14 Ways to Always Dress Classy
Have you been looking to take your style to the next level? Maybe you’re wanting to add some polish to your work wardrobe or feel a little more put-together on your days off. Well, we’ve got some simple trips to elevate your style without breaking the bank.
Dressing classy isn’t about spending a lot of money. It’s about constructing a sophisticated and refined outfit. It’s about finding flattering, elegant clothes that make you look and feel wonderful. It’s about letting your confidence shine through your outfit. Let’s dive into our favorite 14 ways to dress classy and take your outfits to the next level.
P.S. As you read this guide, browse for ideas for high-end clothes and brands right here at Current Boutique! Shop by look and style here to get some ideas.
1. Use neutral colors as your foundation.
When you think of a classic, elegant outfit, you’re probably picturing a lot of neutral colors. That’s because neutrals are timeless, chic, and enduring. They’re always in fashion, throughout the years and no matter the season. What makes neutrals even better is that you can easily mix and match them. Whether creating a monochrome neutral outfit or using them as the basis for an outfit, there are endless combinations leveraging neutrals that will always look chic and polished.
Classic neutral colors include bright white…
And of course, black.
Style tip: Invest the majority of your fashion budget in neutral basics. You’ll likely get the most use out of these pieces, so you want them to be high-quality. Quality, cut, and finish are the key factors in a polished outfit.
2. Choose solid colors.
If you’re like me and you can’t subsist on neutrals alone, then fear not! Colors can be equally as elegant and classy when leveraged correctly. The right solid, classic colors can be the perfect foundation for your wardrobe. Daring reds, bold blues, and colors that make your eyes pop are classic options that will always stay in style.
For example, although purple is not what most people think of as “classic,” I absolutely adore the way I look and feel in magenta. So, I’m not afraid to incorporate it into my outfits because, to me, purple and pink are my own neutrals!
This outfit is entirely purple and yet the tailored pants and high neckline of the sweater paired with upscale black accessories make it stunningly stylish.
And yet another chic purple outfit, this time with lighter accessories like nude shoes and a white handbag. Note the monochrome style high waist, high neckline, trench coat, and solid colors.
I never think orange when I think of sophisticated, but this gorgeous satin blouse paired with tailored trousers and a cinched high waist are out to prove me wrong.
Even though these pieces don’t seem to go together at first glance, the outfit hits other elements of sophistication like solid colors, structured clothes, collars, cinched waist, and polished jewelry.
3. Wear classic patterns.
Patterns can be hard to style for even the most advanced fashionistas. That’s because a lot of patterns are too trendy, quickly coming in and out of fashion. And trendy pieces are naturally not as timeless and sophisticated as classic ones.
That’s not to say there aren’t timeless patterns. Any patterns in neutral colors often withstand the test of time, such as white and black stripes…
Black and white houndstooth…
And beige and ivory plaid…
Original animal prints also rarely go out of style because they are naturally found in neutral colors, like black and white zebra stripes or the black, camel, beige, and white in leopard print…
Learn how to wear timeless animal prints for every season here.
And, for spring and summer, you can never go wrong with a fresh floral in a flowing silhouette…
(P.S. We’re not saying you can’t wear trending pieces and look classy – it just takes a little extra effort and care to make it work! Read this article about how fashion trends are cyclical and how you can make trends work for your capsule wardrobe!)
4. Try out a monochrome look.
Chic monochrome outfits never go out of style, and even better, they don’t require a lot of effort to create an effortlessly classy look. In fact, once you have a solid wardrobe with some key neutrals and solid colors in mind, creating a classic monochrome look will be the simplest way for you to put together a sophisticated outfit.
A monochrome outfit means you’re wearing only one color, but each piece might be a different tone or texture in the same color family. Make sure you’re matching the shade as well as the tone. For example, some browns have a warm, reddish undertone, while others have a cool, grayish tone. Pairing a reddish-brown with a beige-brown will look like you’re styling two different colors, even though they are both technically “brown.”
You will never go wrong with an elegant all-white or white and ivory outfit…
Sophisticated, NYC-ready all-black look…
Easy and classic hues of beige or brown…
Or even a casual-chic gray on gray, with a touch of brown or yellow accessories.
And don’t be afraid to add some color, like varying shades of dusty rose…
Or a bold and daring red-on-red ensemble.
Pro-tip: Use pantsuits or jumpsuits to your advantage. With matching shoes and accessories, you have an effortless monochrome ensemble that takes just seconds to throw together.
5. Don’t wear more than three colors.
A classic fashion “rule” is to not wear more than three colors per outfit. Too many colors can be distracting and messy, while three beautifully-paired colors (particularly neutrals) appear polished and purposeful. This can apply to three neutral colors in a monochrome outfit, like beige, ivory, and nude…
Two neutrals and denim, like this classic black blouse, straight-leg jeans, and camel trench…
Or two neutrals and a statement color, like this classic white, black, and red ensemble.
Or any three colors that make you happy!
6. Mix and match textures.
It was a game-changer for me when I realized that texture really is everything to an outfit. Silk feels more elegant than cotton, for example, and linen feels summery while velvet is winter chic. You want to choose more luxurious fabrics when you can, but it’s more than just that. Cotton can be just as chic as silk in the right outfit. Rather, it’s more about pairing different textures and fabrics to add more contrast and vibrancy to an outfit.
Denim works well to dress down other fabrics, like a white linen or satin button-down…
Corduroy can elevate cotton or wool…
Silk or satin always looks classic and refined, like a satin skirt paired with a plain white tee…
Or like a satin blouse with leather pants!
A chunky knit can dress down a satin skirt (or a satin skirt can dress up a chunky knit)…
And leather can be either edgy and sexy or elegant and refined (or both!)…
Think about when and where you’d typically wear a texture and then add a different material alongside it to subvert those expectations. You’ll end up with unique, magical outfits that will make you look striking!
This works particularly well when used to add intrigue to monochrome outfits. Following the above guidelines of one to three colors per outfit, particularly neutrals, will make playing around with textures easier and more successful.
7. Wear a high neck and high waist.
Although the right V-neck can be stunningly elegant, a high neckline is an easy go-to for a refined look, no matter the occasion. Mock necks, turtlenecks, collars, basic crew necks, or high V necks are timeless necklines that will become staples in your closet. Most women feel comfortable in higher necklines once they get used to it because you’re not worried about a fashion faux pax or pulling at your shirt or dress all night.
Learn more about necklines with our guide: How to Choose the Most Flattering Neckline for You
Turtlenecks are great for winter and can work standalone or as a bottom layer under tees, camis, or trench coats.
And you can’t go wrong with a basic crew neck that looks good on everyone.
Even a bow tied around the neck can be a flirty, feminine touch!
But don’t neglect the V neck or other necklines if you meet other criteria that make your outfit feel polished!
The same is true of a higher waist! High-rise pants and skirts are the most flattering rise for most women because they cinch the waist, flatten the tummy, accentuate curves, and elongate the legs. High-waisted pants and skirts create a gorgeous silhouette that you can easily dress up or down. Plus, high-waisted pants help to meet the Rule of Thirds, which we’ll talk about in the next section. Besides, you’ll never have to worry about muffin tops or exposed underwear.
High-waisted white denim is perfect for a relaxed yet elevated summer vibe.
High-rise tailored shorts paired with a white blouse will have you feeling put-together and classy on even the hottest summer days.
And it’s not just for pants. High-waist skirts and dresses cinched at the waist (like belt or wrap dresses) create a sophisticated and flattering silhouette.
Even high-rise bathing suits have a level of elegance to them!
These aren’t hard and fast rules, just a place to get started. Once you get used to dressing up, you can experiment with different necks and silhouettes that best suit your style and body type. The goal is simply to find clothes that fit your body type best by accentuating your best (and favorite) features.
8. Follow the rule of thirds.
The fashion rule of thirds says that the proportion of your outfit should be one-third to two-thirds. This means that of your total outfit, the top should be 1/3 and the bottom should be 2/3 (or vice versa). If your outfit is 1/2 to 1/2, you’re likely to look unbalanced and out of proportion. Some tips to easily achieve these proportions:
Tuck your shirt into your pants or tie it up to create a shorter one-third on top (and accentuate your waist).
Wear high-waisted shorts or pants with a crop top or tucked blouse. (Crop tops can be elegant depending on the neckline, material, and what you pair them with.)
Balance oversized and tight clothing. If one part of the outfit is voluminous, the rest should be fitted and streamlined. This is true for tight tops with wide-leg pants and flowy skirts or oversized blouses with tighter jeans and pencil skirts.
Buy dresses and jumpsuits that cinch your waist to create the rule of thirds proportion, rather than a straight silhouette that doesn’t hug your curves.
This general rule works for everyone, regardless of body type or outfit, so it’s a great first step if you’re learning the basics of fashion. Jo-Lynne Shane explains the rules of thirds well here.
9. Learn how to dress for your body type.
Every body is unique – and every body is beautiful! Learning how to dress in a way that accentuates yourcurves and features will be a gamechanger in how you look and feel in your clothes. The way an outfit fits on the mannequin or model is not the way it’s going to fit on you, so don’t feel discouraged if it takes some trial and error to figure out what looks best on you.
There are lots of different ways to figure out your body type, like the classic apple/pear/triangle/hourglass/etc. body type. But those are just the fundamentals because there is so much more to body type than just your torso. I love the Kibbe body types because it is more inclusive of different body styles based on yin and yang lines in the body. Learn more about the 13 kibbe body types here. And, you may not fit any mold, and that’s okay too! Play around with different necklines, rises, silhouettes, styles, colors, and patterns to see what looks most flattering on and feels most comfortable for your body type.
10. Get your clothes tailored.
If clothes off-the-rack don’t fit you quite right, get your clothes tailored. This will ensure your clothes flatter your unique shape. Tailored, well-fitting clothes can take a good outfit to a fantastic one.
Don’t care about sizes in the store; if you have to go up or down a size, that’s okay! Sizes are incredibly variable – what matters most is how you feel in the clothing. If it doesn’t make you feel great, don’t buy it.
Psst… You’ll love these 12 ultimate fashion tips to ensure you’re always stylish.
11. Wear more blazers.
We’re seeing blazers become more of an everyday piece, rather than just a work piece, because they are effortlessly elegant. They’re perfect as a light layer or jacket when you don’t know what to wear, and they instantly elevate even the most casual outfits, like a t-shirt and jeans.
Pair a blazer with a pencil skirt or trousers and heels for an easy go-to work look.
Or throw it over a fitted turtleneck to stay sophisticated during those cold winter months.
A blazer can be a gorgeous statement piece in a bold color (matched with your shoes or purse)…
Or an unstructured blazer can be the perfect way to stay refined even when on the beach!
And when in doubt, wear the blazer over your shoulders to feel like the elegant queen you are!
12. Get more classic and timeless basics in your wardrobe.
High-quality, classic basics make it easy to get dressed in the morning while always looking stylish. Some of my favorite classic pieces to include in your capsule wardrobe:
Silk blouses, which work for both night and day, work for any occasion, and can be a classy alternative for warmer months or layered with sweaters and blazers for colder ones…
A go-to white button-down that can be tucked in, tied, or free and flowy…
Tailored pants, which can be dressed up with a blouse and heels or dressed down with a tee and sneakers…
A structured, high-waisted pencil skirt is perfect for work or to upgrade a casual outfit…
The little black dress – need I say more?
A camel trench coat makes everything look elegant…
Heels, particularly black or nude pumps that can go with any outfit in your closet…
Check out more of my favorite wardrobe essentials here.
13. Grow your collection of accessories.
Accessories can make or break an outfit. It’s amazing how a gold necklace, the right pair of earrings, or a statement bag can completely transform even the most basic of outfits. Here are some key tips for making accessories work for your sophisticated style.
Choose a metal that you like most and that pairs best with your skin tone – gold, silver, or rose gold – and aim to buy all of your jewelry in that metal. This will make it significantly easier to mix and match your jewelry while maintaining a refined appearance.
Diamond studs, pearl necklaces, and tennis bracelets are classics for a reason. You can never go wrong adding these to a classy outfit.
Structured bags that can stand up on their own tend to have a longer lifespan than unstructured bags. That’s because they can keep their shape for a long time, and they also have a classic look that makes them more easily pairable with most items in your closet. Get a bag in your favorite neutral color, so you have a go-to accessory that instantly adds a layer of sophistication. Learn how to find the perfect investment bag here.
And get a pair of matching shoes! Matching your purse to your shoes is the simplest and most effective way to look composed.
Sunglasses elevate an outfit, particularly shades in classic styles and colors. It can be fun to play around with sunglass shapes but sticking to classic styles will give that more refined edge you’re looking for.
Grab yourself a statement, elegant watch that speaks to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Get a style of watch that matches your other jewelry and most of your basic pieces. Your timepiece will become your favorite elegant accessory. (And wearing a watch might make you on-time more often, according to fashion psychology.)
I love silk scarves. They’re a timelessly elegant accessory that is way too underutilized. They’re equally beautiful around the neck…
And in the hair!
If you’re trying to meet the Rule of Thirds, a black or brown belt with a gold buckle will help cinch the waist and add intrigue to a little black dress, a jumpsuit, or a more basic outfit.
When looking for a “new” outfit, throw together your favorite basics – like a white tee and denim jeans – and then play around with accessories. This is a great way to figure out how you can best utilize the accessories you own.
Don’t overdo it on jewelry or accessories. In most cases (though not all), less is more.
14. Invest in everyday items, not one-off pieces.
Most people make the mistake of spending most of their fashion budget on one-off pieces they’ll wear only once, like a cocktail dress for a friend’s wedding or a formal gala dress. While you want to look beautiful and elegant for these events, of course, they’re not where you’re spending most of your time. So, they shouldn’t be where you spend the most money, either. Instead, invest your fashion budget in pieces you wear every day. Filling your closet with timeless, classic, high-quality items will elevate your wardrobe to the point that everything you wear will feel luxurious.
That means forgetting fast fashion and instead focusing on high-end boutiques and designers. But don’t worry, we promised that you don’t need to have a million bucks to look like a million bucks! The best way to buy designer goods is on consignment! You’ll find deals on high-end items that are designed and manufactured with fit and finish in mind, so you can freshen your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Learn more about the benefits of buying on consignment here.
Start shopping high-end designer goods at a fraction of their original price with Current Boutique’s Just In section!
More tips to elevate your wardrobe and style:
- Get rid of clothes that are worn out, stained, or out of style. And if it doesn’t fit, sell your preloved clothesto Current Boutique! Curate a wardrobe of classic pieces that withstand the test of time, rather than wasting space with outdated and unflattering pieces you don’t want to wear. Learn how to do a sustainable closet audit here.
- Wear the right undergarments. Seamless, nude underwear and a well-fitting bra (with no bra straps showing) can make a huge difference in the overall polish of your outfit.
- If strapless bras don’t fit you well, purchase tops with thicker straps or higher necklines to hide your bra straps more easily.
- For warmer weather, only wear spaghetti straps when paired with other tailored pieces and the right minimalist jewelry.
- Create a personal uniform with dedicated colors, styles, and textures you like to wear. This kind of focused wardrobe will make it easier to shop and get dressed.
- Avoid large logos or fake designer pieces. One or two brand names can look classy, but too many can detract from the sophistication you’re going for.
- Focus on structured pieces, like blazers or coats with small shoulder plaids, tailored dresses, and structured pleated skirts.
- Spritz on some perfume. A signature scent, even if you change it each season, will add another layer of beauty and class to your aesthetic.
- The details matter. Steam or iron your clothes to remove wrinkles. Remove lint and pilling before leaving the house. Never wear clothes that are damaged, dirty, or stained.
- Learn how to care for your clothes here, so you can extend the life of your favorite pieces.
And the most important tip to dressing classy… don’t forget to put on your confidence! A confident woman is a classy woman!
White neutral: https://thegirlfrompanama.com/the-girl-panama-mejuri-jewelry-collection/
Ivory neutral: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/369998925645388789/
Beige neutral: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/116319602864817110/
Camel neutral: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/844493658526192/
Gray neutral: http://www.miamiamine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Stylish-holiday-outfits-fashion-blogger.jpg
Black neutral: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/825566175425686215/
Purple outfit: https://www.mujerde10.com/destacado-home/7-outfits-para-ir-al-trabajo-con-el-nuevo-color-del-2022/2021/12/
Purple outfit 2: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/2181499812089557/
Orange outfit: https://wheretoget.com/look/6803568
Green and brown outfit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/910219774658945596/
Black and white stripes: https://nicolehoover.com/2020/03/black-and-white-stripes-for-spring.html
Black and white houndstooth: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/953285446097550907/
Beige and ivory plaid: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/846747167451947553/
Animal prints: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/1013802566089098490/
Floral pattern: https://theivorylane.com/2017/07/05/summer-floral.html
Monochrome white: http://www.shoppingmycloset.com/monochrome-outfits-6-looks-you-can-create-winter-white-beige-classy-sophisticated-parisian-french/
Monochrome black: https://www.bedazelive.com/6-easy-monochrome-work-outfits/
Monochrome brown: https://www.purewow.com/fashion/flattering-monochrome-outfits
Monochrome gray: https://www.modedamour.com/blog/2019/11/14/all-grey
Monochrome dusty rose: https://daniellegervino.com
Monochrome red: https://stylefullness.com/2017/12/17/get-the-look-iva-daria-nova/
Three neutral colors: https://www.brooklynblonde.com/2020/10/a-tip-for-looking-expensive
Two neutrals and denim: https://fashionjackson.com/camel-coat-outfit/
Two neutrals and statement color: https://www.buzzfeed.com/kaylasuazo/dresses-that-are-perfect-for-fall?epik=dj0yJnU9cVkxYUp0RWU3c3Q5V3BQbTZ6eHYwN3hmZ1VFVmtJaC0mcD0wJm49NTFXcU1uRkVMRUV0enJDZGp1T0hOdyZ0PUFBQUFBR0pBelRZ
Three colors: https://www.ashlinakaposta.com/blog/2015/5/15/qfmwrjetvjz08wukj5zs9fhjlijfw6
Denim and linen: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/4574037112772625/
Corduroy and wool: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/15270086228251673/
Silk skirt: https://www.glamour.com/story/how-to-wear-satin-for-fall
Silk blouse: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/571394271485679451/
Knit and satin: https://stylereportmagazine.com/chunky-sweater-skirt-outfits-die/
Bow tie: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/356488126763812224/
V neck: https://www.gabimay.com.br/moda/reveja-seus-conceitos-os-looks-bege-sao-elegantes/
High rise white denim: https://halliedaily.com/how-to-wear-yellow-this-season-for-all-skin-tone/
High rise tailored shorts: https://glaminati.com/high-waisted-shorts/
Wrap dress: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/953285446095284291/
High waist bathing suit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/496662665166686504/
Rule of Thirds: https://jolynneshane.com/fashion-tips-understanding-the-rule-of-thirds.html
Tied Rule of Thirds: https://www.straightastyleblog.com/2018/08/when-to-tuck-not-tuck-your-shirt-plus-how-your-guide-to-front-tuck-full-tuck-tie/
Crop Top Rule of Thirds: https://stylepantry.com/2018/03/28/linen-crop-top-linen-high-waist-wide-legs/
Oversized and Tight Rule of Thirds: https://couturezilla.com/white-summer-outfit-jeans-ots-top/
Dress Rule of Thirds: https://www.ellaprettyblog.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know/
Blazer and skirt: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/633387438879090/
Blazer and turtleneck: https://juststylela.com/blogs/jacket-society-fashion-features-style-blog/parisian-chic-in-a-blazer-and-turtleneck/
Statement blazer: https://couturezilla.com/orange-blazer-levis-jeans-green-bag-tee/
Beach blazer: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/3166662228877346/
Blazer over shoulders: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/1003106516975323531/
Silk blouse: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/363595369926385971/
White button-down: https://www.girlsharestips.com/oversized-shirt-outfit/
Tailored pants: https://www.extrapetite.com/2020/01/camel-tan-trouser-pants-petite-workwear.html
Pencil skirt: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/109212359705346242/
Camel trench: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/914862416990821/
Gold jewelry: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/47639708549466801/
Pearl necklace: https://styledumonde.com/2020/07/milan-fall-2020-street-style-caroline-daur-gold-coat/
Structured bag: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/140806219747606/
Bag and shoes: https://fashionjackson.com/a-beautiful-white-dress-to-wear-this-spring/
Silk neck scarf: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/276056652151996899/
Silk hair scarf: https://www.etsy.com/listing/867630070/olive-green-silk-hair-scarfsilk