How to Make an Outfit Look More Put Together

Full disclosure: When I have down time I often write posts in my phone, and then sometimes forget about them — most of them I just trash, but this one seemed relevant, even though I wrote it after a bachelorette weekend in Austin in 2019. Especially as we all start to pull things out of our closets and assess the metaphorical holes in our wardrobes, is there a “formula” to look polished? How can you make an outfit look more put-together?

In 2019, I had a few unexpected hours to kill in Austin while I waited for a flight after a bachelorette get-together with a group of college friends. We had spent days shopping and eating, it was super hot, and I hadn’t had the foresight to realize I would have so many hours by myself. It was too late to book a massage or a yoga class or anything, so I wound up spending most of it in the air conditioned hotel lobby, doing a lot of people-watching.

This experience came on the heels of two other things: The first is that we’d had a lot of discussions about patriarchy, the male gaze, and whom one dresses for, as well as the invisibility cloak of aging (yay 40s). The second thing was that I was in a funk, feeling as if I’d clearly lost my style groove and needed to reevaluate a lot of things in my life in terms of how I was presenting myself — I just felt like a total frump, and not at all pulled together.

{related: does your outward self reflect your inner self?}

As a serial shopper like me is wont to do, I spent my people-watching time appraising outfits, and I started to play a little game: “polished or not.” You can insert whatever word you like in place of that — stylish, cute, fashionable, put-together. I wasn’t looking at people for beauty or physique or anything — just the outfit, and the general impression the outfit created. I was surprised to find that a number of things did NOT matter in how to look pulled together, in my opinion.

What Style is NOT

It wasn’t about body shape or age. I really feel like any age or size can look polished or stylish!

It wasn’t necessarily about the pieces of an outfit — for example, a black T-shirt and blue jeans. I saw many women wearing that combination, and some looked really polished in their outfit and others looked like they pulled something off the floor of their closet.

It wasn’t about trend — some women had nothing remarkably “trendy” on yet looked fabulous, while others had clearly picked out something in the hopes that it would be trendy and had put effort into the outfit and yet something felt… off.

{related: how to cultivate style (vs trend)}

It wasn’t about pain — wearing heels didn’t matter, being winched into uncomfortable Spanx didn’t matter, wearing a ton of makeup or extensions that took hours to apply didn’t matter, and neither did having a teensy bag that was a PITA to carry and couldn’t fit anything of import.

{related: how not to look dowdy at work}

What Polished Women Had in Common

It was about confidence and posture and how the women carried themselves. This was most evident with the older women and the moms of young kids.

It was about knowing proportions and having an eye for details. I still remember one woman looking very stylish in an almost triangle-tunic tank that she wore with dark skinny jeans, and another who wore a stunning, floaty ivory T-shirt with inset lace details at the shoulders and black shorts. Still a very minimal look, to be sure, but one so much more elevated than just a basic tee.

{related: We rounded up some of our favorite Pinterest visuals on proportions and other style tricks!}

It was about personality — people putting some of themselves into an outfit, even if it was only to a small degree.

{related: how to elevate a simple T-shirt}

So… what’s the takeaway? I struggled with this as I was people-watching — why did some look cute and some not? How could I adapt my own wardrobe to feel more put-together?

How to Make an Outfit Look More Put Together

Don’t try to be anyone but yourself — don’t let friends talk you into outfits you aren’t comfortable in, or feel that you should wear pieces that just aren’t you, or patterns that aren’t in your personal style.

Be honest with yourself, particularly about how things look and fit. I think all of the women who looked stylish knew that they were wearing stuff they looked great in. This was particularly interesting with the more laid-back outfits, e.g., a loose shirt knotted at the waist on top of a flowy red skirt, or a T-shirt dress knotted at the hem to make a bit of a higher hem. It wasn’t necessarily about revealing skin or “showing you have a waist” or “my legs are my best asset” but about changing the outfit in some small way to make it yours.

Be confident — stand up tall. (Not to get all woow, but to quote Desiderata: You are a child of the universe no less than the trees or the stars, and you have a right to be here.)

Dress for yourself. If it pleases you to have little lace details on your T-shirt, go for it. If it pleases you (or amuses you, or reminds you of something) to wear a certain necklace or shirt, go for it.

Readers, what are your thoughts? Where do you think style lies in 2021 — and what are your best tips for how to make an outfit look more put-together?

Stock photo via Deposit Photos / Krakenphotos.com

The post How to Make an Outfit Look More Put Together appeared first on Corporette.com.

* This article was originally published here