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Wearing Clothes Inside Out
When and Why It Works
A few of my most exciting styling moments lately have involved flipping clothes inside out. It happened today when I was trying on a vintage knit cardigan. And it happened a few weeks ago when I was trying on jacquard pants for an event.
In both instances, the idea came out of trying on the item and then taking it off. In the process of pulling my legs out of the pants and the sweater over my head, I caught a glimpse of the garment’s “inside”: the off-kilter underbelly of the garment’s “outside.” You see more exposed construction like seams, stitches, little bubbles and pockets of yarn. And in those cases, that was exactly what my outfit needed.
So that got me thinking why and when wearing clothes inside out works. Here are some observations I’ve made.
The best clothes for wearing inside out are ones with highly tactile qualities. Something you look at and have the urge to touch it and know how it feels.
Styling Strategy 1: Wear your inside out piece with other structured pieces.
This creates tension and keeps the inside out piece from looking random or unintentional. Here is a photo of my museum outfit. The pant seams are exposed and the print looks sort of fuzzy up close like unraveled strings floss - but it’s balanced by the structured organza peplum top and geometry of my shoes. If the pants are a touch of messiness, the other pieces provide order.
Styling Strategy 2: Double (or triple) down on knit/tactile/patterned pieces.
And for the bold approach - incorporate another equally tactile piece or two so you look like a Parsons textile major who just went yarn shopping, because that’s charming and who wouldn’t want to embody that persona?
Look for details like patchwork, diagonal seams or shapes, asymmetry, mixed fabrics, lace/rope/string details.
This is the cardigan worn the “right way”:
And here’s the vintage knit set I tried on, with the sweater worn inside out. Because it’s a set, it feels intentional: the top worn inside out still complements the skirt very well. To push this look even further, I would try adding something like a pair of fuzzy legwarmers or a crochet bag.
P.S. I love the pink/red and seafoam color combo. Took me a day to remember why it felt familiar and nostalgic- Nicole Kidman’s post divorce outfit!