I‘m just going to be totally honest here: I don’t really consider myself to be in much of a position to be handing out style tips.
*Looks down at washed-out leggings and baggy sweater.*
*Nope, definitely not in ANY kind of position to giving people style tips*
Er, as you can probably tell from the title, though, I’m going to do it anyway: not in some kind of, “I know better than you, ner-ner-ner-ner,” kind of way, I hasten to add, but purely because, much to my amazement, people DO occasionally ask me for fashion advice, so today I thought I’d do my best to pass on the little I know.
Before I do, though, I want to be really clear that this post is about style tips, rather than fashion advice. There IS a difference between the two, and while I hate being That Person quoting the ol’ “Fashion fades, style is eternal,” line, I totally AM going to be that person, because, the fact is, I know nothing about fashion, and care even less about it. I don’t pay attention to Fashion Week, don’t care what’s on the runways, don’t follow trends – I’m just not remotely interested in any of that stuff, so if you’re here looking for advice on how to look “bang on trend” or incorporate this season’s colour in your wardrobe, or whatever, sorry, but these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
I don’t know much about fashion, then, but I HAVE had a life-long obsession with STYLE. Even as a little girl, I remember talking my mum into buying me a bright green coat and matching beret – and then being mocked relentlessly at school for it – because I had this idea in my head about how I wanted to look, and what kind of message the clothes I chose would project. (In that particular case, the message was that I was the kid getting bullied on the way home from school, but oh well, you live and you learn, right?)
I still have that obsession, and while I don’t claim to have succeeded in my mission to be stylish, I do continue to try. Here are just a few of the style tips I’ve learned along the way…
My top 10 style tips
Buy the size that fits, regardless of the size on the label
I think a lot of people get really hung up on the idea of being a certain size – whatever that size may be – and will either try to wear that size regardless of whether it fits, or will simply assume that they still ARE that size, and keep on buying/wearing it, even although their figures may have changed. And, I mean, no judgement: we’ve all been there, right?
The thing is, though, sizing is so variable these days, and, thanks to vanity sizing, it’s really become totally meaningless. So, buy the size you ACTUALLY are, rather than the one you THINK you are: clothes that fit well will always look far more stylish than ones that don’t!
Just because you can get it on, it doesn’t necessarily mean it fits
Seriously: a dress doesn’t “fit” you just because you can get zip it up – you also have to be able to sit, walk and move around comfortably in it: if you can’t do that, it doesn’t fit!
If in doubt, ask a friend, or take a photo
Still not sure if that item REALLY fits? Either ask someone you trust to tell you the truth, or try snapping a quick photo with your phone – sometimes the camera will pick up things you don’t notice with the naked eye, and it also allows you to take a slightly more objective look at what you actually look like…
Never shop when you’re feeling emotional
You know the saying that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, or you’ll just end up buying ALL THE THINGS? The same goes for clothes shopping – although, in this case, substitute “hungry” for “emotional”. I’ll be the first to admit to being an emotional shopper: if I’m feeling a bit sad, I’ll hit up ASOS for a quick fix, knowing that the anticipation of that next-day-delivery will instantly boost my mood. Unfortunately, though, the delivery itself often DOESN’T, because I’ll buy things when I’m emotional that I don’t actually need, and won’t ever wear – which just leaves me feeling worse.
If you find yourself doing the ‘Should I buy this?’ dance for more than a few minutes, you’ve already answered your own question
In an ideal world, every item of clothing you buy should be something that makes you feel AMAZING. You know that feeling when you find something, try it on, and just can’t get to the checkout fast enough with it? THAT?
Of course, not EVERY purchase is going to make you feel like that, obviously: but if you find yourself really prevaricating over something, putting it on and taking it off multiple times, or having to continually seek assurance from friends and family about whether or not you should buy it, the decision has really been made already: because, even if that item DOES look objectively good on you, the fact that you’re not sure about it will mean you’ll never feel truly comfortable in it: and if you’re not comfortable, you’re going to find it hard to be stylish.
Speaking of comfort…
Only buy shoes you can walk in
Don’t know how to walk in high heels? Read this post if you WANT to be able to do it, but if you don’t? Don’t bother. Nothing looks less stylish than someone who’s clearly struggling to stand up in shoes they’re not comfortable in: instead, find something that allows you to walk with confidence AND style.
Don’t follow fashion: find your own style, instead
I’ll just quickly caveat this one by saying, “unless you really want to”. There’s obviously nothing wrong with following trends, and if that’s something that’s important to you, go for it. If being “trendy” is important to you, though, I’m guessing you’re probably not reading a blog post about style tips, are you? For those of you who ARE, though, and who favour “style” over fashion, working out what suits you, and what you love wearing is key to looking stylish: there’s a post on how to develop your ‘signature’ style here, which should be a good starting point.
Style tips for every budget
Start building your core wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes are kind of the ‘marmite’ of the fashion world: people tend to either love them or hate them. Regardless of where you stand on that one, though, I really recommend building yourself a ‘core’ wardrobe – by which I mean, working out what your absolute essentials are, and then focusing on building your wardrobe around them. I don’t mean that these items should form a ‘capsule’ in the sense that they become the only things you ever wear, by the way: I just mean that, when you have a collection of high-quality basics/essentials, that all fit and flatter you, and work together seamlessly, you’ll always have something to wear – and can then move on to the ‘fun’ bit, which is buying all of those more unique or statement pieces, which will give a bit of personality to your essentials.
Look after your clothes – or buy ones that don’t need looking after
So, I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy an iron, because I know some people pride themselves on never ironing anything, no matter WHAT. What I will say, though, is that clothes that are dirty, crumpled, or in a generally poor state of repair, will never look stylish, regardless of how much you paid for them, or how fabulous they looked when they were new. It’s not the most exciting way to spend your time, true, but take shoes to the cobbler when they need it, have your clothes repaired (or do it yourself) if necessary, and, if you’re not prepared to iron, make sure you only buy fabrics that don’t need it – your clothes will thank you for it.
(OK, they won’t: but you know what I mean…)
Stop comparing yourself to people who look totally different from you
Hopefully you’re a bit smarter than I am, and have learned this one already, but I spent a large part of my adult life seeing other women wearing outfits I love, and trying to re-create them… only to end up wondering why I looked NOTHING like the photos I’d so admired. The fact is, though, I will NEVER look like those women, because they are TOTALLY different from me: different heights, different builds, different colouring… That doesn’t mean that I can’t ever wear ANY of the same kind of looks, of course, but it does mean I have to be aware of what works for ME, rather than what works for THEM: I’m the one I’m trying to dress, after all!
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I’m going to try my best to update this post with more style tips as I think of them: until then, though, I’d love to hear some of yours, so feel free to leave your own ultimate style tips in the comments box!