I’m not a great cook. I’ll never whip up any creations from scratch or modify a dish on the fly.
What I can do instead is read a recipe. With experience and a set of steps to follow, I make decent dinners.
Knowing how to follow a process, and knowing what to expect at the end of it, has made me more confident in the kitchen.
What’s true for the kitchen is true for the closet: putting a dish together and putting an outfit together aren’t that different. You just need a recipe with basic ingredients.
(So if you’re a chef who can’t get herself dressed, this one’s for you 🙂
How to put an outfit together
Outfit creation requires a few building blocks. Put them together and you have an outfit.
- Choose your Level. One of the main reasons I wrote the 5 Levels of Working Mom Outfits was to demonstrate that we wear different kinds of outfits for the different roles we play in our lives. Weekend mom running errands dresses one way and working mom at the office dresses another. Knowing what Level you’re dressing for narrows down the options you’re choosing from right off the bat.
- Pick a central item. Think of one thing you could wear that fits with the Level you’ve just chosen and start with that. Perhaps it’s denim for a Weekend Casual look. Now you’ve also got a color and texture or pattern to play against.
- Pick an opposite item. You chose jeans; that means you need a top. Since we’re talking Weekend Casual, remember that you’ve narrowed your options. Skip the silk blouses and other workwear and go to your knit shirts and your cotton pull-over sweaters. Keep in mind the color or pattern of the piece you started with; you’re not going to choose another pattern to go with a pattern (unless it’s on purpose).
- Top it off. This is where you add the visual interest to what might otherwise be a matching, but dull, combination. Can you add a layer to your top piece? What about a scarf, or a belt–or both? Can you complete the look with the right pair of shoes?
- Don’t forget what’s underneath. The wrong undergarments can distract from even the most chic ensembles. Watch out for patterned bras showing through lightweight tops, dangling bra straps, or VPL (Visible Panty Lines). Some women even swear by shapewear with everything for a perfectly smooth silhouette.
Once you’re comfortable with the basic principles, have fun and improvise! Try mixing up garment levels (what the fashionistas like to call “high-low dressing”) or colors or patterns. Look for opportunities to incorporate trends.
- Fab mamas: How do you build an outfit? Do you have shortcuts or tips that work for you?
Learn more about how to build outfits–and how to find the garments for them that flatter your body and fit your style–with “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the fun, easy-to-follow personal style transformation system. Get instant access today!