There's a famous quote by Edna Woolman Chase - "Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess." You've no doubt heard it, and if you're anything like me looked down at your sweat pants and thought, well damn!
But don't be discouraged; when you give your inner style queen a little bit of room to breath you'll find she's alive and kicking and has lots to say for herself. So here are a few easy steps to take to give her that room.
1. Make an effort - It sounds simple but there's a huge number of people who get up in the morning, reach for what ever is clean and that's it. Style takes effort. Every morning make an effort to reach for the 'best' outfit you can put together, whatever your day holds. That doesn't mean wear a floor length frock with a tiara to work or a suit to drop the kids at daycare, but it does mean take the time and effort to put together a suitable, comfortable outfit that shows you've put thought and effort into what you're wearing.
2. Grooming - You're going to find it hard to present a stylish image if your hair needs a cut, your makeup's stuck in the 80's which handily is the last time your eyebrows were plucked. Again, you don't need to go to extremes with this, personally I hate fussing with my hair, but being unkempt is not an option. Tame those eyebrows, get a good haircut - regularly! - and keep your nails trimmed. If you're not a great fan of makeup then invest in some good skincare products and a tinted moisturizer. It's all about your attitude and it should be "I care about me."
3. Care for your clothes - You've got your favorite jumper stashed somewhere haven't you - the one with the big hole. Or maybe it's your favorite shirt which now has the big stain on the back. It's sad, devastating in fact, but they have to go. The clothes you wear need to be hole free, wrinkle free, spot free, smell free and above all else, clean. Yes, even your favorite but scuffed beyond repair shoes.
4. Forget size, fit is king - The key element of dressing with style is fit. Don't buy clothes that are a size too small because you're going to loose weight. Don't buy clothes that are a size too big because you think you're too fat. Both will make you look bigger than what you are. Clothes that fit are instantly slimming and always chic, be it a jeans and t shirt or a little black dress.
5. Flatter your shape - Whatever your size or shape there is a cut that flatters you more than others, just as there will be those cuts that will never in a million years work for you. Learn what they are. Slavishly go with the first and pretend the second doesn't even exist. Forget trends. Never get sucked into the 'latest it thing'; well ... unless you know it's something that's going to flatter you outrageously.
6. Accessories are everything - Accessories are the icing on the cake, the shine on the diamond, the alcohol in your favorite adult beverage. Without them the world will still turn but it's a much sadder and less bright place. With the right accessories even the most banal outfit can be transformed into a stylish comment about you. Incidentally accessories are a great place to start changing your look. Investing in a pair of earrings is cheaper than buying a pair of pants and you'll feel a lot less upset if you never wear them.
7. Shoes are not just an accessory - If accessories are the icing on the cake shoes are the difference between Brad Pitt and Homer Simpson. Shoes are of the utmost importance to an outfit and they should good quality - you can dress up practically anything else but a cheap shoe looks like a cheap shoe. Buy the best that you can afford. Go for different shapes, colors and styles. The more shoes you have the more outfits you can construct. And, yes, some of them will need to be heels. Alternatively, for all you diva's, a pair of flats is going to be essential at some stage as well. Pain from High Heels? Try these Tips
8. Keep shopping - Looks change, makeup changes, hair styles change and of course fashion changes at the speed of light. There is no necessity to keep up with the trends but a great wardrobe is going to be a mix of timeless classics and modern fabrics, colors and styles. Regularly clean out your closet getting rid of anything old or that you haven't worn in a while, or possibly at all and replace them with modern items. BUT, keep all your classics or those things that make you look fabulous and have a copy made from it's carcase when it passes on.
9. Steal the best looks - Always keep your eyes open for an outfit or look that totally screams style and is somehow just... you, be it on tv, movies, on the street, your boss, your sister, your best-est friend in the whole wide world, and then ruthlessly steal it. Be sure you adapt it to flatter your shape and coloring but then wear it with pride. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and no one, but no one with even a modicum of style got that way on their own.
10. Take some risks - Try something different; for you. I'm not suggesting that you suddenly decide you're going to dress like the latest 'it girl', but maybe you could wear a sequined top to work, or jeans and t shirt with a string of pearls or maybe a hat of some description. Something outside of your comfort zone. Something funky and fun. OK, it may end up a shameful memory, but more than likely it will pass in a blur of nobody-even-noticed, and it's always possible you'll find out something new an amazing about yourself, and that is what style is all about.
Lisa Rutland is a writer, researcher and internet marketer. She writes a blog on working with your shape to find the best look for you. Check it out at www.bodyshapestyle.com.