Change the Way You Dress

Ever wondered why some people look so well put together and others do not? For those who appear to have put some thought into what to wear, that’s exactly right. They did plan what they were going to wear. There is a difference between simply putting on clothes (hoping to get it right) and putting thought into what you are going to wear by coordinating your wardrobe.

Many of us pay little attention to our appearances for various reasons:

– No time
– Too lazy
– Can’t be bothered
– What’s the point!
– I’m just a stay at home mum
– Overweight
– Have no one to dress up for
– It’s cold and I have to wear an outer coat anyway
– and the list goes on…

Whichever category you fall into, you can only change the way you dress by making an effort. The stimulus for change starts with you. It is important that you want to look good for you. What you wear can lift you up or put you down. Thus for me, when I look good I feel good. Even if other aspects of my life are not perfect, dressing well can usually be a confidence boost and lift my self esteem.

If you want to change the way you dress, start by adopting the attitude that you are going to make time to sort your wardrobe. You are going to buy clothes that flatter your shape and size. You are going to learn to layer up and still look good. Ultimately you need to make a commitment to get rid of clothes that do little to enhance your appearance. This I know is hard. So for every new piece of clothing you buy, get rid of one piece that you know does nothing for you.

Re-inventing yourself through fashion.

The first step is to define your body shape. For this you can seek professional help from a fashion stylist or personal shopper if money is no object. This can seem like an expensive option but can be cheaper in the long term as it saves you time and stops you wasting money on clothes that do not enhance your body shape or size. Books that can help you define and shop for your shape are Gok Wan’s “How To Look Good Naked: Shop For Your Shape And Look Amazing!” and Trinni and Susannah’s “The Body Shape Bible”.

Once you have defined your shape, you would see that you do not have to be size zero model to look good in clothes. That is not to say that health and diet are not important. You should make every effort to maintain good health by exercising and eating right to avoid becoming victims to life style diseases.

Make a list of your positive body attributes, though I must say that you may not be the best person to do that as usually we are the harshest critics of ourselves when it comes to our body. For instance I think my bust size is a negative attribute while many of my friends wish they had my bust size. Thus what seems to be a negative for you may be a positive in the eyes of others. Be objective and ask the opinion of others in defining your body attributes. The key is to find clothes that accentuate your positives and downplay your problems areas. For example high waisted trousers are excellent for downplaying high tummies and bulges.

How do the fashion experts do it?

Browse through magazines to see how the experts put clothes together in terms of style, shapes, colours, patterns and accessories.

Take in TV Shows on Fashion. The Clothes Show on UKTV Style presented by Louise Redknapp, Carolyn Franklyn and Brendan is one example which shows high street fashion trends as a spin off from the catwalk. Another aspect of this show included a Yummy Mummy section where Cheryl Konteh – fashion stylist, transformed a weary mother into a beautiful swan. Browse your local TV and Cable Networks to see what’s available. You can learn so much by watching these fashion programs.

Look at others around you

Identify persons whose look you like and start to emulate them. And I say persons because some people may be one dimensional in their dress sense. Take what is good from several persons and put your own look together. Ensure that the looks you are emulating are appropriate for your body shape and size or can be adjusted to suit. For example you may not be small breasted enough to wear certain thin strap tops or dresses comfortably without feeling that boobs are far too overexposed or spilling out. If the cut and shape of the garment works for you then experiment with wearing a camisole or vest under the top or dress.

Stop Clothes Hoarding

Refrain from buying clothes and putting it away for a special occasion or thinking “this jacket is too good to wear just to collect the kids”. Learn to play down or play up an outfit. For instance a nice jacket or coat can be worn with jeans and a basic top to play down the outfit while you can wear the same jacket with dressy pants, heels, soft top and play up the coat or jacket. Experiment by buying inexpensive quality clothes from discount outlets, sales etc that flatters your shape and size. You did not pay much for them so it should not matter too much where you wear them.

Widen your shopping radius

You are not going to find everything you need to change the way you dress in one shop or in one day. If you are one of those who habitually visit the same stores over and over again then force yourself to go into a store you have never browsed in before. Remember you are not looking for ten of the same slacks or jumpers in different colours. You are looking for different styles, different cuts and different colours that may appeal to your figure and complexion respectively. Expand your shopping radius and even include the internet. There are lots of great bargains and unusual finds on the internet.

Get your underwear right

Wear appropriate underwear with your outfits. As stressed by Trinny and Susannah of “What not to Wear” fame, “Nowadays, specialist knickers, tights, all-in-ones and bras are industrially enhanced for the sole purpose of improving our shape….”. If you are wearing a body hugging garment then wear underwear that will hold your tummy and bulges in place. Bras should give you the lift you need to keep large breasts well supported and small breasts boosted if that is the look you are going for. Either way, while underwear is practical it should also make you feel sexy. Visit a department store that offers measuring services for your bra size. Big boobed women will feel right at home at Bravissimo who “provides a wide choice of lingerie and swimwear in D-K cup”. Check their website for store locations or buy online at

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Invest in quality accessories. Accessories are very important and can really lift or pull an outfit together. Some say – “Oh I’m not a belt person or I’m not a scarf person or hat person or whatever the accessory might be”. In a lot of cases this is usually said because you have no idea how to wear it. See how the fashion experts use these accessories in magazines, shop windows etc.

Remember quality accessories do not necessarily have to be a designer’s brand to be of good quality or look good. Buy unique fashion accessories that will set you apart from the crowd and will make you look just as good or even better than the designer wear. Gok Wan on his Channel 4 programme – “Gok’s Fashion Fix: look fabulous for less” shows us how to get designer looks for less. The last bag I bought while on holiday in the Caribbean by a local designer called Sel J is so unique in its styling that people always ask me “where did you get that”. At the same time I also have other well known European designer bags that get the same attention when I use them. Thus the key is not to buy designer for designer sake but designer or non designer because it is quality and unusual.

Headscarves as an accessory is highly underrated and under utilized and can really liven up a look. Invest in some trendy headscarves preferably silk so as not to dry out the moisture from your hair – great for those bad hair days. Choose a colour from your outfit and match up with an appropriate headscarf.

Revitalize your hair and skin

Hair and skin are also vital to your appearance. Transform your face with a new haircut that is suitable to your face shape and age.

Make up is great to enhance our appearance but it is important to be comfortable in your skin. Develop a regular regime of cleaning, toning and moisturizing your face and do regular facials. A monthly galvanic facial is useful to get rid of dead skin cells as well as detoxing and rejuvenating the skin. Bear in mind your face never looks great immediately after a facial. However, after a day or two you would see the results and people will tell you as well how amazing you look. For those on a budget find your nearest college with a beauty school. They usually offer hair and beauty treatments at significantly reduced prices.

Dressing well is a habit

The bottom line is… you have to make an effort to look good. Like everything else, dressing well is a habit. The more you do it the better you become at it and it develops into a habit. Do not be afraid to experiment and have fun mixing and matching your clothes. Find new ways to wear old favourites. Sometimes we have to get it wrong before we know that we are getting it right.

But once you get it right, you will know that your dress sense is improving when you are receiving compliments on your clothes or being asked “where did you get that” or “what’s the occasion”. So enjoy the attention when it comes.

Soon you would be wondering why I didn’t make an effort before. Next you would be critiquing the dress style of others around you in your head and thinking “how can a person dress so badly”. Finally dressing well becomes effortless.