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6 Ways to Change an Outfit Quickly With Accessories & Clothes


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Have you ever been caught unaware by an event or appointment that you completely forgot about? It happens to me roughly three times per week. There I am, having lunch with friends or kicking back at the park with my kids, and suddenly, I remember that I had a Skype appointment with a client, or I forgot it was parent-teacher conference night. Since I don’t actually carry my entire wardrobe in my car – as much as I want to – I’ve all-too-often found myself racing home for a quick change or just showing up and hoping my kid’s teacher doesn’t notice that I’m dressed for the playground.

Quick Change Ideas

That quick outfit change isn’t just about wearing the right thing for an appointment that slipped your mind – it’s a great way to make the most out of a smaller wardrobe. While you might not have the funds to go on a “Pretty Woman”-esque shopping spree every season, you might be able to afford some of the basic accessories that can really make an impact on your overall look – whether you remembered that work meeting or not.

1. Cuff Changes
Have you ever noticed that the length of your jeans or trousers can affect an entire look? Cuff ’em up and wear them with flats and you’re going to look ready for a casual Saturday. Wear them long and with pointy heels and it’s date night time. I’ve even been known to take a pair of scissors to some of my worn jeans to cut them into Bermudas.

Try playing with the length of your jeans by folding and cuffing – it’s going to look like you nabbed a new pair, but they’re just your same old favorites. If you want to try cutting them up, go a little longer than you think you want, since you can always fold them or cut more if you want shorter shorts.

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2. Scarf It Up
Scarves are hands-down my favorite way to completely change-up an outfit on the cheap and on the fly. I don’t think I own a scarf that I paid more than $15 for and they make such a huge overall impact, especially if you can snag some with eye-catching patterns. When I feel like an outfit is too plain on its own – we’re talking jeans and t-shirt territory – winding a scarf around your neck instantly makes the look more mod and “on purpose.”

Another brilliant way to use your scarf? Try pulling it through your belt loops and tying it in a bow for a fresh, pretty belt substitute. You can also tie the ends of your scarf together to create a continuous circle and then wear it as a vest. Simply hold the loop behind your head and pull it over your shoulders, bringing your arms through the loop – hello, fashion mileage.

3. Shoe Love
I’m a shoe girl at heart for two reasons. One, shoes always fit, even when my weight fluctuates, which means tons of mileage for each pair. And, two, shoes make a huge difference in my overall look. The best part is that shoe sales and bargain shopping can make shoes an uber-cheap way to stretch your wardrobe. Swapping out a pair of flat sandals for a pair of pumps makes virtually any outfit more professional and polished, while trading strappy sandals for a cute pair of boat shoes makes your look summer-perfect – and a lot more comfortable.

I’ve even been known to make an emergency shoe run when a pair of uncomfortable kicks starts hurting. Just make sure your last-minute shoe purchases are part of your budget, and always stash your shoes where they’re most likely to help you when you need a change, like under your desk at the office or in the back of your car.

Shoe Love Change

4. Jacket Racket
Spring and summer are awesome seasons for jacket shopping, since you’re probably going to find a ton of options on sale while warm weather clothes stock the shelves. Load up on denim jackets, leather and faux leather coats, and winter jackets, so when autumn hits, you’re ready for it. Consider the difference between a classic denim jacket and a moto-inspired leather jacket – both completely overhaul your look with one super-fast step. A range of jackets in your closet makes quick changes on the fly that much easier and more noticeable.

5. In Uniform
If you know you have a bunch of different appointments and obligations planned in one day, try donning a uniform. No, I don’t mean your kid’s school uniform – I mean a personal uniform that never fails you.

For me, it’s a crisp button-up, a pair of straight-cut jeans and a pair of kitten heels. When I have my uniform ready to go, I don’t have to spend precious time wondering what to wear in the morning, and it only take a few accessories – a cuff bracelet and a pair of earrings, for example – to spruce things up before I head out the door. Your personal uniform should be made up of pieces that always go together, that make you feel awesome, and that are appropriate for a wide variety of activities.

6. Emergency Kit
Never leave home without an emergency kit full of the stuff you need to pull a full 180 while on the go. I keep my emergency kit stashed in my car’s glove box so I always have it on-hand when I need it. Some of the stuff I like to keep in my kit are: a light, moisture-based foundation, a tube of mascara, and an all-over face stick that acts as blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow.

I also always have a card full of bobby pins, hair elastics, and a couple of brooches and sets of earrings ready to go, too. Armed with an emergency kit, you can quickly spruce up your hair, redo your makeup and add jewelry so no one knows that you were having a sloppy day and forgot about that family luncheon.

Final Word

You should never have to pay a ton to look awesome. And a tight, cramped schedule can sometimes lead you to spend more in an emergency situation. Instead, loading up on the right accessories and planning for sudden changes in your routine means that whether you’re scrambling in your office bathroom or in the pickup lane at school, you’ve got the time and the means to give your outfit a boost.

How do you change your outfit on the fly?


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Jacqueline Curtis writes about edtech, finance, marketing, and small business strategy. With over 14 years of copywriting experience, she's created content and scripting for organizations such as GE, Walgreens, Overstock, and MasterCard. She lives in Utah with her husband, three kids, and an overzealous springer spaniel named Penelope.