This women’s style guide was put together primarily for the benefit of beginners, but we think there are plenty of hints and tips for anyone looking to improve their wardrobe. We’ll go through the basics of creating your own style, of finding inspiration from classic looks, how to dress for your body shape and plenty more…
Nobody is born with a sense of style. Some people catch on quickly and start developing their own look at an incredibly early age, while others can spend years repeatedly making fashion faux pas until they finally get it right. But wherever you lie within those polar opposites of style development, one thing is for sure: everyone has to start somewhere.
The Difference Between Style And Fashion
Before we start, let’s get something straight: there is a huge difference between ‘style’ and ‘fashion’. Here are three key pointers to help highlight the difference:
Style has staying power: fashions fade
Style is unique: fashion is for the masses
Style centers on you: fashion centers on what you are wearing
It might sound like we are firmly against fashion, but we’re not: many people with an excellent sense of style wear fashionable clothes. However, finding your own flair is the key to looking fantastic, not slavishly following the latest trends regardless of how they fit on your body or clash with your natural coloring.
For a great example of the difference between style and fashion, head to your local mall, sit down and people-watch for an hour or so. You see those guys that look effortlessly great? They are stylish. And the people that look like they are trying too hard, dressed from head to toe in the latest attire? Yup, they are the renowned ‘dedicated followers of fashion’.
Fashion is a great complement to your wardrobe but it isn’t until you have developed your own sense of style that you’ll be able to pick out those key items which perfectly work with your look – and we’ll take a look at that how to do that right now…
How To Develop Your Own Style
As Coco Chanel once said, “a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” Now, it would be nice if we all had the money to pay for personal stylists to make sure we were always looking great but for the vast majority of us, a sense of style is something we have to develop on our own.
We think this is a good thing – after all, style is simply an expression of our own identities – but it can be a big challenge to figure out what looks good on you, where you should take your inspiration from and how to make the most out of your budget. However, there are some simple tips which can help you set you on your way to developing your own look.
Dressing For Your Personality
What makes you tick? How old are you? Where do you live? What do you do with your days? Take a pen and paper and write down everything you can about yourself: the answers to these questions will go a long way to beginning the process of defining your own style.
Of course, there are many facets to our personalities, but what we are trying to do here is bring ‘you’ to the fore: to develop an overall look that you are comfortable with and that you want others to see you as.
Perhaps you are a hippy chick at heart, or a country girl, or maybe you just want to be seen as a business professional. Try and identify a core element that runs through everything you do and all of your interests.
Oh, and a quick word about age: we don’t think how old you are should restrict what you want to wear. Whether you want to rock granny chic in your twenties or the latest mainstream fashions in your retirement, that’s fine: so long as you are comfortable in it and, most importantly, it suits your body shape, which we’ll take a look at now.
Body Shape Basics
Now we have an idea of the sort of ‘look’ that we want to develop, the next step in our women’s style guide is to learn what sort of clothes are going to suit our shape: the key to looking stylish is to ensure that the clothes we wear flatter our body types.
Women’s bodies come in all shapes, sizes and proportions and it would be impossible to account for every single possibility. However, we can identify five basic types that form the basis of most body shapes: one of these will pretty much describe you.
Apple Body Shape
The apple body shape is top heavy, meaning that your bust is more than three inches bigger than your hips. If you’re this shape, you should draw attention to your legs, bust and try and lengthen your torso. Avoid clothes that highlight your broad shoulders and back.
Pear Body Shape
The pear body type is the opposite of the apple and is a classic female shape: your lower body will be be markedly wider than your torso and shoulders. Show off your waist, arms and, if you are comfortable with it, your curvy posterior, too!
Hourglass Body Shape
The body shape that – supposedly – everybody wants, the hourglass figure is defined by a curvy bust and hips, with a much slimmer waist. However, the truth is that all these curves make it very difficult for women with hourglass shapes to experiment too much with new styles. Stick with strapless dresses, A-line skirts and fitted jackets – think Marilyn Monroe and the 1950s and you’ll be on the right track.
Rectangle/Straight Body Shape
If your body shape is rectangular or straight, then your shoulders, waist and hips are similarly sized. Show off your arms and legs and try to create curves with your clothes by pinching at the waist. Ruffles, frills and collars all help to add a bit of volume.
Inverted Triangle Body Shape
The inverted triangle is when your shoulders and chest are wider in proportion than your hips – many models and athletes have this body shape. If you fall into this category you should draw attention to your legs and waist, while softening the broadness of your shoulders. Avoid anything too billowy or boxy on top – which will make you appear much bigger.
How To Wear Color
It’s important not to pay too much attention to the latest fashion trends when it comes to color. The fact is, your skin tone should dictate what you are wearing as some colors just don’t look good with particular skin types, no matter what the top designers are saying!\r\n\r\nIn general your skin will have either warm or cool tones. Cool tones are signified by having a pinky or blue look to the skin under natural light, while warm-toned people have a hint of gold. As a rough guide, you should look to use blue-based colors for cool tones and yellow-based colors for warm tones, but here are some more in depth hints and tips…
What To Wear With Cool Tone Skin
- Look for deep greens, reds and blues
- Soft pastels work well with cool tones
- Seek out pure white and black – but offset with a soft color
- Try wearing plum colors or rich, ruby reds
What To Wear With Warm Tone Skin
- Rich, earthy colors will suit warm toned folk
- Try ivory, oyster, peach and apricot in the summer
- Browns, bronzes, olives and jades work wonderfully
Some clothes are always in season. Flick through any vintage catalogues or watch any old movie and you can see for yourself: when it comes to wardrobe basics, things don’t change much at all.
If your wardrobe is in need of a recharge, you should always begin by stripping things back to the basics: garments you can wear at any time and for a multitude of situations. Your wardrobe basics should form the basis of your style and be complemented by the odd flourish of up to date fashion trends to keep you looking fresh.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your wardrobe basics, but it is worth investing some time and effort into researching for good quality, particularly certain items like jeans. Don’t forget, if your basics are going to be worn a lot, then a better quality will help them to last a long time and retain their shape throughout their lifespan.
If you need help with building up a great selection of clothing staples, then check out our guide to wardrobe basics, but for now, we want to have a look at what you should spend money on and what you can cut back on…
Spend money on…
It’s worth getting a couple of pairs of jeans and doing some research about quality. Cheap jeans can lose their shape very quickly, whereas premium denim will fit you better and last longer.
The ‘little black dress’ is an essential wardrobe staple for any woman and can be worn with pretty much anything else. Because of this, it’s important not to fall into the false economy of buying cheap, as you’ll only end up buying often.
The ultimate utility pants should not be scrimped on. You can wear black pants casually or formal, but it’s important to get the right fit with quality that will last.
Bras can have a huge impact on your body shape when dressed, so it really is worth investing a bit of money on them. The larger your boobs, the more important the fit will be, so make sure you get this right!
Save money on…
Every girl should have a good selection of Ts, but as you will wear them so close to the skin, they will need washing more often and won’t last as long. Find a good fit with good material, but don’t waste your money by spending $100 on the latest designer tee.
the white blouse is a classic garment, but you will need a few of these to keep you going. For this reason, keep costs down by going for cheaper options for several everyday wear blouses, and maybe splash out on a more expensive one for special occasions.
They haven’t made indestructible pantihose yet, and until they do, we think you should avoid spending a lot on your hosiery.
Have a think about how often you are going to wear that evening dress. Is there really any point in splurging $250 on something that might only make it out of the wardrobe once or twice in its life? And even when it does, it runs the risk of being trodden on or having drinks spilled onto it.