Coco Chanel once said that fashion fades, but style is eternal. And Coco knew what she was talking about. Our first fashion tip for women of all shapes and sizes, then, is this:
Don’t slavishly follow fashion
Sure, it’s fun to keep up to date with trends, and an awareness of what’s currently “in fashion” will help keep your look current, but all trends are not created equal, which is to say that not everything suits everyone. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you only have to look around to see hordes of women wearing clothes that don’t suit them, just because they’re “in fashion”. Instead…
Get to know your body type and what works for it
Another no-brainer, but again, it’s amazing how many women will wear clothes that show no awareness of their body type. Knowing whether you’re an apple, a pear, or something else entirely, will help you figure out what will look good on you and what to avoid. If you’re not sure what body type you have, ask someone you trust to be objective, or visit a store with a personal shopper and ask their opinion (it’s free!).
Have a wardrobe clear-out
Most women only actually wear a small percentage of their wardrobes on a regular basis, rotating the same tried-and-trusted outfits over and over again. Start again from scratch: empty your wardrobe and then go through it one item at a time. For an item to win its place back in the wardrobe, you have to be sure you’re actually going to wear it – a good rule of thumb here is that if you haven’t worn it in the last year, you probably don’t love it enough to keep it. If you really can’t bear to let it go, invest in some storage bags or boxes and store the clothes you haven’t worn in a year in the attic. If you still haven’t missed them within the next six months, send them to the charity store so that someone can get some use out of them.
Go back to basics
Now that your wardrobe is looking a little emptier, it’s time to fill it up again, but this time with clothes you’ll actually wear and feel good in. Start with the
basics. There are certain items that form the cornerstone of just about every women’s wardrobe: a great pair of jeans, the perfect wear-with-anything black trousers, you know the drill. Once you have these basics right, you can start to build on them to create a look that’s more individual and identifiably “yours”. Take your time shopping for the basics: think quality rather than quantity, make sure the fit is perfect, and don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more: these clothes should last years.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with fashion
Now that you have your basics, it’s time to start having fun. By now you should know what kind of body type you have and what works for it, but don’t take these fashion rules for granted: instead, spend some time experimenting with different looks, and work out what looks good on you. A good tip here is to take a photo of yourself in different outfits – it’ll give you a much better idea of how you really look than a glance in the mirror. Remember to check out how you look from the back and the side as well as from the front, and if you can rope in a trusted friend to give you some honest advice, so much the better.
Always try it on
Running late? Can’t be bothered standing in the queue for the changing rooms? It can be really tempting to just grab that new top/dress/whatever, pay up and go, but be honest: how often does that new top end up sitting in the back of the wardrobe because when you got it home you realised it didn’t suit you, but didn’t have the time or energy to take it back? Your clothes are an investment, so try to resist the lure of the impulse purchase, and always try it on!
Ignore the size on the label
No matter how beautiful an item of clothing is, if it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t look good. Knowing your dress size doesn’t help here, because sizing is notoriously inconsistent – you can be a 10 in one store, a 12 in another, an 8 in yet another. Ignore the size on the label. Take a few different sizes into the changing room and buy the one that fits best. No one will know or care what the number is on the inside…
Updated September 2014