When you absolutely need to look your best, you have to pay attention to the little things. It’s always the little things—not dramatic changes—that really make all the difference. No matter your body type, profession, personal taste, or preference, it is possible to look and feel good without having to change your entire style, much less who you are at your core. With that said, certain types of faux pas can be especially damaging. Avoid becoming a victim of these sneaky saboteurs by following these tips.
1. Leaving Bits of Lint and Animal Fur on Your Clothes
People notice details, and a single piece of lint can stand out, especially if it doesn’t match your clothing. Rather than color-coordinating your lint, we’d recommend getting rid of it entirely. Lint rollers are amazing, but if you don’t have one handy, some tape will do just fine. Better yet, a more eco-friendly option is this self-cleaning fur and lint remover brush. Remove lint and hair from your clothes with the brush, then put the brush back into the case to remove the hair. It eliminates paper waste, and it’s affordable enough that you can buy several: one for your home, one for your car, and one for your desk at work.
2. See-through Fabrics
To be clear: Thin, gauzy skirts can be a great addition to your wardrobe. Do yourself a favor, though, and make sure that they don’t go totally transparent when you end up backlit. Some fabrics will do their best to trick you. They look totally opaque in the dim light of morning. By the time you’re headed out for lunch, though, the light shines right through them, treating all of your coworkers to a glimpse of what’s underneath. If you’re totally in love with a thin skirt, be sure to wear leggings underneath. You want to preserve a little mystery. And if you’ve got a sheer shirt you really love, just wear a tank top underneath. These affordable Hanes tanks come in an array of colors, making them a comfy and versatile undershirt option for any see-through blouse you just can’t put back in the closet. Be sure to wash them carefully, though, as they are 100 percent cotton.
3. Wearing Clothes With Tiny Rips, Frays, and Other Minor Damage
These types of issues sneak up on you. You’ll wear the same jeans every day, and you won’t notice as they start to fray. Or you’ll ignore the missing button on your favorite shirt simply because you’ve worn it so many times. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and that includes clothes. While most rips, holes, or missing buttons can be easily repaired with a needle and thread (consider making a small investment in a sewing kit if you don’t have one already), they can also go from a minor flaw to a deal-breaker quickly. A small tear becomes a gaping hole fast! A tailor may be able to help you with the trickier hems and holes. Cute patches are another option for covering holes beyond your sewing capabilities. Eventually, however, clothes do just become too worn out to wear—and although it may be hard to let go, just think of the new items you can replace these with.
4. Not Breaking out the Iron
Ironing clothes takes a lot of time, and in busy schedules, that step often gets left out. Still, wrinkled clothes can throw off your entire image. Make sure you have a good iron and ironing board for when you need to make a good, smooth impression. It’s also a good idea to invest in some wrinkle-removing spray like the Downy Wrinkle Release Spray—which multi-tasks as a static remover and odor eliminator, too. It’s not exactly an ironing replacement, as tougher fabrics will still require some heat, but it’s perfect for last-minute touch-ups or travel. Just spray it on, shake it out, and go confidently in the direction of your wrinkle-free dreams.
5. Rolling up Your Sleeves Incorrectly
When the seasons change, you might find yourself rolling up your sleeves to stay cool. It’s actually quite a fashionable look, provided that you take the time to do a double-roll. That technique uses two simple folds, leaving your cuffs looking clean and precise. For a simple yet polished business-casual look, pair a white button-up shirt, cuffs nicely folded, with dark jeans and boots—it’s a classic look, regardless of gender. Just make sure to pay attention to those cuffs. A good sleeve fold adds class, but the common method of rolling them up all willy-nilly leaves you looking messy and unkempt.
6. Too Many Accessories
Accessories are essential to your look. A single, simple necklace can make a great statement piece, for instance, or a scarf can pull your entire outfit together. The ideal accessory will be eye catching and (this is important) appropriate for the occasion. Where you’ll get into trouble is if you start piling on the gaudy accessories to cover up a simple outfit. Don’t worry about being too plain; that’s a much better option than going overboard and risking looking tacky.
7. Worn-out Clothing
A great way to make an awful first impression is to wear a shirt that was white in a former life but is now a weird shade of gray-yellow. It’s inevitable that the whitest of whites start to discolor, and once they do, it’s time to either put them in the discard pile or do something about them. Prevent your whites from becoming former versions of themselves by making whites a separate load. Mixing them with colors can cause them to become dingy and gray. And if you’ve just got pesky stains on your favorite white tee, try out this natural stain remover that promises to show results—or your money back!
8. Wearing Hair Ties as Bracelets
You’re not a teenager anymore (well, actually, we don’t know—you might be, in which case, disregard that sentence). While you’ve been wearing hair ties on your wrists for years, it’s never really been okay. Hair tie bracelets look tacky, but there is hope for those of you with a habit of wearing hair ties on your wrist. These hair tie bracelets offer a sleek-looking design that your hair tie fits around, making it seem like an intentional cute accessory—that just happens to hold your hair tie.
9. Pants That Are Too Long
There are many things in life that would classify as being a drag, but your pants shouldn’t be one of them. Hemlines that flirt with the floor are just fine, but you’ve gone too far when they make contact. Along with carrying around dirt and other grime, long pants can become damaged from their trip. Prevent this fashion faux pas by visiting the tailor. Bring the shoes you like to wear with them the most along so the tailor has an idea of how much length to remove. If you’re really attached to some long pants, though, and you don’t want to change them, consider wearing taller shoes. These affordable heels come in every color so you can get a pair to match any outfit; this way, even your longest pants won’t drag on the ground.
10. Wearing Athletic Shoes in Non-athletic Situations
Sure, your tennis shoes are comfortable, but unless you’re on a tennis court, they look out of place. Athletic shoes stick out like a sore thumb and can make you look like a teenager (and not in a good way). This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however. There is grey area between what is an athletic shoe and what is a cute shoe. Tennis shoes often look messy unless you’re working out in them, but certain sneakers have an air of class and style. If you’re attached to wearing athletic shoes but don’t want to look like you just left the gym, Adidas sneakers are a classic.
11. While We’re at It: Not Cleaning Your Shoes
You wouldn’t leave the house in mud-covered clothing, so why would you walk outside with dirty shoes? A pair of less-than-clean kicks can ruin your outfit faster than you can click your heels together. A quick swipe when you walk through the door can prevent buildup on heels and boots, but your sneakers are often a different story. Their material can make stains difficult to erase. Fortunately, you can usually rid shoes of unsightly marks by tossing them in the washer. According to USAToday.com, you’ll need to sprinkle the insides of each sneaker with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and leave them overnight. Shake the soda out in the morning. Remove the laces from your sneakers and place them in a pillowcase to stop them from getting tangled in the wash. Wipe as much dirt and debris from your shoes as you can with a scrubbing brush, then toss the laces and the shoes in the washer. Protect your shoes and your washer by throwing four to six towels in, as well. This will keep your shoes protected and stop them from banging against the washing machine. Use liquid detergent and wash the shoes in a cold, delicate cycle. Allow the shoes to air-dry once they are clean. Avoid putting them in the dryer, as its heat can damage your sneakers. If you’re constantly getting your shoes dirty, it might be a good idea to invest in a shoe cleaning kit as well—this one includes cleaner, a brush, and a towel.
12. Wearing Clothes That Don’t Fit Correctly
Nothing can kill your style quite as quickly as an oversized shirt or too-tight pants. Even if the clothes feel comfortable, if they don’t fit, don’t wear them. However, falling in love with a piece of clothing that doesn’t exactly fit is a common tragedy. You can likely fix it, however, by taking the garment to a tailor. Do remember that different clothing manufacturers size their garments quite differently. If you’re a size 2 at one store, you might be a size 6 somewhere else, so trust the fit, not the tag. Always take the time to try on clothes before you buy them. If you have a dress or blouse that is too big but just so cute, you could accessorize it with a fashion belt around the waist for a more fitted, put-together look.
13. That Applies to the Shoes, Too
Shoes that are too large or too tight create an interesting effect, and not in a good way. Oversized shoes make you look like you’ve got a bit role in the upcoming IT remake, whereas small shoes can make your feet look like they’re planning a prison break. Again, try shoes on before you buy them, and if you’re not sure if you’re wearing the right size, get a second opinion before you head somewhere important. Raw, red skin on the heels and feet from too big or too small shoes isn’t comfortable or cute, either, so if you’ve got shoes that rub and blister, try these heel cushion adhesive inserts.
14. Wearing White Clothing That Isn’t White Anymore
Alas, even the whitest whites will eventually start to turn a pale yellow color. The good news is that you can usually restore your whites with a simple bleach bath, and if you’ve got an aversion to bleach, baking soda or hydrogen peroxide can work wonders. Whatever you use to whiten your clothes, use it consistently. A t-shirt with a vaguely straw-colored hue doesn’t have the same look as a crisp white top.
15. Not Taking Care of Your Nails
A manicure can turn nails from cute to cringe-worthy in a matter of minutes and all it takes is a single chip in the polish. Although keeping a perfect manicure for more than a week or two is just about impossible, you can increase its lifespan by following these simple steps. First, apply an even and thin base coat. Allow the layer to completely dry, which usually takes at least two minutes before you put on another coat. Use a gel-finish top coat or an at-home LED lamp to help your nails dry. If you want a professional manicure, ask them to skip the top coat and apply the gel finishing coat when you get home. And don’t forget to keep your cuticles and fingers looking healthy—dry, cracked skin is as unsightly as it is uncomfortable. We like Burt’s Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream, and this cute little jar is perfect to stick in your bag or keep at your desk.
16. Carrying a Massive Bag
Sure, it’s great to have a bag that can carry your laptop, makeup kit, car keys, and body cream while still leaving enough room for a full-grown chihuahua, but a big bag can easily throw off the rest of your outfit. After all, a bag is an accessory. Opt for a smaller bag for job interviews and other important events, and if you need a big bag to hold your laptop when you’re headed to the office, there are plenty of affordable (and adorable!) computer bag options that aren’t too bulky. This floral print one from DACHEE is a perfectly sleek and subtle pop of color.
17. Missing a Belt Loop (and Other Minor Mistakes)
Pay attention to the little things. You can have a perfectly put together outfit, only to sabotage yourself by missing a belt loop or leaving a visible zipper. We’re not saying that every inch of your outfit has to be absolutely perfect, but do a quick ocular pat down of yourself before you leave the house; if you don’t have a decent-sized mirror, now’s the time to get one. Make sure that you’re not making any obvious mistakes.
18. Making Too Many Adjustments to Your Outfit
On the other hand, once you leave the house, try to stop worrying. Don’t constantly pick at your clothes or mess with your sleeves; guys, leave the tie alone. Fidgeting with your clothing is a sure way to look messy, even if there’s nothing actually wrong with your look. If you really can’t stop fidgeting, recognize that you’re a little stressed out. Take a moment to collect yourself, squeeze a tennis ball, or do whatever else you have to do to stop picking your outfit apart. If you can’t stop stressing about the way you look, a compact mirror you can carry in your bag or keep at your desk at work might settle your nerves a bit—but beware, the magnifying ones might get a little too up-close and personal. These small mirrors from Amazon come it several chic patterns.
19. Clothes That Are Pilling
It happens to the best of ‘em. A few times into wearing, you notice that certain spots on your garment are a little rougher than others. The next thing you know, a bunch of tiny little balls join the party and take up space on those rough patches, which are most likely in the armpit or thigh areas. These clothing-crashers are called pills and are formed when fabric rubs together. Blended fabrics are usually the most susceptible to becoming pilling victims, says Good Housekeeping magazine. Fiber blends that contain three or more fabrics have a higher incidence of pilling, especially those that contain both natural and synthetic fibers. To prevent damage, turn your garment inside out before washing. Doing so prevents the fabric from rubbing against other clothes in the wash, stopping the pills before they wreak havoc. The gold standard for pill-prone garments is hand-washing. Placing your washer on the gentle or delicate setting is second best. Air-drying your clothing can also help to keep it safe. Once everything is washed and dried, store or hang your garments inside out. If you’ve got a favorite sweater that’s already pilling, however, you can remove most of the fuzz with a simple trick. First, rub a pumice stone over the fabric to loosen up the little fuzz balls, then run a lint roller over the fabric to remove them.
20. Not Getting Your Favorite Pair of Shoes Repaired
We get it; you love your shoes, even if the soles are fading away and the leather is scuffed. The good news is that a talented cobbler can perform those much-needed repairs, restoring your favorite kicks to their former glory. The bad news is that the longer you wait, the more you’ll pay—and the worse you’ll look. If you’re going to keep that old pair of shoes, take care of them. If you’ve got a favorite pair of shoes that are coming unattached to the sole, you may not need to go to a cobbler just yet—invest in a good bottle of shoe glue to keep on hand for minor fixes.
21. For Guys: Unkempt Facial Hair
The beard is back, folks. Facial hair hasn’t been this fashionable since the Old West. With a great beard comes great responsibility, though, and too many of us are forgetting that beard maintenance takes work. A neat, masculine face-mane is one thing. Grizzly Adams is another. To keep from looking sloppy, make sure that you keep your beard neat and trimmed. That means shaving your neck, and probably your cheeks as well. And don’t underestimate the power of a good beard oil—moisturizing facial hair and the skin underneath is essential for a healthy-looking beard. This beard care kit comes with 100 percent natural and organic beard oil, beard wax, a brush, and scissors for trimming. When trimming and shaving, remember: There should be clear lines demarcating “beard” and “non-beard.” Otherwise, you’re not just Brooklyn hip. You’re mountain-man messy.
22. For Women: Visible Bra Straps
There’s a war going down in our culture today, and internet comments threads are the battlefields. That war is over the appropriateness of visible bra straps. “Adult women wear bras, and people should deal with it,” say the pro-bra-strap ladies who just don’t care.
“Bra straps are never, ever appropriate in a professional setting,” say the human resource managers. Given the controversy, it’s safest to keep your straps covered up. You might not look like you’re making a point; you might just look like you got dressed in the dark. This is not to take a side in the debate. We’re just saying that the smart money is always on covering undergarments. These clips and straps work great, or go with a strapless bra.
23. Wearing Oversized Clothes to Hide Your Figure
Oversized clothing is “in” right now, but don’t play into the trend just to hide your figure when you’re feeling bloated or self-conscious. Tuck in those oversized tops or add a belt; make sure that your figure’s visible. You rock, and there’s no reason to sink into your clothing. If you want to go a few sizes up, have a plan and make an effort to balance your outfit’s proportions.
24. Excessively Long Sleeves
Long sleeves can easily make you look like a little kid. Unfortunately, if you’ve got short arms, a shirt might flatter the rest of your figure perfectly but leave your arms looking like flopping noodles. If you don’t want to roll up, go ahead and give your tailor a call—and if you don’t have a tailor, get one. For a few bucks, you can get a perfectly crafted look, provided that you’re on a tailor’s good side, and you’ll never go back to straight off-the-rack clothes again. That applies to both men and women (and guys, having a tailor will instantly put you way ahead of your competition). But if you’ve got short arms and don’t want to cough up the extra money for a tailor, you’ve still got options. A three-fourth sleeve shirt does wonders to make the arms appear longer. Pair this one with leggings or jeggings.
25. Going Really Retro (Without Any Sort of Twist)
We’re fine with retro looks, to be absolutely clear. You just need to have some sort of a modern update, or you’ll end up looking like you got stranded in a 1980s (or earlier!) department store. Modern accessories can provide a great, easy update. Your shoes and bottoms can also be modernized to complement a vintage top. Just take it easy on the nostalgic items, and you’ll be fine; otherwise, you’ll look like you didn’t spend enough time thinking this through.
26. Taking the Term “Boyfriend Blazer” Too Literally
There are some great boyfriend blazers in the boutiques these days, but you can’t literally lift a boyfriend’s jacket and expect to look chic. What the designers call a “boyfriend blazer” is actually cut to strike a very feminine figure. Blazers designed for men, meanwhile, will make you look like David Byrne during his big-suit era. No matter how romantic you think it is to snuggle in your boyfriend’s clothes, doing so likely gives you a sloppy appearance. If you like the idea of donning garments that have that boyfriend-type style, look for boyfriend-cut clothes. Despite the name, this type of clothing is cut for feminine figures, and looks amazing.
27. Showing up With Wet Hair
Nothing says “I overslept” like going out with wet hair. You get a pass if it’s raining, but otherwise, put that blow dryer to work. You want your look to be complete before you show up at an important work function or, God forbid, a hot date. Wet hair sends the message that you were rushing to get out of the house, which suggests general sloppiness. We get it, though—you totally were rushing out of the house.
28. Leggings as Pants
This fashion faux pas has taken the nation by storm. We blame the rise of the yoga pant. Leggings can be a key ingredient in a super cute outfit, but don’t mistake them for fully formed bottoms in themselves. Throw on a short skirt or wear a dress if your shirt is belly-grazing; the key is to keep your backside from hitting people in the face. That’s just sloppy (even if it’s incredibly comfortable). Leggings can be paired with longer shirts or tunics for a more polished look if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to the comfort factor of wearing leggings as pants. Just make sure your bum is covered.
29. Day-old Eye Makeup
It can be tempting to leave yesterday’s mascara and eyeliner on rather than going through the arduous process of removing and re-applying. Don’t give into temptation; people can totally tell, and you’re really not saving that much time in the long run. On day two, mascara gets clumpy. Old eyeliner fades unevenly, leaving you looking like a Picasso painting. There’s only one way to keep your eye-makeup game going strong, and that’s to clean and re-apply daily. Sorry to break the bad news. To make it easy on yourself, keep a pack of makeup removing wipes in your nightstand, so you never have an excuse to sleep in your eye makeup. That way, you won’t even be tempted to go to work the next morning in your day-old liner and mascara.
30. Smudges on Your Glasses
A cute pair of frames is great, but you’ll spoil the effect if you let lenses get smudged and greasy. Keep a microfiber cloth handy at all times, and be sure to rub down your glasses before an important encounter. You definitely want to look your best if you’re getting close enough for someone to see your glasses in such detail. Also, consider investing in a lens cleaning kit with spray and a cloth to get off tougher smudges—plus, it can be used on your phone and laptop screens, too.