How to Dress Yourself: A Human's Guide To Choosing the Right Clothes

How to Dress Yourself: A Human's Guide To Choosing the Right Clothes

Martha RusselAugust 21, 2019

Choosing the right clothes involves more than personal opinion. In the, often complex, world of societal interaction there are dozens of factors that can influence the "right" way of picking our your clothes. From personal style choices, to where you're actually wearing the clothes, to getting the right fit, it's a wonder that any of us actually manages to make a choice on what to wear on any given day. 

When you do get to the store, or shop online, the overwhelming choices can seem a little daunting. It's probably why we spend more time window shopping than actually buying. There's a huge variety of cuts, sizes, colors, brands, and patterns. If you have an idea, though, of what will look good on you, it will make the choice much easier. Here's a checklist of how to dress.

Dress for your figure

Dressing for your figure means making a choice about what features you want to emphasize. Show the world your "good side". The right choice of outfit can make the difference between, "Does this make my butt look big," or "Now, THAT is a booty!". There are five key factors that play a role in dressing for your figure, as they can influence what parts of you look bigger, smaller, more obvious, or less noticeable.

  • Patterns: Clothing with vertical lines (up and down) will make the part of the body, on which it's worn, look thinner. Horizontal stripes, by comparison, will make it look wider. Patterns, meanwhile, draw the attention of the eye. Patterned shirts, for example, emphasize the bust. Conversely, dark solid colors de-emphasize, particularly when worn with brighter patterns.
  • Fit: It should go without saying that a baggy fit will hide definition, while a tight fit accentuates it.
  • Waist Style: Low-waist pants, such as hip-huggers, will make your body appear curvier, as they highlight the hips. Higher waistlines, such as Empire waists, will help to emphasize the bust, instead.
  • Tailoring: Clothing with structured tailoring will lend emphasis to any part of the body. For example, boxy outergarments (like puffer coats) will make your upper body appear bulkier. Shoulder pads make shoulders appear wider. Pleated pants or trousers can make your legs look thicker.
  • Hemlines: Hemlines can be very important with skirts and dresses. Straight skirts, for example, are good for making your bottom half appear wider, while A-Line skirts will do the same, but add curves. Tapered skirts will have the opposite effect, de-emphasizing the lower body.

Measurement Cheat Sheet

Keep a cheat sheet of your measurements. It doesn't matter if you're creating tailored-to-fit clothing, or buying off the rack, having a good idea of your measurements will make it easier to find the right fit. If you can get exact proportions, even better. Here are some things you should know:

  • Inseam: The distance from your groin to the bottom of your ankle
  • Hips
  • Waistline
  • Widest or fullest area of your bust or chest
  • Neck (for men's clothing)
  • Upper arm length
  • Circumference of your head for hat sizing

 

Make Sure it Fits

Now that you've gone to all the trouble of taking measurements, make sure you have the right fit. The fit is, perhaps, the most important part of picking the right garment. Generally, one that fits you well, but has a style that doesn't quite work for you will look better than something that styled great, but fits poorly on your body. Here's some fit tips.

  • The right fit should be comfortable, while allowing freedom of movement, but doesn't look baggy or slovenly.
  • When you are dieting, or dropping weight, be careful with your purchases. Don't buy a lot in anticipation of the weight you're going to lose. Instead, hold off for a few months before making any major changes.
  • Be sure to hem your pants if you're shorter. A hem that is too low will only serve to make you look even shorter.
  • Buy what looks good on your right now. Don't buy for the figure you think you should have in a few months. You don't need to waste money on clothes that you'll never end up wearing.
  • Check the look from behind. This is an important step that many people miss. Dresses and suits, especially, can look like a good fit from the front, and awful in the back. Use the camera on your phone to check how the back of a garment looks. If it's too baggy, or too tight, go for a different size. Make sure it's showing the curves that you want to show.
  • Be aware of what trends you're following, and only follow the ones that fit your body type. If big shoulder pads are all the rage, and you have tiny shoulders, it's not a trend that's going to look very flattering on you. It's more likely you'll end up looking like an overblown revolutionary soldier.

 colorful clothes

Find Your Colors

Knowing what colors work for you can be a very important style choice. Color can be influenced by things like you skin tone, hair color, eyes, or other colors you're wearing. 

  • Match your undertones. Those with warm undertones will look better in warmer colors, while cooler skin tones will work better with cooler colors. 
  • Use colors that don't clash, but rather compliment each other. Consult the color wheel for complimentary colors. That is, colors that are opposite each other on the wheel, such as yellow with purple, orange with blue, red with green.

Color wheel

  • Neutral colors build the foundation of your outfit. One or two neutral colors work best. Neutral colors consist of light or dark gray, light or dark brown, navy, or black.
  • Wear what makes you happy, and fits your personality. While all of these "guidelines" might help to create a look that is aesthetically pleasing to the general human being, what ultimately fits you is what you love. If a red, orange and blue, baggy suit is just right for you, then rock that crazy suit.
  • Know what brands fit you well. There are certain brands that tend to size things that will just work really well for your body type. If you find one of those brands, be sure to check out other things they make. Chances are you'll find a lot of other matches out there.
  • Buy different options of the same garment. If you have a particular piece of clothing that works really well, purchase a few others in a different color or pattern. This can be especially useful if you have trouble finding clothing that fits you well.
  • Pay attention to quality. Just because something has the lowest price tag, doesn't mean it's a great value. Like anything else, it's "you get what you pay for". While you may find a pair of shoes that is twice the price, the value is there if they last 10 times as long as the cheap pair.
  • A good indication of quality is the seams. Check the seams before you buy. If they're even and consistent, the quality is good. Poorly stitched seams are an indication of low quality.
  • Don't be afraid to bargain shop.

Building a Wardrobe

Cover what you need when you're building your wardrobe. We all go through the phase of having too many things we never wear. You can design a wardrobe with versatile pieces, meaning they can be mixed and matched to fit a variety of scenarios. Don't go overboard on things you can only wear to certain events or functions. Who needs 10 ball gowns? 

  • A few nice pairs of pants or slacks can pair well with a jacket or blouse, and will easily blend in at an office or out to dinner. 
  • A skirt that comes to the knees can, likewise, fit well at work or out with friends just by changing a few accessories.
  • Shop with your wardrobe in mind. Have a mental list of some of your favorites pieces, so that when you shop you can imagine what you'll pair new items with. Use your go-to neutral colored garments as your base and build an outfit around them. If you skip this step, you'll end up with a lot more unworn items cluttering the closet.

Downsize Before you Upsize

  • Step one in building your wardrobe isn't to go buy more things. It's streamlining what you have. Go through and downsize your current apparel selection to make room for things you'll wear.
  • Donate your unused garments to Goodwill, or other organizations, so that they find a new home.
  • Put old clothes up on social media to let friends of family pick them up if they like them.
  • Sell your old wardrobe to raise cash for new purchases. This is how Vanessa Jane started, and today we ship dozens of orders daily all over the world.

You can shop our entire store to see where we are today, and remember it all started with a couple boxes of used clothes.

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