Scour the sale racks- Stores that may initially be out of your budget will often have items at heavily discounted prices. “50% off already reduced prices” are very appealing words. Some of my favourite dresses have come from the sale racks of shops I may not have been able to afford when the item was at full price.
Hats, hats, hats!- I love accessories, particularly hats. They can transform your outfit. Not all hats will suit you. (Lucky you if they do!) I’ve found that smaller brimmed hats work best on me, so you may have to try a few different styles to see what works for you. Floppy felt hats and fedoras are perfect for winter, as are berets and grandpa caps. Trilby hats and wide straw hats are great for giving an edge to a summer outfit and you can’t go past a baseball cap for an all-year-round funky look. Besides being a cool addition to your outfit, hats are also fabulous for bad hair days!
Get a second opinion- If you’re not sure of something, it helps to get a second opinion. If you don’t want to trust the salesperson, (they’re there to make sales, so they may lead you astray) take a photo of yourself in the change room and text or email it to someone whose opinion you trust- partner, friend, trendy neighbour. They can advise if you should make the purchase or not. Alternatively, buy from stores where you can return your purchases hassle free. That way, you can try your items with your other clothes and ask the advice of a friend or family member (or me).
Try a belt- It’s amazing what a difference the addition of a belt can make. An all black outfit can be funked up with a leopard or zebra print belt or a coloured belt can make a neutral outfit really pop. I love adding waist belts to my dresses to give them a different look. They not only accentuate the waist, making the dress look feminine and stylish, but they change the whole visual of the outfit, meaning one dress can become many, just by adding a belt.
Embrace colour- You can’t go wrong with an all black outfit. It looks stylish and clean. But sometimes you want to stand out from the crowd. Colour makes an outfit exciting and vibrant. You don’t have to dress like a rainbow. One coloured piece is often enough. Alternatively, you can add coloured accessories to really brighten up a neutral outfit. The thing to remember is that we all have different skin, eye, hair colour, so not all colours will work. Don’t let that discourage you though, there will definitely be colour palettes that will suit you. Hold items up against you in the store and look in the mirror. You’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
Get a full length mirror- It’s best to have a full length mirror in your house so you can check your outfit as a whole. Sometimes garments will look different to what you think they do when you see them in full. A full length mirror will show you if your outfit is flattering and give you an overall picture of it. You can get a cheap one from K-mart, IKEA, Big W or similar places. It will be money well spent.
Find a good alterationist- Alterations can be expensive but ask around for recommendations. You’ll usually find a reasonably priced one in your area. A small change to a garment can sometimes give it a whole new life. I recently had two pairs of black pants altered. They had been sitting unworn in my wardrobe for many years but because they were basic black pants, I didn’t want to get rid of them. I had an alterationist take the hem up quite a bit so they became cropped pants. I have worn them so much since having this done. It’s like I have two new pairs of pants for the relatively small cost of the alterations. Having sleeves taken up to 3/4 length, cropping a long shirt or shortening a dress or skirt are great ways to breathe new life into an item you don’t wear much.
Keep it balanced- Ensuring your outfit is balanced is the key to it looking sharp and stylish. What I mean by this is if you are wearing a baggy, oversized top, pair it with a slim line skirt or fitted pants. Alternatively, if your pants are loose or unstructured, try a fitted top to finish the look. The same goes with the old rule of not showing legs AND cleavage. Keep it to one or the other. This will make your outfit look well balanced and polished.
Prepare your clothes for the week- If you have a spare hour or so on your days off, put together some outfits you feel great in, give them an iron if they need it and pop them back into your wardrobe for the working week. That way you don’t have to worry about what to wear each day and will avoid those days when you try a million things on and nothing seems to work. Write your outfits down in a notebook or snap photos with your phone if you have trouble remembering which pieces to pair together. This is something I do and it makes getting ready in the morning much easier. It also means you can set the alarm a little later 🙂
Don’t go overboard on accessories- Accessories are a great way to spruce up an outfit but if you have too much going on, it will let the look down. A chic bag, cool sunnies or a piece of statement jewellery will all add to the appeal of an outfit. Just be careful not to go too far. A dramatic necklace with big earrings and multiple rings is likely to look overloaded. Or a large, patterned bag is probably too much if paired with busy, textured clothing. Again, it’s all about getting the right balance to make your outfit look well put together.
Make sure the garment is right for you– I’ve learnt through years of shopping, and plenty of mistakes, what works for me and what doesn’t. I don’t suit high necked tops and collared shirts all that much, so I won’t choose these items. I also don’t like doing a lot of ironing these days, so I’ll now steer clear of clothes that look shabby without a good press. Find out what works for you in this sense. Also, before purchasing any items, try to have a little walk around the fitting room (I know they are often small, so this can be difficult) to see if the garment stays where it should after some movement. I recently decided to buy a gorgeous skirt I was trying on until I moved around the change room a bit and discovered it rode up around my thighs. I certainly don’t want to be pulling my skirt back down the whole time I’m wearing it, so I had to give the item a miss. Make sure you’re comfortable in your clothes and they are not going to annoy the heck out of you when you’re wearing them.