Getting dressed is something we all do. No matter who you are or where you’re from (unless it’s a nudist colony – heyyyyyy!) we share the universal task of finding something to wear before we head out the door. For some of us, choosing an outfit is a creative outlet and the process is downright enjoyable. For others, it’s just something you have to do and the end result doesn’t matter. And in between, there are my gals who want to put some thought into their outfit and they’re totally on board with looking and feeling put together, they just don’t know where to start. Sis, if that’s you, let’s talk.
Putting together outfits is something I just do on autopilot. The part of my brain that thrives on creativity is WAAAAY bigger than the part of my brain that can do equations or science-y stuff. When I decided to tackle this topic, I tried to think about the most basic steps I repeat over and over again when building an outfit. If you are someone who struggles with putting outfits together, complicated advice is a waste of your time. So I narrowed it down to just 3 things you can do to build the perfect outfit and feel completely put together every time you walk out the door. Let’s get into it!
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CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE
I bet if you stepped back and looked at your closet as a whole, you would start to notice you tend to buy more of certain colors. For many of us, black is our safety net. In my closet you would see a lot of black and white prints, leopard, solid black, camel, olive, and a few pops of color. In someone else’s closet you might see tons of white, taupe, or gray. We all have a comfort zone with color and tend to gravitate towards a few we love over and over. When you’re putting an outfit together, try choosing just 2-3 colors and staying in that color palette. You can also choose to stick with 1 color and go completely monochromatic. As you become more confident, you can mix patterns, colors, and prints all day long – but when you’re just getting started, there is absolutely nothing wrong with planning an outfit that is only black and white if that’s what keeps it from being stressful.
Easy colors to build an outfit with:
- Black, white, beige, gray, olive, blush, cream, navy
PATTERNS AND TEXTURES
This is where it starts to get fun. Or if you hate planning outfits, this might be where your anxiety starts to kick in. Don’t stress out. This can be as simple as wearing head to toe black but choosing a top that’s velvet or sheer, or adding a textured scarf. One of my personal favorite textures to add to an outfit? Leather. A classic black leather jacket or vest instantly adds interest, breaks up the outfit, and looks elevated. And please know when I talk about patterns, I know animal print and bright floral are not for everyone. Try tiny dots, super thin stripes,or simple windowpane plaid.
Textures and patterns to try:
- Leather, faux fur, linen, velvet, suede, distressed denim, lace
- Polka dots, stripes, plaid, floral, animal print
LAYERS AND ACCESSORIES
I view these as the icing on a super fun cake. But you know what they really are? They are the superstars that bring an outfit together. When you see someone and think their outfit is so cute or they look so put together, I’d be willing to bet it’s because you’re seeing layers, textures, patterns, and colors all working together in a way that make you stop and take notice. There’s nothing wrong with jeans and a white tee. It’s classic and will never go out of style, but it’s the way you wear it that counts. Dark denim skinny jeans with a cuff, a white tee, leopard flats, a leather belt with a gold buckle, simple gold jewelry, polished makeup, a fabulous handbag and sunglasses – THAT IS AN OUTFIT. Something as simple as a cardigan and a pair of earrings can make an outfit feel complete. Layers and accessories are also the pieces where we most commonly see pattern and texture come into play, so don’t be scared of them. They’re like the Golden Girls – thank them for being your friends.
Layers and accessories I love:
- Cardigans, long duster sweaters, ALL the vests, jackets, scarves
- Statement earrings, delicate necklaces, chunky link bracelets, hats, handbags
I love shoes. I always have. Admittedly, I’m no longer willing to be in pain for them, but you don’t have to wear heels to wear a statement shoe. I can also appreciate that a good nude ballet flat is worth its weight in gold because of its versatility. Shoes can absolutely be the centerpiece of an outfit. If you’re wearing all black and do a pink or red shoe, there’s nothing more chic. Shoes, in my opinion, are really personal because fit matters. What works for one person’s foot may not work for another. Just know you can absolutely apply the principles of patter, texture, color, and fun details to your feet. Shoes are another great way to have fun with your outfit and bring in an unexpected element or pop of color!
REAL LIFE EXAMPLES
*In each of these photos I’m either wearing jeans or black pants on the bottom*When I say there’s nothing wrong with sticking to simple black and white, I’m being serious! This black poncho brings in a chunky knit texture and my earrings add some visual interest while still staying in a two-tone color family. (Matching lips and nails are just a fun bonus!) I have been living for ponchos and turtlenecks while pregnant in the winter and this one is from a local boutique called Hello Rae. My friend Jess is the owner and she puts so much care and attention into finding pieces that work for EVERY body – I have been able to wear several things while still pregnant and they will continue to work after the baby is born. You can shop online with her anytime over on her website! Earrings are available here.
This is a great example of a simple, neutral color palette, adding plenty of texture through the knit of the sweater and the metal and wood accessories, and topping it off with a hat to keep things interesting and fun. Both the sweater and hat are past Walmart purchases which is proof positive you don’t have to spend a ton of money to feel like a million bucks!
Do you see a pattern emerging? I definitely love fun colors and prints and I’m not scared of anything bold but the majority of the time, I’m operating with a pretty neutral color palette and I use patterns, textures, layers, and accessories to bring it all together. This leopard beanie from Nordstrom is their BP brand (currently sold out) and it usually comes back every fall and winter. I got it on major sale this year for just $7.50 – again, a small accessory for a great price can make a huge impact on how an outfit comes together. Linking a similar option that’s just as affordable here. The quilted vest is classic and adds another layer of texture. It’s available here.
This is a really recent outfit and it combines a few of my classic favorites and new obsessions! A chambray shirt (this one is maternity) is a must-have closet staple. You can pair it with any color or pattern and it always works. I added a fur vest which is one of my absolute favorite layering pieces for any outfit. It’s the easiest way to make basics like a chambray top and black pants look more dressed up and special. What I don’t usually wear? Hair accessories. But I’m here to tell y’all, bows and scrunchies and headbands are back in a BIG way. This polka dot one is less than $4 and I just love how cute it looks when I want to pull my hair out of my face.
And now you know my secrets! Except, it’s not really a secret at all. These are just very basic strategies that can help take the guesswork out of getting dressed. The main rule in fashion is there are no rules. You can and should wear whatever makes you feel your best, but it doesn’t hurt to have some tried and true steps for deciding what to wear. I hope this helps you and if you have outfit planning tips, I’d love to hear them! What are your closet staples and no-fail strategies? Share away! Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon.