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.
Summer is here. This means a beach, pool, or spa somewhere is calling your name. It is only the first week of July and I've already lost count of the number of times I've been in the water this summer. In case you're still looking for your personal holy grail of swimwear cover-ups, I've rounded up my favorite unique options here.
An Oversized Scarf
Miraclesuit Hibiskiss Printed Pareo, $57.99
Also known as a Pareo or Sarong, I love scarves as cover-ups because of their lightweight nature and pack-ability. They also dry very quickly so you can get out of the water, cover up, return to the water, and get out again to a completely dry cover-up. The most popular way to deploy a scarf is as a skirt. Petite women can also create a halter dress out of these for more coverage.
Caslon Print Tassel Kimono, $29
Like an oversized scarf, a kimono is light, pack-friendly, and quick drying. While it doesn't offer as much versatility, it may be something you already have in your closet.
The (Literal) Boyfriend Shirt
J. Crew Slim Fit Stretch Poplin Cotton Shirt, $69.50
For a classic look, I recommend wearing an actual men's button-down as a swimwear cover up. Make sure the material is a breathable cotton or linen, so you're not sweating as you dry off.
An Easy Summer Dress
Eliza J Cotton Fit & Flare Dress, $159
Since I prefer my wardrobe pieces to pull double and sometimes even triple duty, this is my favorite swimwear cover-up option: a day dress. Choose something in a breathable, lightweight fabric and it can take you from work to weddings to waves.
A Basic Maxi Dress
Nordstrom Knit Maxi Dress, $29-$52
Ah, the joys of a maxi dress. It gives you the freedom of a skirt with the coverage of pants. They also make excellent swimwear cover-ups. You can even tie the bottom in a knot to wade water. The dress above is a universally flattering option, that is so nice I bought it twice.
The Drawstring Skirt
Nic+Zoe Open Road Skirt, $129
This last option works well if you favor one-pieces or tankinis. We all know the wet butt struggle of trying to zip shorts on over a swimsuit. Make life easier with a drawstring skirt instead.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I take the stress out of getting dressed. I'm a personal fashion stylist in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.