How to Use a Formula for Simple, Everyday Outfit Styling

Style Formula


Putting together outfits each day can be fun and creative . . . or it can be overwhelming. Styling a “look,” whether you are headed to work or school, driving the kids to their activities, or going for a fun outing, doesn’t have to be complicated. You can walk out the door every day and feel confident, comfortable, and chic.

To simplify creating great outfits, use a formula. It’s simple and can eliminate some of the frustration that we sometimes face when we’d like to look like we have our own stylist.

Formula = Basic + Interest + Completer + Accessories

  1. Basic – Start with a Basic item of clothing. This could be pants, skirt, dress, top, cardigan, or jacket. Basic means something that is fairly neutral, although “neutral” doesn’t mean only black, brown, or tan. This piece is not the “Look at me!” part of your outfit.
  2. Interest – Now add a piece with an interesting color, texture, or pattern. This is probably your “Look at me!” item.
  3. Completer – Now put in a Completer. This piece is something that ties together the “Basic” and “Interest” parts of your outfit. This might be a jacket, a belt, or some great shoes.
  4. Accessories – Now for the icing on the cake! It’s time for Accessories. To finish your look, add one or two appropriate accessories. Some accessory ideas are jewelry, a scarf, a purse or bag. Shoes and a belt can also fall into the accessories category if they aren’t used in the Completer part of the outfit. If you’re a hat person, this is the time to add it.This is where you can really have some fun – that’s what accessories are all about! You want to be careful not to fall into the “too much” or overdone category here, though. “Fun” and “tasteful” are not mutually exclusive! Be sure your accessories add value to your look. If you are going to wear a statement necklace, for example, you might just leave the earrings out. Or if you are an animal print fan like me, your leopard print shoes might be the highlight and your other accessories could be a bit toned down.

Or Flip the Formula

Another way to use this style formula: Start with a statement piece and build your outfit around that. This would be the “Interest.” Do you have a spectacular necklace, a colorful pair of shoes, or an attention-getting top? Make this the center and build around it. It’s really the same – still keeps things very simple. It just switches the order. You want that one statement piece to be the life of the party and everything else to shine light on it

  1. Interest – You might have a great pair of red shoes you’d like to wear. Let those be the focal point.
  2. Basic – How about a great fitting pair of jeans to keep the look grounded.
  3. Completer – To pull it all together, a patterned blouse or textured sweater would look great.
  4. Accessories – Add some favorite jewelry, but save that large statement necklace for another outfit.

Same formula. Still easy. Just flipped.

Does This Happen to You?

If you’re like me, mornings can be a bit hectic and trying to figure out what to wear while you’re in the shower or staring at your open closet doesn’t help. Does this happen to you? You have an idea for a great outfit and then realize that the pants you want to wear are in the laundry. Darn! So you end up wearing something that you don’t feel that good about because you grabbed it quick just to get out of the house on time.

Here’s a Fix

Choose your outfit the night before. This gives time to make sure what you want to wear is laundered and time to have fun being creative with your planned look for the next day.

Install a hook in your closet or near it and hang everything you are going to wear the next day on the hook. How easy does that make things! No rushing and throwing things together in the morning, and you walk out the door feeling like a million!

I will admit that I don’t always follow this routine, but when I do, my whole day starts so much more smoothly. And I can play a little bit in my closet while I style my outfit. See . . . you are a stylist!

Another Tip

For another idea to simplify your outfit planning and styling, check out the post Create a Style Book from Your Own Closet – There’s an App for That!

Need Inspiration?

Here are some formula looks to inspire you. To keep up with trends, seasonal looks, and find ideas for dressing for your body type, bookmark fashion bloggers you like – there’s something or someone for everyone! They focus on featuring different looks and styles. Also, remember that celebrities have personal stylists – borrow their talents. Google is your friend! Find looks you love and copy them.

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