1. What is the focal point of your outfit?
Once you are dressed, walk away from the mirror for a few minutes—check your email, make a snack—whatever you need to do to clear your mind and avoid looking at yourself. Now go back to your full-length mirror and assess your outfit with fresh eyes. What about your outfit grabs your attention? Is it the neckline of your shirt? The sparkle on your bracelet? The belt around your waist? On any outfit, there is going to be one dominant focal point—a place on your outfit where your eye naturally rests. Often these are places where there is some sort of sparkle or embellishment, or where there is an especially bright color. If you are wearing all solids and one print, the print will probably be the focal point. If you are wearing a bunch of prints and only one solid, the solid may be the focal point.
Once you find it, ask yourself, "Is this something I want people to look at—or is it just distracting?" If you feel good about it, great! If not, replace it or add a new eye-catching element somewhere else on your outfit.
2. Does everything fit properly?
Are there awkward bulges you wish were not there? Is your blouse pulling across the chest? Does your zipper not go up all the way? Is anything sagging? Sometimes these issues are solved by tweaking your layers—a less-padded bra, a more fitted sweater, etc. Sometimes you need to go to a tailor to address them. And sometimes it's something as simple as a temporary fluctuation in your weight, so that what looked good one week doesn't look good the next week, but may look good again the week after that. The important thing is identifying the issue, fixing it if you can, and moving on if you can't.
3. Are there visible flaws on any of your clothes or accessories?
If it's a little thing that you can fix right then and there, just do it. It takes a few seconds to trim a few loose threads, buff a scuff off your shoe, or run a lint roller over your butt. Unless you are fleeing for your life, there is no situation in which you don't have 30 seconds to spare.
If it's something bigger, like a hole, stain, missing button, or missing beads from an embellishment or accessory, take it off and either pack it in your bag to take to the dry cleaner/tailor while you are out, or set it aside to deal with later—ideally somewhere prominent and close to your front door so you don't forget about it.
Every time you wear something busted, you become more accepting of such flaws throughout your wardrobe. Soon nothing short of a giant hole directly over your boob will be likely to catch your attention, at which point you are in real danger of becoming officially sloppy. If you wouldn't buy something in that condition, then you shouldn't wear it in that condition.
4. Can you take off your jacket without ruining your whole outfit?
What about your hat or scarf? No matter how great your outerwear is, at some point you are going to get hot and have to take it off. Will this change your look? Of course it will! But it shouldn't ruin the outfit. If removing your jacket takes your style from 10 to 2, then it is in your own best interest to make some sort of a change.
5. Do you feel powerful?
Fuck "fine." Fuck "good." And fuck "cute." The question is, do you feel powerful in this outfit? Strong? Confident? Energized? If you walk out your front door and run into the love of your life, will you be glad you wore this outfit or will you wish you had chosen something else? If your boss asks you to got to an important meeting or give a big presentation, will you feel underdressed or will you know that whatever comes your way, at least your outfit is on point? Don't settle for just being "comfortable" or "appropriate" or even "trendy." A great outfit is one that makes you feel like you can take on the world, because when you feel powerful, amazing things start to happen.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.