If you wear vintage, make sure it fits perfectly. “My ‘rich girl' dress is the plainest thing in the world,” admits Johnson. “A vintage A-line dress to the knee in oatmeal linen. It looks as classic as an Oleg Cassini or as modern as Prada, and it costs me $30.”
Find a statement dress and wear it with “really modern shoes.” Graphic prints are Johnson's favorite. “If you wear an eye-popping dress, it conveys a high level of social and professional confidence.” Then add the shoes: “Teamed with a slightly outrageous shoe, you are downright arrogant.”
Add a personal touch. This can be anything, whether “soft, eccentric, or a little bit shocking to make you look more comfortable in your skin,” she says. “I have a beat-up old Missoni scarf that I wear with a very formal suit jacket. It makes me look less try-hard and adds a glamorous patina to formal tailoring.”
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.