As someone who has a definite style, works at a fashion college and is rarely seen in an outfit that hasn’t been carefully planned out, I often get asked for style tips. Last summer I played the part of personal shopper twice and it got me thinking about how I could distil my advice into a blog post, so that readers can kick-start their own journey to finding a style that suits them.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, but it is in no way an exhaustive list. If you have any of your own tips to add, feel free to add them in the comments.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Which items in your wardrobe do you really love? What is it about them makes you feel good (the cut, colour, texture, pattern, fit or style)?
- What have you worn recently that’s got compliments?
- What do you feel most comfortable in (both physically and emotionally)?
- What do you love most about clothes – colour or texture?
- What have you seen other people wearing that you’d love to wear yourself? Have you tried wearing something like that? If not, why?
General Tips and Advice
- Look at a photo of you at a special occasion wearing an outfit that you absolutely love. Work out if you could wear it (or a version of it) everyday, rather than keeping it for best.
- Venture out of your comfort zone at least once. Try on things you think you might hate, when you go shopping. Put together an outfit of things you already own that you wouldn’t usually wear together. You never know, it might make you feel better than you thought it would.
- If you have a fondness for one particular colour, don’t be afraid to buy lots of accessories in that colour. Whatever clothes you put on can instantly be made into a coordinating outfit that way.
- Check size guides on websites and never assume something will fit because ‘a size 12/XL/34″ waist always fits’ in one particular shop. Different brands cut for different ideal customers.
- Pick something patterned from your wardrobe that you love (e.g. a scarf, shirt or tie) and then build an outfit around those colours. If they work together in a print, they’ll probably work for an outfit.
- If you’re shopping for womenswear, check What Size Am I? before hitting the high street to give yourself a realistic idea of what size might fit in which shop.
- Do your research in advance. Check retailers websites to see if their latest stock is of interest, and ask stylish friends where they think you could buy items you’d like.
- Create balance with your accessories (via colour, style and size/shape). A big skirt works well with a big necklace. Bold socks and a lapel pin can liven up a plain shirt and jacket combo.
- Remember, getting dressed can actually be a fun start to your day rather than a chore.
- When going shopping in a bricks ‘n’ mortar store, it can be useful to take a rational honest friend with you for companionship, reassurance and advice. If you can’t do that (or would rather not), taking photos in the changing room can help you see an outfit with different eyes.
- Please don’t assign any special significance to the numbers on the label of anything you try on, just focus on what fits you.
- Take a tip from my mum and be aware of how much care you are willing to give a garment. Check the washing instructions on the label and exercise caution if it’s hand wash or dry clean only. Scrunch the fabric in your hand to see how much ironing it’ll need.
- Remember to sit down in anything tight or easily crumpled to see if it will be easy to live with day-to-day. Walk the length of the changing rooms in a skirt to see if it rides up. Lift your arms above your head and out in front in a jacket to check the range of movement. Bend over in trousers, and also try bending at the knees. Nobody wants to fork out for something that only looks great when they’re standing still.
- If you walk into a shop and just aren’t feeling it, leave. Someone may have told you they always find good stuff in there, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Certain stores offer a wonderful experience, whatever mood you’re in, whereas others are frustrating as hell when you’re easily annoyed.
- Treat IRL shopping as research. Once you know which brands suit you and fit well, it will be easier to shop online without disappointment. Also, it’s much easier to try whole outfits on (and different colour combinations) when you don’t have to part with cash before doing so.