16 Outfit Mistakes That Make You Look Messy
On ordinary days, you can let these clothing mishaps slide. (Maybe.) But when you want to make a good impression, avoid them at all costs.
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Easy fixes for big wardrobe problems
Warning: You can ruin even the most perfectly put-together ensemble a lot easier than you think. From pilled sweaters and chipped nail polish to improperly hemmed pants and visible panty lines, these messy mistakes can cause you be taken less seriously and even diminish your confidence. While some of them may not seem like that big of a deal, they really do make a big impact—and not in the way that you want. While you’re giving your wardrobe a once-over, make sure you also know these 15 simple fashion upgrades that make you look expensive.
Wearing the wrong size
If you think you know your size, think again. “Each brand, designer, and item fits differently,” says fashion expert Allison McNamara. “You might be a large in one pair of Zara pants, a 38 in Philip Lims, and then a size 27 in denim,” she says. Her fix? “Shop for the fit rather than the size, and don’t freak out if you’re wearing a bigger size than usual—it’s them, not you!”
For a cheap, quick hack, buy a seamstress-style measuring tape. That way, the next time you’re considering a purchase online, you can review the sizing guide, whip out the tape measure, and go by your actual measurement numbers, not the retailer’s size. No matter what your size is, these 12 sneaky fashion tricks will make you look 10 pounds thinner.
Not tailoring items for the perfect fit
Splurging on an expensive suit or dress but not saving a few bucks to tailor it is easily one of the biggest fashion mistakes a person can make, according to fashion publicist and buyer Andrea Burman. “Everyone is built differently—petite, pear, hourglass, straight and narrow. So how can mass-produced clothing fit us all the same way? It can’t,” she asserts. “Having an experienced tailor tweak sleeve lengths, adjust shoulders, change or add buttons, shorten hemlines, and take in wide garments can be the difference between looking just ‘OK’ and looking ravishing.” If your budget doesn’t permit frequent trips to the tailor, take things into your own hands on the easier stuff, like hems and buttons, with a sewing kit.
Disregarding shoe or boot length
Playing with proportions is what professional stylists do for their celebrity clients. According to fashion publicist Jill Ormand, the easiest way to make your outfit unflattering is to pair the wrong shoe or boot with the wrong bottom. “A long pencil skirt with mid-length boots will shorten your whole stem, making you look less lean,” she says. “If your legs are already short, opt for stilettos that are cut to show the front of your foot.” Don’t miss these other outfit tricks to fake long legs.
Pants that drag
This one can be tricky, especially when you don’t have the time or budget to hem and re-hem pants based on every heel height in your closet. (And quite honestly, who does?) “The easiest way to look disheveled is to wear pants that drag on the floor,” says Ormand. “It’s an easy mistake to fix but one that can cost your appearance a lot if left alone.” Decide which shoes you’ll wear with a certain pair of pants most often, and bring them with you to the tailor. If you’re worried you might go too short, ask your tailor to leave a bit of room on the hem. That way, you can always drop it later. While you’re there, ask about these surprising clothing fixes a tailor can make.
If you need to fix your hem for cheap in a pinch, double-sided tape will do the trick. Fold up the pant leg at the necessary length and affix it with double-sided tape on the inside so it’s invisible to others.
Faded black pants are a common culprit. Other discoloration issues include runny patterns on silk, tinted lights that got put in with a bright load of laundry, and run-of-the-mill stains. Before heading out for a big event, do a careful once-over to check for anything funky. “Our favorite dark clothes can become a fashion disaster in no time if you don’t take the correct precautions,” says Ormand. To avoid black pants from fading, wash them inside-out on a short and cold wash cycle. You can also consider re-dyeing your clothes with a product like Rit Liquid Dye so that their original color comes back.
Too many bags
Don’t pack for work like you’re leaving on a two-week trip. Instead, pare your things down to the essentials, and find a structured bag that’s big enough to fit them. For example, if you tote your laptop back and forth to work, look for a bag that can accommodate it. If you like to carry a large makeup bag inside your purse, make sure it fits. The goal is to make your outfit look deliberate. Carrying a plastic bag with you everywhere shows that you tried to fit everything into your purse but fell a bit short. Madewell’s Canvas Transport quilted tote pulls a look together and is roomy enough to fit all of your must-haves. And here are 12 of the best laptop backpacks at every price point.
Pulling and prodding at your outfit
If you know you’ll spend an entire day hoisting up a strapless dress or repeatedly tucking in your shirt, look into another option for now and figure out why the original piece didn’t work. Can you take it to a tailor to remedy the problem? Do that. Is it in a state of disrepair? Toss it. Shapewear can help you minimize this common problem by making you feel more supported and, in turn, more comfortable in your own skin.
Nicole Zabal, the designer and founder of Nicole Alex, a clothing line with built-in shapewear says, “Pulling and readjusting your clothes signals that you feel uncomfortable and makes you appear less confident.” She recommends investing in pieces that have built-in support and that make you feel comfortable from the first wear. For those pieces already in your closet, undergarments from brands like Spanx can work miracles. For a handy cheat sheet, this is the best shapewear for every type of dress.
“Noticeable lint is a huge offender,” says McNamara. “I have a mini lint roller in my car at all times to make sure I’m lint-free before meetings.” Another tip? Take your lint brush outside: In addition to making this touch-up the last thing you do before heading out (and therefore preventing new lint from accumulating), the natural light will give you a better picture of your outfit’s lint situation.
Poorly fitted shoes
When you fall in love with a pair of shoes at the store, it’s tempting to buy them even if they’re not your exact size. “I think it’s crazy that people buy and keep shoes that don’t fit,” says McNamara. Aside from, you know, not actually fitting, a too big or too small pair of shoes will wear out faster than ones that fit well. The result? A disheveled look. Here are more genius tricks to make your shoes last longer.
If you went ahead and splurged on the shoes, pads may help you adjust sizing. They will also provide cushion and comfort for those long nights in heels.