13 Easy Ways to Instantly Elevate Your Style

When I started this blog back in 2006 as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, I never imagined I would end making a full-time job out of it… much less, writing about fashion!

I’ve always enjoyed clothes and shopping, but putting it all together didn’t always come easily to me.

After writing this blog for almost 15 years and focusing primarily on fashion for the past five, I’ve learned a lot from reading fashion articles, following influencers whose style I admire and studying their techniques, and a lot of personal trial and error.

I still don’t consider myself an expert, but I’ve picked up some tips and tricks over the years that make me feel more polished and confident in my outfits, and I’m sharing them today.

13 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Style

#1. Dress for your body type.

You will look far more polished and chic if you’re wearing clothes that work together to flatter your individual body, and learning to dress my body type was a life-changing moment for me… or maybe I should say a style-elevating moment!

I credit Kelly Snyder’s Adore Your Wardrobe course for putting it all together for me, and I highly recommend it if you struggle with this.

When you know what works for you and what doesn’t, it cuts way down on the frustration of shopping, to say nothing of the amount of returns you have to make. This isn’t to say I never have to experiment or try things on, but I can eliminate a good portion of the options right off the bat, which saves time and aggravation.

And to go along with this, I would add, dress for the size you are right now. Wearing clothes that are too big or too small because you hope to lose another few pounds will only make you look bigger and frumpier.

Dress for your current body, and if your weight changes, you can always sell your gently used items to fund new purchases.

#2. Wear a properly fitting bra.

Wearing a properly fitting bra is such an important first step to creating flattering outfits. It can easily take off 10 pounds of visual weight, without even having to deny yourself dessert!

It’s also important to replace your bras regularly because they stretch out, and when that happens, they can no longer provide optimal shape and support.

If you need tips, I wrote a post about how to find a properly fitting bra, or better yet, schedule a bra fitting with a professional at Nordstrom. It doesn’t cost a thing, and it’s well worth the time.

#3. Practice proper posture. 

Good posture is another way to lose 5-10 pounds of visual weight without having to change your diet, plus your clothes fit better and look better on when you stand up straight. Proper posture also makes you look poised and confident.

I’ve been trying to improve my slouchy posture my entire life, and it feels like a losing battle, but I’m still trying. The situation has only worsened with age and sitting at the computer for hours and hours every week.

Has anyone ever tried one of those posture correctors? I’ve been considering it. Is it a gimmick, or does it really work?

#4. Whiten your teeth.

Yellow or discolored teeth are one of the fastest ways to cheapen your look and make you look grungy. I like my coffee as much as the next girl, but I finally had to take some action because my teeth were getting so yellow.

I went to the dentist and got a Zoom whitening system, but honestly, I had just as good results a few years ago with Crest Whitestrips.

There are plenty of other options available as well, but this is definitely a situation that is easier to remedy before it gets too bad.

And then, don’t forget to smile! To quote the incomparable Dolly Parton, “SMILE! It improves your face value!”

#5. Mix high and low. 

When putting an outfit together, try to incorporate a variety of brands and price points. It’s more interesting (and much easier on the budget!) than dressing head to toe in haute couture, and it achieves the balance between looking stylish but not try-hard.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: When to Splurge and When To Save When Building A Wardrobe

One tip I’ve read is to add one luxury item to your outfit. This elevates the whole look, and keeps your audience guessing… If you choose wisely, no one will know which pieces are high end and which are less expensive.

As an example, I wear jeans almost every day, so invest in premium denim. Then I often pair my pricey designer jeans with less expensive tops from stores like Loft and Old Navy, and mid-range fashion jewelry from brands like Lucky Brand and Kendra Scott.


#6. Wear all black.

When in doubt, a monochromatic outfit is a great way to look effortlessly chic. And really, it doesn’t have to be black. Any monochromatic ensemble will achieve this elevated look.

In fact, as we age, black can be too harsh for older skin, so feel free to try this with navy, grey, beige, white, even red!

The key is to mix textures and patterns to keep it interesting.

Effortless Fall Style with Elevated Basics


#7. Show some skin… but not too much.

As we age, our tendency is to cover up more, but allowing some skin to show — specifically at the neck and/or ankle — is generally more flattering than covering up and looks more fresh and youthful.

In the above picture, the ankle-length jeans paired with pumps expose some skin in the ankle area, and the scoop-neck tank elongates the neck and opens up the chest area. Both of these techniques help you look longer and leaner.

I should recreate this look with a crewneck top and full-length jeans with a higher vamp shoe, to show you the difference. Maybe I’ll do that for Saturday’s Try-On Haul!

Of course, this is one we don’t want to take too far. Exposing too much skin isn’t going to convey a polished, sophisticated appearance either, but finding that happy medium can really elevate your look.

#8. Incorporate animal print.

A pop of animal print has a way of elevating a simple outfit, and it adds a nice element of interest. It can be a top, a scarf, a belt, a pair of shoes… anything!

Animal prints are trending right now, so we are seeing them everywhere, but even when it’s not a hot trend, animal print is always a classic style element that you can incorporate into your outfit to level up the look.

My favorite way to incorporate animal print is with snake print or leopard shoes, as shown above.


#9. Be sure to accessorize, but beware of over-accessorizing.

Wearing a simple accessory or two conveys that you care and makes even the most casual outfit look more intentional. Even when I’m wearing joggers and a sweatshirt, I almost always put on a pair of earrings — usually a small stud.

On the flip side, over-doing it with your accessories can look cheap and try-hard.

Coco Chanel is said to have offered the following sage advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

I suppose you have to know yourself and your natural tendencies before heeding this advice. I’m definitely of the “less is more” mentality when it comes to accessorizing, and sometimes I have to force myself to add one thing before leaving the house.

But the idea here is, don’t over-do it. One statement piece is all an outfit really needs; the other accessories just support the focal point.

In the look above, I wore a mixed metal statement necklace in the neckline of my top, and I kept the rest of my accessories more subtle — a black leather belt with silver buckle, hoop earrings, and a great pair of sunglasses… which brings us to #10!


#10. Get yourself a great pair of sunglasses.

Sunglasses aren’t just useful for eye protection; they’re also an easy way to elevate your look. They don’t have to be super expensive, but they should be on trend and flattering.

This is an area where I’m more likely to “go big or go home.” I think a pair of oversized sunnies is so chic. I have a few pairs of sunglasses I alternate, and I love them all for different reasons.

The ones I’m wearing in the picture above are rag & bone, and they are currently on sale at Shopbop. I also love these Gucci cat eye sunnies and these Maui Jims.

For a lower priced option, these oversized sunnies by DIFF look really similar to my Gucci pair, and Quay makes a lot of good options under $100.


11. Carry a quality handbag.

I’m a firm believer that a quality bag instantly makes an outfit look more polished and classy.

Your handbag is something you carry with you every day, and it’s always visible, so this is an area where I recommend buying the highest quality piece you can reasonably afford, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry a designer label. There are lots of good choices at a variety of price points.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Save, Spend, Splurge: Everyday Neutral Handbags

When selecting your go-to handbag, opt for a classic style without a lot of embellishments or trendy accents. Choose a good quality leather (unless you are morally opposed) in a modern neutral tone or a bold color that compliments most of your wardrobe.

And avoid fakes and dupes of designer labels. Besides the ethical issues with designer dupes, carrying a fake really cheapens our look.

Also, pay attention to wear and tear. When your bag starts to look worn, faded, and beat up, or if the threads are coming loose, etc., it’s time for a replacement. This goes for all wardrobe items, really.

Luxe Meets Sporty: A Casual Monochromatic Outfit for Fall


12. Incorporate trends sparingly.

Trends are fun and a great way to keep your look current, but as with accessories, beware of overdoing it.

When we’re younger, we can get away with wearing all the trends, but as we get older, we should incorporate them into our wardrobe a little more thoughtfully.

Decide which trends make sense for your lifestyle and personal style aesthetic, and combine them with other classic pieces, lest you look try-hard.

In the look above, my sneakers are definitely trendy, but I wore them with a luxe cashmere turtleneck and a quality leather jacket, and I kept my accessories fairly minimal.

Winter Outfit Inspo: J.Crew Wool Cocoon Coat, black & white striped cashmere v-neck sweater, black AG skinny jeans, Stuart Weitzman Women's Alljill Suede Over-the-Knee Boots | Jo-Lynne Shane #fashionover40 #winteroutfit

wearing: J.Crew Cocoon Coat (40% off)

13. Wear a coat to suit the occasion.

This is an area that is easy to overlook, but I’ve been caught on several occasions without an appropriate coat, and I vowed never to let that happen again. I mean, nothing ruins a dressy look faster than throwing your old parka on top of it, am I right?

This is largely dependent upon your lifestyle and area of the country, but most of us need a few different styles of coats for the various occasions that crop up.

For spring and fall, I like to have a lightweight quilted jacket and/or a casual rain jacket for my casual looks, as well as a classic trench for dressier occasions. For winter, I have a couple of wool coats for dressier looks, a quilted jacket with a hood for everyday wear, and a long puffer coat for the coldest days.

In addition to those, you may want a leather jacket, utility jacket, denim jacket, sherpa or shearling jacket, etc.

It all depends on your lifestyle, personal preferences, and of course your weather, but be sure to keep an appropriate coat handy for dressier events, even if they are rare.

P.S. J.Crew is running a 40% off sale on their coats and jackets right now!

In Conclusion

Like all matters of fashion, these are simply my opinions and tips and tricks I’ve found that make me feel more polished and put-together. I’m sure we won’t all agree on all of them, but I hope it’s helpful!

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62 thoughts on “13 Easy Ways to Instantly Elevate Your Style

  1. I thought of y’all last night while watching the world news.  I’m glad that you are in the burbs!  These are some great tips!  Because I drink a lot of coffee, 5 out of 7 days, I started using a straw many years ago, and that has definitely helped keep my teeth whiter.  You know, as we age, our skin has a tendency to show our wisdom in so many places.  And that wisdom is not always flattering, so I agree that we should pay attention to how much skin we show.  I know an almost 50 yr old mom that wears a lot of styles like her 21 year old daughter wears, and it really doesn’t compliment her.  I danced as a little girl then was on drill team for four years in high school – both activities emphasized keeping your back straight and having good posture, which I know has helped me over the years.  I hope you have a great day!

  2. I’m new to your blog and enjoy your fresh approach to fashion.  This is the first time I’ve seen the advice to whiten teeth — you are so right!  Yellow teeth are aging.  I’m 68 and your fashion advice works for me

  3. Definitely keeping this article. I cannot invest much in my clothes, but I can sometimes find less expensive (less expensive than your less expensive alternatives, haha!) that create the same look. You send me in the right direction!
    I used the white strips to whiten my teeth for my daughter’s wedding a few years ago. Why did I stop? I don’t need a special occasion to have my teeth (and face) look better!

  4. Forgot to mention (in my previous comment) that I once heard Dana Perino recommend a posture corrector in a segment for young adults on making themselves more hireable.   I, too, have struggled with proper posture in my lifetime and have considered purchasing one.   I think I will finally do it. Have you researched them at all?  Is the one you liked one you have considered?

  5. I’m wearing a monochromatic outfit in grey today and was afraid it was a little boring (especially on a grey, rainy day), but now I’ll consider it “effortlessly chic”! 🙂 I did add my blue topaz earrings for just a little zing.

  6. Great tips to remember! As I read through each one I was making a mental note on the ones I need to practice more often… I totally agree about the handbags! I know when I’ve put the right outfit together I feel good and comfortable and confident but if not I feel like I’m fidgety to get home and change and just don’t feel like myself:) Glad you are all safe💕

  7. It would be great to see some comfortable stylish looking at home apparel that is comfortable when staying home all day. Including good supportive shoes and slippers 

  8. Great article! This is why I read your blog – you put the work and research in to make it informative and useful. Thank you!!!

  9. Fantastic post! Great information and well communicated. Thank you so much!!!

    I was wondering if you have a library of videos? Like what Kelly does. I’d love to watch them if you do!

    Yesterday I broke a molar – Root canal therapy is the good scenario! So watching some videos could be good therapy after my 3pm appointment. Lol.

    I’d love tips or style hacks for styling clothes thru weight loss. I’m getting tops with spandex to go with me as I shrink. But I need a more elevated top than clingy tshirts. Gone are the days of corporate jackets and business shells which don’t work in this pandemic. I dont have an in-between look!

  10. Great post! I really struggle with shoes/boots to wear with work wear especially in the colder months. I love wearing booties but it’s such a struggle to know which shaft height to wear with dress pants, etc. I feel like that’s easier with jeans. Could you do a post about shoes and pants for work especially in colder weather when maybe you don’t want your ankles to show? Thanks!!

  11. Fantastic Post,,,,I’m 60 and follow your suggestions as much as possible,,,except I slip up on purses. I’m a purse fanatic and never want to get rid of any. Last count I had was 104, all kept in dust bags, some of from 20+ years ago. Lots of higher end , Coach, Kate Spade, LV, etc. I am good about purging clothes every season. I have vowed to make myself “downsize” purses this weekend and donate to our local animal shelter thrift store. I’m going to take it one purse at a time and be honest with myself,,,does it carry good? Is it flattering “on me”?,,,does it show wear?,,,is it “out of date”?,,,do I love it? My incentive when task is completed will be ONE new purse

  12. Great post today! I have taken the full Adore Your Wardrobe Course, and oh my goodness- it is the best money I have ever spent. Dressing my body type has been a game changer for me. I also second the professional bra fitting – once a year is best in my opinion. I still struggle the most with necklaces with my outfits- right length, style, metal color, weight. Perhaps I should branch out in retailers for accessories… Anyway- thanks for the great post today; I’m going to save this one and refer back to it. 

  13. Great list of ideas. I was just thinking my teeth are yellowing more lately and I need to do something but afraid of the terrible sensitivity of white strips. I think I’ll talk to my hygienist/dentist next time.  The pictures you posted today all look so great and I think you nailed the outfits.  🙂  

  14. I know you’ve told us before, but I don’t remember. Do you keep the suede moto jacket on when you go inside? Or should I stick with a knit one for that?

  15. I love this post Jo-Lynne! Very helpful! I think of the Lucy show episode where her and Ethel were in Paris and got the flour sacks and belted them for a high fashion dress. Lol you make everything look great together. Definitely accessories play a huge part which, I never did before until I came across your blog about 3 years ago!!! Thank you!!!


  16. Great post – such helpful tips! As a PT, take the posture correctors with a grain of salt. They can be great to help minimize slouching as they pull you back to stay tall and are uncomfortable if you do slouch. They can help – if you use them for short term (and if they don’t collect dust in closet!😉)
    Wear them for 30-60 minutes at a time and then build up to 90 min or so. Then transition to no gizmo posture corrector device. Sitting is the new smoking unfortunately. We all slouch in sitting eventually. Try standing up and moving around every 20-30 min (set alarm on cell phone to remind you). A lumbar roll (or rolled up towel) helps to stay tall. Teenagers would benefit too as they really slouch/ chin poke with their screen time. I say try it? If it helps, great….. If not, have a gift for a White Elephant Christmas party one day?

    1. Ha! Good point about the White Elephant gift. Sitting is the new smoking is what my podiatrist is always saying to me. He says it’s killing us all. I do try to get up and move around throughout the day, but I confess, there are many days that I spend 12 hours in this chair with very few short breaks.

  17. I bought one of those posture correctors that zap you when you slouch at your desk. I used it for a bit but in the end gave up on it….maybe I should try it again!

  18. What a well written post! I’m going to reread it to absorb all the good tips. 
    I think I need to invest in a couple of good leather purses. I usually just pick ones up from Winners. Time to up my game. 

  19. Thanks for such a great post. I’m a dedicated coffee drinker. Especially since buying the Nespresso Coffee machine. I don’t even go to Starbucks anymore which is amazing because I used to live in Seattle before moving to sunny Florida. I also got in the habit of using a straw everyday when I drink my coffee and it helps. Your tips on all the subjects you addressed were right on point. We know we can always count on you! Ha ha. 
    I was also wondering about the location you live in with all the protesting going on. I’m glad you aren’t subjected to any of that and can feel safe in your surroundings. 🙂

  20. Great post!  So many helpful tips!  I also wanted to tell you thanks for the link to the chocolate brown vest on Amazon.  I received it and it is perfect!  Love the color and the fit!  Just what I’ve been looking for.

  21. Ohhh, this is such a great post. I believe you exemplify casual chic.  Even days when you sport workout wear and no make-up you look well put together.  Some planning and good basics go a long, long way. You continue to teach us all new tricks in the most genuine and down to earth manner. Thank you. 

  22. Can you do a post with some quality non-leather quality shoes and bags? For the most part, what I’ve been able to find is just the cheap stuff, but I’d love to invest in a few quality vegan pieces. Thanks for considering this!

  23. Yes I have tried posture helpers – DO NOT get the stretch ones that pull your shoulders back. YOU need to be the one pulling them back with your muscles -the correctors will actually atrophy your muscles because they do the work for you and your muscles get lazy and weaker . UPright Go is a small thing you put on the middle top of your back and it buzzes when you slouch (not really it actually buzzes when you are no longer horizontal (if you bend over it buzzes too) BUT I did find it to be really helpful because I was aware it was there and that made me work more on my posture – so I would recommend Upright.

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