An illustration of a woman in professional attire

We might not be receiving quite the number of event invitations as we used to, but pandemic or not, there are still reasons to celebrate and get dressed up: weddings, religious ceremonies and dinner dates, just to name a few.

For women who favor classic, feminine fashion, dressing up for such occasions is a breeze. Throw on a dress, a pair of heels and head out the door. For those who tend to shy away from dresses or who gravitate toward less traditional looks, however, it can be a bit more challenging. In the case of the latter, how does one appear appropriate and chic while also remaining true to themselves? 

As someone who’s drawn to delicate staples like silk camisoles and slip dresses, I fall more into the first camp, but that doesn’t mean I want to look like a “girly-girl” while wearing these. Far from it. Instead, like most women, I want to look sophisticated, effortless and comfortable.

Here are a few fool-proof tips to look polished and put-together if “girly” isn’t your style: 

1. Swap the stilettos for chunkier shoes.  

The right shoe has the power to transform an entire outfit. A flowing floral maxi or satin mini dress paired with a chunkier block heel, or even combat boots and tights, is an unexpected combination that’s both fun and chic.

The right shoe has the power to transform an entire outfit.

2. Go with earth tones

Another great trick is to wear earth-tone dresses. Think about it; a pastel pink dress gives off a different vibe than an olive green one. Both can be just as polished and dressed up though.

3. Top it off with a blazer or bomber jacket

Even the girliest dress or skirt will look instantly cool with an oversized blazer or bomber jacket over it. It’s such a simple combo, but it has endless possibilities. 

Even the girliest dress or skirt will look instantly cool with an oversized blazer or bomber jacket over it.

4. Add an undershirt

Instead of adding a jacket over a dress, consider wearing a turtleneck or button-down underneath instead (depending on the cut of the dress). It’s a great option for colder weather and also tones down the entire look.

5. Incorporate menswear staples

Dressing up doesn’t have to mean dresses and skirts; a pair of tailored trousers or a structured suit can be just as elegant and formal depending on the materials and colors. 

The options are as endless as our personalities and preferences. In the end, the thing we must remember is that dressing up should never feel like “dress up.” It should feel authentic and true to ourselves. If that means satin pajama-inspired formal wear or a sequined skirt topped with a cashmere hoodie, then so be it.

How would you describe your style? What are some of your go-to fashion tips to make any outfit feel like “dress up”?

Image via Heidi Hundseth Hart, Darling Issue No. 19

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