Sometimes, you might find that basics such as pants and a T-shirt can look really luxe on you, while on another day they just look okay. There could be many reasons for this, but one of the things at play is detail.
Details up your style ante, because you can use them to add more visual interest without necessarily changing the formality of the item or outfit. For example, you might want to keep your outfit casual, but you want it to look stylish and elevated. Of course, one way to create a stylish and elevated outfit is to wear pumps and a blazer—but that could move you into business casual territory, which simply may not be appropriate or desirable for the occasion. Similarly, you may want to look fantastic in business casual, without getting so formal that you are perceived as wearing cocktail attire.
Going full ball gown is, of course, both a great way and a simpler way to look fabulous. But because it’s not always feasible to wear silk and chiffon, we are left with the challenges—and the joys!—of creating stylish outfits out of coarser materials, such as denim, jersey, wool, or fleece. So the question remains: how to elevate an everyday look, minus yards of taffeta? Coordinating accessories, adding a structured item, and choosing silhouettes that work for you are all things we’ve discussed before—but you can also elevate your looks by focusing on details.
Sometimes, a plain shirt and pants can look a little, well, plainer than we want it to that day. But curating and wearing clothes with design details adds more interest to your outfits. Look for anything interesting or different, no matter how small, such as puffed instead of straight sleeves, slits, pleats, well-placed pockets, princess seams, contrast-stitching, cuffs, or pretty buttons.
Jeans and a Tee + Details
The high-low, distressed hem on these jeans is an interesting detail that elevates the outfit.
This double-buttoned waist is very different and adds emphasis to Victoria Beckham’s waist.
How many jeans have creases down the middle? This adds visual interest and also lengthens the model’s legs. She has cleverly paired them with notched flats that continue that creased line down to her toes.
These tank tops with shoulder pads were all over the internet last year. They are certainly different, and look great on ladies with hourglass or pear-shaped figures who might want to add more volume and structure to their top half without wearing a blazer. The great thing about these shoulder-padded tanks is that they are cool for summer and very easy to DIY.
Jeans and a Sweater + Details
Rather than a small, smooth weave that can look kind of like a solid-color shirt, this sweater features a fun zig-zag pattern down the front.
This sweater has thick ribbing and slightly puffed short sleeves.
There are lots of vintage sweaters, like these, with fun details: embroidery, beads, elegant buttons, or just styles that are different from what you can buy online today. Check out Etsy, eBay, and your local thrift store for interesting secondhand sweaters.
You can also DIY some fun details onto your sweaters. This & Other Stories sweater has some hilarious dinosaur buttons! Check out your local sewing shop or search through M&J Trimming, Etsy, or wherever notions are sold. Replacing buttons is a very easy way to upgrade an old sweater you may have tired of.
You could even get creative with a pullover and add some purely decorative buttons near the collar.
Trousers and a Button Up + Details
Buttons attached along slanted pockets add interest to trousers. When they are blue pants with gold buttons, it looks very seaworthy. This is also something you can try at home if you have pants with slanted pockets (or no pockets).
Check out the permanent pleat on these pants! Not only are they a great color, but they will always look freshly pressed.
The princess seams and peplum waist give these white button-ups a very fun vibe.
Here’s an example of what an outfit can look like with a lot of details pulled together. This simple white-shirt-and-khaki-pants ensemble looks fabulous because there are many interesting details: the high-waisted trousers with a matching sash, the small pleats down the front of the blouse, the mandarin collar, and the little puffs at the wrists!
If you have a few basics in your closet or you’re tired of a classic piece, consider adding some details at home to freshen it up. You could switch out the buttons on a sweater or blouse, add a matching sash to some pants, patch or distress your jeans, or iron your trousers to create a crisp crease down the middle. Details may be small, but they can make a big difference in your overall look.