Fashion nightmares never call me for help. While I have seen varying degrees of need, a woman who enlists my help is only a few tweaks away from looking amazing. And often it is the smallest of details that need fixing, like wearing clothing that fits them better, finding the right colors, or, the most common, to not look like another Acceptably Dressed Nobody. This is the term I created years ago to best describe the concept where a client’s look was so commonplace and lacking in personality or defining characteristics. While their style is innocuous, fine, acceptable, and non-offensive, it is also usually bland,  safe, uninspired, and predictable.  Acceptably Dressed Nobodies have learned how to just get by and dress safely.  No, nobody is taking a picture of her poorly dressed on the street or snickering, but nobody is remembering her either.

Be it due to lack of time, lack of skills or fear of getting it wrong, it’s all too easy to slip into an expected style that lacks anything definitive. Simplicity can be lovely not not when it gets repetitive, boring or doesn’t best represent the woman wearing it. But it’s easy. It’s easy to grab what you know will work even if it is boring you to tears or doesn’t inspire you. But the truth is, making changes that have more of an impact when you wear it doesn’t have to be arduous or time consuming.

When I started putting these looks together my initial goal was to just show how I could take one universally worn outfit and with one tweak make it more interesting. But then a cool thing happened, not only was I able to create a fresh look in one step, I was able to repeat the items I used to do that in all the looks which only proved that not only does it not take a lot of effort to change things up, you don’t need a lot either. Another reason why women stick with the norm is that the idea of variety means having to own a lot of things. It should also be noted that in all cases, there is nothing wrong with the original outfits. The goal here is to give these staple looks alternatives. Check out the looks below and how with only a few tweaks I was able to make them go from professional blah to professional stylish.


Here we have a basic navy dress from BOSS Hugo Boss. It could be a black dress, it doesn’t really matter as both can be treated the same. On the left, we have a look that the average woman has probably worn at least once in her life, accessorized with pearls and navy pumps. It’s classic and timeless and, while it’s fine, it’s not particularly memorable either. It takes zero creativity to come up with a look like this and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

In the look on the right, I simply swapped out the necklace with a Goldplated and Multicolor Acetate Link Necklace from Gas Bijoux and yellow pumps from Coach. In both looks the effort is equal yet the outfit on the right has features that are more signature and different.

Outfit #2

I styled this suit from Theory (link to blazer and link to pants) with a subtle tattersall pattern on the left predictably with the same navy pumps, pearls, and an ivory sleeveless top. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s simple, classic, and easy to put together for even the most fashion-challenged. It’s a perfectly fine outfit… that isn’t exactly memorable either.

On the right, I added the same yellow pumps and link necklace and picked up another color from the necklace, and added the same top as the one worn on the left but in a rust shade.

Outfit #3

professional stylish

In these looks, I used a black pencil skirt so I had to swap out the navy shoes for a black pair but the other pieces from the previous looks are used. I styled this grassy green Veronica Beard blazer with the same ivory top and pearls. In the look on the right, I made the outfit more interesting by using the rust top, yellow Coach pumps and Gas Bijoux necklace.

Outfit #4

professional stylish

I styled these looks with taupe pleated pants from COS and a jardigan in a deep teal from M.M. Lafleur. In the outfit on the left, I used the same ivory top, pearls, and black pumps from Coach. On the right, I repeated the more interesting elements, the link necklace, yellow Coach pumps, and rust top.

Outfit #5

In the last look, I used the pants to the suit in look two from Theory and styled them with this silk blouse from Vince. In the look on the left, I simply styled it with the pearls and navy pumps, and on the right, I swapped these classic pieces with the same link necklace and yellow pumps from Coach.

Creating interesting outfits often seems like a daunting task that takes a lot of clothes and even more effort. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. Even creative pieces can offer tremendous versatility that go a long way.