I’m sure this sounds familiar: you look in the mirror and there’s something not quite right about your outfit. It’s NOT the horizontal fit of the items, the colour, the personality of the style, or the fabrication – but something else, and you can’t pinpoint the problem. I’ve found that I can usually identify the problem with my own outfits (and the outfits of my clients) using these three trouble shooting questions.

Is it the length of the items?

I’m not just talking about the vertical length of tops, bottoms, dresses and sleeves, but also how the lengths relate to each other? So often its a question of lengthening or shortening an item of your outfit. For example:

  • The layered tops aren’t working because the bottom layer is too short.
  • The skirt doesn’t work with the boots because it’s too long.
  • The jacket is too long for the dress.
  • The trousers aren’t cropped at the most flattering part of the leg.
  • The dress would look more elegant if it covered the knee.
  • The blouse makes me look dumpy because it’s too long.
  • The boxy blouse doesn’t work with these trousers because its too short.
  • The sleeves would look better if cropped to the elbow.

Is it the contrast between the items and your skin tone ?

I can’t tell you how many times we make an outfit work on the YLF forum by paying closer attention to the colour contrast between clothing items, between clothing items and accessories, and how the colour contrasts work against your skin tone and hair colour.

Sometimes you need to create a lower colour contrast between items, accessories and your skin tone, and at other times a higher contrast is in order. For example, a short jacket isn’t working over a tunic and skinnies because all three items are high colour contrasting, which causes too many vertical lines across the body. Create a lower contrast between two of the items and things will start to look better. Or, the item doesn’t work with your complexion unless you add a high contrasting colour right up against your face.

Do I need to wear heels?

Sometimes an outfit looks better with some sort of heel. It takes a lot for me to say this because I bat for Team Flats! The heel needn’t be very high, but sometimes a little extra height can help you look and feel more pulled together and streamlined.

The next time you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right in the mirror, ask yourself these three questions. In some instances you’ll need to address all three trouble shooting questions in order for the outfit to look right. In others you’ll solve the problem by actioning one fast tweak, like swapping out a high contrasting item for a low contrasting one.