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5 Keys to Creating Chic Outfits

May 5, 2020

Oh so chic. What do we mean by that anyhow? When we say something or someone looks chic, we generally mean that there is a smart elegance, a seemingly effortless sophistication. Indeed, to be chic is somewhat hard to put a finger on, but we know it when we see it. Right? But that’s just the kind of explanation that frustrates me. Because, while I may know how to spot chic, I sometimes struggle to create it. You, too? Fortunately, we absolutely can learn how to create chic looks if we simply pay attention to a few key essentials. Let’s talk about five keys to creating chic outfits.

5 Keys to Creating Chic Outfits

Now first of all, let’s establish that every outfit does not have to qualify as chic. We don’t need to aim to look smartly elegant or effortlessly sophisticated every minute of every day. Shoot. You may not even care for that style aesthetic at all. You might prefer to look cute or plum pretty or relaxed and casual or very preppy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

But if you do ever want to look a little more sophisticated…say, for a job interview, a special date night, a presentation at work or just a normal day out and about…you absolutely can create a chic, pulled together look.

What signals as chic to the eye?

If you think of the most sophisticated woman you know, you’ll probably begin to name some of the traits that make her outfits track as chic to you. These are the same elements that signal chic to most everyone else as well.

We tend to think someone looks chic if they…

  • appear pulled together – they’ve made a little effort and our eyes immediately know that
  • look easy on the eyes – our eyes don’t feel strained or tired from taking in the elements of their overall look
  • seem curated – everything fits together in a pleasing aesthetic

Yeah, we can detect the signals. But how do we create outfits that send those signals???

?️ #1 – Classic Wardrobe Essentials

It’s easiest to create chic looks when the base layer of the outfit (the dress or top and bottom pieces) are classic, easy wardrobe essentials.


  • classic jeans + a solid tee
  • solid slacks + a solid top
  • a-line skirt + solid top

To create the most chic looks, select wardrobe essentials that feature…

  • clean lines
  • minimal detailing
  • classic silhouettes and
  • solid colors

Can you use other types of pieces, maybe something more unique or a print? Absolutely. But the easiest, fail proof way to create flawless chic looks is with very clean, classic base layers.

The Modern Way to Wear Your Traditional Cardigans
Classic, well-fitted, quality black pants, black tank and black blazer combine for a chic base layer. See more of this post.

Finally, it should be said that you’ll have a much easier time creating truly chic looks with good quality wardrobe essentials. That doesn’t mean they have to be expensive or even the highest quality. But obviously your top, pants, dress or skirt should be clean and in good condition. And it’s even better if they’re also well tailored, created from quality fabrics and made to hang nicely on your body. Yes, fit is essential, too.

Bottom line, begin with classic wardrobe essentials.

?️ #2 – Harmonious Color Palette

Our eyes appreciate harmonious color palettes. These are color combinations that are easy for our eyes to take in. They’re restful on the eyes.

The easiest way to put together outfits consisting of harmonious colors is to stick with neutrals such as black, grey, brown, taupe, beige, white or camel. When you create a look consisting purely of those colors, you’re half way to chic already!

Classic Black Chinos for Spring (3)
Black and white – neutrals that effortlessly create pleasing, harmonious color combinations. See the full post.

But you absolutely can create chic looks with more vibrant colors as well. You can use several different shades of one color. For instance, this tonal look where I used different shades of blue throughout is very easy on the eyes.

tyling Fall Colors Tone on Tone in Blue
Multiple shades of blue create a harmonious color palette in this look. See the full post.

Another way to create a harmonious color palette is to combine colors that are close together on the color wheel. These would include combinations such as:

  • red + pink
  • red + orange
  • green + blue
  • blue + purple
Shades of Blue in a Modern Classic Look
Shades of green and blue combine for an easy-on-the-eyes color palette. See the full post.
How to Feel Warm + Look Stylish at the Office
I combined a red suit with a blush pink blouse and a blush pink handbag to create a harmonious color palette here. See the full post.

Can you still create a chic look with contrasting colors? Yep. But it won’t be as easy. The easiest way to create an effortlessly chic look is with a pleasing, harmonious color palette, one that is easy on the eyes, not fussy or busy.

Detour ?️: If you do want to or need to wear contrasting colors, simply add in some elements that tie those colors together. Use the colors throughout the outfit or wear a scarf, jacket or shoes to help bring balance and tie the color theme together harmoniously.

?️ #3 – Curation

Our eyes appreciate a curated look. In the same way that we are drawn to a home interior that is carefully put together in a pleasing way, we find our gaze lingering on a woman who has put her look together in an aesthetically appealing way.

To curate simply means to select carefully, organize artistically and present skillfully. So you curate your look by selecting colors and textures that complement one another, by putting pieces together that create a pleasing silhouette and then presenting the entire outfit with a few “expert” style flourishes (we’ll get to those in a minute).

Styling Camel and Blue for Spring
This look appears very curated because I’ve taken the time to coordinate my handbag, belt and shoes. I’ve also tied the look together with a coordinating scarf. See the full post.

When curating your look, consider the following:

  • colors – we covered this above, but you want to make sure you choose colors that work together well
  • textures – multiple textures in an outfit make it appear more interesting
  • head to toe – try to pull the look together by including some of the same colors or textures throughout, from head to toe
  • makeup & hair accessories – you can even curate your look by matching your lipstick and nail colors or your head band and purse
Featuring 1901
Even a simple green t-shirt dress can look chic if you take the time to curate the outfit with coordinating shoes and handbag. See the full post.

Detour ?️: When we speak of coordinating your handbag, shoes and belt, we absolutely do not mean they have to completely match. But you can ensure they coordinate simply by choosing leathers of the same tone (warm or cool).

?️ #4 – “Effortless” Style Hacks

Those truly chic women we admire from afar have some tricks up their sleeves. They simply know a few style hacks that help them add interest to their looks. More importantly, they take the time to use those style hacks…at least one in each look.

Simple style hacks that will help you accomplish a more curated, chic look include:

  • a front tuck
  • a full tuck
  • using a belt
  • rolling up the cuffs of your sleeves
  • cuffing your pants at the hem
  • rolling up your pants at the hem
  • tying a jacket or sweater around your hips or neck
  • draping a jacket or cardigan over your shoulders
  • popping your collar in the back
  • tying the front flaps of your button up shirt at the front
  • can you think of more???
Casual Jeans Outfit Without a Tee
See this post.

Remember, one of the signals that our eyes interpret as chic is simply the indication that some effort has been made. But another signal that our eyes detect as chic is a casual effortlessness. Seems a little contradictory, huh? But somehow that subtle contradiction is absolutely essential to the chic aesthetic. Wouldn’t you agree?

That’s why these style hacks are crucial. Simply scrunching up your sleeves a little carelessly or half tucking your shirt contributes that effortless vibe to an otherwise stuffy look. And that’s what takes it from stiff and stuffed to casual and oh-so-chic.

Poplin Popover in White
A popped collar and turned up sleeve cuff give an effortless vibe to this otherwise heavily curated look. See the full post.

?️ #5 – An Elevated Element

Finally, the last key to creating chic looks is simply to add at least one elevated element to the outfit. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about ways to elevate your looks. So you might want to check those out.

7 Ways to Elevate Your Outfit from Simple to Stylish & 5 Ways to Elevate Your Look Today

In both of those posts I talk about specific types of items that always elevate a look. These are simply style choices, accessories or silhouettes that somehow add a bit of polish or sophistication to a look. By adding one or more of these to the most basic outfit, you get closer to chic.

Chic Camel Cashmere Cardigan
See the full post.

Elevated elements include, but are not limited to:

  • high-heeled pumps
  • pointy toe shoes
  • structured handbag
  • blazer
  • belt
  • clutch handbag
  • black
  • bold lip color
  • manicured nails

Take the Chic Challenge

So are you ready to create a more chic outfit today? Why not put on whatever you were going to put on, but amp it up a bit? Try out some or all of the keys I mentioned here and see if your outfit doesn’t go from ho-hum to chic. Let me know what you think!

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Blessed for My Day

I stated in yesterday’s Blessed for My Day that we can choose joy despite our circumstances. The reason we can choose joy daily is because our fate is sealed in Jesus Christ. While we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we do know what eternity brings. If you are a follower of Christ and have made Him the Lord of your life, you know that an inheritance awaits you in heaven.

I believe one of the reasons so many of us are struggling right now is because we feel very insecure. It is natural to long for security. We want to feel safe, held, stable. We want life to be predictable, steady. But right now we’re not sure what the near future looks like. Let’s commit the days ahead to the One who holds eternity safely in His hands. Even if life as we know it has changed forever, we can trust that we will be okay…because He still has us in His grip.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5

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xoxo, Kay
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9 thoughts on “5 Keys to Creating Chic Outfits

  1. You are chic, I am chic, we are chic together! I don’t know why that reworded song came into my mind. Since I started working a bit in my wardrobe from purchase and planning to dressing, I am told that “you always look so put together” I read this and realized that I do many of these things even though I have a classic relaxed style and love colour. Chic doesn’t have to be boring. Thanks. As always a great post

    1. Hi Beth. I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes, that bag is considered structured. Basically, but not always, any bag that can stand up on its own is structured. That was a very good question.

  2. Very informative post, Kay! You do a great job at being chic. Most days, what I consider to be chic does not fit into my style, but that’s okay. Another great BFMD!

  3. Chic-a-boom! Great post! I was called chic by my girlfriends once when I dyed my bangs with green food coloring to match my blouse. Chic at 14 might be a little different than chic at 21. : )

  4. Dear Kay,

    Hurrah for solid colors! For some time now I have favored solids over patterns, largely because they coordinate well, but also because I fear I will tire of patterns or they’ll look dated very quickly. For me, history proves this out. I find this approach makes shopping much easier.