30 Outfit Mistakes That Will Make You Look Messy

You're all ready for that job interview, date, or presentation—but if you're making any of these mistakes, you're not going to make a great first impression.

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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 to 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. If you’ve got animals, you should have several lint rollers and put them where you can find them easily. Keep one in your car, one in your bag, and one in the bathroom. There’s nothing worse than running late for a job interview only to realize that your shirt looks like you rolled around on the carpet.

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.

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. Small rips, holes, frays, and tears can go from a minor flaw to a deal breaker when it comes to clothing. A tailor may be able to help you with hems and holes. Cute patches can conceal minor tears and rips. Consider donating any clothes that are still wearable. 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

We get it. You’re busy. It’s difficult to fit in that ironing time when you’ve got so much going on. But your wardrobe, and possibly even your image, won’t be taken seriously if you look like you just grabbed your shirt from the bottom of the hamper. Preventing wrinkles can save you precious time with a little bit of effort. Read the care tag on your clothing to learn how to wash it best: The water and dryer temperatures you use could have a huge effect on the condition of your clothing. Also, hang your clothes up immediately after they are dry. If you’re against ironing, you can use the dryer to your advantage in the fight against wrinkles. Wrap the garment around an ice cube, then throw them in the dryer. The ice dissolves and turns into steam, thereby creating the perfect anti-wrinkle environment. But sometimes, wrinkles are inevitable. Got a big trip coming up and don’t feel like packing your iron? Learn a wrinkle-free packing method instead.

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. The “classic” method leaves you looking like you’re not concerned with your appearance, and it’s sloppy, to say the least.

6. Too Many Accessories

Accessories are essential to your look. A single 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

Looking to make a bad impression? An easy way to do this is by wearing a shirt that was white in a former life. 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.

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, and they’re simply not necessary. Keep a few hair ties in your car, your bag, and anywhere else you might need them.

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. Hem lines 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 to remove.

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). Guys make this mistake more often than women, in our experience, but we’ve all done it on occasion.

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 washer. 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (if you carry a bag at all—a briefcase might be more appropriate). And make sure that your bag’s in good condition. As with other elements of your look, you’ll need to call in a ringer when your bag falls into disrepair.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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. The same goes for your high-waisted thong, by the way. These clips 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, your favorite shirt might flatter the rest of your figure perfectly; if you’ve got short arms, we feel your pain. 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 for both men and women (and guys, having a tailor will instantly put you way ahead of your competition).

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).

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.

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.

HealthyWay Staff Writer
HealthyWay’s Staff Writers work to provide well-researched, thought-provoking content.