For many of us, 2017 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2018! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks, and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.

Real talk: When I started working from home about a year ago, I all but stopped getting dressed up. After working in print fashion editorial for almost a decade, I was, well, ready for a break. My daily routine had included dressing for events and previews and running around New York City (and occasionally other cities) representing the brand I worked for. Now, from the comfort of my apartment, I could trade in the time-suck that was getting dolled-up for work and wear sweatshirts and leggings all the time.

Slowly but surely, I started to eliminate all of the fun-to-look-at pieces that I wasn’t wearing that much anymore and ended up with a very pared-down wardrobe. Thing is, it started to feel not all that inspiring. My going-out clothes and work clothes had always overlapped when I worked for a magazine. Now, freelancing mostly from home, I was experiencing, among other things, a serious surplus of casual clothes like gray sweatshirts and sweatpants, black leggings, striped tees, and more than a few army jackets.

Since I write about street style on the regular, I decided it was time to try and implement some of the tricks I was always urging others to use. Would the Insta-set’s style hacks translate to real life? And could I make my work-from-home wear into Insta fodder? I was going to finally see for myself.

Trick 1: Mixed Prints

Style stars always seem to be throwing everything in their closet on at once and making it into a look. I have to say, mixing prints was kind of freeing. I paired my Gap army jacket with a J.Crew striped turtleneck and American Eagle polka dot pajama pants (that are totally acceptable to wear out) and I didn’t feel at all like I got dressed in the dark. My prints are always of the somewhat subdued variety, though, so it was fairly easy to make it all work. Plus, camo goes with pretty much everything. I added my favorite red TDE bucket bag for a pop of color. The verdict: I would totally do this again.

Trick 2: The Statement Coat

Sometimes all you need to make an impact is a really great outerwear piece. It’s the street style star’s winter secret: When in doubt — and dealing with frigid temps — throw on a statement coat. My husband gave me this Gap faux fur jacket for Christmas (he’s all too familiar with my stripe obsession) and I was excited to take it for a test run, knowing the rest of my outfit wouldn’t require all that much effort. I pulled it on over a black turtleneck, leggings, and rubber Sam Edelman boots and I still felt fancy AF. The receptionist in my lobby even gave me a little shimmy as I walked by. The verdict: Give me all the special coats.

Trick 3: Sweatpants as fashion

Okay, it may feel slightly counterintuitive to wear ankle booties with sweatpants (and by “slightly” I mean “totally”). But I’ve seen heels and comfy pants more than enough times on the ‘Gram to know it can work — so I just went for it. The key here was balance. Paired with a knit turtleneck from Zara and snake-print booties from Lulu’s, my sweatpants looked semi-ridiculous. But once I added my J.O.A. faux moto shearling and some sunglasses, I felt like everything made a lot more sense. And actually, I felt a little like J.Lo. The verdict: I’d wear this to run errands but not necessarily anywhere I’d actually have to take the jacket off.

Trick #4: Dress over pants

Did I mention I love stripes? Well, this J.Crew Factory dress was my go-to over the summer, and since the 2000s are basically back and dresses over pants are officially a thing again, I decided to bust my old standby back out to see if she could be winterized. The proportions were a tricky thing to nail, especially because my favorite cropped jeans required ankle boots for coverage in frigid Northeast temperatures. Throwing on a moto (true story: I wear moto jackets and denim jackets as a layering piece in the winter) made it all feel more balanced and less like my legs were shortened. The verdict: This didn’t feel completely natural to me but I would potentially give it another go. I liked getting more mileage out of my summer wear.

Trick #5: Socks with open-toe heels

I’ve seen this trick done right more than a few times so I was eager to see if my favorite embellished Banana Republic sandals would work with socks. Truth be told, it was trickier than I thought it would be.

I first tried this combo with a skirt which I didn’t find flattering, so I switched to my go-to cropped DL1961 jeans. It was kind of fun to do something unexpected and my feet weren’t actually all that cold, which was a surprise. All in all, this was an interesting alternative to boots but I think it might’ve worked better with socks in a lighter color or fun print. But for the first attempt, I wasn’t totally mad at it. The verdict: It might take a few attempts to get this right but it could definitely be worth it.

All in all, the best thing I got out of this challenge was looking at my closet with fresh eyes. Rather than defaulting to my usual pairings, I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, experiment, and make the most of what I already have. And well, that’s never a bad thing.

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(Photos via Rachel Aschenbrand-Robinson)