintage or brand new. For added style points, pop a striped blue scrunchie round your ponytail.

Introduce bold shoes and accessories

To carve out a unique style uniform, play up the tension between wardrobe classics and more unconventional accessories. Every well-rounded capsule wardrobe will have a camel-coloured trench coat in its ranks. Layer this over a simple dress, like this silk slip dress. Now, turn to chunkier shapes for shoes and accessories to push the envelope a little. This pair of heavy-soled cream Mary Janes, with their pleasingly fat gold buckle, feel like something you could have happily rustled out of your old dress up box (so, unique to you), while a curvaceous, retro-inspired pair of cream sunglasses will be a fitting addition. Instead of relying on a minimal gold hoop, treat your earlobes to something more playful, like these peony-inspired studs.

Regular followers of Homeroom will know how much we love a printed tee as an unfailing get-out-of-style-jail-free card. Pair this with your favourite wide-leg blue jeans and neutral blazer, now add some accents where you might once have relied on safer options: silver Mary Jane mules instead of sandals; a strawberry red tote basket instead of a neutral leather bag, a pair of mustard yellow sunglasses instead of black frames, and a pair of pearl studs instead of silver huggies.

We think autumn/winter 2024 will be the season of bold, audacious accessories. The key to investing in ones that will work as part of a more streamlined wardrobe are to identify those that will give you multiple uses. Shoes like these sculptural black Mary Jane wedges can work as well for Friday night drinks as they would peeking out from under your best black tailored trousers at work. Sub out plain white slingbacks for this mustard-hued high-shine pair, which will elevate virtually any neutral shade. Colourful sunglasses are one of the easiest ways to introduce more personality to your wardrobe – try these incredible sky blue frames for size. And even if you’re set on keeping to metallic jewellery instead of something a little less expected like resin, experiment with shapes by swapping out simple hoops for something more architectural, like these spiral statements.

Embrace your inner graphic designer with prints

Prints aren’t for everyone, but they are a very simple way to assert your own personal style. For example, take your best white jeans and, instead of a black or white linen tee, opt for something more textural or graphic, like this tie-dye-inspired beauty. It’ll work a treat with a classic white sandal, saddle shoulder bag and gold studs. Top it off with a pair of ’70s-inspired frames, like this delicate smoky pair, and your weekend wardrobe has officially taken you from supporting cast to main character.

A pair of lightweight drawstring trousers is a workhorse in any weekend wardrobe, but branch out from a block neutral shade to a stripe – you’ll get the two-in-one benefit of the seemingly elongated legs, but also a more interesting bottom to pair with capsule basics like a white strapless knit top and cream trench coat. A black and white stripe helps break up the contrast between lighter and darker shades, so you’re now free to mix in a bold black frame and black tote. Keep the footwear simple and delicate – a pair of strappy black sandals will do the job. And fish out the silver earrings you rely on when times are tight and you need to just get on with it. After all, that’s the benefit of a style uniform. Now, it’s just more personal.

For more style inspiration, visit homeroom.com.au or follow @homeroomau.