Despite the fact that it is something that everyone does on a daily basis, getting dressed (or putting together an outfit, if you want to get fancy) may be the most difficult and unpleasant aspect of the day. Who hasn’t thought to themselves, “I have nothing to wear!” in front of a wardrobe full of clothes? You’re not alone in this daily dilemma, so don’t worry. To that purpose, we enlisted the help of a panel of experts—top designers, style advisors, and retail pros—to finally deconstruct the act (art?) of getting dressed.
Proper proportions must be maintained.
How to accomplish it in practice: Obviously, you want to flaunt your accomplishments, such as toned arms or a trim waist. The tough thing is downplaying less popular parts. Is there only one strategy? Wearing wide-leg trousers to offset a heavier upper half that’s wearing something fitted is an example of adding opposing volume. “The goal is to balance oneself out,” designer Nicole Miller explains.
“So stay away from anything too enormous or you’ll appear bigger.” Another option is to use distraction. If you’re pear-shaped, Louise Roe, author of the style advice book Front Roe, recommends wearing boring black slacks and a bright scarf to draw attention upward.
Wear the latest trends in an age-appropriate manner.
How to accomplish it in practice: There’s a good chance there’s an adult equivalent of the current trend. Consider crop tops: Pair a shirt that hits at the navel with a high-waisted skirt—or a longer top with a crop top over it—to avoid displaying flesh. Designer Rebecca Minkoff claims, “It offers you a comparable look.” Bottom line: According to Lilliana Vazquez, a style expert and editor of TheLVGuide.com, “you never want to appear as though you’re unhappy with your age and attempting to look younger.”
You will appear thinner if you wear the right bra.
How to do it: According to Vazquez, “where your breasts lay on your chest makes a major impact in how clothes fit.” In other words, if you have a perfectly fitting bra, there will be no sagging or bulging, and your shape will appear slimmer from all angles. The target is located in the middle of your elbows and shoulders. “The front center panel of the bra lays flat,” says Kristen Supulski, head of merchandising for Vanity Fair Brands lingerie. “There is no wrinkling or gapping in the cups, and the bra is not hiking up or generating bulges.” “The optimum fit is when you can slip two fingers beneath the band and it still feels snug.” How to accomplish it in practice: Rather from “matching” in the classic sense, try to wear colors that complement one another. According to Minkoff, for a simple hack, “Take a look at a basic color wheel. On the color wheel, the hues that are opposite one other compliment each other.” (Think of unusual but appealing color combinations like orange and navy or purple and saffron.) Another thing to do is to mix up your accessories in terms of color and texture. (From Betty Halbreich’s closet, a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City and author of the style memoir I’ll Drink to That: “A black dress, navy shoes, and a burgundy handbag.”) Under no circumstances should you ever wear a jewelry suite. “Anything that was presented as a set seems really dated,” Vazquez says.
Skin should be shown sparingly.
How to actually accomplish it: According to Halbreich, “don’t give folks too many things to look at all at once.” “If you’re wearing a low-cut dress, emphasize the cleavage—bare arms and legs aren’t necessary.” Fit is another example of this concept: A body-hugging dress looks better with a more conventional neckline and hem, whilst a flared rather than tight skirt that hits a few inches above the knee won’t raise any eyes.
Spend as much money as you can on essentials.
How to accomplish it in practice: First and foremost, a disclaimer. There’s no need to spend a fortune on the essentials—tees, button-downs, and jeans—because there are lots of good options available at reasonable costs. Instead, indulge (if you can) on products for which even the cheapest alternatives aren’t actually bargains. For example, even cheap cashmere will set you back $100. However, that sweater will stretch out rapidly, and instead of spending a little extra once, you’ll have to spend another $100 to replace it. “When purchasing classics, such as a fantastic black blazer, it’s crucial to invest in superior fibers, such as wool, that will last longer,” Minkoff advises. To avoid sticker shock, try estimating the price per wear.
Create a distinct look for yourself.
How to accomplish it in practice: “Find your go-to, fail-safe looks,” designer Nanette Lepore advises, then explore for variations on that concept. Stumped? Consider the clothing that make you feel the most at ease. Alternatively, ask your friends and family what they think you look best in. Once you’ve figured out what works, experiment with alternative approaches. “I’m drawn to coats,” Minkoff adds, “so I’ll produce a bomber style, then a silk version, or a denim jacket with leather sleeves.” “Whenever you feel the need to persuade yourself to buy something, that’s a red flag that you shouldn’t,” Minkoff adds. If you’re having second thoughts in the dressing room, Aerin Lauder, the founder and creative director of the lifestyle brand Aerin, suggests taking a selfie of yourself wearing the item. “It’s a lot more accurate than staring in the mirror,” says the author. How to accomplish it in practice: Rather than ivory, which might appear dirty, use a pure white. “However, because white lipstick might make your teeth appear yellow in comparison, consider wearing a strong lipstick with a blue undertone, such as fuchsia,” suggests Florence Thomas, the creative director at Thomas Pink. Are you undecided about which cut is ideal for you? Anyone can get a feminine hourglass shape by wearing a button-up with darting at the waist or curved princess seams. Check that the shoulder seams are aligned with your shoulders and that there is no pulling in the front or rear. “Anything else may be customized,” Thomas continues. Dry-cleaning all-cotton shirts will cause them to discolor. As with men’s shirts, get them washed and ironed.
Prints and patterns should be mixed together.
How to accomplish it in practice: Using many patterns can make you appear more confident and stylish—or as though you dressed in the dark. Follow these recommendations to achieve the former. Stick to the same color family, if possible, and the same background tone. Some combos, like peanut butter and jelly, just work. “Polka dots with stripes or florals are usually a good match,” Minkoff explains. The same goes for paisley with squares or checks, or leopard print with a non-critter design. It’s a no-no to use matches that are too close together. Houndstooth and plaid, for example, are too similar to be compatible, according to Vazquez. In addition, two large-scale prints will contend for dominance, giving viewers a headache. Complete the look with neutral accessories. Cautions “Don’t add another hue to the mix,” Roe says.
Your jewelry should draw attention to your best qualities
How to accomplish it in practice: The appropriate set of earrings can make your facial shape look more attractive. Long earrings, for example, make a round face appear slimmer, according to jewelry designer Lizzie Fortunato. If you have an oblong face, however, short, chunky earrings, such as large studs, will direct attention outward and make your face appear less narrow.
A necklace should hit an inch over the cleavage or higher if you have a huge bust. Longer strands or pendants will dangle uncomfortably on the body, highlighting every curve. Finally, use lighter-colored earrings, such as pearls or white stone, to make your face appear more luminous.
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