The "Level Up" Trick I Use When I Have Zero Outfit Inspiration

While I'd rather not cop to my lazy tendencies, the truth is that there are plenty of days I revert back to the simplest of uniforms: jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt. It's not that I'm totally unimaginative, but there are weeks when I'm home at 11 p.m. and out the door at 7 a.m., leaving me without a lot of time or energy for putting together inspired outfits. But as a creative (and knowing that like it or not I am judged by what I wear), I've honed an easy hack for stepping up my look on those days when I'm feeling stuck. I call it the "level up" trick.

The concept is simple: to take that easy outfit and find a small (read: doable) swap that makes it feel different and dressed up. This could mean exchanging one part of the ensemble—swapping heels for sneakers or swapping a more refined blouse for my go-to tee. It could also mean adding something more sophisticated like a blazer or even a wrap dress.

Level Up: to instantly upgrade a basic outfit with a small swap. 

Because I hold myself to one tweak (though more than one is welcome), it's a way of refreshing an everyday outfit that feels achievable instead of trying to put together something unique all the way from square one. To me, it's simple proof that sometimes the best creativity comes when there are already a certain set of parameters to work within. That overwhelming dread I feel staring at my closet at 6:30 a.m. is gone, and instead of just reverting time and again to one simple outfit, the variations on a theme all feel unique.

Read on for a few easy tweaks to "level up" your most basic ensembles.

Swap Sneakers for Heels
swap sneakers for heels outfit idea

Photo:

@aemiliafay

I'm not one to forgo comfort when I can help it, but I've amassed a collection of heels that are actually comfortable; namely kitten or block heels that can still hold up when I'm walking the city. They're an easy swap on those days when I'm ready to give my sneakers a rest.

Trade Denim for a Cool Skirt
how to dress up a t-shirt.

Photo:

@aemiliafay

To balance out the simplicity of a basic tee, try a midi or pencil skirt with unique details. Oversize buttons, a fun print, or an uneven hem are all details that feel especially fashion-forward.

Add a Crisp Blazer or Jacket
ideas for dressing up jeans.

Photo:

@aemiliafay

On days when I'm committed to jeans and a tee, I try to dress them up by adding something a bit dressier. That could mean a blazer or even a statement belt or sophisticated earrings. The details make all the difference.

Trade a Tee for a Polished Blouse
how to dress up a casual outfit.

Photo:

@aemiliafay

I often find that the easiest way to fancify denim is by pairing it with a flirty top. The puffier the sleeves the better.

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