Style is about finding the right balance. However, finding balance doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time to find clothing that suit your tastes and ways to piece it all together. There’s colour matching, how patterns and textures go together and also the way style is used to express personality. That’s where your personal preferences come in.
Miuccia Prada once said that fashion is “instant language". Learning the language can be fun but it’s also a good idea to experiment until you discover the balance that works. If fashion is a form of language, then balance shows your fluency in sartorial matters.
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Whether you’re well-versed in how to dress better or still taking the first steps, below is our list of seven easy things you can do to become more stylish.
1. Begin with the basics
Basics are the building blocks of your wardrobe. It's never a bad idea to have white T-shirts, grey pullovers and black sneakers in your rotation. They work in myriad situations.
A decent selection of easy-to-wear basics allows you to be prepared for practically anything. Other basic items includes skinny jeans, a black or navy overcoat, blue or white dress shirts and the good old leather jacket.
Once you've got a strong selection of basics – with a reliable portion in neutral colours – then it's time to expand. The good thing is you've probably got a few basics already, so a few tweaks should be enough to get it right.
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2. Look for connections
Here is the golden rule for mixing and matching items in your wardrobe – look for connections. Whether it’s a shape or colour, finding a link between these pieces creates harmony.
Links can be as simple as complementary colours or as tricky as matching subtly similar patterns. Whatever your goal is, presenting those links shows that you’ve made time to get it right.
An example is to go with only two prints and mix them with solid items, such as accessories that accentuate the prints rather than clash with them. You want to find connections between items in your outfit rather than make them compete.
3. Practise colour matching
Colours can help you stand out, but well-matched colours help you stand out and show your sense for style. There’s a lot to learn about pairing colours and there’s plenty to read if you’d like to get technical. But let’s start with the basics.
First step is to nail neutral colours. That’s because they don’t clash with other colours and so are safe to match with. Neutral colours are black, white and grey, while navy and brown are often included even though they aren’t technically neutral.
So, for example, you can pair black jeans and a red sweater with a white shirt, or a grey suit and white shirt with a green tie. Once you feel comfortable mixing and matching, you can add more colours that complement one another, experiment with warm and cool colours, and get into technical tints and shades if you really want to flex.
4. Consider small details
Little details can make a big difference to how your 'fit looks. While accessories like watches, jewellery and even phone cases are an obvious go-to, there are subtle highlights that clothing can add to express your style.
Socks, scarves and hats are some good examples here. While you might go for a simple jeans, T-shirt and sneaker combo in neutral colours, you might pinroll the jeans legs and wear a pair of bold orange socks to add pop.
Patterns and textures can also tweak your look. For patterns, mix one dominant with one accent pattern (the dominant might be larger or bolder), or match completely different patterns with a single colour.
5. Work your layers
Layering is an easily overlooked aspect of styling because it’s often optional. Yes you’ll wear extra layers in the colder months, but throwing on a big coat doesn’t mean you’ve done much with your look. Working on the interplay of different items is what does.
A shirt and jeans takes only a few moments to look at, meaning that there isn’t much to hold attention. With thoughtful layering you’ll be adding extra pieces to your outfit – it’s as simple as that. A jacket, cardigan or scarf transforms your outfit into a more complex selection.
This leads to an outfit that needs more time to look at. You can play with colours and patterns here to experiment, say, with various shades of grey. This will lead to eyes glancing over your clothing a little longer than with the simple shirt and jeans option. But what’s the best part of layering? You can take layers on and off depending on the temperature – there’s little else more practical than that.
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6. Buy a statement piece
A statement piece is essentially any item that stands out from the rest of your outfit. It draws attention and “makes a statement”. Think animal print coats and diamond-encrusted sneakers. You wear statement pieces when drawing attention is the priority.
Statement pieces have a wow factor that lingers well after you’ve rocked them. However, be wary of using them too often as they aren’t everyday items, or to avoid wearing your statements thin. It should take some planning and a bit of courage – and not to mention a cash investment.
But when the desired effect is achieved, you’ll surprise your peers with both a strong visual display of your sartorial confidence. Style is just as much about personality as it is practicality.
7. Wear it with pride
Sure, there are general rules for achieving balance in your styling options. But you can break the rules at any time – doing so is also a styling decision. Wear patterns that clash if it feels right for you.
While wearing black with vertical stripes can convey slimness, that doesn't mean you absolutely must. This combination might be too boring for your tastes. After all, there's skinny jeans, pointy shoes, V-neck shirts and silk fabric for thinning effects. Feeling comfortable and that you’re expressing your personal style is arguably more important than any rule.
Style is essentially a set of personal choices and ones you should unapologetically own for yourself.