Thursday, October 11, 2012
• 3:49 AM •

8 Tips on How to Look Polished

Mango tweed jacket

You don’t need a lot of disposable income to look polished, sophisticated, or “expensive”. Sure, there are some classic pieces that you can invest in to use season after season, but for the most part we all need to learn how to integrate inexpensive items of clothing into an outfit without looking cheap. Styling is everything!

I would say that this is a continuation of the Snob Affair Styling Laws from the How to be a S.N.O.B post. It might help to read that too since I do have some references from that guide. Here’s the short PDF version, available in the Downloads Section:

Here’s a list of Do’s and Dont’s in order to look like a million bucks without spending so much. The key is to look like you own quality items. Keep it clean and simple. The “Less is More” concept is rather important if you want to look polished and sophisticated (but not boring!).

Open knit striped sweater mango


One thing you should always keep in mind is that the quality of your outfit should speak for itself. Basically, you shouldn’t rely on brand labels and logos to be plastered everywhere to prove a point.

  • Do not OVERBRAND.
    I mean for the most part, designer clothing are of good quality, but if your outfit has too many brand logos/monogram, it becomes tacky. First of all, having various designer-monogrammed accessories or clothing all mixed in together doesn’t necessarily mean it complements each other or matches. Second, it just looks like you’re trying too hard. Your look should look effortless, like being stylish is your second nature.
    Tip: Stick to a designer or two and limit yourself with displaying monogram/brand logos.
  • Have structure in your outfit.
    Structure in clothing/accessories is another indication of quality. The structure arises from quality textiles that are strong, durable, and are carefully-dyed (so that the original color lasts after being washed numerous times).
    Tip: A simple blazer can help give structure in your outfit’s silhouette. Also, if you wear fitted clothes (not skin-tight), it can achieve the look of structure, because then, your body frame becomes the “structure”. From the Snob Affair Styling laws, we learned the importance of balance. So even if you do have a bulky sweater, you can pair it with cool leggings or structured skinny pants/jeans.
Asymmetric Blazer by mango
Tulle turtle neck sweater


  • Be cautious of wearing black on black.
    When you pair (fully) black pieces of clothing together side by side. It’s sometimes obvious that the black dye varies a lot. Some blacks are richer than others and so if you pair them all together, the black pieces that seem lighter than others, cheapen your look because it looks washed-out and old (even if it isn’t).
    Tip: Experiment mixing different black textures/textiles if you’re wearing all black. Polyester and cotton are very common, so once you pair that with a fabric that looks and feels different (Ex: velvet, silk, lace, sheer fabric), it enriches your look while still maintaining an all-black dress code. If you don’t necessarily have to wear all black, another tip is to use “separator” pieces of clothing. Say your cardigan and pants are two tones of black, wear a non-black top underneath your black cardigan to separate the two black items of clothing. This way, it’s less obvious that they aren’t the same tone of black.
Black Asymmetric Lurex Top
The outfit on the left is a black asymmetric lurex top from Mango paired with a black velvet skirt.
  • Be cautious of bulky embellishments.
    Avoid massive blingy rhinestone embellishments, which can sometimes be sewn at the center of the outfit, like in the purple dress below. Obviously, the embellishment is not meant to fool people into thinking it’s real diamonds and gemstones, but the problem with fake rhinestone embellishments is that the stones can easily look too plastic or the metal parts supporting the embellishments are tarnishing. This also applies to tarnishing and low-quality statement jewellery, handbags or belts with showy embellished buckles.
    Tip: Try to have some embellishments that are more spread out across the clothing/dress. If you want sparkly embellishments in your dress or top, check if the item is of good quality by testing to see if the embellishments are  well-intact or well-sewn onto the garment. Otherwise, find other types of embellishments like studs, lace, metallic fabric accents, and beading, which are usually more intact. Be very careful with sequins and crystal-like “stones”, because even after washing the item, water/dried-up water ruins the shine of embellishments and ages the look altogether rather quickly.

embellished dress
Avoid one densely-bulky embellishment which looks like a brooch. It ages you!

Sheer Embellished dress by mango
Long Sheer Embellished Dress by Mango.

  • Be cautious of obvious stitching on the trimming of clothes and accessories.
    What I mean by obvious stitching is for example, you have an all black handbag but the stitching is white or a pale color that really contrasts with the black fabric of the bag. I would say this occurs most with accessories like belts, handbags, shoes, etc… It’s not that it’s hideous, it just “casualizes” your outfit when you’re making a bold or sharp statement.

    Tip: Check for stitching that is more or less the same color as the primary color of the item in question.

Roots handbag
Roots Longbeach Tote: Obvious Stitching.

DKNY Runway Couture Biker Shopper bag

DKNY Runway Couture Biker Shopper bag: no obvious stitching, structured handbag. Love it!

  • Be cautious of black leather or leather-like handbags.
    Black leather or synthetic leather tend to look aged and worn out pretty quickly. Handbags are not only used for practical reasons. It is part of the accessory family, and accessories are used to give your outfit a nice accent and complete the whole look. So having a bag that looks worn out does exactly the opposite.
    Tip: Avoid slouchy or ruched-leather handbags or bags with no form, shape or structure. Structure in terms of the ability to literally stand on its own or have a rather rectangular form or base. Go for thicker and smoother leathers or leathers that have an evident pattern (crocodile pattern leather). Leather that has been treated to be more tougher or glossy (patent leather) is also another option. You can also opt for other textiles like canvas/fabric!
    Other tips when choosing handbags is to choose bags with round handles. Also, the longer the handles, the more casual it becomes, but the determining factor is the design and structure of the actual bag (ex: Louis Vuitton totes have a nice form!)

Ugly Black Patent Croc Style Handbag
Ruched leather handbag. Too many unnecessary buckle embellishments.

Michael Kors Gia Crocodile Structured handbag (and also rectangular). Clean cut.
  • Be cautious of picking the right jean wash.
    To look polished, wear simple clean cut jeans. In terms of color, do avoid the super-faded washed out jeans. Some fading is forgivable but when the jeans are bleached so much to the point that it looks like someone splattered white paint on your jeans, you should step away. In terms of design, avoid ripped jeans or jeans with back pockets covered with over-the-top embellishments (glitter or too much obvious stitching), a lot of tweens and teenagers wear these type of jeans for their loud designs.
    Tip: The more dressier jeans are for the most part, solid colors with darker washes, like dark blue/navy or black. These can be dressed up or down but still give off a classy look. If you like jeans that are of paler tones, you can achieve classy looks if the top portion of your outfit is all white or light-colored.

True Religion Jeans
True Religion Jeans. Say no to these washes.

Jessica Simpson Forever Skinny Jeans
Jessica Simpson Forever Skinny Jeans. Classy and sassy.
Black Jeans by Mango
Black stud jeans by Mango are awesome! It’s a good amount of embelllishments!


  • Avoid side and elastic/adjustable ruching (especially on cotton spandex!)
    Ruching is “A strip of fabric or ribbon is gathered in a repeat pattern”. Ruching can add some “drape-like” ripples to feminize or romanticize clothing, but it does the exact opposite when you have side, elastic, or adjustable ruching. You would think that ruching can help conceal uncomfortable areas, but it can easily look unflattering and cheap. Think like when you wear a skirt or dress a size too small, the fabric stretches from the sides and material bunch up and folds (like in the picture with Jordan Sparks).

Photo Credit: The Gloss

Ruched Party Dress
Unflattering Dress from Here Comes The Girls

elastic ruching3

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  1. Lelo

    I love your post my darling, very informative. Xxxxo

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  2. Kate

    Thanks I had such fun reading this.

    ← Reply

  3. 4 Reasons Why You Should Shop Designer Tops | Fashion Revenge

    […] on designer tops to instantly make you look polished and well put together during days when you don’t have the time to pick an outfit. Just throw these tops on, pair with a […]

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  4. Mel

    I need help. I’m small at the bottom but top heavy. It’s difficult finding ‘my look.’

    ← Reply

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