Just as there are one million ways to make a sandwich, there are one million ways to make an outfit. This contributes to what I call "outfit overwhelm". It's that feeling of dread some women experience when looking at their closet full of clothes and finding nothing to wear. Fortunately, outfit formulas can make life easier. An outfit formula is similar to a recipe. We all know sandwiches usually contain two slices of bread and something in the middle. An outfit formula requires a top, bottom, and shoes. Take this concept a step further and prepare your outfits for the whole week ahead. I recommend doing this on Sundays. This level of wardrobe preparation will save you so much time, energy, and frustration. Over time, successfully implementing outfit formulas will help you craft a signature style.
Outfit Formula #1
Sleeveless Dress + Nude Shoes + Bold Earrings
Without even trying, you probably already have several "outfit formulas" in the mix. Look back through photos to see what you've been wearing recently. One of my go-to looks is a sleeveless dress, nude shoes, and bold earrings. You can make it as basic as "sleeveless dress" or as specific as "jewel-toned, solid color sleeveless dress".
Outfit Formula #2
Peplum Top + Skinny Jeans + Heels
Another one of my personal favorites, especially for photos and/or not shaving your legs is a peplum top + skinny jeans + heels. Again you can make this as specific as "light wash skinny jeans and patterned peplum top" or as broad as "skinny jeans and peplum top".
Outfit Formula #3
Button Down Shirt + Jeans + Heels
For my personal styling clients who have casual work environments, this is one of my favorite outfit formulas. I also recommend keeping a pair of sneakers in your car or tote bag. That way, if you need to take the kids to the park, a friend wants to go for a walk, or you must stop by the grocery store on your way home, you can be more comfortable. Wear a pair of stud or simple hoop earrings to keep it professional.
Outfit Formula #4
Blazer + Tank + Printed Shorts + Heels
For those of you with killer legs, this outfit formula is a surefire win. You can remove the blazer if you're making this a casual summer day or keep it on if you want to be dressy with your girls for a lunch date. Of course, the heels can also be swapped for sandals.
Outfit Formula #5
Blazer + Tank + Ankle Pants + Statement Necklace + Pointy Toe Shoes
Though I personally feel naked without them, not everyone can or wants to wear earrings. Statement necklaces are a great way to add personality to an otherwise boring, corporate work look. Of course, if you're in a creative environment you can make this look even more fun by wearing a printed blazer or a brightly colored heel.
Outfit Formula #6
Scarf + T-Shirt + Boyfriend Jeans
For weekend wardrobes and transitional weather, try adding a cute little scarf to basic jeans and tee ensemble. This accessory always gives personality and "put-togetherness". As a bonus, you will be warm if you walk into an overly air-conditioned environment.
Outfit Formula #7
Utility Jacket + Basic Top + Jeans + Sneakers
Wearing a utility jacket completes your outfit and helps prevent sunburn. I am basically a vampire living near the beach, so I get a sunburn if my shoulders are exposed for more than 10 minutes. If you don't have a utility jacket, this outfit formula also works well with chambray button-downs.
Outfit Formula #8
Pencil Skirt + Pumps + Shell + Tweed Jacket
Work separates can be so versatile. I love pairing tweed jackets with pencil skirts and skinny jeans. A tweed jacket typically has a boxy shape, so it is important to pair it with something more streamlined on the bottom.
Do you have any favorite outfit formulas? Let me know here in the comments, or over on Instagram.
Note: all images credit via Jaquelyn Wahidi's personal collection and/or Google Image Search.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. I've been addicted to blazers since 2004.