How to Dress Well by Building an Outfit Scarecrow

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Dressing well is an art and, like all arts, it requires an eye for aesthetics but also practice. One of the most effective ways to practice creating cute outfits is to build an outfit scarecrow by laying out your combinations on your bed and critiquing them. New to the idea? Then follow these worthwhile steps and watch your outfits improve with every family photo op:

Organize your closet: The easiest way to organize your closet is first by garment type  (sweaters, dresses, skirts, tees, etc.) and then by color within each garment type. For instance, you would group all of your sweaters at one of the closet and then put all of the similar colored sweaters together. Since pink and purple are both berry tones, you would put them next to each other. Blues and greens are similar, so you would group them together as well. When organizing your closet, the object is to make everything accessible and simple to find. If you want to wear a red tank top, you should be able to go to your closet and grab said tank top within a matter of seconds. You shouldn’t still be digging around half an hour later.

Survey your closet: Now that your closet’s organized, look around and think about what kind of mood you’re in and what’s appropriate for the occasion you’re attending that day. Chances are, you’ll spot one piece that sings to you somehow: it strikes your fancy and it seems right for the meeting, party or other event you have that day. Choose that piece and start thinking about how you’re going to build an outfit around it.

Clear off your bed: All you have to do is clear enough space for you to lay out an outfit. Move any other clothes, books, stuffed animals or who knows what else you have there. Avoid laying your clothes out on the floor lest they get dirty! You might accidentally step on them.

Mix and match: Place your key piece down on the bed and grab a couple of other pieces you think might go with it to begin building a scarecrow. Start rotating the pieces until you come across a combination you like. Depending on the versatility of the key piece you originally choose and the breadth of your wardrobe, this might be a short or long process. It’s meant to be fun and relaxing, though, so don’t fret. You are, after all, aiming towards creating an outfit that makes you feel attractive and confident—and stress is never a wise ingredient to add to that recipe!

Critique and accessorize: Eventually you’ll come across a combination that works. (If not, don’t get frustrated. Try working with another key piece instead; save the original key piece for another occasion and ask yourself why nothing in your closet seemed to match it!) Add different types of accessories to your winning outfit and consider what goes best with it. Does the outfit look better with or without that scarf? Are bangles the best choice for this outfit? Should you try a cocktail ring or chandelier earrings instead? Maybe the outfit needs tights or more feminine shoes. Placing the accessories with your scarecrow will help you visualize each combination. Through the process of elimination, you’ll discover your winning outfit.

Finalize: Try the outfit on to ensure that it looks as great on your as it did laid out on the bed. If it passes muster, ask if there’s anything you can do to improve it. For many women, this last step means removing an accessory. In this day and age of affordable options, it’s not hard to acquire an inexpensive pile of necklaces, belts, earrings, scarves and other “finishing touches.” Smart dresses, however, know which accessories to keep and which ones to leave at home for the time. Sometimes it’s really tempting to wear all of your favorite accessories at once but doing so rarely makes for a good outfit. Usually, it means you end up looking cluttered and even overwhelmed. Generally speaking, one really stand-out accessory with perhaps one or two subtler pieces will suffice. Avoid wearing several big and eye-catching accessories at a time. 

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