What better time to refresh your what not to wear guidelines than the start of a new year? In our years on the job, we've seen some pretty bad stuff: nip slips, visible underwear, exposed bra straps, and far, far worse. But beyond the more obvious missteps, like revealing too much, there are a handful of other fashion blunders that can wreak havoc on your style. We're breaking them all down below — and giving you the cures to correct even the most dreaded of fashion faux paus. Read on:
- Those dreaded, yellowing underarm stains. After a certain amount of wear, it becomes almost inevitable that our white button-downs and t-shirts start to yellow under our arms (come on, it happens to everybody) — and it's not caused by what you think. Sweat is not the culprit, but rather the reaction of your sweat with aluminum, a common ingredient in most deodorants. The Solution: While the best solution is to toss our tops when that starts to happen, we can be a little more diligent about cleaning our whites to ensure the process is, at the very least, a little slower. We recommend investing in some special detergent or good old OxiClean or Preen for the best results. Whatever you do, steer clear of bleach, which can cause more harm to the garment's fabric and colour.
- Sizing up/sizing down. One of the worst (but easiest to prevent), sizing can make or break a whole look. Case in point: those gaping holes between buttons on a button-down that's much too snug across the bust, seaming that hits too high or low (or anywhere it's not supposed to), long sleeves that are too short/too long, or pants that are far too tight. These all add up to outfit mistakes that can cheapen your look — but they're easy to avoid. The Solution: Pay attention to fit and fabric when you're shopping. No matter how deep the discount, it's never a bargain if it just doesn't fit. The only loophole is a good tailor — if you score a great designer find that's just a little too big, tailoring can do the trick. Just be warned: it's easier to take in a garment than it is to let it out.
For the rest of our fashion blunders and solutions, keep reading.
- Fishnet stockings. It's come to our attention that there are some women wearing fishnets as an alternative to tights. Unfortunately, this is a look that doesn't translate well beyond Halloween costumes, no matter who you are. Rather than adding outfit interest, they tend to look downright tacky and a little trashy (especially when coupled with shorter hemlines). The Solution: There are tonnes of textural options that offer interest without compromising your sense of style. Note: please don't wear your tights or leggings as actual pants; they should be worn under dresses and skirts, but never as an alternative to real bottoms.
- Wearing scuffed-up shoes with an otherwise pretty outfit. It's amazing how the little things can affect your look, but all it takes is a pair of cheap shoes to mess with an otherwise great ensemble. Cheap shoes in pleather or patent leather can scuff easily, and when you finish off a great dress or pair of pants with worn-down shoes, the effect isn't quite as chic as you'd hoped it would be. The Solution: With great resources like Topshop and Zara, it can be easy to create expensive looks from affordable clothes, but it's much harder to keep inexpensive footwear looking as good after a few wears. Our advice? Invest in real leather boots and heels; spending a little more on these pieces can go a long way. If you do opt for the less expensive buys, go the extra mile to have them reinforced and shined up at your cobbler.
- Keep your workwear work-appropriate. However excited you may be to test-drive your thigh-high boots, sheer blouse, or miniskirt, your office is not the place. Even if you work in a creative space, there's a fine line when it comes to dress code, but however fine it may be, it shouldn't be crossed. The Solution: There's nothing worse than being that girl with the too-sexy office wardrobe, so save it for the weekend and keep it professional during office hours. In general, stick to the classics and mix it up with colour and print to put your spin on pencil skirt, trouser, and button-down combos. Avoid overly flashy fabrics with sparkles and sequins, sheer tops and skirts, and short hemlines. As for footwear, you'll want to leave those sky-high platforms or peep-toes at home and stick to more traditional pumps, lower stacked heels, and flats for your 9-to-5. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want, so unless you want to be working at your favourite bar, leave your Saturday night specials at home.
- Clunky outwear with your sleek eveningwear. The quickest way to cheapen your elegant cocktail dresses and eventwear is with not-so-elegant outerwear, be it an oversize fleece, puffer jacket, or really casual coat. Your cocktail dress deserves a topper that's just as chic as it is. The Solution: Invest in a coat that does double-duty. If you can't spring for a dressy evening coat, you can buy a sleek neutral coat in a go-with-everything black and a chic wool finish that won't look odd when you wear it over your cocktail wear. Also, keep in mind that stores like H&M and even great op-shops and vintage stores are excellent places to find a dressier overcoat that you can rely on from time to time for special events. In any case, cheaper accessories like a faux fur collar or a sparkly brooch can be great add-ons to a more basic coat to help dress it up for an evening out.
- Visible panty lines. There's nothing worse than a great look ruined by visible underwear lines. The effect is cheap and a little sloppy, and no matter how great the outfit, those lines are hard to ignore. The Solution: There are a plethora of underwear options that could answer just about any outfit conundrum. Even with white pants or a super body-conscious knit, a smooth, seamless pair of Spanx or a slip can do the trick. Take our word for it, these items are worth the investment.
- Accessory overload. Coco Chanel was right — it's always a good idea to look in the mirror and remove one thing before you leave the house. Often, we can get carried away with our accessory options, but there's some truth to the motto less is more. Overly sparkly, over-accessorised looks (we're talking matching earrings, necklace, bracelet, and rings) can detract from your look, rather than enhance it. The Solution: Really do take Coco Chanel's wise words to heart. Take a good look at yourself in the mirror, and if you feel like it's a little much, you're probably right. Especially where the office is concerned (see fashion blunder No. 5), it's best to err on the side of caution and ditch those chandelier earrings or that statement necklace. A good rule of thumb: opt for one real standout piece, and keep the rest low key.
- Baggy pants and boots. When it comes to knee-high boots and pants, the tucked-in look only works when your pants are slim and tight around the calf. Ever see a pair of baggy jeans or (gasp!) sweatpants tucked into knee-high boots? It's not quite the chic, equestrian-inspired style you imagine it would be. The Solution: As far as knee-high or even thigh-high boot styles go, these boots should only be worn with skinny denim that fits closely to the body, from the hips down. If your pants are snug on bottom but looser on top, you'll create that not-so-flattering genie-pant effect, while if they're baggy around the calf, they'll just look sloppy. You want a lean leg that's easy to tuck into your boot and fits with the streamlined look. To keep your pant leg secure, also opt for knee-high socks, then slip your boots on over them.
Source: 20th Century Fox