Recently, one of my friends got me hooked on the TV show What Not to Wear. In it, the co-hosts choose a nominee and give her a total wardrobe make-over, sending her on a $5,000 shopping spree in NYC, according to their “rules.” Here are a few of the things they’ve taught me:
1. Realize who you are and accept what you really look like.
Most of us are in denial about our appearance and our personality. Everyone should own a full length mirror and use it. I’m not someone who will ever spend a lot of time on her hair so I shouldn’t have a style that needs a lot of primping. I have an athletic build so I really shouldn’t try to wear skinny jeans. Some makeup looks good on me, some makes me look like a raccoon. And my hair color should accent my eyes.
2. Dress your age.
The show deals with a lot of women who don’t dress their age, young women trying to fit into “little girl stuff” (frilly dresses, tube tops, etc), older women who wear short skirts or inappropriate items, etc. Choose stuff that is attractive on you and reflects your age and situation. (No tank tops unless they’re under a cute jacket and cover your belly.)
3. Less skin is sexier.
Short skirts, plunging necklines, and wedge sandals make just about any woman look like a hooker. Cover up in a dress that brings attention to your curves and suddenly you become classy-sexy, like Audrey Hepburn.
4. Choose clothing with shape!
You want to draw attention to the smallest part of your body, which for most women is the waist. Go for tailored rather than shapeless or loose clothing, as it will always make you look thinner. (If you are large, loose garments with no shape make you look wider.)
5. Make your legs look long.
A high waist rather than a low one will make you look taller (and thinner). Low rise jeans? Not a good idea. The best skirt ends just above the knee for younger women. Older women go a little longer, but should not end at the calf. Only thinner girls can get away with A-line skirts… most of us should go for a pencil skirt. Also, unless you’re super thin, never buy a jean that tapers or draws in at the calf. Always choose straight-leg jeans for an illusion of tallness. And sorry, Capri pants make your legs look short and show the least attractive part of your leg.
6. Blouses are important.
Simply trading your t-shirts and tank tops in for blouses will dress up your wardrobe. Never buy anything that ends exactly at the hip, as that draws the eye to your widest point. V-necks (that aren’t too low) also make you look taller and thinner.
7. Have a focus piece.
If your outfit is a solid, you need something eye-catching to go with it—a bold bracelet, necklace, or purse. But if you go with an outfit with a lot of colors, tone down your accent items. Wear a colorful shirt with a demure skirt.
8. Gold and silver are neutrals.
This means they can be paired with just about anything, so when in doubt go with a gold or silver pair of heels or an accent purse.
9. Hair color and style matters.
Everyone has beautiful eyes, and should draw attention to them. Your hairstyle does matter (there is nothing less beautiful than split ends or stringy hair) but the color is just as important. Find out what your natural coloring is (is your skin blue- or yellow-tinted?) and choose a color that compliments it and your eyes. (Some of us look better with certain shades of blonde; others would look great as a brunette or a redhead.)
10. Avoid a dated hairstyle.
If you still have your hair like you had it when you were 18 and that was 20+ years ago, anyone will know your age by looking at you. If a hairstyle is no longer in fashion (ratted, feathered, etc),
get rid of it.
11. You can tailor things!
Since clothes are only made in certain sizes, it’s doubtful any of us will ever find an entire wardrobe that actually fits. Find clothes that fit the part of your body you have the most trouble with (like wide shoulders or large hips) and then tailor it. Take in seams. Hem it a few inches. You do not have to be stuck with what the store offers you.
12. Try on things you don’t think would look good on you.
Why? Because you might be wrong. You might not like the pattern, but the shape might look amazing on you—then you can look for that shape in the future. Most of us give up after only trying on a few items. Try on a bunch of items. You’re there anyway, make your time count!
For men, look for shirts and pants that fit. You have way more choices than women in arm or leg lengths. The baggy look just looks baggy (and fat). Tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, and for goodness sakes, cover up those colorful jockey shorts. ♥