Editorial: Dress for Success

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. ♥

8 thoughts on “Editorial: Dress for Success

Add yours

  1. Interesting differing opinions about A-line skirts, haha. 😉
    I think a way to compensate can be to wear heels, or to adjust the hem length of the skirt depending on your height.

    Carmindy does indeed do great with makeup! I don't know that I've seen her work with that eye colour, either.. I've heard light brown eye liner and slightly metallic/gold tone eye shadow work, but I wouldn't know first hand. =P (my eyes are hazel brown)

    Are your eyes anything like Anna Friel's or Emma Stone's, by chance? I tend to get makeup ideas by looking at what has worked on actresses (my style muses) with similar features. It saves me time and money trying things out on my own, lol! 😉

  2. Hannah:

    It's an addictive show, that's for sure! The reason they suggest avoiding A-line skirts is that the outward dimension of the bottom of the skirt can make your legs look shorter, since it stops the eye from flowing naturally from your waist to the ground. *shrug*

    Carmindy does a wonderful job with the makeup, that's for sure! I wish I could get her to give ME some tips, since she hasn't run across anyone yet (that I've seen) with such unusually colored eyes as mine (kind of a gray-green).


    I love tank tops, since they're one of the few things that suit me, looks-wise (dressing wide shoulders can be a pain) — I feel prettier in blouses, but more formal and to be honest, around the ranch, a tank top that can be thrown in the wash is MUCH easier. I think I'll just buy blouses for going places, and stick to tank tops around the house!

    Too short of a skirt on anyone is inappropriate, in my opinion… but we've argued about that before. And yes, girls with shorter waists do better with low-rise pants — provided they don't have big hips! If you're not thin, anything that hits the hip line is gonna be bad. If you do have a short waist, they'd probably recommend you wearing tops that gather just below the bust and flow nearly to the hips, so that your torso looks longer.


    Debate rages over the A-line skirt! If you like it and don't think it makes you look different from your natural shape, go for it.

    Google is evil. I wish now I'd gone with a different blogging service, since I neither like nor trust Google affiliates anymore. *sigh*

  3. I confess, I prefer A-line skirts. And, I really agree about “playing” up the eyes – I don't think about it so much with a hairstyle but do with make-up. Sometimes that is all I wear is just eye make-up.

    Yeah, I just couldn't comment before, but now I “upgraded” Google, so it probably would have let me this time around. Sorry that it messed up everything else! That is never fun.

  4. I totally agree about the full-length mirror! And there's really no excuse not to have one, since they're like $8 at Walmart.

    Angie from YouLookFab likes blouses and wovens instead of knit tops (tees and tanks) but I dislike them. I'm wearing one today, actually, a cute polka dot button-down, but it's so less comfy than my lovely knits that I hardly ever wear it. There are gorgeous, posh-looking knits out there – you just have to find them.

    I love short skirts (and shorter, non-Bermuda shorts) even though I'm tall, and they definitely don't make me look like a hooker. I also look horrible in high-waist (or even at-waist) pants because I'm ridiculously short-waisted. Most stylists actually recommend that we who are short-waisted wear lower-rise pants. So while these guidelines are almost always true for almost everyone, they are definitely not always true for everyone.

    And I'm still jealous that you've gotten to watch so much WNTW!

  5. I really enjoy that show (I was watching it this last weekend, lol!), and those are all good tips. 🙂

    I sort of disagree with the A-line skirt thing, though.. I think most women of any size can pull it off, provided their waist is a certain size proportionate compared to the rest of their body. However, I really agree with the jean thing. Skinny jeans on girls with bigger legs make lovely ladies look much less at their best. 🙂

    Another thing I might add is the makeup techniques that they usually do on that show- makeup might not be exactly part of a clothing ensemble, but I'm really impressed with some of the techniques that they use on that show. 🙂

  6. Rissi:

    I tried out one of the new formats for Blogspot this morning and while I LOVED how it looked, it immediately screwed up all my HTML coding for Charity's Place and Facebook. So… I switched back. I'm glad I didn't have to find out the hard way that it wouldn't let people comment!


    Yeah, Mom and I are hooked. I think we've seen about 30 episodes now, all together. My full length mirror needs hung on the wall — for now it's leaning against something.

    Stacy could stand to wear longer skirts sometimes. Just sayin'. 😉

    You are so lucky. I couldn't fit into a narrow leg jean if my life depended on it. *sigh*

  7. I am so glad that you love the show now! I agree with you–everyone should own a full length mirror. Mine busted…so I must buy a new one.

    I have loved that less skin is in, according to Stacy and Clintin…if only more would get the hint.

    Dressing for your body type can be a challenge. Like I have to do a narrow leg jean; wide/flared make me look even smaller than I already am ;-P But still….

  8. WOW! The “new” look for your blog was really different! I thought I was in the wrong place when first I opened it. LOL. =D I was glad I was still able to open this format though since for some reson I cannot comment on the newer format.

    Fun post, Charity! I don't shop at the most high-end stores, but do like fashion, so reading all the blogs out there that celebrate fashionable things has been fun. =) You are SO right about dressing one's age, too!

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