How To Pick A Perfect Outfit On The First Try

by Naomi Nishihara

Unless you wear jeans and a T-shirt every day, getting dressed can take a lot of time. A shirt might not look good with a certain pair of pants for a number of reasons. Sometimes, the colors just don't appear to look right together. Or maybe the styles just clash. Learning how to pick a perfect outfit on the first try, especially when you're crunched for time, is almost an art. It can take several rounds of trial-and-error before finding an outfit without any problems. This can be fun when you have the time. But when does that ever happen?

Most days, we’re waking up with just enough time to put on pants and a T-shirt before rushing to class or work. Any extra time should probably be delegated to coffee, breakfast, and cleaning yourself up. Forget about scrutinizing how your shoes look with those pants, or whether dark blue jeans should really be paired with a dark top. If only there were a way to get your outfit right on the first try…

Below are four simple rules that I live by when sifting through my closet in the morning. Follow them and I'm betting that the first outfit you try on will (probably) be the one you walk outside in. To be clear, following these rules will require some thought and maybe some prep work.

Pick One Interesting Thing

Cooperative Scallop-Edge A-Line Skirt, $49, Urban Outfitters

Whether it’s patterned pants or a bright yellow shirt, if you’re wearing something interesting or eye-catching, you want people to pay attention to it. And more importantly, you don’t want to overwhelm everyone who looks at you.

The easiest way to do this is to keep everything else neutral. For example, if your wearing a red shirt, don’t wear yellow pants, as they’re both bright colors. Instead, wear black or gray pants. Even if you’re wearing a single item, like a brightly colored dress, you’ll want to keep your accessories neutral.

Make Sure There's Variety To Your Outfit

Layered Chiffon Sweater, $54.99, Torrid

Generally, all black is pretty classy, but if you’re wearing too much of it, or any color for that matter, it can be a bit much. Try to make sure each outfit has two or three colors. And of course, remember the first rule.

Find Combinations That Work For You Ahead Of Time

Fashioably Elate Top in Goldenrod, $44.99, Modcloth | Sail into the Future Pants in Black, $39.99, Modcloth | Fame to Please Bootie, $54.99, Modcloth

Sometimes you know you want to wear your mid-length brown skirt, but when you start to get dressed, you don’t know what to wear it with. Are combat boots too much? Are flip-flops too casual? You can avoid having these dilemmas by finding a few outfit formulas. For example:

  • Tank top + jeans + sweater + boots
  • Dress + sandals
  • Long-sleeved top + mid-length skirt + flats

Once your find the combinations you like, it’s a simple matter to switch out items and change the colors, without changing the formula.

Think About Your Shoes And Pants In Pairs

Ankle Stretch Skinny Pants, $48, Nordstrom

This one may take a bit of prep work. But once you know which shoes work with which pants, you’ll never really have to think about it again. For example, if you have a pair of dark brown pants, pairing them with black boots may seem like a good idea, since they’re both neutral colors. But once you put them on, you’ll see that the colors clash, and you’re better off with brown boots, or nude flats. The same thing can happen with shoe style. You might have the perfect pair of boots color-wise, but upon trying them on, you could find out that they make your pants bunch up. If you’ve got a pair of pants in mind, then knowing which shoes work will help you build the rest of your outfit successfully, and will save you time.

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Image: Courtesy of Brands