Despite being something that everyone does literally every day, getting dressed (or putting together an outfit, if you want to get fancy), can feel like the trickiest, most frustrating part of the morning. Who hasn't stood in front of a closet full of clothing and thought “I have nothing to wear!?” Rest assured, you're not alone in this daily conundrum. To that end, we consulted a panel of experts—top designers, style consultants, and retail pros—to demystify the act (art?) of getting dressed, once and for all.
How to actually do it: Obviously, you want to show off what you're proud of—toned arms or a slim waist. It's the downplaying of less beloved parts that's tricky. One tactic? Add opposite volume, like wearing wide-leg trousers to offset a heavier upper half that's wearing something fitted. The object is to even yourself out. So avoid anything too oversize or you'll look bigger. Another idea: Distraction. If you're pear-shaped, wear forgettable black pants, then bring the focus upward with a bold scarf.
Wear trends in an age-appropriate way.
How to actually do it: Odds are, there's a grown-up version of the style du jour. Take crop tops: To avoid revealing skin, pair a shirt that hits at the navel with a high-waisted skirt—or a longer top with a crop top over it - this gives you a similar look. Bottom line: You never want to seem like you're uncomfortable with your age and trying to look younger.
The right bra makes you look slimmer.
How to actually do it: Where your breasts sit on your chest makes a big difference in how clothes fit. In other words, if you're wearing a bra that fits properly, there will be no sagging or bulging—and that means your silhouette will look trimmer from every angle. The target is midway between your elbows and shoulders. You've scored a match when the front center panel of the bra lays flat, there's no wrinkling or gapping in the cups, and the bra is not hiking up or creating bulges. If you can squeeze just two fingers under the band and it still feels snug, that's the perfect fit.
Don’t be too matchy-matchy.
How to actually do it: Strive to wear colors that enhance one another rather than "match" in the traditional sense. For an easy hack, look at a simple color wheel. The colors that are opposite each other on the wheel complement each other. Think non-obvious but fetching combos, like orange and navy or purple and saffron. Diversifying your accessories, in both color and texture, is another do. A beloved trio from the vault of Betty Halbreich is a black dress, navy shoes, and a burgundy handbag. And under no circumstances should you ever rock a suite of jewelry. Anything that was sold together as a set looks really dated.
Show skin selectively.
How to actually do it: Don't give people too many things to look at all at once. If you're wearing a low-cut dress, focus on the cleavage—you don't also need bare arms and legs. The concept applies to fit as well: A body-hugging dress is better with a more sensible neckline and hem, whereas a skirt that hits a few inches above the knee won't raise eyebrows if it's flared rather than tight.