Deconstructing My "Go To" Outfit

Sifting through the closet, looking for interesting outfit ideas can be fun, but if you’re just looking for a quick way to look put together, without much effort, it’s nice to have a “go to” look. By this, I mean a favorite outfit combination that looks good, and can be mixed and matched a bunch of different ways.

This is me on a typical day, when I don’t feel like, or have the time, to put together anything more extravagant:

Cardigan: American Eagle cashmere cardigan, size XXS (from this review)
Top: Ann Taylor Floral Front Top, size PXXS (from this review)
Jeans: Paige Laurel Canyon, size 24 (hemmed & waist taken in) (here)
Shoes: Cole Haan Genevieve, size 5 (similar)

All this outfit consists of is:

Button up cardigan + cute tank/shirt + dark wash jeans + heels

Add some fun jewelry if you have the time.

Easy right? I generally wear a similar combination on most days, and always get told how “put together” I look. Ha! If only they knew how easy it was!

So, just for you, here is my secret outfit formula, deconstructed:

Here’s how it works…

1) Start with a fun top. It can be solid, printed, plain, or detailed. Doesn’t really matter, but I love ones with details around the neckline so they hang out over a cardigan. Something like this would be cute. Or this. Scoopneck looks best.

2) Put a 1/2 buttoned, fitted cardigan over it. I’m a 2 button girl, but it depends on the cardigan and your body type. I like cardigans because they form to the body and show off your shape. I only button them 1/2 way so they give a “X” shape across my torso. This gives the illusion of a tiny waist (right where the middle of the “X” occurs), and an hourglass shape. The cardigan can be a similar color, or complimenting color to your top. The sky’s the limit!

3) I always push my sleeves up to about 3/4 length, even with jackets. I like how the shorter sleeve length shows more skin, which I think gives me more presence. It also gives me an opportunity to wear pretty bracelets.

4) Dark denim is a must. Dark denim looks expensive, sophisticated, and is slimming, so your legs will look longer than they will in light colored denim. My favorites are bootcut.

5) Heels give the outfit a final polish. I wear kitten heels if I’m going to be walking a lot, or my higher heels if I can handle them. I can just never achieve the same polished look with flats.

So, there you have it. Now if you ever see me walking around you can go, “Geez, doesn’t she even try to get dressed in the morning?!” =P

Do you have a “go to” outfit combination?

39 Comments

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    PetiteAsianGirl

    Kelly – an enjoyable post! Don't you love that top? I agree that it's nearly impossible for us petites to achieve the same polished look with flats and it pains me that I have to wear them when commuting, but I don't like to put wear on nice heels when pushing and shoving on the train : )

    My go-to weekend outfit is black H&M kids leggings, an oversized top or sweater, and heels if we're driving lol. Very different from this polished look of yours, but it's easy for me. For work…simple pencil skirt, pretty blouse (frequently that same Ann Taylor petal top) and a basic jacket or cardigan.

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    curls-and-pearls

    LOVE this post!! Generally this is my uniform too, but I'm a boots kind of girl (which is why I love Fall) and for some reason and can walk around in heeled boots for a much longer time than I can with heeled shoes.

    I don't have many fun tops (one thing I've been looking all over to add to my wardrobe!) so I try to dress up the neck area with a great necklace. I like the tip about pushing up the sleeves! I tend to do this with blazers for practical reasons but not so much with cardigans.

    I agree with you and Jean about the flats – I just don't feel as put together when I'm in flats. But sometimes they are a neccessity.

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Jen

    This is my general uniform too, and for an added piece, since I'm curvier I tend to add a belt to this look to further emphasize that there is a small waist in there. As to the flats, I had ONE pair of leopard print pointy toe flats from Guess that were my go-to to provide the same polished look as heels. Unfortunately I stretched them when I was pregnant and had to toss them out. I haven't been able to find a comparable replacement since. :(

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    AubreyOhDang!

    I'm terrible with accessories, so these 4 pieces (fun top, cardi, dark denim & heels) are all I wear too. I'm still workin' on trying to add in more accessories to each outfit. Do you have a go-to accessory piece?

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Anonymous

    I love your blog!! =)

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    The Little Dust Princess

    I love your fun top! I don't have a typical go-to outfit, but I almost always end up in denim jeans and heels! I can't believe I never mentioned this before..but I love the background in your photos! The bench is so cute. It looks like you're on set in a photo studio. : )

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Elle

    Great post!

    I have a go-to outfit as well, usually just a dress with a jacket/cardi/blazer over it with heels.

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    PAG – Ah yes, I've seen your leggings come out quite a bit on your blog. I need to find an alternative to jeans, because I wear them pretty much every day…maybe it's a SoCal thing? We love our jeans over here.

    Curls-and-pearls – Necklaces are great too! My favorites right now are long necklaces that I can layer with a few different colors. They definitely help to dress up even the most basic of outfits.

    Jen – Aww. I hate when a beloved wardrobe piece is no longer wearable. I hope you find a good replacement!

    Aubrey – I love necklaces, so my go-to accessory of the moment is my long pearl necklace. It goes with everything, and I swear the long length helps to lengthen my torso, because everything looks better after I put it on. You can see a close up of it here:
    http://www.alterationsneeded.com/2010/08/petite-outfit-seersuckerd.html

    Anonymous – Thanks! =D

    Little Dust Princess – LOL. Thanks! Unfortunately that was a temporary place we were staying, and I don't have that background anymore. =(
    I made sure to take lots of photos there, so you'll see it a little longer, but I have to find a new photo spot now…oh no!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Eve

    Your blog is a life saver. At 5'2 and 100 pounds, I'm often limited to either shopping in the juniors' section of a store or altering everything myself. This becomes a problem when I find something I love, but can't alter it without ruining whatever it may be (this happens most often with coats).

    I'm 23, but often mistaken to be a teenager because of my size, and have noticed I'm not always taken seriously at first because of it. It's only after most people have spoken to me do they realize 'oh, she's not just a kid'. Very frustrating!

    I've always found it hard to look my age and seem more mature by appearance alone without feeling like I'm playing dress-up, but you've helped me see it definitely is possible!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    HM63

    Kelly, you read my mind! That is my cool weather uniform. I've become obsessed with cardigans and I'm always looking for the next addition. BTW, my ATL ruffle cardigan arrived from Ebay today and I love it! The dusty rose colour is gorgeous, it fits perfectly and it's different than anything else I have. Thanks again for the recommendation. :)
    During the hot summer months I'm almost always in a skirt….occassionaly tailored linen shorts.
    I love jewelry and mix in whatever works with the outfit of the day.

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Cee

    My go to is always layering too! Whether it be a cardigan over a fun top, or short sleeves over long sleeves. I find that the more layers the better, as they it doesn't make me look as skinny haha. Great post!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Lisa - respect the shoes

    Love your go-to outfit! It is easy but chic and classic!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    PetiteXXS

    That's pretty much my go-to outfit recently too… except I don't have too many fun tops so lots of times it's just a tank or cami underneath a cardigan with dark jeans and some kind of heels. I've been wanting to wear skirts and dresses more, but in a pinch I always grab this combo!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Dawnchild

    Thank you for a great post! I tried this combo for teaching today. It's easy, comfortable and put-together! I love that it's more comfortable than trousers, but you still look professional.

    My go-to outfit is a black wrap dress because I can just put it on and go. Will you do other "go-to" outfits and share other combos that work?

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Michelle

    Very nice!

    Last winter my go-to outfit was a skirt (preferably high-waisted) with a tucked-in top. I usually paired it with tights and black suede boots. Those poor things…they might only have one season left. :( I added matching accessories: belt, necklace, and/or bracelet.

    My goal this year is to add more variety. I wore so many skirts and dresses last year that on the occasion when I did wear pants, my students would notice and say something! Same with wearing flats…it was a big deal if I wore flats! Lol!

    And, being inspired by all the pretty cardigan/jacket outfits you put together, I am building up my collection. I actually want it to start getting cold!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    PetiteLittleGirl

    What an interesting post! That is pretty much my go to outfit too. I usually wear shell/cardi/blazer with skirts for work days and jeans for weekend. I love that look on you. So classy but chic and definitely well put together. I hardly wear flats. They make me look shorter

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Hanna

    This is really informative! I'm still reeling back from my college days where my staple items are comfy jeans paired with a hoodie. I really liked you mention the "X" shape to get a curvier shape, I have never thought about that before!!

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Rainy Days and Lattes

    I love your "go-to" outfit! :) Mine usually is a combination of cardigans and a "fun top" as you call it :D I love wearing skirts more than jeans so I guess it's a skirt, top, and a cardigan with flats! :)

  • Reply September 7, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Eve – So glad you're finding some useful information here! Petites have to work a little harder, but it's totally possible to dress mature.

    HM63 – Yay! So glad you got your ruffle cardi! It's fun isn't it? =)

    Dawnchild – It is a perfect teaching outfit. Pulled together, but still comfy (and warm! I'm always cold!). Hmm…good idea, I'll see if I can do some more "deconstructing" posts. =)

    Michelle – I'm impressed you teach in heels! Every teacher friend I have is a flats only girl.

    Hanna – Now that I realized my little "X" trick, I can't wear a cardigan unbuttoned because my waist disappears.

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    thegoodgirlgoneblog.com

    Great post!! I love your go to outfit- now I sort of want to figure out what mine is ;)

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    GRITS

    Nice! I will def steal the "x" cardigan look…My go-to outfit for the weekends is similiar b/ usually with a plain fitted tee, jeans, heels and an ornate necklace. The work week is a bit harder as I dont typically get to wear jeans, I hate wearing skirts to work and dress pants that fit are terribly difficult to find. Maybe I should put that on my to-do list…"find go-to work outfit." Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    Anonymous

    You look adorable! Works for all ages too I bet! I do love all the same things you do, love dark blue denim and slightly flared jeans or bootcut but not extreme. Love the little cardigans you can button only one or two buttons and the 3/4 length sleeves. I am a heel girl too since I am hovering under the 5'0" mark , either platform wedges or the stocky type heels in cute shoes or kitten heels, but with flats I feel too short, ha! enjoy your outfit! Great job!

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    J

    Very cute! I love the top. I know what you mean by 3/4 sleeves.. they just look better.

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    Michelle

    I try plan my outfits/shoes very carefully! Tomorrow I will be wearing my new heels from LOFT since the kids are doing a play…basically I am sitting most of the time, but it still gives me a chance to test them out.

    I did not do so well yesterday, though. I wore Tory Burch flat…the Reva style ones. Ugh…my feet hurt so bad mid-day. I even had the foot pads and socks that can't be seen. :( The toe area is so tight…perhaps I need a size up. I do not recommend those shoes for long days of work on your feet.

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    SugarNikita (formerly Jenn Chase)

    This is TOTALLY my style. I'm so sad Ann Taylor no longer carries XXSP/00P in stores. I love their clothes, but hate ordering online.

    I didn't even know American Eagle carried XXS. Hmmm, maybe I should check them out…

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    Michelle

    SugarNikita – American Eagle XXS and 00s fit so well! I re-discovered them this summer and got some cheap (but cute) summer dresses.

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    SugarNikita – Yup, American Eagle carries size XXS online. When they have cashmere cardigans, I snatch them up!

    Michelle – Oh no! I hate when shoes hurt! I always worry that the elastic heel of the Reva flats would cut into the back of the foot. Did this happen to you?

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    SugarNikita (formerly Jenn Chase)

    AN, Michelle: Does AE only carry XXS online? I really wish companies would stock them in their stores. There are so many tiny, petite women out there!

  • Reply September 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    SugarNikita – The website says size XXS is only available online. You might get lucky and find a return in store. I hate it when stores do that too. =P

  • Reply September 9, 2010

    Michelle

    The backs do not bother me, it is the toe area. The backs used to slip off, but I put padding in the toe are to keep my food from going forward. This caused my toe to be raised up slightly higher, so it hits the top where the hard metal is. Blah!

    Fortunately my new LOFT shoes worked out well today. No blisters!!

  • Reply September 10, 2010

    The Backseat Stylers

    Great post! I really like the floral top.

  • Reply September 10, 2010

    Callandra

    Great post – I am so in love with that blouse!! I don't have a go-to outfit, just a go-to formula. It consists of 1. Neutral 2. Print 3. Texture As long as I have those three elements in each outfit (accessories count) then I feel like my outfit is complete and visually interesting.

  • Reply September 14, 2010

    PearlsAndGreenTea

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Michelle

    The backs do not bother me, it is the toe area. The backs used to slip off, but I put padding in the toe are to keep my food from going forward. This caused my toe to be raised up slightly higher, so it hits the top where the hard metal is. Blah!

    Fortunately my new LOFT shoes worked out well today. No blisters!!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    SugarNikita (formerly Jenn Cha

    AN, Michelle: Does AE only carry XXS online? I really wish companies would stock them in their stores. There are so many tiny, petite women out there!

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    curls-and-pearls

    LOVE this post!! Generally this is my uniform too, but I'm a boots kind of girl (which is why I love Fall) and for some reason and can walk around in heeled boots for a much longer time than I can with heeled shoes.

    I don't have many fun tops (one thing I've been looking all over to add to my wardrobe!) so I try to dress up the neck area with a great necklace. I like the tip about pushing up the sleeves! I tend to do this with blazers for practical reasons but not so much with cardigans.

    I agree with you and Jean about the flats – I just don't feel as put together when I'm in flats. But sometimes they are a neccessity.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Dawnchild

    Thank you for a great post! I tried this combo for teaching today. It's easy, comfortable and put-together! I love that it's more comfortable than trousers, but you still look professional.

    My go-to outfit is a black wrap dress because I can just put it on and go. Will you do other "go-to" outfits and share other combos that work?

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Lisa - respect the shoes

    Love your go-to outfit! It is easy but chic and classic!

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    fly

    wow! u are really genius! I like your wonderful design!

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