What does an outfit say about me?

what an outfit says

Happy Tuesday!  Today, I have prepared an exercise to have us think WHAT DOES AN OUTFIT SAY ABOUT ME?

While I was at Dillard’s last week, I saw several displays which made excellent discussion for today’s post….what does an outfit say?

Most of you know that I am all about fashion messaging…it is our calling card...the first thing people see about us.

What an outfit says about us sometimes is a first impression to the world.

One of my goals has been for a long time, to get you, the audience to think…what does an outfit say about me? before you leave the house.

So, let’s get started with today’s exercise.


what an outfit says

This is not a “would you wear it” exercise.

Today, I would like you to look at these mannequins as styled and tell us this about what the outfit says:

  1. What does the outfit say about the woman wearing it?
  2. How would you style it differently, or would you wear it as it is displayed and why?  When deciding how you would style it differently, discuss the messaging…what the outfit says

Yes, it requires thinking a bit deeper about your fashion.

what an outfit says

In a world rapidly becoming more casual with clothing, I have to wonder if people are really looking at what an outfit says.

For example, what do distressed jeans say about the wearer.

Some of us, might think they say TRENDY, CURRENT, RELAXED…and others of us, might think they say SLOPPY, UNCONCERNED, TRYING TOO HARD.

The overall question becomes...DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHAT AN OUTFIT SAYS?

what an outfit says

Of course, I believe it does.

How I present myself in my clothing has everything to do with my confidence and whether or not I will be taken seriously as a woman over 60.

I always want to step out confidently and joyfully.  Taking time to assess how I look is important for me to achieve that.

In my community, it is rare that I go out and not run into someone I know.  I always want to present myself well.

I rarely think about being over-dressed in today’s casual world.

As I begin to shop for the events ahead of me in 2023, a big question I will ask, is What Does This Outfit Say About Me?

It is your turn now, to look over these four displays and answer the questions, I posed….

  1. What does the outfit say about the woman wearing it?
  2. How would you style it differently, or would you wear it as it is displayed and why?  When deciding how you would style it differently, discuss the messaging…what the outfit says

Messaging is interpreted differently by every body and we may be surprised how some of us look at these displays…so please, answer honestly with your first impression views.

I did not pick these displays because they were “bad,” I picked them because I thought they sent different and interesting messages.


what an outfit says

Remember, as you shop sales, to ask this question.

If you control the messaging to be on point (with 3-5 adjectives as guides), then you will have a confident, empowering personal style.

Here are a few fun pieces currently on style that you may want to see…..

Thank you for being here today for What Does An Outfit Say About Me?…I am looking forward to reading your answers….and make sure that you have a joyful day and….


By Pamela Lutrell

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what does an outfit say


  1. The first one says, “I’m sporty, but also feminine. I want to push the style boundaries a little by the unexpected pattern mixing. “ The second one says, “ I’m cold and I couldn’t find a jacket, so I just grabbed my bathrobe.” The black and white one says, “I chose a basic outfit today and am not interested in accessorizing.” The last one says, “I’m sporty, like bright colors, but I want a classic look. No pushing style boundaries today.”

  2. 1 – natural, relaxed sporty but not tomboy
    2 – polished, comfortable, classic
    3 – floral vest outfit: relaxed, trendy, fun. Sweater/dark pants – simple, casual – no effort
    4 – feminine, glamorous, princess

  3. First one I don’t care for the mix, it says let it go do what you want
    Second one can’t find a coat so I’ll use my robe
    Third one casual and sloppy
    Fourth one do you like the collection of cat hair on my dress

  4. The first outfit says I am confident and love pattern mixing. I would give this outfit a go and try it on as is without changing the items. I would accessorize minimally with black earrings and bracelet. The second outfit says I’m chic but tired. I would add a red scarf at the neck line and a broach. I would tie the belt in the back. The third outfit of simple black and white says I’m no nonsense today. I would add a green mixed metal necklace and studd earrings. The fourth outfit is a mess to me and I would ditch the vest and tie a light knit cardigan in bright pink around her shoulders. The outfit says I got dressed in the dark. The last outfit says I’m here for drinks. I would add a small jacket in black, rhinestone earrings and a metallic clutch. Fun exercise Pam. You made me giggle this morning! Thank you. Have a good day

  5. I’m going to focus on the first two outfits shown. For them I’d be thinking “She forgot something!l”. The first, she forgot to take off the skirt and instead put on her nice solid slacks! For the second, she forgot to remove her robe and substitute her new off white cashmere sweater. We are all forgetful sometimes, but really now!

  6. The first one looks to me like trying to hard and comes across as “I have no clue what I’m trying to say with this outfit.” More like, “who cares?” The second one is definitely grabbing a bathrobe to cover up; distressed jeans always read as sloppy to me, and on a more mature woman, looks like she’s trying to fit in with the very young (who also look sloppy) and it starts to become silly. Looking at these mannequins makes me realize why I prefer tailored, polished clothing. You don’t have to stand in front of the closet and think about sending the wrong message. It’s like having a basic ‘uniform’ that works for your body, lifestyle and personality and allows you to always feel confident. Putting together these confusing, uncoordinated outfits is a recipe for a fashion “miss.” This was difficult for me because every one of these is SO not my style!

  7. 1-“I am unconventional, youthful and fun”
    I’d style each piece separately, probably jeans with the top and a fitted top with the pleated skirt (Yawn)
    2-“I am no-nonsense, busy and on the go all day long”
    The striped top and dark pant are okay as is. That cardigan though, maybe a leather belt could rescue it from pajama territory.
    3-“I am sporty and sweet”
    Really love this outfit without the vest. The vest is overwhelming and a confusing mix of warm and cool colors.
    4-“I am confident, flirty and a bit old fashioned”
    I am getting vibes from the crazy party scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s! So fun, just needs a great pair of heels.

  8. The first outfit says I like pattern mixing. I would only add black earrings and perhaps a bracelet to this outfit.
    The second outfit says I am chic but tired. I would add a red scarf at the neckline and tie the belt behind. A broach on the sweatercoat would add interest as well.
    The third outfit says I am in a no-nonsense mood. I would add a green mixed metal necklace and studd earrings to the outfit.
    The pink vest outfit is a train wreck and says I got dressed in the dark and I’m not sure of the weather. I would lose the vest and add a light knit sweater tied around her shoulders in pink.
    The fourth outfit says I’m here for the party and where is the bar. I would add rhinestone earrings, a gold clutch and a black cropped jacket for around the shoulders.
    Fun exercise Pam. Have a good day.

  9. 1- I’m overly concerned about fashion and maybe have seen a lot of street style pictures, but I also have a creative eye for color and silhouette. I’m just figuring out how to take a trend and make it “me.” I forgot my retro sneakers.
    2- I’m comfortable and relaxed, and I’m also well off. I know this is just a little -too- relaxed, but I’m just running out for coffee on a cold day. I forgot my fleecy Arizonas.
    3-3(a). I’m casually elegant, and my core is modern classic. I forgot my lug sole loafers, my layered gold necklaces, and my tastefully sized hoops. 3(b). I’m sporty, active, and busy, with a love for color and a touch of the feminine, always. I forgot my sleek sneaker, the one with the cute, colorful side panels, my smart watch with the pink band, and my Lulu everywhere bag.
    4. I love old Hollywood. I’m really confident because I wore this to a classical concert where the other best-dressed women were in black pants and a glittery top, and the rest of the crowd looked like they just rolled out of bed. But I’m too feminine for pants on a dressy occasion … you should see my lingerie drawer! I forgot my black silk pumps and foot petals, and my teeny metallic bag has room for only a powder puff and my red lipstick … my dapper escort can carry my phone.

  10. The first one looks like the message may be “I didn’t have any other clean clothes to wear, so this is what I’m wearing.” On a real live body I think the white coat/sweater outfit would work and show a level of smartness, if accessorized nicely. The third photo just looks like someone grabbed a few miscellaneous items at random and threw them on……..you know, the end of the week outfits when you can get one more wear out of those pants and that shirt before they hit the laundry. The party wear looks fun and says I like feeling daring and a bit sexy—even if I’ll probably freeze with no sleeves before the night is over.

  11. 1- I like to push limits even though they don’t always work.
    2- I like to be comfortable even if I look like I’m wearing my bathrobe.
    3- I like to keep things simple and relaxed.
    I like to be comfortable but also stylish and current.
    4- I want to be noticed.

  12. Pamela, I do not like mixing patterns. The second outfit is blah needs some accessories. The third outfit is something that I have worn but not wide leg pants before but I would always wear jewelry. The fourth outfit not what I would wear. The last outfit looks like something that I would only wear with a jacket and really don’t like the material at all. I agree with what you wear shows the mood and how you feel about yourself. Since I have retired I have been wearing more leggings during the week and on the weekends I have been wearing jeans. I want to change this up. When you see women on social media they are always wearing nice clothes and I wonder how they do house cleaning and cooking in those outfits. Enjoyed this post.

  13. Hi Dianne…jumping in to clarify that most on social media are selling the clothes and would never post house cleaning clothes. Many do not want to see that anyway! There are many sloppy days at home that I would not post. 😆

  14. This is fun! I think all the outfits show an avant-garde woman who wants to dress in her own way and doesn’t care what others think. I agree that the clothes send a message. However, a message is also sent by the woman’s grooming, posture, confident stance, etc. For instance, the bathrobe outfit could look sloppy and “I don’t care” or it could look chic, depending on these things.

  15. 1. this says I got dressed in the dark, 2. I will pretend it is cold in Florida and wear this light coat. 3. I just grabbed anything to wear to the grocery, and 4. It is slightly cool and I like flowers so I will wear this vest. I cannot get my head around the first one. just awful. 2. Not bad, I would wear it if it was slightly shorter. 3. I never wear white on top so I cannot see myself wearing this. and 4. I hate vests so I would never wear this. I can see a young trendy peson wearing the first outfit. The second, almost anyone could wear this. 3. Again, anyone could wear this but it would look better with a bright scarf. 4. Just okay, would look better on a slimmer person, which is not me lol.

  16. What a collection!
    1. I slept in my flannel shirt and forgot to take it off when I got dressed
    2. I got dressed but am wearing my bathrobe for warmth
    3. I combed my haira nd brushed my teeth and am ready to go
    4. My cat tore the shoulders of my dress so I got revenge by cutting up her cat toy and sewing it over the torn material

  17. It’s nice to start the day with a fun exercise.

    1) conflicted. Top is outdoorsy, like dressing for a walk in the woods. Skirt is city.

    2) home sick. I think it’s because the robe is oversized & droopy. A good reminder that correct fit works wonders.

    3) mannequin in jeans: running errands. The color/pattern/pose reads energy to me. The faded cropped jeans are fine. I’m ok with a little distressing. I don’t see the point of the jeans that look like they got caught up in the wringer on an old Maytag washer. The mannequin behind must be a nun.

    4) I’m passing on the evening dress. It’s obviously intended to be festive, but it’s anything but.

  18. Because my style is so different from any of these outfits, it is hard for me to figure out what these outfits are trying to say. For me most of them say, I was in a hurry & grabbed the first things I could get my hands on without giving any thought to how they looked. The exception is the gold dress. It says I’m here for the cocktails & to have fun. As to distressed jeans, on a woman of a certain age, they seem to say I’m trying to compete with my twenty something daughter & hanging on too tightly to my youth.

  19. Oh my goodness! I can’t even think what to write after reading so many funny remarks!! 😆 Hilarious commentary!

  20. I’m like Connie above! So many funny comments that had me laughing out loud! Not that you asked for whether we would wear or not, my favorite is the third with the dark top and vest. That’s more my retirement style although I rarely wear lighter colored pants. That must mean that my style is more relaxed than some, but not to the point of wearing what appears as a bathrobe. The first picture appears as a confused style…casual and dressy which is difficult to pull off. The dressy evening is so pretty, but also a “ look at me” dress which might work for those of us older who feel we are not seen, yet too obvious, I think. An interesting and thoughtful exercise today, Pam.

  21. The comments are fantastic! I’m going to add my own “reads” on the outfits…
    1. I like to take risks, but don’t take myself seriously. I’m as happy with a beer as fine wine. (This outfit needs serious accessories–a neutral fedora, bright orange , pink (?) shoes and cuff bracelet.)

    2. Today there is a Dr. appointment and a few errands, but first coffee. I’ve got a lot on my mind and don’t want to be bothered too much. (Finish with a gold watch, or cuff and hoop earrings.)

    3. (w/vest) I like classics, i.e., tennis, skiing, but I’m so talkative and friendly and will have you laughing in no time.

    4. I’m an Old Soul and prefer the early Hollywood glamour days. Would Marilyn wear this? I think so! I can crush you with just a look (haha!).

  22. This was a fun and thought-provoking exercise!!! These might not be my styles, but I’m trying to find something positive about each one …

    1. I’m fun and like to try new looks. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it is still fun.

    2. I’m no-nonsense and and unfussy with a classic vibe.

    3. I’m sporty and on-the go. I look for comfort.

    4. I love a special occasion and the chance to live it up!

  23. I really enjoyed reading the comments. I was laughing out loud at school of them.

    Look 1 says ‘ I bought the shirt and skirt separately. When I got home, I realized that I didn’t have anything to wear with them, so put it on together. ‘ I like the pieces individually, but it’s too much mixed pattern for my taste.

    Look 2. ‘ It’s cold in the house, so I put on my bathrobe until I go out.’

    Look 3. ‘ I’m going to clean out the garage. This vest looks like it won’t show any dirt.’

    Look 4. ‘ I’m here for the party! ‘

  24. Great exercise and good food for thought. I dislike snakeskin print on anything. As many have commented, the second look seems to say “I’m cold”. Also agree that accessories and attitude and posture have a lot to do with the success of any look. Still, I think this is a good reminder that we are sending a message whether we like it or not with what we wear.

  25. I have always loved the concept that our clothes send messages, and taught that to my daughters from an early age, starting with examples like “If you wear your swimsuit to Sunday School it looks like you’re going swimming, not going to church.’ (Bless two year olds and their budding fashion sense!) Although my style words are still evolving six months after retirement, “classic” and “put together” will remain, so I am not a fan of most of these looks. As the queen of the matchy people, I think Outfit 1 says “trying to hard to be cool and trendy because I saw this in my daughter’s Glamour magazine.” I would wear the shirt with something more congruous, but never the slinky pleated snakeskin skirt. Cannot even imagine where that would fit in – happy hour in a bar, maybe? Outfit 2 is something I might wear if I sized down in the coatigan and belted it with a structured belt. As it, it says “I had to come to work today, but I wanted to stay home so I wore my bathrobe.” Both outfits in #3 appear to feature cropped pants, which I don’t wear. As a tall woman, I’ve spent my life trying to find pants that are long enough and these are not. I also dislike any distressing, raw hems, and light colored bottoms. I might wear the outfit in the back with longer pants, but the one in the front is way too haphazard for my style. I think the message is “I am fun and carefree and don’t have to follow the rules or dress my age.” I was surprised at all the negative comments on #4. While I don’t do sleeveless, especially in winter, I thought it would be a fun look for a holiday party or cocktail function. To me, it says “Tonight is special and so am I, so I’m wearing this glamorous gown!” Not my style, but not offensive to me in any way. Thank you for bringing up this exercise. I am just beginning a major closet/wardrobe reorganization and am adding the “message” question to my others (Would I rate this a 9 or 10? Does this fit today’s body? etc.) Hoping you will continue to follow up on this theme as we all decide how we want to look in a new year!

  26. I agree with you completely Karen. I found this hard too as I prefer a more tailored style.

  27. Outfit 1 looks thrown together and frumpy as though the wearer either has no clue about style or is trying desperately hard to be on trend and getting it wrong.

    Outfit 2 may well suit someone tall and thin but is boring. Would change the belt and needs some great boots. Possibly a stylish piece of chunky jewellery

    Outfit 3 drab and boring

    Outfit 4 unflattering, reminds me of curtain material and the black feathers look like an after thought.

  28. Expressing personality with clothing choices is difficult. So many things come into play: the appropriate silhouette for my body shape, the right colors, lifestyle requirements and price. What’s sold in stores doesn’t always fit those needs. Maybe the best statement clothing can make is to tell the world that I am true to myself with my choices. I will honor my body shape and size, my age, my changing coloring. I won’t look like everyone else, nor will they look like me. I’m at peace with who I am now.

  29. The comments are fantastic! I agree with what MJ has said and to add to that, our “message” will be perceived differently by different people. All the comments above are by women probably over 60 in the U.S., but show these to a different age group or a different culture, and the responses would be quite different. If I were to go out to our local mall dressed in what a typical Talbots shopper would wear, some may perceive the outfit as classic and conservative, whilst others see it as boring and frumpy. The only “message” we should be sending is that I like what I am wearing and who cares what others think of the outfit and all that comes from attitude and confidence.

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