We often think that we would look great if we could only buy that fabulous dress, that amazing coat, or those show-stopping boots. Well, more often than not you don't need to buy anything to look more stylish. You can probably look more stylish today--maybe even right now--without spending a dime!
I thought of this during an outfit creation session when a client commented "tucking things in is a game changer". To my stylist brain, this is like declaring the sky is blue or that water is wet. And yet this client had simply never thought to tuck her tops in before. She recognized many of her outfits looked better instantly. Which brings me to my first styling tip--tuck things in.
Tuck it In
Whether you want to do a total tuck, a front tuck, or a half tuck, this styling trick helps to define a waist and elongate your legs. It will also help you look more professional when you're styling your work wardrobe.
Roll it Up
Rolling up your sleeves give you a more laid-back, stylish vibe. It's less stuffy and more fun. As a bonus, it also helps you show off watches, bracelets, and rings. It's also a great trick if you feel like you're getting lost in the fabric of a flowy sweater or loose-fitting top.
Cuff those Hems
Just as rolling up your sleeves allows you to show off a great bracelet, cuffing your jeans and pants lets you show off your fabulous shoes. If you have looser fit jeans, it's usually best to roll them up a few times in a smaller cuff. If you're working with tight jeans, one fold up should do the trick. You can iron the cuff (before wearing) to help it last a little longer.
Knotting a button-down top or any blouse that has excess fabric is another great way to define a waistline. You can also use this trick to turn a dress into a skirt--add a knotted top over your dress and it will look like separates.
Add a Belt
Belting your outfits at your smallest natural point can quickly make you look more polished, thinner, and (of course) more stylish. Belting a flowy, bohemian-style dress keeps you from getting lost in the fabric. Belting a cardigan does the same thing. Belting a bold, colored coat gives the eye a focus point.
Draping your outerwear over one shoulder or both shoulders is a great way to turn heads and look chic. While not entirely practical, you can look great walking down the street or for a few photos. I wouldn't expect anyone to sit at their desk or chase their kids with a blazer draped over her shoulders, but it does look great for the brief moments in time when it's possible.
Adding a statement necklace, an armful of bangles, or a gorgeous ring can breathe new life into an otherwise boring outfit. I prefer when the jewelry compliments the lines of the outfit. Pairing your statement jewelry with your basic pieces will add more interest and polish to your look.
Tennis shoes, sneakers, trainers, walkers...whatever you call them, they are making a comeback. For years, the ballet flat seemed to dominate our “comfortable shoe” options. Sneakers have returned to their rightful home (in our closets). Luckily, there are great options in any price range. And these sneakers can be paired with basically anything from leggings to jeans to dresses to jumpsuits.
Chic Sneakers Under $50
You can never go wrong with Chuck Taylors. It’s a classic that never goes out of style.
Topshop’s Platform Sneaker is a fun, edgy option that comes in silver, white with gold hardware, and (my personal favorite) this blush velvet edition.
The classic slip-on from TOMS is another favorite for its versatility. It’s comfortable, like a sneaker, but a little more feminine and a little dressier. If you’re not the type to pair Chucks with a dress, TOMS will work for that purpose instead.
I love the espadrille bottoms on these platforms from Steve Madden. It’s the best idea--it will never look dirty and it’s totally spring and summer appropriate.
Classic Comforts Under $100
The Adidas Gazelle is great for its comfort level and style. If you’re more of a minimalist when it comes to your shoe collection, these can be a pair for walking, working out, and pairing with your cute, casual outfits.
These Steve Madden sneakers are my favorite. They are gorgeous and very comfortable. It’s a perfect “Stylish Mom” shoe. I have them in black, but I’m contemplating picking up the tan pair as well. While they’re normally $60 or so, I have seen them at Nordstrom Rack on occasion for just under $40.
With tax, these are not quite under $100, and they are gorgeous. The Tangelo Slip-On is a great summer shoe when you don’t have pedi-ready feet or are going somewhere not sandal appropriate (NYC and Legoland come to mind).
For the puppy lover in your life, these super cute and comfy dog-friendly sneakers will not disappoint. From Ellen’s surprisingly chic collection, these puppies have been getting rave reviews for their comfort and style.
Stylish Staples Under $300
Always modern-chic brand Vince offers these mixed neutral sneaks that I adore.
If you love some texture on your shoes, these Terri Sneakers from Robert Zur are perfect.
Mephisto’s “Yael” sneaker is very popular for a good reason. It’s stylish and extremely comfortable. Like the Adidas Gazelle, this can be work for anything from running errands to hiking trails. The light grey option is my favorite. They do appear more metallic in person, so if you’re not into the shimmery, these may not be for you.
Munro offers a comfort shoe that’s all dressed up. The zipper not only makes the shoe more stylish, it makes it easier to put on. They don’t need to be tied up every time. And they’re perfect if you’ve got a more edgy or androgynous sense of style.
Fantasy Footwear Under $700
I’ve used these on other posts and recommended them to clients, but I can’t get enough of these beauties! These loafers from Tod’s are bank-breaking, show-stopping, jaw-dropping wonders. They are so luxe and modern, especially in beige. I can’t stress how elegant they are in person. At $625 they’re not cheap, and they definitely don’t look it.
For a high-end, high-top option, I still love the options from Giuseppe Zanotti. This version is available in suede and textured leather. I do prefer the light pink suede option because of the darker laces. IfI dropped the $695 on the version with white laces, I would make sure to keep them clean or switch them out regularly.
If you want something with a nautical vibe during Spring and Summer, I can’t recommend these Gucci slip-ons enough. They’re neutral and classic with just enough flair to make you feel special when you’re wearing them.
If you love a statement shoe, why not try a statement sneaker? These beauties from Prada are available in pink and red. They’re fun and whimsical without crossing the border into “silly” territory.
I recommend building your capsule "color palette" around one piece--in this case a floral, printed top.
The one piece that inspired this capsule is the floral print tee. The colors make it perfect for spring and summer. I paired it with navy leggings from Boden since they’re comfortable and easy to move about in. This outfit is great for meeting friends for coffee or running errands, as are most the other looks on this list. This mom carries a colorful diaper bag most of the time, but when she needs a more grown-up bag this tan number works well.
The twelve looks below are just the beginning. With seventeen total pieces, it’s a cohesive wardrobe. The combinations are endless.
You can do this at home with things you already own--grab your favorite plaid, printed, or floral tee and start building your capsule from there.
This simple pink tee can be worn alone, or as a layering piece. These aqua jeans work as neutral, since they can be worn with any top or sweater in this capsule. I kept the jewelry simple. Most moms with young children prefer stud earrings, since their little ones won't pull on them. The booties are perfect for protecting feet from sandy playgrounds. I've added the cardigan for chilly mornings. It can be removed when the temperature heats up, and you'll still look fabulous.
I love a short-sleeve sweater--especially for fall and spring, where you want a little warmth and a lot of movement. Here we've dressed up boyfriend jeans and a beige sweater with polished accessories. A mint scarf plays well with the pink and tan tones of the tops. The Kendra Scott bangle is just gorgeous--and it won't fall off or constantly be dangling from your wrist. The nude flats are comfortable and add a little shine to the outfit. This is the perfect "grabbing coffee with the other moms" look.
You can stay comfy and put together. With this outfit, you can drop off the kids at school and confidently run errands or meet friends. The Boden Leggings are paired with a tunic top from the Gap. Simple gold studs and those tan booties add a level of sophistication. If you like the cozy comfort, but feel too plain you could add your mint scarf or your gold necklace.
I'll be honest--I didn't understand the chambray shirt obsession until now. Now I get it--by putting such a neutral textile on top, you're free to play with bottoms--pink pants, patterned pants, leggings, printed shorts--you can go wild! Here we've paired the classic chambray shirt with the aqua skinnies and my fave tan booties. The gold pendant and studs lend a little femininity to an otherwise masculine look.
The floral tee makes another appearance here, paired with the aqua skinnies. The gold studs and booties dress up a simple "T-Shirt and Jeans" combo.
This looks is all-out girly with the exception of the boyfriend jeans. A pink tee, ballet flats, a gold pendant and a Kendra Scott stunner with denim add up to an easy way to look put together. Whether you're headed to the PTA meeting or grabbing wine with friends, this looks gets the job done.
We've used the same accessory combo as look #7, but we've switched out the top and bottom. Here your cozy tunic is paired with aqua skinnies. When wearing bangles or bracelets with longer sleeves, roll up the sleeves to show them off.
This is another great playground or outdoor outfit. Denim can take a lot of abuse--stains, dirt, rips, and it still looks great. Here, the denim shirt is paired with the boyfriend jean. The Navy sneakers and cognac diaper bag are the functional accessories. To balance the boyish feel, add the mint scarf and gold studs.
This is similar to Outfit #2, but we've swapped the solid pink tee for the floral print tee. We've also ditched the necklace. The cardigan can be worn on chillier days. You could also add the gold necklace if you wanted a little more shine.
This is another cozy number that's perfect for drop-off and running errands. Leggings and that super soft chambray shirt are paired with the mint scarf, tan booties, and my fave cardigan. When it's warmer, you can ditch the cardigan and still look great.
While similar to Outfit #7, we've added the cardigan and skipped the bangle. This is a dressed down version--perfect for volunteering at the school and being hands-on with kids.
Want all the looks? Links are below.
SheChic Floral Print Tee $15
J. Crew Factory Tissue Tee $15
Madewell Cardigan Sweater $88
Gap Tunic Sweater $30
Madewell Sweater Tee $70
J. Crew Chambray Shirt $98
Boden Navy Legging $35
Juicy Light Teal Skinnies $50
J Crew High Rise Jeans $125
Trina Turk Gold Stud Earrings $21
Kendra Scott Rose Gold Cuff $75
Lulu DK Gold Pendant $68
Baybmel Diaper Bag $90
Teal Scarf from Etsy $30
Peahu Navy Sneakers $80
Sam Edelman Booties $140
Sam Edelman Tan Ballet Flats $100
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 fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.