Busting the Style Rut: 3 Steps to Breaking Free


The Dreaded Style Rut – I shake my fist at thee! After witnessing you cover countless people with your stubborn, persistently lethargic sludge, I’ve made it my mission to vanquish you once and for all. If I only had a Ghostbusters-style backpack that could suck up every over-worn leggings and oversized t-shirt, I’d have finished the job years ago.

3 Steps To Busting The Style Rut

I guess I’ll have to settle for an analogy instead. You are a worthy opponent, after all.

Busting the style rut is a lot like trying to get into shape. You get your exercise equipment of choice, plan your workout, and start working up a sweat. If you’re anything like me, after the first ten minutes of hard work you’re laying on the couch, shotgunning a whole box of Nabisco cookies that you “earned,” while binging reruns of The Office on Netflix.

The same can be said for trying to shake the funk out of your look. People often spend a bunch of money on new clothes, plan out their outfits, wear them for a few days, and then it’s back to leggings and tees every day again.

If you read last month’s 3 Signs You Might be in a Style Rut and are looking to break free, these three action steps can get you started:

#1 Throw Out Your Style Rules

Virtually everyone has some item of clothing they’ve deemed “off limits.” Commonly uttered mantras I’ve encountered include “My butt doesn’t look good in jeans” or “I don’t have the right skin tone for bright colors.” The thing is, these same people will put on the right pair of jeans or bright colored top and look amazing, yet they scoff in the mirror because the new item of choice violates their “rules.”

Ironically, our self-imposed rules often limit us from experiencing new and exciting style options. My advice? Burn your rule book and experiment with a new look, a new pattern, or a new silhouette. Be willing to try new looks – you might just surprise yourself!

#2 Get Some Help (But Not From Your Friends)

While our friends can be amazing pillars of support for us, we often ask our friends for style help when we are just looking to confirm what we already think. Unless you have incredibly blunt friends, they will likely hide bits and pieces of the truth about your style because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Since style is so deeply personal, busting the style rut often requires someone one step removed from us to help us get the perspective we need. You need an outside perspective that wont sugarcoat anything. I recommend hiring a personal stylist and checking out Reddit’s Female Fashion Advice. You can post pictures of your style with your face removed and get kind, appropriate, and honest feedback from thousands of ladies who think a lot about style. 

#3 Leave Your Comfort Zone and Stand Out

While putting on a new outfit is quick and easy, busting the style rut is not. Many people expect a one-time “makeover” to be all they need, but most often all they’ve changed are the clothes on the outside and not the person on the inside. That person on the inside might be initially pleased to see Hot Mama staring back at her in the mirror, but she will often revert back to her comfort zone the moment her new style hits a bump in the road.

That’s perfectly okay – I need some pajamas days, too. However, pajamas days can turn into pajamas weeks or months if you don’t consciously make the decision to continue to step back out of your style comfort zone regularly and try something that makes feel as if you are standing out. Before you know it, what is uncomfortable will eventually become comfortable over time as you strengthen your new habits and become less afraid of risks.

Scratching The Surface

I’d be lying if I said busting the style rut is simple; you could probably write multiple articles on any one of these three points. But you can take steps today to reclaim your style by asking for help from someone who will tell you like it is. Open yourself up to their recommendations (even if it conflicts with your “rules”) and step out of your style comfort zone regularly.


  1. Great tips for getting out of the style rut! I definitely feel like i’m in one myself; it’s been so long since I’ve worked in a professional environment that my permanent style includes either leggings or yoga capris and a tshirt! It’s rare my kids see my in jeans or anything remotely stylish!

    • Ashley, that’s a common theme I’ve noticed working with Moms – the leggings and t-shirt rut. Let me know if you ever have any questions about how to get your groove back! 🙂

  2. Great advice as always. I had no idea you could get personalized fashion advice online like that. It’s like you are talking to me – in my only leggings that fit :/ I’m working on eating healthier and braving different pants/skirts/dresses hopefully one day soon 🙂

  3. I’ve lately been trying to bust out of my style rut. I’m trying new things and have been having fun. This article was spot on.

  4. Kat – I have that same exact Ghostbusters costume! Bwah ha ha ha! My son was the Stay Puft Marshmallow man for Halloween when he was a toddler. In all seriousness, thanks again for giving me important reminders for continuing to wear fun clothes.

  5. Colors and comfort zones have always been my fall back. 9/10 you will see me in black, white or gray. I am finally starting to reach out to more vibrant colors.

    • Colors can be a great way to feel like you’re breaking free! Let me know if you have any questions about how to incorporate color into your look Ya 🙂

  6. I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone with my style lately. Using different prints and switching up some of my color palettes. It makes a difference when you step outside of your norm

  7. Going to that Reddit link now! I just have to check it out (and maybe use it a time or two). I love these tips though, especially the “get rid of your style rules” one!

  8. I like the idea of reaching out to others on Reddit. GREAT idea. I find everybody that I know has an opinion of what I should wear and it’s usually stuff that’s completely off the mark as to my body shape etc.

  9. I definitely have my own “rules” about what I can and can’t wear, and I DEFINITELY haven’t revisited those rules in at least a decade. How dumb is that?! Thanks for the advice.

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