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nikipedia's avatar

What are your best tips for dressing well?

Asked by nikipedia (27727points) May 10th, 2011

When I had a Real Job I dressed like a grownup every day. Having been back in school for the past three years, I’ve noticed that my standards have dropped considerably (e.g., dressing up = wearing jeans instead of yoga pants).

So, let’s suppose I wanted to start dressing like a polished, responsible professional again. What are your best tips for looking put together?

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17 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The details. A nice piece of jewelry, makeup that you feel comfortable in, having your hair combed and styled, and a nice pair of shoes are what make an outfit “put together.” You can really put on a pair of sweats and if you do all of the above then you will still look put together. It’s all in the details, if you ask me.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

My rule of thumb for men is always wear a collared shirt. For ladies, the same rule doesn’t necessarily apply. Perhaps it can be best altered by saying always wear a blouse that your mother or grandmother would like to see you in.

Of course, I’ve known mothers and grandmothers who made dresses out of remnants that were none too pretty, so that rule may not work either.

JLeslie's avatar

When you say a professional again, do you actually mean work clothes? Or, just some casual clothes that look sophisticated, or at minimum like you put some effort into how you dress? But, of course you want it to seem effortless.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

For men… I recommend dressing so well that everyone thinks you’re gay.

nikipedia's avatar

@JLeslie, I guess I mean both. Sometimes I have meetings where I have to look like a real person and I think, shit, I wish I looked more put together. But then just day to day, I think maybe I should stop being such a slob.

Pandora's avatar

If wearing sandles in the summer, be sure your feet are well manicured and your nails as well.
Hair style is often overlooked. It should be clean and pulled back and fly aways maintained.
Less jewelry is more. A watch, a ring, a nice set of earings that aren’t too loud.
Your clothing should be pressed and stain free and not see through.
Light on the make up. Go for the fresh clean look. Make sure in the summer you check your face to make sure your not looking sweaty and or oily. Re-apply makeup if you need to.
Solid colors and not too loud.
If your wearing sneakers, make sure they are clean as well.
Don’t wear anything that looks baggy, messy, loose, dirty or wrinkled or worn.

Vunessuh's avatar

If you wear a simple black dress or a dress of any one solid color, you can dress it up with some complex jewelry pieces and multi-colored shoes.
If you wear a complex and/or colorful dress, keep it simple and avoid too much jewelry or don’t wear any at all and wear a solid colored heel.
It is easy to over-do it as well as appear underwhelming. It’s nice to add a piece to your outfit that’s striking. The contrast between simple and complex in clothing and accessories works.

Also, a pencil skirt with a white blouse and a blazer always looks sharp. You can replace the pencil skirt with a pair of nice slacks. Perhaps accessorize with a neck scarf or a high-waisted belt looks nice if you’re just wearing the skirt and the blouse. Although, I’ve seen people be able to pull a belt off over their blazer or jacket like here and here.

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia My experience is scientists can be a little schubby and no one cares, but that is generalizing, and I think you are in California now right? So, I have no idea what is expected necessarily out there.

You need to get a few new classic pieces. I would say three pairs of slacks, or two slacks and a skirt, and 5 new shirts, and a couple new pairs of shoes. Pick a color pant you typically like, navy, brown, khaki, grey whatever you like, no prints, no linen, with a flat front. Two man tailored woven shirts, a classic white is always good, and then another color or a stripe maybe, make sure it goes with one of the pairs of slacks, and three more casual pullover knit shirts that can be casual or casual work to wear with slacks or jeans. Once you get some basics and get in the stores, you will probably go back again in a few weeks to add on a little more once you get used to the newer fashions out there.

The rest is just doing it. Do your hair, put on some make-up.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JLeslie – great answer, you can’t go wrong with neutral colors and classic design. That is always in good taste. I love Armani suits for just that reason, they never go out of style!

@nikipedia – what @JLeslie said!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo Nothing like Armani.


Personally, I find that sharpness and simplicity define elegance. I like sleek, form-fitting Italian style suits, understated but attractive ties, a simple crisp clean white linen shirt, and a nice pair of shined black or very dark brown leather dress shoes. You can never go wrong with black, dark navy, or dark grey.

For semi-casual, I love form-fitted turtleneck shirts, again in black or navy. Couple this with a nice pair of dress slacks or light faded blue jeans and a nicely tailored black leather jacket or bomber. The leather jacket shouldn’t be the kind gangsters and juvenile delinquents wear (lol), but the kind that looks refined and professional, sort of like a dress jacket. This would also look great with a crisp white linen dress shirt or a light, baby blue dress shirt.

With jewelry, less is more. The person should wear the jewelry, not the jewelry “wear the person”. One nice ring on the index finger is enough. One elegant watch on the wrist is enough. When I see some of these guys wearing all those heavy chain necklaces or gigantic rings on almost every finger, or those big fake gold pendants, I want to regurgitate! Lol.

And just a small dab of cologne. I hate it when people douse themselves with designer fragrances (a lot of young guys like to do that), so much that you can smell them all the way to Iceland.


@hawaii_jake Yes, I agree, collared shirts.

Pele's avatar

Cute blouse + pencil skirt + cute heels + cute cardigan and great accessories. collared shirts on a female may look like you have no personal style depending on the shirt it’s self. (you want to look good not typical) Anything from Banana Republic maybe a good investment. Plus their clothes last forever. Great for being professional.

ucme's avatar

I personally wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of ballet pumps, not whilst wearing a suit at least. Bad form don’t you know?

Blackberry's avatar

Women always look professional in pant suits. I’m not familiar with the terms for their clothing, but there are many pant suit variations that make women look exceptional.

Seelix's avatar

Watch a couple of episodes of What Not to Wear. It’s a stupid show, but the hosts know what they’re talking about. You don’t have to spend nearly as much on clothing as they do on the show, but they can give a great idea about staple items that you should have.

I’ve seen episodes where they deal with women like you – who just don’t have “professional” looking clothes. Those episodes are great for figuring out the basics that you should have in your closet, and how to mix and match pieces to create different looks.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I would buy a skirt suit in black,navy or grey.Then a pair of slacks.You can always buy more skirts or slacks to wear with your jackets.Also get a few blouses in solid colors,including a fitted white button down.A chemise in a solid color and a pair of nice shoes with a good handbag.Don’t wear alot of jewelry and keep what you do wear,understated.
A good tailor is essential.
Think simple,crisp lines and you will look great.:)

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