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Tricks Of The Trade: Rescuing Outfits Gone Wrong

Updated: Jul 31, 2019

I can waddle by a “SALE” sign at any clothing establishment without pause.

The sale section is like a retail feeding trough - you sink your head into a box of frivolous finds, swish around for 10 minutes in a sea of throwaway possibilities and finally come up for air with a new striped tube top or pair of mismatched socks hanging by your teeth. In my mind, “Sale” items are trinkets and throwaway items that are not worth musing over. This, of course, isn’t true - but this kind of unchecked hardwiring has thankfully kept me from purchasing every sale item in sight during my shopping excursions.

However, the “FINAL SALE” section – that’s my retail kryptonite. It plays into my biggest fear: somehow this item is the LAST of its kind, the LAST of its size, and it will never ever be made again or enter into the mind of a designer to be made again in the near future. It must, in fact, be a rare gem in the gobble-dee-guck that is the “sale section” and therefore… I MUST HAS.

We have all been there. Whether you are a Sale or Final Sale Junkie, we seem to make our decisions the same exact way. First, we hold the item in utter disbelief, marveling at its price to quality ratio. After we drape it over our heads and scuttle over to the nearest mirror, we give it a stretch and a tug and decide it should probably fit. In our building excitement to snag this amazing deal, we hop over to the register, throwing caution to the wind and purchase our impeccable SALE gem… only to come home and find that it cuts off our boobs, is uncomfortably shorter than it looked on the rack, and somehow the color washes us out.

Dread overcomes you. You feel a deadened sinking feeling in your soul.

You have been had yet again by the retail world!

And you are too tired to go back to the store to return it and can’t think of friend who would dare wear this marvelous ill-fitted wonder. Defeated, you tell yourself that it will be the most fashionable and colorful dish towel you have in the entire kitchen and vow never to frequent the retail feeding troughs again.

If this sounds eerily similar to some of your shopping experiences in the Sale and Final Sale worlds, I have some easy quick-fixes that will save your purchase from becoming the “belle of the ball” of dish towels.

Kat wearing white dress with jean jacket

My Boobs Are Cut Off In This Zipper Dress!

There is nothing more dreadful than a square boob. “Square boob” happens when we take our glorious bosoms and shove them into a smaller size than you normally wear, flattening them from the top and squishing them together from the sides - forming a perfect awkward boob square. The solution is rather simple: pair the dress with a cropped neutral sweater. A cropped sweater is any sweater that is cut short at the hem and exposes the waist navel or a portion of the midriff. This short sweater will give your pulverized boobs some camouflage without taking away from the beautiful cut/color and pattern of your new find. I implore you - do not go for a regular sweater that sits at your hips or below. If you go this route, you will disguise your squished boobs while simultaneously looking like one of the Sister Wives.

If you don’t have a cropped sweater, a boyfriend-cut jean jacket (pictured above) will work marvelously to add some structure to your look. The boyfriend cut is cut wider and will give you some comfort when paired with your bust-busting dress, all the while disguising your smashed boobs in the process.

Kat wearing white dress with kimono

My Dress Is Too Short!

There is nothing more soul-crushing than when your vision to take your new dress to work, play, and all-you-can-eat brunch gets ruined by a shorter than expected leg line, making it seemingly only appropriate for classy club wear. Don’t worry: the beautiful maxi kimono can do all the things for all people.

When you are working with a dress that is too short for practical wear, a kimono top that hits between the knees and mid-calf will make your look instantly more appropriate. The added layer will bring a bit of visual interest and flounce to your look while drawing the eyes away from the leg line. The kimono top itself transforms any ensemble into something instantly more casual and bohemian. When pairing a kimono top with a dress, the key is to bring balance: pair a neutral dress with a lightly patterned and colored kimono or vice versa.

Kat wearing white dress with colored scarf and skinny belt

UGHH… The Color Just Doesn’t Work!

This is perhaps the trickiest one to tackle - you come home and realize the color of your dress washes you out. I discovered this several years ago when I fell in love with a dark oatmeal toned Final Sale sweater. I put it on at home, only to look like a headless woman floating around her bathroom mirror as this oatmeal tone matched my skin tone exactly.

This trick will inevitably change the look of your dress, but it will also keep you from looking like a washed-out floating head. For this quick fix, you need a rectangular scarf that ranges from 50 to 65 inches long and a skinny belt. The idea of this look is to choose a color in your scarf collection that warms up your skin tone but can still play nice with your dress. Now, I wish I could give you a formulated chart for exactly what colors work with your skin tone and play nice with your specific dress, but this will require a bit of experimenting on your part.

For my white A-lined dress, I have chosen a red and black scarf and belted it right along my waistline. The color that you see against my face is no longer the washed-out white, but a warmer yellow and red. This trick works for any color that washes you out: simply pair it with a scarf that warms up your skin tone and your washed-out top or dress in question no longer has power over you.

Tricks Of The Trade

Being a Final Sale junkie, I need a few tricks up my sleeve to help me out when things go terribly wrong. These 3 tricks have saved me from the shame of square-boobed, too-short, washed-out items on more occasions than I’d like to admit. And of course, these are only a few of the problems and solutions out there that you run into when you buy something you can’t return.

What have you done to rescue outfits gone wrong? Let me know in the comments below!

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