Options Please! 3 ways to put together an outfit blog graphic

Let’s put together an outfit (or 3!) What does it take to put together an outfit from a pile of clothes? That’s what we’re covering in this post. 

Options Please!

Options Please! is a series to help give you the tools you need to implement your seamless signature personal style. It’s for everyone who has ever asked: is a capsule wardrobe my only option? Is there any way to make shopping easier? What do I do if “does this spark joy?” isn’t working for me? 

That is what this series is here to answer! This series is to help show you some of the options that are out there. Use what works leave what doesn’t, but my hope is that it will help you see the possibilities.

We’ll cover what your options are for closet clean out filters, building your personalized closet system, care and maintenance of your favorite pieces of clothing, shopping systems, where you send clothes you’ve cleaned out, and so much more.

Today we’re covering putting together an outfit (or 3!)! 

But first, what turns a pile of clothes into an outfit? 

Exactly what turns a pile of clothes from “just wearing clothes” into an assembled outfit is a little bit subjective. It generally comes down to making what you’re wearing look intentional. It is often one or two steps more than “just the basics” plus sometimes accessories. OR the basics done perfectly.

Here are 3 generalized ways to put together an outfit.

3 ways to put together an outfit

These are NOT the only ways to put an outfit together, but I hope they help spark some ideas all the same. 

Building Outfits via The Rule of 3

The “rule” of 3 is less of a rule and more of a starting point. It works kind of like a very simplified outfit points system and boils down to: have three primary items of clothing. 

For example, by this system:

T-shirt + pants = probably not an outfit
T-shirt + pants + sweater = probably an outfit

Blouse + skirt = probably not an outfit
Blouse + shirt + blazer = probably an outfit

Simply a dress = probably not an outfit (though it kind of depends)
Dress + sweater = potentially an outfit
Dress + sweater + statement shoe = probably an outfit

Sweatshirt + sweatpants = probably not an outfit
Sweatshirt + matching sweatpants + statement shoe = possibly an outfit 

If you try this method, play around with what feels right to you. Some people don’t think of jewelry, or a winter coat, or a bag, etc as one of their three outfit pieces, but others do.

Putting an outfit together via Outfit Recipes (your recipes or someone else’s)

An outfit recipe is a wonderful place to start when turning piles of clothes into an outfit. With an outfit recipe (yours or someone else’s), you begin by matching the items in your pile to the ingredients in your recipe, and finish it off by putting your own spin on things

For example: 

An example from the Bodycon Outfit Recipes ebook: 

Simple Bodycon Dress + Hip Length Jacket + Balancing Shoe

Dress it up, or dress it down. Over the top, or understated. This is a staple bodycon dress outfit recipe.

Find a simple bodycon dress you feel good in, in a color you love. Grab a hip-length jacket – high hip, low hip, mid hip, doesn’t matter. Then add a shoe that feels in balance with the rest of your outfit – heels if that’s your thing, but this outfit also works with boots, sneakers, flats, sandals, wedges, etc.

The key here is feeling good, so choose colors, cuts, prints, and patterns that you love.

One of the examples from this post

Sneakers + Jeans + Graphic Tee or Blouse + Relaxed Blazer

This is a great recipe for getting out the door or onto a video call in a hurry. The blazer adds style, the jeans and tee shirt add casual, and together it all works to create a pulled together casual look.

Putting an outfit together via a Points Systems (YMMV)

Using a points system is an old school way of building an outfit and can range from fairly simple to extremely complex. But the basic idea is you get X number of points per element in your outfit or type of item of clothing. 

From there you total the number of points and follow some rules of thumb for keeping your outfit “appropriate”. 

For an example, Jill Wolcott recounts the points systems she was taught in 8th grade home ec here

The exact number of points per element and the total points to aim for depend on who you speak to, but the premise is the same – you’re looking to use these points as a sort of outfit checks and balance to create a balanced and complete outfit. 

This isn’t necessarily the fastest way to put an outfit together, but like mathematical problem sets it can be a useful tool for training your eye.

Hope that helps!

There you have it! Three methods to begin turning a pile of clothes into intentional outfits. (Remember there are plenty more options too.)