Three Items That Will Help You Look Pulled Together

three items that will help you look pulled together

A goal that arises again and again with my style consult clients is feeling “pulled-together.” It’s an interesting phrase, no? As if the wrong outfit keeps our bottom half at the office, while our top half visits Aunt Martha in Detroit … and the RIGHT outfit will reunite those pieces. But then, my brain likes to be amusingly literal. And, clearly, many women feel that their dressing choices can create a disjointed or unpolished appearance, and seek ways to create looks that help them feel sophisticated and chic. So here are three items that constitute shortcuts to pulled-together-ness.

A dress

My friend Katie mentioned this ages ago, and it’s really stuck with me. She said she got loads of comments on how pulled-together she looked, and thought, “Of course I look pulled-together. I’m wearing a dress!” She pointed out that a dress is, in essence, a pre-made outfit. Sure, you’ve got to accessorize and add shoes, maybe pop on a jacket or cardigan, but the dress is the meat of the look. Solid dresses or dresses that feature a single print are especially useful in creating unified, intentional looks since they create instant continuity.

 A blazer

As I’ve said many times, I know blazers can be tough to fit off the rack. But when you DO find a style that works for your figure, this piece can be invaluable in creating pulled-together looks. Blazers add a dash of formality to even the most casual outfits, but perhaps more importantly they add structure. Many non-pulled-together-feeling outfits either skew casual or lack structured garments with clean edges and a hint of stiffness. It’s not a cure-all, but throwing a blazer into most outfit mixes can make them feel more sophisticated and stylish. Amazingly, even a ponte or knit blazer can hint at the necessary formality and structure, so don’t feel like you’ve gotta do thick, lined wool!

Jewelry

OK, you caught me. Jewelry isn’t an item, it’s a category. Adding jewelry to outfits is something I encourage virtually ALL of my clients to consider. All accessories can help pull together your outfits, but jewelry makes what you’re wearing look polished and finished. It’s the final touch that completes your ensembles, and well worth adding if you’re not feeling as chic as you’d like to.

Anyone out there long for that pulled-together feeling? What items or groupings do you employ when creating outfits that you want to feel unified and intentional? Any of these three figure in?

Top images courtesy J.Crew.

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Originally posted 2013-09-10 06:38:07.

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27 Responses to “Three Items That Will Help You Look Pulled Together”

  1. Jackie

    I never wear blazers, but I think cardigans do the same thing for me, making me feel more pulled together and like I’m wearing an “outfit” and not just throwing things together. I wear a lot of dresses for work (I’m a teacher), which is funny to me because I was strictly a jeans-and-tee-shirt person when I was a student. Dresses definitely make me feel more pulled-together, and they take a lot of the morning guesswork out of planning an outfit. Dress + cardigan = done!

  2. Janice

    I love blazers and am so glad they are wearing them again. I have several colors in wool. Are they still o.k. to wear as it gets colder? I hate bulky coats and wear them as a coat a lot.

    • Sally

      Sure! So long as the weather in your area permits. You can dress up a wool blazer with a cozy scarf, too.

  3. bubu

    Totally agree on these – I realized as I am planning for fall that I have way more summer than fall dresses, so am focusing on dresses now. Even thought right now I have a lot of excitement to put together more complicated outfits, I know there will be mornings, especially as the colder months linger on, when I want to throw on a dress and be done. So I’m trying to get more of those. And yes, blazers — I have a lot of cardigans, but agree that the structure of a blazer steps things up in a good way. For me it is finding ones without any kinds of pads in the shoulders, as mine are fairly broad to begin with, so need no extra bulk.

  4. Anna

    These three are all fine, although instead of dresses I lean more toward tops with skirts or pants (often in the same color), along with a third layer (usually a loose jacket or cardigan). My usual formula for pulling things together is either small earrings + necklace or larger earrings + scarf.

  5. Annabeth

    Right now, scarves are on-trend enough that IMO they can make a simple T-shirt and jeans look like an outfit. They add style and thought and a touch of whimsy to very basic outfits.

  6. marisa

    yes! when i’ve just thrown on jeans and a t-shirt, a scarf or long necklace makes it suddenly look like an outfit instead of…what i’ve just thrown on. the difference between wearing that with tennies versus pretty sandals in summer or cute boots in winter is also pretty huge.

    one thing i’ve learned from your blog is the idea of being intentional with jewelry/accessories. i can wear individual pieces that i like on their own, but look “thrown” together, rather than “pulled” together, because they don’t really relate to each other. when i use my accessories to pick up accent colors from prints, for example, or am wearing black but make sure my jewelry all relates instead of being random, then it comes together as a cohesive look.

  7. Linda L

    Yes, I rely heavily on dresses, blazers, and bold jewelry. Sometimes a cardigan or vest in place of the blazer, a scarf in place of a necklace. The right belt and shoes can really make an outfit as well.

  8. A.B.

    While I like jewelry in practice and blazers in theory, I’m not sure that dresses in general make me look put together only because I am rarely comfortable in them.

  9. Osprey

    I recently started wearing a low heel and it makes a big difference to how pulled together/intentional my outfit looks.

  10. Eileen

    Blazers are key for me. They are that magical 3rd piece that makes me look really pulled together. I moved so SoCal so my thicker blazers don’t work except at night in the winter. I recently found an unlined, linen blazer that is cropped enough to wear with skirts, jeans or dresses so I bought it in 3 colors. I feel less crazy because one is my favorite neutral (Navy) and two are colors I’ve been working to incorporate into my wardrobe (grass green and white).

  11. Kate K

    Blazers automatically make me feel more put together but I’ll admit they fail to make me feel like myself. However, dresses are my go-to, automatically pulled together outfit. It’s strange to say but it feels like my life changed the minute I bought my first dress that wasn’t for a formal or semi-formal event.

    And people always think you’re more dressed up when you’re wearing a dress, I’ve found. I had people over to my (non-air-conditioned) apartment on Saturday night for dinner and in an attempt to keep cool, I put on a very casual cotton short-sleeved shirt dress. When my friends arrived, every one of them commented “Why are you so dressed up?”

  12. Stacie

    I work at a high school and today I took your advice before you gave it: The blazer, the statement necklace (made by my daughter when she was little). A girl who is normally moody and negative piped right up and said I looked really good today. Then she got flustered and said, “I never thought I’d say that.” An honest, spontaneous comment from a teenager can do wonders!

  13. AlsoTracy

    Always wear: earrings, lipstick/gloss, mascara
    Usually wear: a scarf
    Never wear: athletic shoes (unless you are actually exercising or playing a sport)

    • A.B.

      I work a job where I am standing for nine hours a day. I’m going to wear athletic shoes.

      • Osprey

        I used to be on my feet all day too, and spent the days in Crocs (the originial style with the big toe box and holes!) and running shoes. It was fun to kinda just roll with it and went for the most garish neon colours, figuring that if I was going to wear unstylish shoes I might as well do it properly. :p

        • A.B.

          My favorite pair are black and neon! You can see me walking from a good distance away.

          I would totally wear Crocs if I could but they’re not allowed at my job. So comfortable.

  14. Sabrina

    Lately, I’ve made a number of necklaces, and I find that the color combos I used have been leading me to choose outfit combos that go with them, like layers of teal, red and black with my turquoise-red-ivory-beige-antique brass necklace, and layers of purples, rose, and burgundy (or fuchsia, or magenta) with a necklace that draws in an analogous color scheme from fuchsia through garnet and amethyst to blue-violet.

    Then there are the white-black-silver-Capri blue combo, the turquoise-spring green-root beer combo, the bright orange-chocolate-gold combo, the aqua-teal-blue-silver-white combo, and others that just group a neutral or a few with a single hue. Still to come are a topaz-ivory-root beer-chocolate-antique copper-bright copper combo (with bits of gold, silver, and antique brass), a plum-topaz-root beer(plus maybe orange?) combo, and a navy-antique copper combo (maybe with a lighter value of the same blue hue as the navy thrown in… or perhaps an off-white or white). I find that I automatically feel more put together when wearing these jewelry-based outfit combinations.

    Now I feel like I need to make or buy bracelets in single colors or monochromatic schemes, to coordinate… I’m slowly working on that. (Yes, I’m embracing my matchy-matchy tendencies.) It helps that I now have two pairs of shoes in non-neutrals, probably for the first time since I wore jelly shoes as a young-un. 😉

  15. Thursday

    Dresses definitely do it for me a great dress will do all the work for you, just add shoes and cardigan. I get the most comments/compliments about my dresses, even though they are the easiest outfit to put together. I agree with a previous commenter too, that when the occasion permits, a low heel or glossy wedge adds a great finish. I often rely on matching colours in some way to feel properly polished, too (cardigan and belt, earrings and skirt, shoes and blouse, etc).

  16. Eleanorjane

    Yes, yes, yes! Especially the dress and jewellery bit. I tend to wear either a statement necklace or earrings. I generally feel too formal in a blazer, though I have found a ponte one that is comfy to wear and feels a bit more relaxed.

    Smarter shoes are a key for me to look ‘pulled together’ too – not necessarily high heels, just a touch more formal.

  17. jamie

    Hi Sally,
    Not sure if you’ve covered this in your posts before, but would you do a post on how to determine proper blazer fit? I have an expensive blazer I bought at Filine’s Basement over 10 years ago, but have NEVER worn it. It’s a navy blue wool Ralph Lauren made it Italy blazer, really nice, lined in silk.
    I’m struggling with the fit, it seems almost too long, almost covers my whole bum, even though the sleeves are the right length. And I have no idea what to wear it with. Thanks 🙂