The HGTV star (and former stylist) shared her secrets with InStyle

By Samantha Sutton
Updated: May 29, 2019 @ 6:02 pm
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

Leanne Ford rose to fame by transforming homes on HGTV’s Restored by the Fords, but fans of the show, which Ford stars on alongside her brother, know her talent goes beyond interior design. In fact, it’s her outfits — which often include perfect-fitting overalls, structured button-downs, or chic pairs of boots — that end up catching our eye, almost as often as the statement-making light fixtures and marble countertops she adds to a room.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/HGTV

Ford’s style is simple, but it's far from basic. It’s polished, but it also isn't stuffy. It seems easy enough to copy, and yet, we’re never quite sure where to begin. So InStyle went straight to the source, asking Ford — who worked as a fashion stylist for 15 years before switching careers — to share some tips.

“It's honestly the same side of your brain being used,” she told us over the phone, speaking about her passion for fashion. "The skills that I used to style a look or a photo [when I worked in fashion] are the same things I use to create a room. It's playing with proportions, big versus little; playing with the color story; putting something simple and minimalist with something interesting that’s happening.”

restoredbythefords/Instagram

Altogether, Ford revealed eight tricks that she uses on a regular basis, all of which we'll be keeping in mind when we get dressed tomorrow morning.

1. It's All About the Fit

"I always play with proportions. You can be wearing a T-shirt and jeans, but how it fits creates a look for you. It takes me the same amount of time to put on a T-shirt and jeans as somebody else putting on T-shirt and jeans, it's just that mine is oversized and I tuck it, and then the pants are cropped. It’s playing with how things fit.”

2. Stop Worrying About Sizing

“I never shop within my size; I always try things on that are too big or too small. I'll take three sizes of the same thing in and try them on and see what fit I like. I wear boys' clothes constantly. I am never afraid to shop in the men's section.” 

3. Keep It Simple

“I love monochrome. Every once in a while, I'll surprise myself and wear a pattern or something, but in general, I stay pretty simple. I kind of stay within the same colors I design with — neutrals, black, white and natural colors. My big thing is selecting a color story. Then everything is kind of fail proof; you're never going to really mess up.”

4. The Older, the Better

“If things get dirty and messy, painted on, and lived in, I start to even love them more. That doesn't take them out of the rotation, I keep them in. It’s the same thing with vintage clothing. It's like vintage furniture — it gives a little bit of soul to your look. It makes it unique to only you. It's what makes something yours instead of just a store-bought look.”

5. Always Add a Layer

“A big thing for me, and kind of a secret weapon, is jackets. I love trench coats, leather jackets, and any kind of jacket. If you throw it on over your look, now you've created an outfit. You can use [those pieces] so much, so I actually tend to spend money on jackets because I get my money's worth out of them, for sure. A blazer's another great example where you throw one on and immediately, you’re put together.”

6. Go With What Feels Good

 “I don't pay attention to trends in any form because, one, it might not look good on you. What I think is that a trend is an opportunity to see something new or to get something new. Cropped pants are trendy, so now they’re available and it's kind of something new and fun to wear. Great. But just because they go out [of style] doesn't mean you have to stop wearing them. I try to keep everything pretty classic. We'll see in 10 years, 20 years, when we look back. But I think that I kind of mind my own business in regard to trends. It's like what looks good on your body, what you feel good in, what's practical for what you need it for."

7. Customization Is Key

 “I'm not afraid to cut things or wear them differently. Even the bandanas around my neck, then I’ll use them like a belt. It’s just a matter of thinking outside the box. My style is not crazy by any means — it's pretty simple. But there are little touches that make it more interesting."

8. Make It a Mix

“I always kind of tie in some high-end elements. This is the age-old rule, but not being afraid to mix your Balenciaga shoes with your beat-up old jeans. Not being afraid to wear your fancy stuff. We all know the high-low rule, but you have fun things you love, don’t save them for a special occasion, just wear them. Mix them in so you can wear them in the daytime.”

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