Beauty & Fashion

Top, Bottom, or Shoes? The Art of Choosing Your Outfit’s Starting Point — Inside Out Style

Top, Bottom, or Shoes? The Art of Choosing Your Outfit’s Starting Point — Inside Out Style

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How do you decide what to wear each day?

Do you start from the top and select a statement jacket or blouse?  Perhaps you prefer to build your ensemble from the bottom up, beginning with a classic pair of trousers or a sleek skirt. Or maybe you’re drawn to the allure of footwear, letting a striking pair of shoes dictate the rest of your look.

In the art of style, the choice of an outfit’s starting point holds more significance than meets the eye. It’s not just about selecting clothes—it’s about expressing your unique personality, values, and mood. Join me to explore the fascinating world of outfit selection and uncover the secrets behind choosing the perfect starting point.

1. Start with an Accessory: Jewellery and Scarves

 

Some days I have a yen to wear a particular necklace, scarf or statement pair of earrings, this then means that I’ll put together my outfit around that item, building first from the jewellery and then making choices about what else to wear.  Of course what I’m doing, where I’m going, who I’m seeing and the weather will also impact on my choices, but I sometimes build an outfit around an accessory. 

Start with an accessory

 In this silver-themed outfit above, my decision was based around wanting to wear my crystal necklace (made by me), and then toning it with a silver sweater and my silver boots, using the denim skirt as a way of making the whole outfit not feel too formal or dressy for a casual day at home in my office.

I’ve written here about building an outfit around a patterned scarf, it’s a super easy way to select a colour palette and choose items that will work together and the colours in the scarf pull each other colour in the outfit together.

2. Starting with the Top: Setting the Tone for Your Look

Start with a statement jacket - build your outfit around a statement jacket

Maybe you’ve selected a stunning blouse in a colour that brings out your eyes, or your favourite print that speaks to your personal style. Starting with a jacket or top allows you to set the tone for your entire ensemble, building around its colour, texture, and silhouette. As someone who appreciates making a statement, I often find myself drawn to vibrant blouses or eye-catching prints that reflect my confidence and creativity. Choosing a standout top or jacket allows me to set the tone for my entire ensemble, showcasing my personality and willingness to stand out from the crowd.

Start with a shirt - the statement sleeves were the starting point for this outfit

This outfit started with the statement sleeve blouse which I love to leave peeking out of whatever top I wear over it.

Whether it’s a polished work look with a collared shirt or a more casual vibe paired with denim, by starting with a standout top, you create a focal point that anchors your outfit and commands attention. However, when comfort is my priority, especially on more relaxed days, I opt for a soft, cosy cashmere jumper that feels like a hug, setting a comforting and laid-back tone for the rest of my outfit. This approach not only showcases my style but also aligns with how I want to feel throughout the day.

3. Beginning at the Bottom: Building Up from Ground Zero

Alternatively, you may find inspiration in a fabulous pair of bottoms that serve as the foundation for your look. Someone with a pragmatic approach to fashion, who values structure and refinement, would start their outfit from the bottom up. Whether it’s a sleek pencil skirt, tailored trousers, or figure-flattering jeans, starting at the bottom allows you to build your outfit layer by layer, adding complementary pieces to enhance its overall impact. Experiment with different styles, colours, and textures to create visual interest and balance. Remember, the right pair of bottoms can elevate your outfit from ordinary to extraordinary.  Any pants that are saggy, baggy or just plain daggy (that’s an Australian slang term) should be let go of, as they really bring down your whole outfit.

Start with a skirt - build your outfit around a hero skirt

This statement silver skirt was my first decision, then I wanted something soft and cosy, so went for my lilac cashmere jumper, then added this statement two-tone denim jacket and silver heart necklace to finish off the look.

4. Stepping into Style: Making a Statement with Shoes

They say that shoes can make or break an outfit, and starting with your footwear is a strategy favoured by many fashion enthusiasts. Whether you opt for coloured shoes, comfortable flats, or trendy sneakers, your choice of shoes can dramatically alter the look and feel of your ensemble. Begin with a striking pair of shoes that speaks to your personal style, then build your outfit around them, selecting clothing and accessories that complement their colour, style, and mood. From classic pumps to statement boots, let your shoes be the starting point for a fashion-forward look that leaves a lasting impression.Start with a shoe - this outfit was created around white sneakers

 

Sometimes even if the shoe doesn’t appear to be the hero of an outfit, it may be the inspiration.  I wanted some comfort when I choose these white sneakers and then decided on an all-white outfit for a sleek look (also an excellent choice for me when doing personal colour analysis so I’m not distracting my client by wearing too many colours as we’re finding their perfect palette.)

5. Choose a Colour: Curate with the Rainbow

Choose a colour to base your outfit around

Maybe your feel like a particular colour, choose a garment, accessory or shoe in that colour and then build your outfit around it.  Sometimes on hot days I can only imagine wearing cool watery blues and greens.  On other cold wintery days I’m yearning for some bright bold red or hot pink to warm me up.   What colour do you feel like today?

Wherever You Begin, Let Your Style Shine

When it comes to crafting the perfect outfit, there’s no right or wrong starting point—only endless possibilities waiting to be explored. Whether you begin with a standout top, a statement bottom, or a striking pair of shoes, the key is to let your personal style guide you every step of the way. Your choice can also reflect how you want to feel throughout the day. If comfort is your priority, start with pieces that feel good to wear, such as soft fabrics and easy-to-move-in designs. Likewise, if your mood calls for a boost, opt for elements that bring you joy and confidence, maybe a jacket or blazer with your jeans is enough to enhance your style. By tuning into your mood and comfort preferences, you can create outfits that not only look great but also make you feel fantastic. Experiment with different combinations, trust your instincts, and above all, have fun with fashion. After all, style is not just about what you wear, but how you wear it—and with a little creativity and confidence, the possibilities are limitless.

What’s your go-to starting point when putting together an outfit? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Let’s inspire and empower each other to embrace the art of styling with confidence and flair.

Further Reading

Is There a Process for Putting Stylish Outfits Together?

How to Make Basic Outfits More Creative and Interesting

How to Create a Stylish Outfit? What Are Your Criteria that Makes it Great?

How to Create An Ordered Wardrobe (and why you want one)

Top, Bottom, or Shoes? The Art of Choosing Your Outfit's Starting Point

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