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 necessarily come easily to me. I still don’t consider myself a fashion expert, or an expert on much of anything, really… But after writing this blog for 17 years and focusing primarily on fashion and style for almost eight of them, I’ve finally learned how to feel polished and confident in my outfits.
Here are 13 easy ways to elevate your style. Some of these are easy to implement, and some require a bit more work, but they’re all doable if you’re willing to put in the time.
13 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Style
#1. Wear a properly fitting bra.
Let’s start with an easy one! The right bra can easily take off 10 pounds of visual weight, without even skipping dessert!
Wearing a properly fitting bra is the first step to achieving flattering outfits, and this simple task will instantly elevate your style. It’s also important to replace your bras regularly because they stretch out, and when that happens, they no longer provide optimal shape and support.
If you haven’t had a bra fitting lately, or replaced your bras in a few years, that’s your homework this weekend!
My personal favorite everyday bra is this Wacoal Embrace Lace T-Shirt Bra, but that may not be the best one for you. It’s well worth a trip to Nordstrom or a store with trained bra-fitters to figure out the right bra (and the right size) for you.
#2. 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 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?
#3. Whiten your teeth.
Yellow or discolored teeth is one of the fastest ways to cheapen your look and make you look frumpy. 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!”
#4. Dress for your body type.
Learning to dress my body type was life-changing for my personal style journey. I credit Kelly Snyder’s Adore Your Wardrobe course and Jennifer Mackey-Mary’s Everyday Style School Podcast for helping me put it all together, and I highly recommend looking into them if you struggle with this.
Understanding what styles and combinations work for you (and which ones don’t) cuts way down on the frustration of shopping, to say nothing of the amount of returns you have to make, and you will look far more polished and chic if you wear clothes that work together to flatter your individual body.
To go along with this, I would add, dress for the body you have 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.
#5. Embrace your personal style.
This is a newer lesson to me, but being able to put three words on your personal style allows you to assess each outfit you put together and tweak it until you look and feel like the best version of yourself.
By staying true to yourself and being consistent with your style preferences despite what is trending (or what your favorite fashion blogger might be wearing, haha!) will give you confidence in your outfits and automatically elevate your style.
#6. Mix high and low.
When putting an outfit together, try to incorporate a variety of brands and price points. 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.
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As an example, I wear jeans almost every day, so I invest in premium denim. Then I often pair my pricey designer jeans with less expensive tops from stores like LOFT and Evereve.
I wear a mix of quality in my shoes, but usually mid-range brands like Dolce Vita, Marc Fisher, and Vince Camuto. Every once in a while, I invest in designer brands like Vince or Stuart Weitzman, and I keep those for many years.
I also like to vary the quality of my jewelry. I have a mix of fashion jewelry, designer brands, and some fine jewelry in my collection. See this post for my everyday jewelry worth investing in.
#7. Wear neutrals.
If it aligns with your personal style, wearing all neutrals is a great way to look elevated and polished, but if that doesn’t feel like you, feel free to ignore this point. Staying true to your personal style is the most important thing, but if you like a neutral look, the key is to mix textures and patterns to keep it interesting.
#8. 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.
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 women of a certain age tend err on the side of covering up too much rather than not enough.
#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. 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.
In the monochromatic look above, I wore a lot of understated jewelry, and I made sure to add a belt, which I matched to my bag. It isn’t necessary to match your bag to your belt or shoes, but they should complement one another. I also wore pair of oversized sunglasses… which brings us to #10!
#10. Update your eyewear.
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 goes for your prescription eyeglasses, as well.
11. Carry a quality handbag, and make sure it’s in good condition.
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.
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, but it’s handbags where I see this situation happening the most.
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 preferences, and combine them with quality classic pieces to keep your look modern yet polished.
In the photo above, the sneakers are trendy, and the pants are a classic fit with subtle cargo details that keep them current. The denim jacket and tank are classic wardrobe items I’ve had for years, and I added a leather belt and carried a straw tote to complete the look.
13. Wear a coat to fit the occasion.
This is an area that’s easy to overlook, but I’ve been caught on several occasions without an appropriate coat for a dressy occasion, 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?
Now I make sure to keep an appropriate coat handy for dressy events, even if they are rare.
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Like all matters of fashion, these are simply my opinions, and these are the tips and tricks that make me feel more polished and put-together. What would you add?
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photos: Alison Cornell