For years, I’ve struggled with my sense of fashion. Long before I had kids, my friends teased me that I dressed like a soccer mom. If “frumpy” was a section of a department store, you would surely find me in it.
It wasn’t until after I had my first child that I finally decided to stop dressing like a soccer mom. I imagined myself going to my son’s soccer games wearing the “soccer mom uniform” of a hooded sweatshirt, mom jeans, and clunky tennis shoes, and I cringed. I was also tired of dressing like a slob at work, around the house, and even when I went to the gym.
But how could I change? Even when I tried to go shopping and step out of my comfort zone, I had no idea what I was doing.
Eventually (and with a lot of help), I started to figure out my sense of style and what would (and wouldn’t) look good on me.
If you’re struggling with your sense of fashion, try these four tips. Let me know in the comments below how you were able to break out of your fashion (ahem, soccer mom) rut.
1. Learn about style basics
If you’re at a complete loss or just want to learn more about fashion and what you should and shouldn’t wear, read A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style by Tim Gunn and Kate Maloney. This book gives you a great foundation so that you know what clothes to add to your wardrobe. It’s a quick and humorous read (even for non-fashionistas).
I learned so much from this book, including how to stand (it’s not just a matter of throwing your shoulders back) so that your clothes actually look good on you.
2. Shop with fashionable friends
I tried shopping with a couple of my more fashionable friends (and even my mom and grandma, who have more style than me). The honest feedback (NO STRIPES and I need to buy more than just purple shirts) was valuable, but I still struggled. We spent hours sifting through racks of clothes, only to buy a few items. I didn’t want to take the time (or waste others’ time) to do that again in the future.
3. Find a stylist
I’ve heard that some department stores have personal shoppers or in-store stylists, but I’ve always been afraid to try it. It’s hard enough to find someone to watch the kids (or worse, drag them with me), but then to have to spend time trying things on in front of someone else?!?
I was so excited when I finally heard about Stitch Fix. Not only do I get to avoid the dreaded store dressing room, but Stitch Fix makes it simple to request (and return) “fixes,” or the clothes that your stylist sends you.
To use Stitch Fix, you’ll first sign in and create a style profile. You’ll fill out a survey about your height, weight, and sizes, and then you’ll also answer some questions about your style preferences. You can select whether you’d like to try a more “classic” or “romantic” style, or if you would prefer that your stylist mix it up a bit. They’ll show you some sample fixes, and you can say whether you like, love, or hate each selection.
You can change your style profile each time you log in. Best words of wisdom: be honest. I’ve gained ten pounds in the past year and didn’t want to admit that in my style profile. Surprise, surprise, none of the bottoms in my last order fit (or they did fit, but looked ridiculous). Also, if you have a ton of striped shirts and want to try something different, say that!
I usually go through my preferences every time I place an order and mark out anything that I don’t want (for example, I have a ton of jewelry, so I selected everything and then specifically said in my note that I didn’t want to receive jewelry). I’ve even given the stylist a list of items that I wanted to receive. In my last fix, I specifically asked for three short-sleeved tops, a pair of shorts, and a pair of non-skinny jeans.
The key to receiving the perfect fix (both this time and in the future) is honesty. Even after you receive your fix, you’ll be asked to review each item. If you loved a shirt, be specific about what was so great about it. Do you want to see more of that color in your next fix? Did the shirt drape perfectly over you, hiding your muffin top (yes, I’ve said that to my stylist)? Or did you return a pair of pants because the rise was too low or you just can’t stomach the thought of wearing skinny jeans?
Stitch Fix can be expensive. I’m used to buying clothes at a discount. However, I love using Stitch Fix to add some quality statement pieces of clothes to my wardrobe. I also use Stitch Fix when I need something for an upcoming event, like a dress to wear to my husband’s work event. You’ll pay a $20 styling fee when you first schedule your fix, but it will be credited toward any items that you keep in your fix. Also, if you keep all five items in your fix, you’ll receive a 25% discount.
The return process for Stitch Fix is also simple. If you choose to return any items from your fix, simply place them in the provided postage paid bag and drop them in the mail within three days. You’ll also want to “check out” online and give feedback for each item (both for the items you keep and the items you’re returning) to help your stylist learn your taste for future fixes.
4. Try new stores and brands
One of the easiest ways to try new brands and see what works for you is to find a discount boutique retailer. You’ll be able to choose from a ton of different high-quality retailers at rock bottom prices. Here are two of my favorites:
Rue La La
I signed up for Rue La La, an invitation-only boutique retailer (psst: here’s an invitation to Rue La La). I started buying name brand clothes (at a discount, of course, because who wants to pay full price for anything? Not this soccer mom!). Rue La La has many different brands that rotate through sales daily, and you can often find amazing clothes at huge discounts.
The clothes looked cute in the picture, but I quickly learned that it was important to actually read the sizing guide and the clothing description. Sometimes Rue La La will even give sizing options based on reader feedback, like “this shirt runs small, so order a size up based on reader feedback.”
The bad thing about Rue La La is that not every item is eligible for return. Make sure that you read each item’s description carefully because some clearance items are final sale only. That said, Rue La La has amazing customer service. I’ve called them when I received a glass jar that was damaged in shipping, and also when I accidentally ordered duplicate items. The customer service has always been so helpful.
Stitch Fix is a great way to try different styles, colors, and brands of clothes. After receiving a Splendid top and a pair of Kut From the Kloth jeans in a fix, I now know that those brands are high quality and fit me well. Since then, I’ve ordered a couple more Splendid tops and Kut From the Kloth jeans from Rue La La knowing that the clothes will fit and last a long time.
If you’re trying to become more fashionable, the last thing you want to do is wander around a store, aimlessly trying to sift through racks of clothes that may or may not work for you. I highly recommend trying Stitch Fix to learn what looks good on you and then apply those lessons to shop at discount retailers like Rue La La.