Getting dressed is a task that most women take for granted. They get up, stare into the wardrobe and pick out the first thing that springs to hand. Some end up looking great and others…well, not so much.

What you wear has a huge influence on how you feel and behave day to day. Socially and business savvy women know that getting dressed and choosing the right outfit is critical to the way the day will unfold.

When you look skillfully dressed, you feel more powerful, more confident and other people give you more notice and more respect. Knowing how to build an outfit is an essential skill to ensure you project the image you want and live the lifestyle you choose.

What you wear and how well you’re groomed speaks volumes about you and we are all unconsciously assessing others via their appearance every day. So it makes sense to look our best every day and that starts with the ability to create figure flattering and visually pleasing outfits.

Thoughtfully crafting outfits from the options in your wardrobe may seem like a daunting task but it’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3. In time, these steps will become second nature to you and building an amazing outfit will be a cinch.

#1. Think ahead9545e7309d8eafc3e63ed869f8e8b7df

It’s always easier to plan what you’ll be wearing the night before. When you have your outfit laid out and ready, it will make your morning much less stressful. This is a great bedtime ritual to make sure that your mornings start on the right note. Laying out your outfit the night before also affords you the time to explore a lot more sartorial possibilities.
Ask yourself:

  • What will I be doing?
  • Where will I be going?
  • What will the weather be?
  • Who will I be seeing?
  • What’s the level of dress that will be required?
  • What impression do I want to make? 

These questions are key to choosing the right outfit for your day. Don’t forget to lay out your accessories too. This ritual/habit will take the hassle out of your mornings and take the guesswork out of dressing up.

#2. Decide on your base layer

It is easier to put together your look once you’ve decided on the basic elements of your outfit. Here are the simple possible combinations for your outfit:

  • Skirt + top
  • Pant + top
  • Dress

The base layer’s look will of course be decided by the occasion or event you’re building the outfit for. The base layer will also decide factors like underwear, accessories etc. If your base layer is simple, that’s the time to get more creative or bold with other aspects of your look. If one or more base layer elements is a statement piece, that’s your cue to simplify the rest of your ensemble. 

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#3. Lay the right foundation

The right lingerie or shapewear will make an enormous difference. You may think that what you wear underneath doesn’t show or is irrelevant—that’s where you’re wrong. Your underwear affects how clothes sit or drape on your body. Shapewear is a worthy investment in this department since it provides an excellent foundation for your clothing. It will smooth any bulges and it will make sure your clothes fit perfectly. The right underwear has the same effect, so invest in your bras and panties, ladies. Trust me, it will pay off. The right shapewear and underwear will kill wobbles and perk up your chest area. It will make you look your best. If you want to know more, click this link for my in-depth feature on Shapewear

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#4. Layer as desired

Layering is a great way to increase the chicness of your look. So whether it’s for fashion or function, layering is necessary to building an effective outfit. 

  • For formality
    • In business settings adding an extra layer to cover bare upper arms will result in a more professional image. 
    • More formal settings are more about fashionable layering. For professional environments, adding a blazer to your look will result in a more polished and formidable appearance. For formal events like parties etc., layering with embellished jackets or colourful scarves is a great way to stand out and increase the stylishness of your cocktail dress or evening separates. 
  • For warmth
    • i. If you feel you are on the larger side look for light layers of extra warm fabrics e.g., cashmere. Fabrics like cashmere or Merino wool provide the warmth and insulation you need without adding extra bulk to your frame.

ii. Layering for warmth may be functional, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trendy about it. Cozy cardigans in trendy prints like polka dots, stripes, or plaid is a brilliant way to add an extra dimension of style to your look. 

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#5. Shoe off

Any style conscious woman will tell you that a shoe can make or break an outfit and it’s true. Nothing can ruin a great outfit quite like a cheap or bad pair of shoes can. A stunning evening dress doesn’t look right with cork wedges, while a day of errands can get sabotaged with a pair of uncomfortable stilettos. Choose shoes that go with the overall images and vibe of your look. It is also important to know when to sacrifice comfort for style and vice versa. A day of walking should, of course, necessitate a comfy yet chic pair of sneakers while a fancy evening event is the right moment to put style above all else, and slip into a pair of amazing high-heeled pumps. For more footwear knowledge, go to my feature called, “Well Heeled.”

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#6. Accessorize

Accessories are so much fun! This is the part where you can get playful with your look and experiment a little bit, all within the bounds of good taste of course. Accessories are also a great way to integrate current trends into your look, and it’s also the outfit element where you can insert more of your personality. Embellishments such as jewelry, scarves, and hand bags can add air of uniqueness to your look. Here are some things to consider when accessorizing your look:

To attract attention to your best area

Think about which areas of your body you want to highlight and consider accessorizing there. If you have an enviable waist, wear a statement belt. If you want to draw attention to your face consider wearing a statement necklace. You get the idea.

Complete the look

An outfit isn’t complete without accessories. Think about a basic white tee and jeans. Worn by itself, it seems so drab. But add a long gold necklace, a printed scarf, and/or some colorful bangles and your humble white tee and jeans combo is ready for a night on the town.

Add some fashion influence

Accessories are look-at-me pieces that instantly communicate your fashion sensibilities. Whether you’re a trendy or classic girl, your accessories will reflect what your style is to a T.

Pull all the items together into a cohesive outfit

Don’t just put together accessories randomly. You should also consider how the accessories relate to your base layer and the rest of your look. All items should look harmonious.

If you’d like more information on accessories, go to this link. 

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#7. Count your points

At this stage your outfit is complete the only thing left is to check your focal points to ensure your out fit is visually pleasing and figure flattering. In the following image, all 3 outfits consist of a pant and top. The first two appear lacklustre because each has only 2 focal points (top and pants). The 3rd has a belt that adds a much-needed 3rd focal point (top, pants and belt).

  • A focal point is anything that draws your eye to it.  

Aim for 3 to 4 focal points in one look. Less can be boring and more focal points may start to look too busy. All the outfits in the photo below meet this number. 

Bad GroupFocal Points

#8. Check yourself out

While it may be tempting to step out of the house unchecked, don’t do it. Some of your outfits may look better on the hanger or in your head than they do in reality. Always check your appearance in a full-length mirror before leaving the house. You can even take a mirror selfie while you’re at it. If you have doubts about something, trust your gut and remove it. 

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#9. Log your outfit

It’s so easy to forget all the different outfits you can make. It is super helpful for your style journey to log your outfit to see how your looks change and progress, and to help keep track of looks or pieces that you like and don’t like. You can note down the items that make up each outfit while keeping a photo diary. Keeping an outfit logo is now made easier than ever with social media hashtag and apps that keep track of your #OOTDs (that means “outfit of the day”).

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  1. Ann – this is such an excellent article. The idea of creating an actual ‘outfit’ throws many women into a dither – but it’s something we do every day. However, rarely with the great results you’ve demonstrated here – a lesson for all of us.

  2. Always love reading your articles. Easy to read. So informative and the images really help to explain what you are talking about. Thank you for another great article 🙂

  3. This is a lot of great information! Thank you. I was wanting to read more on the shareware, but the link said I don’t have permission to the draft? Can you give me another link or tell me where to find the link! Thank you.
    .

  4. Great article, Ann! Thinking through an ensemble the night before always creates a more cohesive look plus the opportunity to try a new combination with existing garments.

    Thanks for the visuals…love seeing options for color in small statements.
    Your hard work and creative mind is much appreciated.
    A faithful fan,
    Pat

  5. I love that taupe/tan tunic over cream pants in #7 Count your points. Can you tell me what it is?

    1. Hi Marianne, I’m afraid that photo is one I’ve had for a while. Sorry I can’t help you this time.

  6. I am new to this, so please excuse my ignorance. I enjoy your posts. I am now a size 16 to W18 depends on manufacturer. I believe in buying quality clothing that lasts. When I was much thinner, shopping was fun and enjoyable, now I hate it. I don’t know how to shop for this extra weight. I’ve gained 60 lbs over 10 years. I weigh 190 lbs and I’m 5′ tall. Please help me with some basics. My closet is full of beautiful tops, some never worn. I don’t know how to shop for my bottoms (pants, skirts, dresses). Thank you.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      I totally understand where you are coming from and feeling. I took have had times when I have gained a lot of weight and had had to rethink my wardrobe.
      The good news is that http://www.PretaStyler.com is designed to take the worry out of this for you. Once you complete your body profile it will find the styles of all garments that suit you best, including skirts, pants and dresses. And it will give yopu advice on how to style each item too. Best of all it’s free to join.
      If you want to learn about what suits you in a more indepth manner head over to http://www.MyPrivateStylist.com this program costs $89 but is worth every cent.

  7. Great article. FYI, the link to Shapewear is missing.

    1. Hi Diana,
      Which link is missing? I have tested the link for Nancy Ganz, Spanx and the infographic and they all work.

  8. […] How to Create an Outfit […]

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