I hear from women that one of the reasons they feel like they don’t look their best each day is simply because it takes too much time and money. I guess that’s actually two reasons. And I get it. I used to struggle almost daily with putting together outfits that made me feel comfortable, much less fabulous. But in over five years as a style blogger, I’ve learned the keys that help me pull together great outfits easily. So today I’m sharing how you can get out the door quickly and look fabulous every day.
I shared this message with a group of women in Zanesville, Ohio, recently, and I thought you might enjoy a recap. So while I share my 8 keys for putting yourself together quickly and looking fabulous every day, I’m also showing you some photos from that event. I’ve linked items in the captions below a few of the photos if they are available. However, many of the items I used in my presentation were old favorites from my closet and are no longer available.
Key #1 – Know Your “Why”
I find that the only way I can consistently achieve my goals is to know my “why” and stay mindful of it. If you don’t know your “why” for getting dressed presentably and a little stylishly every day, you’ll soon ditch your efforts.
For me, the reason I strive to get dressed for my day and look as fabulous as I can, especially if I’m going out, is that I know how we look does indeed matter. Not only do I feel better about myself and, therefore, show up a little more confident and joyful when I get dressed for my day, but I know that other people are “reading my story” as they size me up visually.
First impressions matter. They create lasting assumptions. People tend to size us up within 10 seconds of seeing us, and that’s generally before a single word has left our lips.
Repeated impressions tell a story. When people see us show up in a similar fashion time after time, they begin to form a storyline in their minds of who we are, what our life has been like and where we’re going. This is only natural, so we can’t just get angry and say that’s not fair. After all, we view other people that way, too.
It’s possible to make new impressions, but it can also feel awkward and risky to start dressing a little differently. We may fear that those who know us well think we are stepping too far out of our original storyline. But it’s worth the risk and the initial awkwardness to make new impressions. You do indeed tell a story with how you dress, but you get to determine the story you tell. That’s my “why.” I want to tell an accurate story with my clothing, my appearance. What about you? What’s your why for dressing to look fabulous every day?
Key #2 – Decide on the Story You Want to Tell
If you want to change the messaging you’re giving with your appearance, you have to decide on the story you want to tell. Personally, I want to tell an accurate story. So I want my appearance to stay authentic to who I am, my values, my life experiences, my personality.
I like to dress in a way that is modern, but also somewhat classic and timeless. I also like to infuse a little joy and whimsy into my looks because it makes me happy, and generally I’m a very happy person. I also want to look competent and a little authoritative sometimes, but I always desire to appear approachable, too. What about you?
Key #3 – Know your body shape, proportions and size.
Until I started blogging in this space about five and a half years ago, I had no idea about my body shape or proportions. But I quickly learned that I would never be able to put together outfits for myself consistently enough to share them here if I didn’t do a little research and get these essentials nailed down.
So I did a lot of research and calculating, and I discovered that I have an hourglass shape and basically even proportions. I shared my discoveries in a blog series that first year so that my readers could easily find their body shape and proportions, too. You’ll find it all HERE. When you open that home page, scroll down and click on LOAD MORE to see all the posts and start at the beginning. You can also click on BLOG, then FASHION and then Dressed for My Day My Way in the top menu of my website at any time to find this series.
I also provided the video above on determining your body proportions. I think it’s even more helpful than the corresponding blog post.
Once you know your body shape and proportions you’ll be able to put together outfits that really suit you. It will take practice. It certainly has for me! But with time you’ll get very adept at putting together outfits that make you look your best. You’ll learn whether or not you should tuck your top, which pant lengths to opt for, which necklines to look for and so much more.
Key #4 – Limit Your Color Palette and Look Fabulous Every Day
If you really want to be able to put together outfits from your closet effortlessly and quickly, I suggest limiting the colors in your closet. That doesn’t mean you have to ban certain colors altogether. It just means it’s wise to have fewer color options during each season. I simply put the colors I won’t be wearing in any given season in a different closet or packed away.
While it is smart to know the colors that look best on you, this tip goes beyond that. I suggest that you narrow your color palette for the present season (or two) to just 3-5 colors and 3-4 neutrals. I generally choose a color palette for fall and winter, and then I may do something different for spring and summer. I consider the trending colors because they’ll be easier to find in the stores. But I also stick with colors I personally love to wear and feel good in.
This fall and winter I’ll be wearing the neutrals black, brown, camel and grey (along with white). And I’ll be wearing the colors red, mauvy pink, sapphire blue and light icy blue. I think I may put my green garments away for this fall and winter until Christmas.
Key #5 – Create a Wardrobe that Works for You
The biggest mistake I see women make that results in frustration in the closet is buying outfits rather than building a wardrobe. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t build a wardrobe with outfits in mind. Obviously the goal is to be able to create outfits from the items in our closet. But if we focus on buying outfits we end up with…well, just that: a lot of outfits. But those outfits tend to work for particular occasions for which we’ve purchased them and little else. If we focus instead on building a wardrobe that mixes and matches, we get loads more outfits and we can make them suitable for so many occasions.
So I suggest that we shop for our closet with the goal of building a hard-working wardrobe, one that mixes and matches and suits our bodies. We’ll want to keep it within the color palette we’ve chosen so that everything mixes and matches well. And when we bring a new garment into that wardrobe we should be able to immediately work it into a minimum of three outfits with the existing items in our closet.
I share all the details about Building a Wardrobe that Works for You in this style series. Again, scroll down to the bottom of that list and click on LOAD MORE to start at the beginning of the series. I’ve added to it every year, so it’s full of great blog posts that help create a working wardrobe. Build a good wardrobe and you’ll have what you need to look fabulous every day.
Key #6 – Start with the Essentials
If you’re starting from scratch building a wardrobe, definitely start with the essentials. And if you’re simply refreshing your closet for a new season, this is the place to start, too. The essentials are the base layers you’ll need to create great outfits.
- t-shirts in basic colors or neutrals like white, black, grey, navy, etc.
- great black pants (see this video)
- well-fitting jeans
- basic but great sweaters in your chosen colors and neutrals
- a pretty blouse in your chosen neutral or color
- an all-purpose dress
- everyday pants in your chosen style (chinos, utility pants, ponte knit, etc.)
- a basic skirt (this year denim skirts are so on trend)
You can see more of the essentials I think are important at this time of year in this recent video. Having the basics will help you create looks that make you look fabulous every day.
Key #7 – Make Sure You Have the Outfit Makers
Once I had learned to build a wardrobe rather than just buying outfits, I thought I would have everything I need. I assumed, incorrectly, that if I had the wardrobe essentials I’d have everything I needed to put together great outfits. But you have to have more than the essentials; you need outfit makers, too.
Outfit makers or completer pieces are a different kind of closet essential. These are the pieces that have some personality to them and they help pull your look together so that it tells your story. Because I do like to look like I know what I’m doing (or like the boss!), I love to wear blazers. They just fit my personality and help tell my story beautifully. So blazers are definitely my preferred outfit makers.
But other outfit makers could include things like:
- utility jackets
- denim jackets
- moto jackets
- wraps and ponchos
You get the idea. If ever I get frustrated because I can’t create an outfit easily, it’s generally because I don’t have the outfit makers I need. But over the last few years I’ve collected some outfit makers that can help me look fabulous every day.
Consider how you’ll tell your story with the outfit completers in your closet this fall and winter. Or is it time to purchase some new ones that tell a more accurate story?
Key #8 – Know the Outfit Formulas that Work for You
Finally, another stumper that often frustrates women as they stand in front of their well-stocked closets: lacking the know-how. And you and I absolutely can have the know-how! It turns out that stylish women do not “re-create the wheel” every morning. Ha! No, they know some style formulas and work them over and over in different ways so they can look fabulous every day.
Do you recognize the outfit formulas I shared in the photos above? I was so thrilled when the other speaker for Thursday night’s event, a physician, showed up dressed in sapphire blue head to toe. Her look perfectly illustrated a monochromatic outfit, similar to the one above on the left. She wore a blue print blouse, blue pants and blue suede pumps. Absolutely stunning.
On the right above I illustrated a formula I recently named (ha!) the 2A over 1B formula. It consists of the same color in two garments at the top of the outfit worn over a different color below. Here I’ve paired a brown blouse (no longer available in brown) with a brown herringbone blazer and styled them over a pair of dark wash, straight leg jeans (old). This formula always works!
And my outfit for the night was a 2×2 formula. I wore two casual pieces – the tank top and denim jacket – along with two more formal pieces – the skirt (now 42% off!) and my gold glittery pumps (similar gold pumps). This combination works so nicely for a special event like a girls’ night out, which is what this was.
The other outfit formula I shared that evening was a column of color, in which I styled the red outfit above with a beautiful black leather topper coat instead of the red blazer. So slimming and classy!
I hope those keys help you feel more equipped to step out the door and look fabulous every day. You and I absolutely can do that. We just need to make sure we have these 8 keys in our pocket.
Don’t Miss a Post:
If you like what you’re seeing here at Dressed for My Day, I invite you to subscribe to my email list. You can receive an email each time I post (about 6 times weekly) or just on Saturdays. You choose! But you’ll also receive the password to open up all the subscriber freebies I offer.
Blessed for My Day
It may seem vain to put very much effort into our appearance. But I see it differently. When I don’t put the effort in in the morning to look my best, I end up feeling more self-conscious through the day. If I see someone I know, I worry that they saw me at my worst. Worse yet, I may actually run and hide from them instead of saying hello. If I have an opportunity to Facetime with someone or get on Instagram stories and encourage women, I don’t because I feel like I don’t look good. So my appearance somewhat determines how well I show up for other people. And if I don’t put in a little effort on my appearance, I tend to shrink back and not get involved.
But if I put in a little effort in the morning, then I truly forget about my appearance the rest of the day. I rarely even freshen up my hair or lipstick as the day goes on. But I feel ready to head out the door, get on the phone for a Facetime or hop on Instagram stories, so I’m much more likely to focus on other people than myself. Putting in the effort and time in the morning prepares me to focus on others throughout the day. Try it and see if that works for you, too.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:3-4