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How to Dress For Success

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Appearance isn’t everything, but that old saying is true: When you look good, you feel good. Being confident in your clothes and practicing self-care really does set you up for success at work, in school, and even at home. It’s not about spending tons of money on fancy designer items or following trends blindly: it’s about finding what works for you, and playing up your best features. Dress for success by following these tips from Valerie Halfon, the founder and CEO of Shop With Val, a wardrobe consulting business that operates in Houston, TX, and New York City.

Tips to Help You Dress For Success

Tip #1: Dress for your body type — not the trends

Better to find a cut and style of a dress, pants, or blouse that suits you, not a mannequin at a store or a model in a magazine. “Midi skirts may be all the rage right now, but if you're petite, you may look better in something that hits just above your knee,” says Halfon. Or maybe you live for dresses and carry more weight around your waist. In that case, Halfon recommends a fit and flare or shift dress. The bottom line is, trends come and go, but a flattering silhouette is what will make you look and feel your best — and have the most longevity in your closet. Research what works best for your shape online or in store by trying on a bunch of items, taking pictures on your phone, then assessing them with a friend who will give you an honest opinion. “Always stick to what works best for your body type, and you can't go wrong,” says Halfon.

Tip #2: Play up your best assets

If you got it, Halfon says flaunt it — within reason, of course. “I always ask new clients to identify their best assets,” says Halfon. “This forces us to think about the parts of our body that we like and want to highlight when shopping or getting dressed.” For example, if you love your legs, show them off with skirts and dresses. If you like how your arms look, sleeveless blouses will do wonders for you. “By accentuating a body part you feel good about, you'll instantly feel more confident and beautiful,” says Halfon.

Tip #3: Comfort is key

“It's usually apparent when someone isn't comfortable in the clothes they're wearing,” says Halfon. “They may fuss with their outfit a lot or look insecure.” Nip that negative body image in the bud by choosing styles that feel good on your body — fabrics that breathe, cuts that are flattering. “When you pick out an outfit in the morning, think about what makes you feel confident,” says Halfon. “It’s also important to find a balance between comfort and stylish.” These two things are not mutually exclusive. It’s all about finding an appropriate fit for you that's not too tight or loose. Splurge on tailoring for your key pieces if off-the-rack items don’t work for you.

Tip #4: Colors and patterns are your friends

If you love neutrals or solids, Halfon suggests incorporating one “out of the ordinary” element into your outfit. Start small with a belt, necklace, or shoe in a bright color. Or, go with something in an animal print, which is trending for Fall but always classic, especially snakeskin and leopard prints. Who knows? You might love accessorizing with color or pattern so much that you’ll want to work up to larger or more expensive pieces with bolder designs.

Tip #5: Break out of your comfort zone

The best way to break out of a style rut — and fine tune your personal style — is to convince yourself to buy one new piece, or wear something that's been sitting in your closet untouched for months and work it into your outfit. “The one comment I hear the most in the fitting room when shopping with clients is ‘I would've never picked that out,” and they end up loving it,” says Halfon. “Don't hold yourself back from trying something just because you don't have anything like it.”

Remember, you’re never fully dressed without a smile, so be sure to show yours a little love. Brush your teeth, put on a bold lip (or clear lip balm if that’s your preference), and go out into the world and do you.

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