When it comes to fashion, I’m not one to follow a lot of rules. In fact, I broke one today and mixed prints! Love doing that.
I don’t agree with “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.” I actually think mixing black and brown, and black and navy blue — when done well — looks very fashion forward. But there are some rules I prescribe to, and I think most women should, too. I probably have a lot more rules than this, but the point is: The impression you make matters. Follow these tips to always make a good first impression, no matter where you’re going.
1. Don’t wear sweats, unless you’re working out or heading to or coming from a workout. Other exceptions: You just had a baby or you’re lounging around the house. Here’s the deal. You’re gonna see me at the grocery store now and then in sweats. And probably sweaty, too. But I’m very adamant about not wearing sweatpants unless I’m actually sweating or going to sweat. It’s just as easy to pull on a pair of jeans. So do it.
2. Learn to embrace structure. One thing I finally learned is that clothes with structure make you appear thinner. They also make you look more put together. When I was younger, I dressed in a lot of oversized T-shirts and sweatshirts, thinking I could hide my curvy shape and no one would notice the bulk under my clothes. Wrong. You’re not invisible. You just look sloppy. Pairing a snug T with a full skirt camaflogues your problem areas, while still embracing your curves. Finding the perfect fitting jeans and wearing them with a comfortable, but not baggy, sweater makes you look leaner and even taller than you actually are.
3. Wear a dress, for crying out loud! You’re a woman. Scratch that. You’re a lady. Act like one and put on a dress now and then. Whether it’s work appropriate with clean lines, or a lightweight, airy sundress worn to a beer festival, dresses show off your femininity. And here’s a secret: They’re the easiest thing you’ll ever wear. Throw on a cardigan on top, pull on tights or leggings underneath or, in warm weather, strap on a pair of sandals and, boom! You’re done. If you’re self-conscious about your middle area, Spanx or other shapewear is your friend. Unlike years ago, shapewear is surprisingly comfortable now. In fact, I actually like wearing my Spanx! And dresses? Boys approve.
4. Experiment with layering. As a plus-size woman, I’ve learned that layering is key to achieving a pulled-together, work appropriate look. Whether I’m wearing slacks or a pencil skirt, I will often wear a cami underneath my shirt or cardigan (ample cleavage at work is a no-no!). I’ll wear a scarf looped loosely around my neck with a sweater. I’ll pair a blazer with a blouse (see Khloe’s look above) or a simple T. Layering adds interest and textures to an outfit, and even when you’re dressing more casually, it just looks more pulled together than a weekend uniform of a sports T-shirt and jeans (at least add a little jacket or nicely cut fleece on top!).
5. Know what type of shoes are proper for wherever you’re going. Most of my readers already know that I hate two types of shoes in particular: Crocs and rubber flip-flops. Unless you’re gardening or a nurse — no Crocs. Unless you’re at a pool or schlupping to the trash chute — no rubber flip-flops. If you can only have a few pairs of shoes, here’s what you need:
- Sandals— actual brown/black/gold/silver strappy, flat sandals that you can wear all summer long with shorts, skirts, dresses, jeans, etc. Something work appropriate is ideal (this means, again, no flip-flops!).
- Flats— simple ballerina flats work in almost every occasion with every type of outfit. They’re comfortable to walk in and look more grown-up than sneakers. I have a pair in practically every color under the sun. All you really need? Simple black.
- Pumps— every woman needs a pair of pumps. If you’re working, you need a pair of black/brown/nude pumps, with a medium-height heel, to wear to special work meetings, weddings, church, date night, etc. Avoid anything with a stiletto, sky-high heel at work. Save those for a sexy date night with your man.
- Boots— Come fall and winter, you’re going to want a pair of boots. Whether they’re booties or knee-high, flat or with a heel, find the style that works for you and your clothes and wear them with jeans (over or under, depending on how high they come up and how snug your jeans are), with dresses, over tights or leggings. You’ll wear them with everything. My pick for versatility? Invest in a pair of flat, knee-high caramel (light brown) colored. They’ll go with your entire wardrobe.
- Workout sneakers— for working out. Period. Unless you have a foot injury, you should only wear these when you’re exercising. Exceptions would be a full day at Six Flags or Disney.
- Fashion sneakers— Here’s your comfy option for sight-seeing, running weekend errands or catching a movie. I have a pair of black Converse sneakers and a pair of brown Steve Maddens that I wear religiously for casual outings. They just look more fashion forward than the big, bulky workout sneakers. Check out options from Nine West, Puma and Skechers.
What are your fashion rules? Are there any old-school rules that you still live by, or that you like to break?