Style Tips

13 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Style

WHBM Utility Tee (S) // PAIGE Nellie (29) // Vince Pia Wedge Sandals (8) // NAGHEDI woven tote

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.

Halogen sweater (S, sold out) // PAIGE denim (8) // old Michael Kors heels (8, sold out) // similar Kendra Scott necklace

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. 

old Vince sweater // rag & bone sunglasses // Joe’s Jeans // Kendra Scott earrings & necklace

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.

ribbed tank (S) // denim shorts (29) // baseball cap

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.

WHBM dress (6) // Sam Edelman heels (8) // Coach bag

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.

KUT from the Kloth jacket (S) // Caslon tee (S) // PAIGE denim (29) // Kork-Ease sandals (8)

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. 

Caslon tee (S) // MOTHER denim (28) // similar Sam Edelman slides // similar straw tote // Yurman bracelet // Halogen earrings

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.

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

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.

old LOFT trench // stripe tee // Joe’s Jeans // Marc Fisher booties (sold out) // NAGHEDI tote

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.

WHBM dress (6) // Sam Edelman heels (8) // Coach bag

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.

Frame tee (XS) // MOTHER Insider (29) // P448 sneakers (39) // similar belt // Kendra Scott necklace // Lagos earrings and bracelets one & two // similar camera bag // similar sunglasses

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.

Eileen Fisher dress (S) // Tory Burch sandals (8) // YSL sunnies (similar for less) // J.Crew tote (s0ld out)

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.

Coach Polished Pebbled Leather Day Tote // LOFT dress (S) // rattan earrings // Fendi sunglasses

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.

Jo-Lynne Shane wearing PAIGE Jolie Slim Cargo Pants with white tank and KUT from the Kloth Jacqueline Denim Jacket and P448 sneakers in Miami KUT from the Kloth denim jacket (S) // Michael Stars tank (M) // PAIGE Jolie cargo pants (28) // P448 sneakers (39) // old AllSaints belt

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.

Andrew Marc coat (S) // CeCe blouse (S) // Vince pants (M) // Marc Fisher pumps (8)

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.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 2023 Spring Coat Guide

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

Join the Conversation

40 thoughts on “13 Easy Ways to Elevate Your Style

  1. I love all your ways to elevate your style, but especially the last one. A coat to fit the occasion. I was fortunate to purchase a Burberry trench coat many, many years ago and even with the lining it is a warm coat…but it does not look elegant over a cocktail dress. My husband’s company always has a Christmas dinner and last year I purchased the wool coat you have on. What a difference it made for my outfit. A classic style of coat like the one above will never go out of style.

    1. Yes, and they don’t have to coat a lot. It was my husband’s holiday party one year when I realized I didn’t have an appropriate coat. I bought a black wool walking coat similar to the one in this post and I’ve had it ever since.

  2. Jo-Lynne, can you be specific about which Crest whitening strips you use? Your link just takes me to an Amazon serach page for whitening strips. It looks like Crest makes various types of strips (professional effects, vivid plu, etc.). Thanks!

    1. I haven’t used them in a few years. I’m about due for another round. I think they usually have a deal on Crest Whitestrips during Prime Day, which is coming up in a week or so. I will probably order those.

      1. Tea has really stained my teeth more than coffee did. I just received crest white strips off Amazon….. just picked a type and need to try them. I’ve always been concerned about the sensitivity, but I can’t wait any longer to try them. This is a great post. I’m the one who needs to get a dressy coat so I have it ready.

  3. Another great post and love these guide line reminders. Love your honesty and being open, as you acknowledge how not every fashion trend/style or item will work for everyone…….you are a very classy blogger that helps us looking our best. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for these great reminders! I’ve been incredibly aware of being a good steward of my fashion spend recently and this supports my focus!

  5. All great points! I have one to add, always make sure your shoes are in good shape. Shoes that need polishing or just too worn out really reflect in an outfit.

  6. Love the post, good tips! I ordered the SE white Adaley slides when you previewed them I think last year, wanted them so bad but when I took a few steps they hurt top of my foot and earlier this spring I also ordered those similar slides you mentioned in white; they were so cute but not having any give across the top they would also hurt my foot. I guess my feet are very sensitive and have sort of high instep plus a lot of on my feet with my work over the years, really wanted both of those slides, so cute and polished.

      1. Normally wear size 7 and if I ever run across a 6 1/2 I’m going to try them, really wanted the white ones like you are showing! Thanks!

  7. Love the looks of 8 and 13. I wish somebody would do advice for a “casual”/”edgy” Fall ensemble age-appropriate for us 40-somethings; where, it would be say: like a toned-down “rock ‘n-roll-vibe” (not with those faux leather Spanx leggings though from last season which are impossible for anyone over 25 to “tone down” any way outside a New Year’s Eve party covered in a tunic sweater lol!) — *but*, say, Mother flares (which I ABSOLUTELY CHERISH) paired with a turtleneck or scoopneck bodysuit and a moto jacket(?).

    I know it kinda harks back to the ’90s (the decade I, at the risk of sounding “old” without caring!, got my fashion sense during) — but I’ve always liked trying to also incorporate a ’70s boho personality into my outfits and it’s, I think, a “vintage-inspired” cute look without the vintage element looking costumey (if that makes any logic!).

  8. All 13 tips are great, especially “SMILE”. Great style and confidence starts from the inside, so I consider working on my inner life important! Joy, hope, faith and love, it will show on your face and body! Love incorporating the trends gently into my wardrobe to add some zest, especially during the summer! Great post, Jo-Lynne!

  9. I know you’ve had reduction surgery and I have been battling with my insurance company for years for approval. However in the meantime, is there a specific bra brand/style that you recommend from the good ol’ days Pre-op? I’m currently a 32H/I (Lord help me) and usually wear Natori, Wacoal or Parfait. My issue is they don’t hold me in on the sides and I tend to spread, making me look wider. (And that’s ALWAYS fun 🙄!). Any recommendation you might have for a bra that can handle what God gave me until I can correct the situation would be so appreciated!

    1. I am 32G and still loving the Wacoal t-shirt bra (not lace) that Jo-Lynne has recommended in a prior post. Maybe she could give a link to the specific one in case you haven’t tried that one. It is the only bra style I wear. Only downside if you like different colors is that in 32G they have a smaller selection.

    2. I wear a 34K (US size) 34H (Euro size) so I feel you pain. I tried so many different brands but even in my size they weren’t really supportive. Then I tried Elomi. It is a European brand so sizing is different. But these bras are great. They provide support for heavy breasts and there are a variety of styles. Truly, give Elomi a try you will not regret it. Nordstrom has some styles or try Bare Necessities for more styles.

  10. Several days ago, I noticed that trying to read your posts, it gets bogged down with pop up adds. Several times it is to the point it stops letting me scroll down to finish reading your post. I have to go back out to my email and start all over…sometimes I just give up.
    I have credited you with compliments I get on my clothing choices. You have truly taken a lot of the mystery out of what works and doesn’t. My youngest daughter tells me I look more put together and polished. So cudos to you!
    I love the fact that whenever you do a try on or haul or post, you tell us HOW it fits, what you like and or don’t like about each item and offer “for less” suggestions or size up or down. Now before I purchase everything, I consider a lot more and question my choices before I purchase. If it doesn’t fit correctly, it doesn’t come home with me no matter how much I love the item. I have pared down my closet to just the things I truly wear and love. Thanks for all you do and all you share.

    1. Deborah read her blog on a browser that blocks ads. I read all fashion blogs on DuckDuckgo. It drives me crazy to read blogs on Chrome.

    2. I completely agree with Deborah’s comment. I love how you talk through the whys, the hows, and what you like and don’t like.
      I really appreciate when you tweak or change outfits because it isn’t working for you, That is very comforting, as I change multiple times and completely redo my packing list after actually trying everything on. Your advice has helped educate me to get better at this.
      I see this as your differentiation point. So many other bloggers just take photos and attach the commission link to buy. What you do must take so much more time, but please know that it recognised and loved.

    3. Hi Deborah, I can talk to my ad network. Sometimes they change settings, making it more difficult to read, so I will give them this feedback and see what they suggest. I noticed that happening when reading on my phone recently, and I meant to ask them about it. I’m always working to find the balance of having ads for the income stream, but not allowing them to be too obtrusive. That said, I do provide all this information for free, and ads are one of the major ways I earn income, so I do appreciate your patience as I work that out. 🙂

  11. Thank you. This is lovely. And helpful, as I do not consider myself an expert in the subject either 🙂 Bless you!

  12. Yet another illuminating post! Lots of points to take into consideration, like point 11, for me. I totally agree, but I don’t follow it.
    I’m a stay at home mom with two teenage kids and I don’t see myself running around doing errands carrying an expensive designer bag, so I opt for a cheaper option which turns out to be not a good idea… I dress casually, my bags look very casual so I often feel that I look more casual and unpolished than I would like. But I always wear my jewelry!
    I searched the blog and I found a post from 2013 (time flies….) titled “Best bags for moms for under 50$”, or something like that. You think you could do a similar post for good quality yet affordable bags for this decade 😆?

    1. I don’t think you need an expensive designer bag to look polished, I didn’t mean that. There are plenty of quality bags that don’t cost a ton. I often do save/spend/splurge posts for handbags, but it looks like it’s been a while. This one has some lower priced bags scattered in, and here’s the last save/spend/splurge post I did. Looks like it’s time for an update! I will add that to my content calendar. 🙂

  13. Love all your tips. Some I do and some I hadn’t thought of. Thanks so much for sharing! I might add a good haircut, and taking care of nails.

  14. Good tips. I follow most of them but the quality bag. Right now I using a crossover bag with a built-in wallet. I just can’t handle a heavy bag running errands or shopping anymore. I do use a nice bag when I go to church or special occasions. I’m not into designer bags. I like a functional bag with some organizational features. I buy most of my bags at stores like Marshall’s. I’m fickle when it comes to fashion so I don’t want to spend a lot of money on purses.

    1. I hear you, and I don’t think you have to spend a lot on a bag to look polished. It’s more about keeping it in good condition, and you can find high quality bags at Marshall’s. In fact, that’s a great place to go for budget-friendly finds in all clothing categories.

    1. Generally, you want to go with a smaller for nighttime and dressy events and medium to large sizes for daytime. (You can carry a small in daytime too if you want.) You also want to consider your size. If you’re petite, a giant bag can overwhelm you, so sticking to medium sizes for the largest you carry, unless you just need the room of a bigger bag.

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