Sometimes you have a day when everything just works against you, and on those days you really need to know how to dress quickly in the morning. Which is something easier said than done without a game plan in your back pocket. You know those days. Your alarm clock decided to snooze itself, your bangs are staging a coup and going completely against you, and it seems like today is the day that you're forced to do laundry, seeing how only that one college Quidditch Team shirt is the only thing not in your hamper. Dear god, who did you piss off to deserve this? You run a hand through your hair as you blow out a breath you didn't realize you were holding. The way I see it, you have two options: 1. Crawl back into bed and put the covers over your head because, contrary to popular belief, that really does solve everything, or 2. Look this crappy Monday square in the eye and tell it you're not finished yet.
Roll up those pajama sleeves and don't admit defeat. Sure you have 10 minutes to get ready and fly out the door, and yes, it might be a little tricky to put together an outfit that doesn't look like you were in Code Red on the stress meter, but it can be done. Especially if you have a few tried and true formulas for simple outfits that still pack a lot of style. Below are seven equations to pull out on a day just like this one, guaranteeing you a small victory against those rough-start mornings.
Equation #1: Sleeveless Dress + Collared Shirt + Statement Scarf
While it might seem like a yoga-pants-and-white-Hanes-tee combo is the easiest look you can slap together on the fly, there's actually another one equally as simple. And it revolves around a dress. Dresses are the non-shlubby equivalents of your Lululemons, and if you have a few basic ones in your closet you can really build them up in a way that's super chic and super simple. For example, try picking out a sleeveless/pinafore style and then layer a collared shirt underneath, giving it sleeves. Cinch it at the waist with a belt if you want a more defined silhouette, and then pop either a big blanket scarf on top, or a brightly patterned summer scarf if it's warm outside. The trick here is to let the scarf do all the work, detracting attention away from the fact that this lovely look consists of only three easy steps.
Equation #2: Jumpsuit + Collared Shirt + Knit Cardigan
Another piece that will save you in a pinch is the jumpsuit. If you don't own one of these yet I suggest you rustle up a pair next time you go shopping — they can be worn in a wide variety of ways. If you want a quick but polished look, try grabbing a pair that's in a neutral shade and let that be the foundation of your look. Pop a collared shirt underneath to give it some sophistication, and then shrug on a knitted cardigan to give the outfit some meat. If it's too warm to go that route, a short trench or thin long cardigan would work just as well. The idea of the knit is to add some interesting proportions to the look, disguising the fact that you literally threw this on while simultaneously looking for your keys.
Equation #3: Full Skirt + Collared Shirt + Patterned Cardigan
Want a look with a lot of wow factor that can be achieved in three steps or less? Easy: Reach for your full skirts. Whether it's an A-line piece or a full-on tutu, you won't need to add much else to your outfit when you have a statement piece pulling most of the weight. Pair it with a simple white collared shirt to keep the look from being too overwhelming, and then pop on a cardigan to add some sweetness to the look.
Equation #4: Maxi Dress + Belt + Blazer + Crossbody Bag
Okay, you have five minutes to put on a dress, grab your bagel from the toaster, and run a block down to the train station. This can be done, let's do it! I'll pop in the bagel and you take one of your maxi column dresses and zip it up while you look for your shoes. Pop on a blazer to give the summery dress some refinement, and cinch it with a classic, well tailored belt to gear the look more towards the elegant side. Grab a crossbody bag so you can add some interest at the front of the outfit and, taking a moment to remember your train pass, run out that door!
Equation #5: Midi Skirt + Collared Shirt + Trench + Crossbody bag
One foolproof way of dressing on the fly is to go for all classic pieces. Reach for your polka dot midis, for your white collared shirts, and your loafers and trenches. When you throw them all together it makes for a chic and elegantly subdued look.
Equation #6: Maxi Dress + Long Cardigan + Statement Belt
Have a favorite floral dress? Wearing a trusty piece will help smooth your frayed nerves of running around the house like a madwoman, and to give it a little more oomph try layering it. Pair it with a long cardigan to give it some interesting proportions that will make the outfit appear fuller, and then cinch it with a statement belt to give it an intriguing accent.
Equation #7: Jumpsuit + Cardigan + Scarf
As you're probably noticing by now, the secret to these formulas is to choose three to four simple pieces in your wardrobe and then pair them together. Don't mess with your more interesting, show-stopping pieces (looking at you, patterned pencil skirt) because there's more room for error. Instead, grab dresses or skirts in neutral palettes, and spice them up with cardigans and accessories. In this look, I snapped up my navy jumpsuit again, and this time gave it some personality by pairing it with a white striped cardigan and a rose printed summer scarf. The clashing prints perk up the look and make it seem like I spent some time mulling over how to dress it up, when in reality I threw it together in seconds and was out the door.
Images: Fotolia; Author's Own/Messages on a Napkin