If you feel like a hot mess, avoid these 5 fashion mistakes as you learn more about your personal style.
Have you ever had one of those crazy busy days where you walk by the mirror and look and realize, “Oh my goodness, I look like a hot mess today”? I think we’ve all had those days. When you’re learning about fashion and style that can be more common. Today I’m going to share with you five things not to do when you’re beginning to learn about fashion, style, and creating the wardrobe that you love.
You’ve decided that it’s time to figure out your personal style. You are ready to take the leap. You are ready to figure it out, and you are trying all of the things: trying to get it together, trying to make your clothes look nice, and trying to make your outfits look great.
You’re trying to look good, show up, and look put together right now. I’ve been at this a while and I’ve seen some funny mistakes and I’ve made some crazy mistakes. I’m going to share with you five things that you should definitely not do when you’re beginning to learn about style and integrate it into your life.
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Fashion Mistake #1: Buying Every Color in Your Season
The first thing I want to share with you is one of the mistakes that I made. When I first found out about color analysis I was all in. I was super gung-ho and I made mistake number one, and that is buying every single color in your season. I’m a clear winter and that means that I am cool and bright and medium to dark in value and that color fan is pretty big.
Most of them have between 30 and 60 colors available. I went on a rampage. I started buying every single color that I could find without any thought as to whether it was cohesive or went together. The thought of a smaller color palette was not interesting to me because I needed variety. My closet, even though the colors were all pretty great for me, was still a huge mess, a huge mishmash.
I had an uneven distribution of colors that didn’t always work very well together unless I wanted to wear outfits that were just really crazy bold colors every single day.
The first thing not to do is don’t buy every color in your season. When you find out about seasonal color analysis, the best thing you can do here is actually to create a color palette and to limit yourself. Start there and really be mindful and conscientious about the colors that you’re adding to your wardrobe and how you actually want it to look.
Fashion Mistake #2: Jumping on New Trends
The second thing that I don’t want you to do is jumping on every new trend. Let’s go back a year or two ago when the mom jeans and wide-leg jeans started to really come back into style. I remember seeing so many of my clients saying things like, you can pry my skinny jeans out of my dead hands! I didn’t really wear jeans at that point so it wasn’t something I really thought about.
I can honestly tell you that if I had still been wearing jeans, I hundred percent would not have gone for the mom jeans because I already know that those don’t suit me. Sometimes what happens is that we’re so caught up in what everyone else is doing, what society says is trending, what we’re seeing on Instagram, and the outfits we’re seeing on Pinterest.
We don’t know ourselves well enough to say no to some of these trends so we jump on them. We spend the money and buy these items of clothing that do not suit us at all. Then not only do we feel regret about how much money we spend, but we also start to feel bad about ourselves because those trends actually make us look less attractive. They make us feel frumpy. They don’t bring out our best qualities.
The next time you see one of these new trends and you just don’t feel it immediately, just say no. Don’t go buy those mom jeans.
Fashion Mistake #3: Done-for-You Outfits and Style Guides
The third mistake I see people making and the thing I do not want you to do is something that I did. It’s very much near and dear to my heart as far as mistakes go. The mistake is trying to copy or buy done-for-you outfits and style guides or copying outfits from Pinterest. This is the same thing about really just not knowing yourself.
Sometimes if you have been in a complete style rut and you have no idea what’s going on and you don’t have the time to invest in learning, you can experiment this way. But I really don’t recommend it. Especially doing the ones where you buy someone’s book or ebook or capsule wardrobe guide and it tells you how to create a full capsule wardrobe by buying specific pieces.
These kinds of things actually cause you to waste a ton of money. Think back to the infamous Chambre debacle of 2020. I bought one of these guides back in 2019 and one of the items on the list was a chambre button-up shirt. I’m sure if you’ve ever gone to Pinterest and you’ve Googled capsule wardrobes, you’ve seen one of these things because everyone seems to think it’s a wardrobe essential.
It’s a very classic kind of tailored denim-looking shirt. My husband says they look terrible, he hates them. But I digress. I bought my first one thinking I was just going to rock this look because it’s a wardrobe essential. It’s got to look good on everybody. So I bought the first one and I just wasn’t really feeling it.
I thought, oh, well maybe it’s the wrong color of chambray? Or maybe it’s the wrong cut or maybe it’s the wrong fabric. So I bought another one and it still was wrong! I tried something different. It still didn’t work for me. So I bought a third one and it still didn’t work. And the third one I bought was a really great product. I bought one that was the perfect color. The cut was really good.
It was even petite, so the arms weren’t too long for me. It had everything going for it that should have worked. And it made me feel like I was dressed to go to prison. It is just not a good look for me. Think about this, it took me three tries to finally get it through my stubborn head. This shirt wasn’t going to work for me.
This supposed wardrobe essential was not essential for me. It was a non-essential. It was a no-no, please don’t do that kind of shirt. I’m trying to save you the same waste of money, the same frustration issues that I have had when I talk about these types of guides, and warn you against them because this was only one item out of about 60 that were in the guide.
That was not the only mistake I’ve made. It was the worst one because I kept trying three different times. But there were a couple of other items that I tried at least twice before giving up and saying it was a no-go. So please stay away from these types of things. Learn yourself for real. Don’t copy other people’s style because it’s going to cause you wasted money and frustration.
Fashion Mistake #4: Shopping Without a List
The next one is one of my favorite things that I do not want you to do. Please don’t go shopping without a list. This is probably one of my top five pieces of advice overall to shop mindfully, essentially to shop from a list. I started doing this pretty early on. I actually made a spreadsheet of all the things that I wanted to buy, and it had the brand that I was considering and the price point so I could watch and see if things went on sale.
It even had the color. It was a very detailed spreadsheet, and I prioritized it by how often I thought I was going to wear the items so that I could see which ones were actually the biggest needs in my wardrobe. I’ve simplified this process for others. First, brain dump everything that you think you actually want into a list, and then you need to prioritize it by the things that you actually need the most.
Once you have your list prioritized, when you go shopping only focus on the top five things. I say the top five things because if you’re out somewhere, it gives you five things to kind of be looking for. But if you find number five, but not number one, you still have permission to buy it. Once you buy one, you mark it off your list and you bump everything else up a little bit.
This way you slowly build your wardrobe focused on the things that you actually need and want in that moment. You’re not just getting distracted by shiny object syndrome or some random shirt that happens to be your favorite color. It’s not on your list. You already have 10 shirts in that color. You really don’t need another one. Please don’t shop without a list.
Fashion Mistake #5: Asking Friends and Family to Help You
The last thing on my list today not to do when you’re exploring style, exploring fashion, learning who you are, and finding your authentic style persona is asking friends and family to help you. There are a couple of reasons here. Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone shopping with somebody and they told you everything looked great.
This is one end of the spectrum, the person who gives you positive feedback no matter how things actually look. You don’t want to go shopping with that person. You don’t want their feedback because it’s not truthful. On the other hand, there is the person you go shopping with and their style is completely opposite of yours.
They don’t like anything you try on and then you leave feeling defeated and almost like a weirdo, like something is wrong with you because your friend doesn’t like anything that you like. This is where the heart of this really comes into play. When we ask our friends and family for their advice and their input on the clothing that we wear, especially other females, we’re actually asking them for their input on their style.
That can be great.
I’d like to share a story with you that one of my clients told me. We had been working together for a little while and she was feeling really confident and she loved the colors that she was wearing. She went out one time and one of her friends said to her, “Why are you wearing that color? It’s such a drab, boring color.” It was the color olive, which is really beautiful on the right people.
It’s stunning on the right people but she felt really dejected by this. I told her in retrospect, it’s not about you. This is about your friend’s perception of that color. Maybe your friend doesn’t look good in olive and doesn’t think it’s a great color because it makes her look terrible. And she’s projecting that onto you.
This is why we don’t ask our female friends and family for this kind of help, because they’re going to project onto you their own style, thoughts, wants, needs, insecurities, frustrations, all of those things. So don’t ask them for advice.
One caveat here, if you are married, I am a fan of asking your husband what he thinks. Maybe not about colors because you can get the same thing happening with your husband. My husband happens to be a soft summer, which is almost exactly the opposite of my own season as a clear winter. He loves the color gray and the color gray makes me feel like I’m dying. So we have very opposite perspectives.
Of course, this being my career, my business, and my job, over time, I have shown him quite visually the difference here. If you have a husband, you can ask him what he thinks is attractive and feminine. I do want to warn you that you’re probably going to get his perceptions as well. But it also might give you some insight into things that you’ve never considered.
Then you could have some fun trying to bridge the gap between what he thinks is great and what you think is great. I’ve done this before where we’ve let the husbands pick out clothes for their wives for a week. And it’s always a really funny experiment to see what they pick and it gives you a little insight into what they think.
Final Thoughts on Fashion Mistakes
Back to our list: don’t let your female friends and family help you. Learning about style, finding your authentic personal style, bringing it into your clothing, into your wardrobe, and transforming it is not a quick process. It is a learning curve, just like many things that we do in life. You’re not going to get it right the first time, probably not the fifth time.
Even if you’ve been doing this for nearly a decade, you’re still going to make mistakes because I still make mistakes. But these are a few of the things that I have learned, really just to avoid them completely.
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These 5 fashion mistakes will derail you completely when it comes to finding your personal style and building your wardrobe.
Stacey is the owner and creator behind Radiantly Dressed. She is a certified image consultant and AICI member focusing on creating simplicity in wardrobes via color and style.