How to Always Look Put Together: Clothing
Updated: Dec 11, 2022
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How to Always Look Put Together Series
Welcome to Chapter III of my How to Look Put Together Guides, If you haven't read the previous chapters you can catch up here. Now that you've mastered Personal Care and Undergarments I'd like to introduce you to the most exciting part of the series: Clothing.
This site and these guides were born to combat the generalized misconception of "In order to look expensive you need to spend more". I think a little education is all you need to look your best.
In this chapter, I'll be sharing tips and lessons I learned while trying to curate a wardrobe that is refined, timeless, and looks expensive.
01. Define your Personal Aesthetic
If anyone ever told you "that shirt is so you"... then you probably already have a pretty well defined personal aesthetic. It just might not be the aesthetic you want. A personal aesthetic is like an unspoken representation of your likes, your lifestyle and your aspirations.
Why is it important to have a clear aesthetic when trying to dress better?
A. It keeps you true to yourself.
B. It helps you to shop with intention by keeping you from impulse purchases that don't align with your aesthetic.
C. It keeps your wardrobe cohesive, which makes it very easy to plan outfits using the clothing you already have.
D. You will look more expensive while still looking like yourself.
For a full guide on how to define your personal aesthetic click the image below.
02. Function First
How many absolutely stunning pairs of shoes do you own?
How many of them are comfortable?
Function is critical. Buying a pair of shoes only to display them in your closet because they're too uncomfortable to wear anywhere is just dumb.
You didn't buy a pair of shoes you bought a trophy, a decoration that serves no other purpose but to display it.
And if that was the intent behind the purchase then great. But if you bought these to wear then you failed.
It's ok though, I've been there and thankfully Poshmark exists so you can sell your lightly used unexplainable splurges.
Moral of the story: Make sure that whatever it is you're buying or keeping in your wardrobe can get the job done.
This is not only applicable to shoes, you can apply it to anything really:
Buy Coats that will actually keep you warm.
Buy Shoes you can actually walk in.
Buy Dresses you can move around in comfortably.
At the end of the day, if you are comfortable you will undoubtedly look better.
03. Find your Colors and Stick to them
I wrote another series of posts on color theory (Catch up here). But, for now, let's begin by establishing a color palette for our wardrobe.
Having a color palette makes mixing and matching within your wardrobe EASY.
How do I know which colors look good on me?
This is a much deeper conversation but start with the colors you already have in your current wardrobe and when you're ready to dive into finding the colors that complement you best you need to understand 3 concepts undertone, contrast and skin tone. Start with the most basic concept here.
Take a look at my Spring-Summer color palette below:
Now take a look at how that color palette comes to life:
How do you Choose your Color Palette?
For now, let's look at what you already own so we can make the best use of the items you already have. Hopefully, you've already subconsciously created a color palette.
I want you to open up your blinds and let that natural light in, pick out 6 items from your closet in colors that you absolutely love, and that complement you well.
Fill in your colors below and draw out your color palette.
Analyze them. Do these colors compliment each other well?
If they do, then you have a color palette! If they don't try to find the color that doesn't go with the rest.
Swap that color out for another color that does, continue until you have a color palette you love.
Fill in your Color Palette below!
04. Want the Perfect Fit? Find a Good Tailor!
Get those essentials (jeans, pants, dresses, and jackets) tailored. Especially jeans, you can make a pair of $50 Levi's look like a pair of $250 Mother Denim with the right tailor.
You can also DIY it. As a petite and curvaceous woman, finding clothes that suit my body type has always been a struggle and constant tailoring can get expensive. So I learned to hand-sew and make a few simple alterations to find the right fit. I usually hand-sew my less expensive purchases from H&M or Forever21 and leave my more expensive clothing for the pros.
Taking in a little bit here and there isn't very hard to do and makes a $10 top look decent.
This is especially useful for those Forever21, Shein, and Romwe pieces.
05. Wrinkles are Unacceptable
Nothing says "cheap" quite like wrinkled clothing. With so many ways to keep your clothing wrinkle-free, there really is NO excuse to wear a chewed up outfit.
I have even used my flat iron to iron out clothes in a pinch!
The easiest way to keep your wardrobe creaseless is steaming. Steaming is fast, easy, and takes up less space than a flat ironing board.
If you'd rather not iron:
opt for wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Like the ones pictured.
Wrinkle-resistant fabrics help you look put together and are perfect for travel, times when you're running late, or if you just don't want to iron... ever.
06. Fashion Tape is your Best Friend
Fashion Tape, what a gem.
Keeps slits on skirts and dresses from opening too much.
Keep ruffles and collars in place.
Secure your neckline and prevent wardrobe malfunctions.
Keeps a belt or a scarf in place.
I really need to write a post on the many many ways I use fashion tape to take care of the little details that truly make an outfit flawless.
07. Go Monochromatic
One of the easiest ways to look more expensive, put-together, and absolutely stylish is to go monochromatic.
(Wearing one color head to toe.)
There are 2 ways to do this:
Exact Same Color Throughout
This is very difficult to do flawlessly unless you're going all black/all white.
Same Color - Different Saturation
Make sure the shades are either all cool or all warm.
Check out my Elegant Monochromatic board on Pinterest for inspiration.
08. Swap Soft for Structured
Structured pieces look more luxe and expensive than soft, flowy, unstructured clothing items.
A few easy and simple swaps to get you started:
Swap Cardigans for Blazers
Swap Hoodies for Bombers
Swap Graphic Tees for Structured Tees
Swap unstructured tops for structured bodysuits
Making a few simple swaps you can slowly but surely build a wardrobe that is both elegant and functional.
Check out 70 more super easy swaps to look more expensive here.
09. Plan Outfits Ahead of Time
This is a major time-saving hack, a clothing rack is honestly one of the best investments I have ever made in the pursuit of dressing better. I love songmics rack pictured here, it rolls smoothly and has an added shelf at the bottom so I can pre-plan shoes as well.
I use my clothing racks to pre-plan outfits for the week, for vacations or for weekends.
This is extremely valuable for those days when you just need to run out and don't have enough time to go through your closet and try on multiple pieces.
One of my clothing racks even folds for easy storage when I don't need it! Get it here.
10. Opt for Structured or Shapewear Basics
Shapewear you can actually wear out of the house? Where have these been all my life? How did I not know these existed until just a few years ago?
Now that's a time and money saver. Now when I buy basics I make sure they have silhouette-smoothing and/or structured properties.
11. Learn How to Accentuate your Body
I'm petite so there have been many times in my life where I felt as if, my clothes were actually wearing me. So I learned to dress with my height in mind.
Dressing for your body is all about manipulating the lines we create with our bodies to highlight our assets and feel comfortable and confident.
If you haven't read it yet, my post: How to look Taller: Know your lines. It's the perfect intro to understanding how to elongate your silhouette.
12. Care for your Clothes
This has been a hard one to learn since I am not particularly fond of handwashing my laundry. The cashmere sweaters and knits I ruined when I was too lazy to care for them appropriately still haunt me.
In order for your clothes to look like a million bucks, you need to keep them in shape. It's as simple as laundering and storing them correctly.
Read the Label
Fold or Hang correctly
13. Keep Embellishments at a Minimum
Keep it simple. There is nothing wrong with a little something extra but keeping it at a minimum doesn't let it take over your whole outfit.
For example: I love fringe, fringe is one of those embellishments that when done well can look 10x more expensive than it really is. BUT, I don't wear a head to toe fringe look because then I'll just look like a mop no matter how well done it is.
Don't let embellishments take over your outfits.
The timeless way to wear fringe:
Keep it Simple and Timeless so your wardrobe stays relevant and stands the test of time.
14. Incorporate trends Sparingly
Trends come and go, so never splurge on these. Incorporate them into your wardrobe, just be subtle with trends. There is a classy way to incorporate trends and its all about keeping it simple.
Make sure the trend is the star of the outfit by implementing it in a neutral color or trying a subdued version of the trend.
For example, these are subdued versions of the puff sleeve trend that are good long term investments:
These are overly-trendy, design-heavy versions of the puff sleeve trend that are terrible long-term investments:
15. Upgrade inexpensive clothing by switching out the buttons
By changing up the cheap plastic buttons on inexpensive shirts, jackets, and pants you can turn a cheap-looking item into a luxe look-alike.
16. Start investing in Luxe-Fabrics
Just because an item was made with luxe fabric does not meat that it will look timeless, elegant and expensive. Building up your wardrobe is an art, it takes time, patience and practice. When shopping for luxe fabrics like Cashmere, Wool, Silk, Leather and Linen take the time to find:
The right fit: these fabrics are harder and more costly to alter.
The right colors: buy these in colors that both complement you and fit in with your current wardrobe.
The right style: Are you minimal and elegant? Are you feminine and elegant?
Make sure you're not buying a studded biker leather jacket if this would not fit in with your personal style and aesthetic.
This is a style trap many people fall into when they find a good deal on a "luxury item" but then that good deal sits in your closet never to be used because it doesn't go with anything you own, or it isn't flattering or it just isn't you at all.
The best place to score luxe fabrics if you're just starting to build up your wardrobe is Everlane they specialize in quality fabrics in timeless designs at an affordable pricepoint. My first cashmere and silk items came directly from Everlane and are 5+ years later are still in rotation.
Pieces I own:
17. Keep your necklines Structured
One of the easiest ways to shop for expensive-looking clothing is to focus on necklines.
A long shirt can be tucked in and belted, but very little can be done to fix a neckline.
Make sure your necklines are structured. This means no off the shoulder, drooping on one side, or uneven stitching.
Focus on neat + clean necklines.
18. Make sure where you shop is aligned with your personal style
One of the easiest beginner friendly ways to stay true to your own personal brand is to shop at stores that cater to your personal style.
For example I define my personal style as - timeless, minimal, feminine, chic - I can easily find clothing items that belong to this category by shopping at: Mango, Everlane, Massimo Dutti, COS, Banana Republic.
If you're more of the feminine, cozy, casual, boho mindset then Free People, Gap, Sezane, Ann Taylor, Vici may be more aligned with your style.
Keep in mind you can shop anywhere and find clothing that fits your aesthetic but if you're just starting to define your style it will be easier to stick to the brands that design specifically for you.