Style tips that will make you feel more confident

Since I started my business, Greater Than Rubies, back in 2012, I’ve had the privilege of speaking with thousands of women around the world about fashion. And I’ve learned one thing from all these discussions: Clothing touches every aspect of your life.

  • It can change how you feel about yourself
  • If you feel the need to keep buying stuff to look put together, it can impact your finances
  • And it can even make or break your business success

If that last one sounds a bit exaggerated, consider this: According to Carol Kinsey Gorman, the author of The Silent Language of Leaders, it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression.

Any snap judgments people make in that time, including about what you’re wearing, will stay with them for hours, days, or even years. This is true when you meet someone in person, or if they see your photo on a website.

Today, I want to share some style tips that’ll give you the confidence to know you’re making a great first impression from the instant you meet someone.

The best part is that you don’t need to run out to the mall and buy shopping bags full of designer labels. These tips are inexpensive and easy, but they can make you look and feel like a million bucks.

Let me walk you through these using some real-life examples of men and women. Then I’ll explain how you can pull them off on your own.

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Simple fashion tweaks to boost your confidence

No matter where you live, what industry you work in, and whether you’re a man or woman, there are few simple fashion tweaks that can quickly improve how you look and feel in your clothes.

I’ll prove it with one of my clients: Iris, a schoolteacher from Texas. After this example, I’ll show you how these lessons apply to any outfit.

Iris is very petite, so it’s difficult to find clothes off the rack that fit her. As a result, she was often swimming in whatever she purchased. Even though she had good posture, it made her look droopy and slumped over.

Here’s a typical outfit she would wear:

Iris in a typical outfit.

The first area I looked to improve was the fit of her top, right near her shoulders. For a crisp, clean look, the seam should hit the very edge of your shoulder. In the picture of Iris, it’s hanging over and rests at the middle of her upper arm.

Next, we looked at the fit in the waist and sleeves. Overall, clothes should fit close to your body but leave a little room to breathe. If they’re too tight, or if you’re swimming in them, they can make you look bigger than you are.

Once we fixed these areas, Iris looked much sharper:

Iris using the Rule of 3.


To help her feel even more put together, I also introduced her to my Rule of 3.

It’s simple, but it can make you look like the most polished person in the room. If you think about it, everyone wears a top and bottom piece. That could be pants and a shirt, a skirt and blouse, whatever.

But you can add a third piece to look even sharper. That can be an actual piece of clothing, like a jacket, blazer, or cardigan. Or it can be an accessory that draws attention, like a statement necklace, scarf, or belt. In Iris’s case, it was a denim vest.

Just by addressing fit in the shoulders, finding clothes that hug her body and adding a third statement piece, she felt more confident, and people took notice.

Here’s a message she sent me:

Simple advice, but people will notice.

Here’s what’s great about these tips: They’re effective and simple to pull off. Most people can tell you if an outfit looks “right,” but they can’t pinpoint why. Fit is usually the reason. Now that I’ve shown you what makes clothing fit well (shoulder seam placement and just the right amount of tightness), you’ll be able to look great all the time.

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Fit — and the Rule of 3 — can make a difference for men as well

Walk around any city, and you’ll see young men going to work in dress shirts like this:

Swimming in a dress shirt.

And their pants will be puddling around their ankles:

Puddling around the ankles looks sloppy.

These are two classic mistakes that make men look sloppy. And they scream youth and immaturity from across the room.

Luckily, the fix here is also easy. Select shirts with shoulder seams that meet the ends of your shoulder blades. Also, look for pants that are the right length; they shouldn’t twist or fold around the ankles. You might need to get your pants tailored in order to achieve the perfect length — more on that below.

Finally, use the Rule of 3. Add a blazer, sport coat, vest, or sweater to look even more put together.

Here’s how Joe Gebbia, the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Airbnb, pulled it off in a talk he did for 99U:

Joe Gebbia looking sharp on stage.
Image source: 99u

Notice the color and texture of his shoes. They’re distinctive from the rest of his outfit, which makes him look more purposeful and stylish. You can also do the same with your shoes, belt, wristwatch, or any other accessory.

Give yourself a makeover without breaking the bank

When it comes to fit, it doesn’t matter where you shop. Whether it’s Nordstrom’s or the thrift store, there will be things that won’t fit you off the rack.

To get the best fit, you’ll have to get things tailored. It’s not expensive, but it can make you look like you spent a fortune on your outfit.

I’m in Texas, and I’ve paid anywhere from $6.00 to $20 to have things hemmed or altered. You can look at reviews on Yelp for tailors in your area or ask a friend or family member who is into fashion — they’ll probably have a great recommendation.

Pro Tip: If you’re in-between sizes, buy the larger size. Find a piece that fits you in whatever the widest part of your body is for that piece of clothing, and then have the tailor bring it in.

Apply these 3 style tips

We can sum up what we’ve learned with three key fashion tips:

  1. Get the fit right by following a few basic guidelines
  2. Complete your look with the Rule of 3
  3. Add accessories that have an accent color or texture

Rinse and repeat, and you’ll always leave the house feeling great about your outfit.

Let me know in the comments: What’s your favorite style hack?

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