Get your own personal stylist to help you find clothes you love. All online, completely free

Sign In

What goes with what

How to not look boring

How to not look boring

Consistency is, generally, a good thing for your style. When you find a look that works, it makes sense to stick to it, since it simplifies everything from your morning decision-making to figuring out what’s worth buying. But consistency has a cousin, one that’s less welcome in your wardrobe: boredom.

“It’s surprisingly easy for your style to get into a rut,” says Thread stylist Brooke Philips. Particularly when you’re looking to avoid mistakes, your look can sometimes end up so bereft of personality that it feels more like a uniform than an outfit. “If you wear the same things day-in-and-day-out, or have found that somehow everything in your wardrobe is in only two colours, then you might look a bit boring. But it’s easy to fix.”

The good thing about looking boring is that it means you’ve got a blank canvas to mix things up. “Add something unexpected and suddenly the whole look comes to life,” says Brooke. “It’s about finding the things that represent your personality and making them an easy, natural extension to the stuff that you feel comfortable in.”

Particularly in summer, when you’re wearing less clothes, it can be easy to fall into the same-shorts-and-a-t-shirt trap. But you can stick to pieces that you know work, then switch up the individual elements to make everything more interesting. “You’ll find that you look forward to getting dressed in the morning,” says Brooke. “You can choose clothes that say something about you – that tell people that you’re interesting, not boring.” Which is the kind of impression you it’s always good to make.

Lift safe colours with unexpected shades

Photographed: Boden polo shirt (£35)MVP shorts (£24)Reebok Classic trainers (£79)

Head-to-toe neutrals is a look that carries few risks, but also offers few rewards. When you only wear navy, black and grey, you disappear into the crowd. “Colours give an outfit another dimension,” says Brooke. “And they mean you can wear something simple, like shorts and a polo, but it feels like you’ve made an effort.”

The key to introducing colour is taking baby steps: going from zero to hot pink is too big a gear shift. “Make sure there’s one neutral, like the stone shorts here, which grounds the brighter colours,” says Brooke. “Then keep the tones consistent. The pale purple shirt, and washed-out shoes, are easier to pull off than neons.” If you’re going to wear more than one colour, start by separating them. “If they’re further apart, there’s less chance of them clashing.”

Give neutrals depth with texture

Photographed: Barbour overshirt (£129)Howlin Towelling t-shirt (£79)Carharrt trousers (£105 for similar)Clark's desert boots (£95)

If you’re truly colour-averse, then texture is colour’s easier sibling. “It’s materials that aren’t flat,” says Brooke. “Things like suede, or towelling fabric, are really tactile. And the eye picks up on that, because they reflect the light in different ways to things like cotton.” This gives your outfit a third-dimension – depth. Which translates as: interest.

“It looks like you’ve really thought about what you’re wearing,” says Brooke, “but texture is also really easy to wear, because unlike colour, textures don’t clash.” You can wear suede with wool with terry cloth and be confident that it all goes together. “Around three textured pieces is the limit, though, or things start to get a little busy. You need some flatter fabrics, like jersey or leather, to create contrast.”

Focus on the details with accessories

Photographed: Carharrt shirt (£85)Hamilton & Hare trousers (£132)Oliver Sweeney sandles (£119)Grenson tote bag (£140)Timex watch (£80)

You have to wear clothes. But you don’t have to carry a bag or even, in the smartphone era, wear a watch. Which means that accessories, even simple ones, always say something about the person who’s chosen them. “They can have utility – you should have a bag because you’ve actually got things you want to carry around, not just because of the way it looks,” says Brooke. “But it’s good to think about aesthetically as well, rather than just whether they can do the job.”

The best thing about accessories is their cost-effectiveness. If your wardrobe’s boring and you buy an interesting new shirt, you’ll only wear it once a week. But you could use a great bag, or pair of shoes, almost every day. “It can become a signature,” says Brooke. “A really easy way to convey personality but still stick to clothes that feel safe and comfortable.” Stick to one or two at most, rather than decorating yourself like a Christmas tree. “None is a bit dry, but too many is overwhelming. Choose something really great and let it be the focal point.”

Punch up your basics with pattern

Photographed: H&M shirt (£49.99)Saturday’s NYC shorts (£109)Vans trainers (£59)

Like texture, patterns are ideal for making your go-to pieces – button-down shirts, tees, even shorts – feel less, well, boring. You get the simplicity of wearing items you know work together, but with a dose of visual interest. “Identifying good patterns can be hard, because there’s a lot of noise out there,” says Brooke. “But if in doubt, stick to the classics: stripes, checks, polka dots, even subtle florals.” They’ve been tried and tested for centuries, so you can be confident that they look good. Hawaiian hula girls, less so.

Wearing one pattern is simple, particularly if you stick to neutrals, as nothing clashes. “You don’t need to overload the colours if you’re wearing patterns, because they’re interesting enough by themselves,” says Brooke. But to really lift things, try mixing and not-quite-matching. “You need contrast, so avoid anything that’s too similar.” As a rule of thumb, pair big with small: a fine stripe, like this shirt, looks best with something large, like the abstract florals on the shorts. “It should look a bit thrown together. If you coordinate too much, the whole thing feels fussy.”