What To Do When You Hate Your Outfit But Can’t Change

I walked into work on Monday morning wearing a shin-length straight skirt from H&M and a plain white muscle tee from Zara with gladiator sandals by Isabel Marant. In theory, the outfit was cool. I should have looked like a cross between a not-girl-not-yet-woman who rides her bike to pop-up shops on Sundays and fills her basket with fresh organic fruit to distribute as she sees fit. The skirt, yellow and embellished was kind of Burberry-ish and the tank was unassuming enough that its style could never be co-opted even if the skirt’s could.

The shoes complimented the ankle-grazer in the same way that a fax machine compliments white fish, which is to say they had nothing in common save for the fact that a handful of Jews use both.


A quick but determined glance into a full-length mirror before I left for work confirmed that it was not just theory that called this outfit cool.

The reflection did not lie.

Until, that is, I discovered with the help of a shop window bouncing at me a similar though not parallel reflection, that it did.

The skirt was all wrong. It wasn’t low cut enough, or high waist enough and that affected the tee. The beads on the skirt kept kicking me. The ankle straps on the gladiator sandals weren’t as proportionate as they should have been and by 9:30AM, I wanted to go back to start and demand a re-do. I wouldn’t, though, because I was already seated at my desk and it would have been dramatic to turn around now. So I got to thinking: what do you do when you hate what you’re wearing but are stuck with it.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Go to the nearest private mirror and fuck with your hair. Joog-it-up. If you’re sporting a comb-over, turn it into a middle part. If it’s up, put it down. If it’s down, pig tail that shit.

2. Depending on what you’re wearing and whether there are layers, you should think about detaching A from B. Meaning: if you’re wearing a jean jacket and a t-shirt, take the jean jacket and place it around your waist to look like a Bowery kid or around your shoulders to look like Amelia Diamond a Stepford Wife. If you’re wearing pants, cuff them. If they’re already cuffed, uncuff them. Are they kind of big on you? Role the waist line up one time and call it Margiela.

3. Lipstick. I know, I know, I said I don’t wear makeup. But that’s only because I like to like how I feel. And sometimes, to like how I feel is to apply a red lip, which seems to say, yes, Susan Sarandon, I am a working woman. (This was a Step Mom reference in case that isn’t clear).

4. Have a scarf? Tie it around your waist and call it a dramatic sache.

5. Do you keep any sartorially inclined accoutrements in or under your desk? You should.

And if all else fails, you can always cut off your own arms or legs to detract attention from the outfit and go home early with plausible reason! How do you combat the stuck-with-a-shitty-outfit blues? -Leandra Medine

  • GapToothedGirl

    I always hyde myself from other people till I act as and headache and run home!!
    xox, Gap.

    • Jo

      Lol, all that hiding sounds like a lot of work
      – thePopularsociety.com

  • Carrie

    I had one of these days at work recently. I went into the bathroom, pulled my skirt higher, pushed it down lower, rolled the waist band. I tucked in my chambray, I un-tucked, I knotted, I re-tucked. I realized I needed different shoes. In the end, I was tucked, highwaisted, and barefoot, with a fresh coat of lipstick. The lipstick was the cure all.

    • Katrina Blanchalle

      I would have said the bare feet for sure.

  • Chelsea Adilia

    Ha. This piece ironically reminds me of that one time I was so perfectly put-together and feeling myself (my outfit) at work. Only to tumble down the stairs and rip both knees in my favorite pairs of trousers. The only possible accessories to add thereafter were the insta-ice packs my boss taped to my knees before promptly sending me home, dignity hanging by a thread.

    • Oh and what you said reminded me of the time when I was 12 and fell off my bike on the way to school… My black leggins had two huge wholes in the knees that I then tied together with one pink (left) and one purple (right) scrunchy, ended up with pompom knees and pretended it had to be that way… 😀

      • Chelsea Adilia

        If only my ego and pants could have been so creatively repaired :'( Fashion- related work injuries be damned!

  • Reem

    It’s always a bummer when I discover that my outfit does indeed look like a disaster, it’s too late and there’s nothing I can do about it, which always alters my mood for the worst. Though the lipstick always seems to make it all better.

  • Honeypot Blogs

    This was a great post!! I’m definitely going to use the phrase “pig tail that shit” more often! Fab read!xx

  • Definitely the lipstick. Recently, I’ve just been texting my butler to bring me new clothes, though.

    • Leandra Medine


  • The other day my French colleague informed me that my stupid H&M tee said “I like bad boys” in French. I speak zero French so that’s what I get for wearing a crop top to work. There was no salvaging it.

    • Margaret Ely

      turn that shit inside out. or get crazy and go tag in front & wear and a jacket and voilà -surely you know that french saying

  • bre

    I always make sure I have an on trend pair of sunglasses. If you can’t see my insecurities, maybe my sunglasses will instill some veil of confidence and convince you it looks good? (Who am I really trying to convince here)

    • Dominique Harris

      I totally agree with the sunglasses thing. I always feel more confident with my shades on. What is it they say? The eyes are the windows to the soul?


  • D

    Throw on lip gloss, gut out the day, then go buy something fabulous and work the shit out of it.

  • Mack

    hahah some of these tips really are great!

  • jenn

    I go to TJ Maxx and buy another outfit. true story

  • rhiarhia

    I keep a bunch of shoes under my desk which is good for a quick fix. I’ve also been known to turn my shirt inside out or steal borrow an oxford shirt from the dry cleaning bags some of my male coworkers leave at the office.

  • Khaliha Hawkins

    Feeling like my outfit looks terrible is the worst.I usually end up doing something above, and plus I carry an emergency kit in bag with hair pins, safety pins, hair ties and a broach in bag to fancy the outfit up or down. Just hating the way you look in an outfit is the worst.

  • becky

    This happens to me on a daily basis! No matter how hard I try there is always someone out there with a better outfit to make me feel inferior!!

    • Esikazemese

      I know that feeling…

  • Virgil Kent

    Ridiculous people problems.

  • Abbie Lamb

    Or you can always pull a Scout Willis…

  • andrea raymer

    In college I used to keep my gym clothes in my mom’s office on famous so if I hated what I was wearing I could change and be all yoga-chic (which was still much better dressed than most other people on campus). Now I live only a block way from my office, so I have been known to run home during lunch and change.

  • I have to keep gym clothes in my locker, so I’ll perform superman like maneuvers and don my black athletic shorts in favor of whatever pants I have on. Then I’ll put back on whatever coat I wore to school (because in the mornings the air temperature is akin to that of a glacier on the winter solstice). I rumple my hair, and then try to exude an air of “je ne sais quoi”. Fashion at it’s best, right here ladies and gentleman.

  • Camilla Ackley

    I duck and roll. Always duck and roll. Preferably into the nearest bathroom and then contemplate;

    a) Life

    b) Why and how my hair looks the same everyday of my life except when I need it to look the way it usually does and how unhelpful that is to this situation.

    c) How much of what I’m wearing I can remove before I get arrested/ escorted from the building.


  • Aubrey Green

    You could always punch Amelia and take her shirt/pants and then give her one of those “I’m Sorry” bracelets you mentioned in the other post.

    Maybe not punch Amelia, but just take the shirt off of her, tell her you want to see what bra she’s wearing – I’m sure that’s normal, right ;).

  • Kasia

    My friends and I have been known to swap outfits as soon as we meet. If one of us isn’t feeling what we put on that morning, we’ll just switch, or mix and match. Sometimes it works out and we both look better…other times we both look ridiculous. Either way it’s a win!

  • sedapop

    Until white button down shirts come out of boxes like kleenex does we have to go for costumey and make it look on-purpose. Maybe a dramatic cat-eye will do or borrowing a pair of prescription glasses. sedapop.blogspot.com

  • I have some form of t-shirt and a jacket in my car all the time, mostly because I’m lazy and indecisive, and I’ve been known to go on my lunch hour and come back in a completely different outfit. Sometimes I change in the car. Sometimes while I’m driving.

    When nothing else works, eyeliner is my last resort, because for some reason, it makes it look like I did everything on purpose.

  • noussavons

    Why isn’t the outfit in the photo the outfit that you’re writing about?

    • Leandra Medine

      bc i stupidly didn;t take one BUT! that is the skirt.

      • Margaret Ely


      • @Elaryen

        Stupidly? Pffff, admit it, you elegantly chose to forget that you hadn’t already done so first thing after leaving the house.

  • Didi Ramirez

    Silver Lining of the Day: You were definitely man-repelling that day!

  • fran

    Im feeling you. However, can’t let our look be our instant karma. in this case remember we are more than the sum of our outfit… and avoid mirrors that day.

    • Leandra Medine

      Lebowitz? Is that you? So profound.

  • Rachael King

    I have a draw full of shoes at work, this helps

  • Have this problem at least once a month and have successfully managed to get a friend to swap accessories with me on more than one occasion – game changer.

    Meena | Meena Means Me


  • Guest

    KNOTS, sometimes I knot up the side or front or back of my shirt. Or that time I was wearing a long maxi shirt that seemed way too drab or for the “loud” top I had on so I tied up the front of the skirt. It became one of my favorite looks. see photo attached.

  • boyfriendsandblazers

    KNOTS, sometimes I knot up the side or front or back of my shirt. Or that time I was wearing a long maxi shirt that seemed way too drab or for the “loud” top I had on so I tied up the front of the skirt. It became one of my favorite looks.

  • suzyd

    Dude, sorry to be “that guy” but you’ve got a bunch of typos up in hurr. Role =/= roll; sache =/= sash. I did this because I love you!

  • Bonnabs

    Button up the jacket, ponytail the hair and lipstick is a must.

  • isaobeso

    Oh gosh I hate when this happens. And then you’re out and nothing seems to do the trick. Sometimes I just roll with it and carry my confidence as if it was high couture. That’s the cure all.

    Visit mw at http://WWW.PEOPLEWEARFASHION.COM

  • Margaret Ely

    usually become hypercritical and obsessive to my friends about my outfit choice until they get the understand my distress and reinforce my decision and assure it “you look fineeee” to shut me up which makes me realize that I my outfit does in fact suck.

    ps. I’m relieved you experience this too (cue Michael Jackson ” you are not aloneeee, for I am here with you”

  • Step Mom reference! YES!

  • In this situation I usually just bite my lip as to try to suppress my urge to throw a tantrum. Then I kick myself in the head and try to go forth.

  • Betsy Lauren

    On your lunch break, go to the boutique closest to your work place and impulsively buy something else to wear.

  • Notepad And Lipstick

    love these tips!! I am so going to use the lipstick one or the hair style one. But then what to do when you still hate your hair and make up LOL.. xx
    p.s my blog is notepadandlipstick.com 😉

  • Cristina Feather

    When I have a bad outfit day I just avoid meeting with friends or with anybody… I go under the radar!!! And almost every time I bump into someone. Most of the times I pretend I don’t know them and cross the street. If that still doesn’t work and they’re like “heeeey! Cristina!!” (blah) I pretend I’m OK with not looking OK and just act cool…

  • Effie

    That was literally me today! I left the house in black flats, black 7/8 pants, white collarless, long shirt and black blazer w pointy shoulders. Felt so blah. Talked myself out of turning the car around going home to change. Ended up getting to work, buttoning shirt to neck, cuffing blazer sleeves so you could see shirt cuff buttons and pulling hair into ponytail. Added oversized reading glasses. The end.

  • thanks for this http://bit.ly/bsflwgt007

  • Colleen

    I’m a big fan of the messy tuck. Middle, side, slightly off, who cares! That and a little dry shampoo (I like Kevin Murphy’s “Fresh Hair”) to mess up my hair a bit and I feel waaaaay better.

  • Jamie

    Now you have an excuse to go shopping on your lunch break 🙂




  • Sydney Bowen

    “..roll the waist line up one time and call it Margiela.” you.are.the.best

  • Kristen

    If I’m wearing many layers, I switch it up and sometimes remove a layer or two, cuff the shit out of my sleeves, take off my socks, or throw on my large jacket to cover everything else that’s bad up and call it a day.

  • Delva Maynard-Reid

    Sorry, but I shall not wear anything I do not like – must change it up a bit to get me in it.

  • pterridactyl

    I had this issue a lot as a student at London College of Fashion.

    Luckily the proximity to H&M and access to a student loan saved many of those dreaded “I HATE WHAT I’M WEARING!” days.

  • Jo

    When I feel like this I just google “celebrities without makeup” makes me feel muuuuuch better! : )
    – thepopularsociety.com

  • I think layering is the best way to be able to switch your outfit around for sure! I often wear a top/blouse/jumper/anything over a dress which can then be taken off if I fancy a quick change 🙂 x


  • Allie A.

    I had this happen to me yesterday! I ripped the sleeves off my dress. It worked.

  • missdisplaced

    The worst thing is to be uncomfortable. The other day I wore some light grey ankle pants. They looked/felt ok at home STANDING UP. However, after driving for an hour and sitting in a meeting all morning the pants kept getting tighter. I felt like a stuffed sausage ready to burst! Egads!

  • gurian6

    I always kept a multi-purpose “thingy” that I bought at a Renaissance Fair. It could be used as a dress, skirt, pants, blouse, sleeping cover, pillow, and who remembers what else. I bought it in a neutral color and it saved me many times.

  • I liked this post far too much!!

    timid lioness

  • The Queen of Dreaming

    Funny post, but full of great tips 😉


  • cogitate10

    i fool myself into thinking that my outfit is not that bad.. though it takes time but it works. its all in the mind sometimes then presto i look good already.hahah