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6 Outfit Strategies When You’re Running Late

You’re standing in front of your closet, you’re running late, and you have no idea what to wear! I’ve been in this situation more times than I care to recount, and over the years I’ve developed shortcuts for quickly finding something to wear. Today, I’m sharing six outfit strategies to use when you’re running late!

  • 1. Recreate Favorites from Another Season 1 of 6
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    This is one of my favorite tricks for creating outfits. Have a winter outfit you love? Turn it into a summer look. This is the same top, belt and shoes in both outfits. The pants on the left are thick cords, though, and paired with the blazer it's an outfit suited for a chilly fall day. Whereas the look on the left uses shorts in the same red color and ditches the blazer to create the same basic look that works for spring. 

     

    Your turn: Think back to some of your favorite outfits from fall/winter. Then recreate those same looks for spring/summer. Long-term, think about adding items to your shopping list that would make this trick work for you — such as black shorts if you are always wearing black jeans. Or if you love cognac boots, try cognac sandals.

  • 2. Pick Your Shoes First 2 of 6
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    Shoes are important because they have a huge impact on how you function throughout the day. That's why I often choose my shoes first, and create an outfit around them. Such as this photo — it was the weekend and I wanted to wear fun shoes. I pulled these leopard heels out and then created an outfit around them. First, finding jeans that fit well with the ankle strap, then adding a red peplum top, and finally the jacket.

     

    Your turn: When you're getting dressed in a pinch, narrow down your shoe selection first. Pull out the shoes that make the most sense for your day (sneakers, flats, heels, boots?) and this will help you narrow down your outfit options more quickly.

  • 3. Choose a Theme and Run with It 3 of 6
    Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 4.22.36 PM

    Shoes are a great starting point for an outfit, but sometimes I prefer a less scientific method for finding an outfit, like whatever I'm in the mood for that day. Sometimes I'm craving a specific color, print or style. In this photo, I knew I wanted to wear polka dots that day and the rest of the outfit fell quickly into place.

     

    Your turn: Go with your instincts when you're in a hurry and reach for what you're most drawn to that day. If, for example, you're in the mood to wear leopard, grab everything leopard you own and create something from there.

  • 4. Lay Things Out First 4 of 6
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    We've all seen gorgeous photos of outfits laid out on a flat surface. While trying things on is necessary to make sure an outfit works (fit is everything), laying things out can be a great place to start. Instead of wasting valuable seconds trying on everything in your closet, lay outfit ideas on the bed or bathroom counter first. Once you know the colors and patterns work together, try it on and check the fit.

     

    Your turn: Resist the urge to try everything on the next time you're running late. Utilize any flat surface or hold things up next to each other to run through tons of ideas and pairings in no time at all.

  • 5. Use Inspiration Photos 5 of 6
    Screen shot 2013-05-15 at 12.42.15 AM

    It's no surprise that using inspiration photos is a favorite trick of mine (it's the basic idea behind my blog). This idea has been made more popular by the rise of inspiration site Pinterest, but essentially I recommend collecting images of outfits that inspire you. Then, use them to create similar looks in your closet, such as the example I'm showing here (photo was snapped with my phone at J.Crew). It's just like using a recipe to cook with what's already in your pantry.  

     

    Your turn: Collect photos of outfits you love as you find them. Then pull them out to give you quick ideas when you're in a pinch. Long term, I recommend spending an afternoon to come up with tons of outfits at one time. Write them down now, and use them for later when you're rushed and feeling less creative.

  • 6. Repeat a Past Outfit 6 of 6
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    Last but certainly not least is repeating a past outfit. There is no shame in repeating an outfit exactly, or you can make minor changes like switching your shoes or your accessories. I would happily wear this casual outfit over and over again, with or without the jacket or hat, and with several different options for shoes.

     

    Your turn: When you're in a rush, turn to old favorites. Either the whole outfit, or pieces of an outfit. Use the same blazer/top/necklace combo, for example, with different bottoms. Or the same bottoms and shoes that you know work well together, with a new or different top.

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