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10 Ways to Develop Your Personal Style

Believe it or not, but you can look fashionably fabulous without breaking the bank. Scott Quinn Photography/Getty Images

When celebrities like Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham run out for a few things at the grocery store, they look like they’ve just stepped out of the pages of Vogue magazine. It’s easy to look fabulous all the time when you have personal stylists at your beck and call — not to mention a virtually unlimited budget at your disposal.

For those of us with limited bank accounts, however, looking fashionable can be more of a challenge. Yet fashion experts say that you can look fabulous, regardless of you much you spend. Part of the key to becoming a fashionista is figuring out your personal style — then finding specific wardrobe pieces that highlight it.

So, here are 10 ways to cultivate your own special look. You’ll find out how to buy clothes that accentuate your assets, learn tips for making the most of your existing wardrobe and discover how to look like a million bucks — without spending anywhere near that much.

10: Know Who You Are

Before you can figure out your personal style, you have to figure out who you are as a person. Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

How do you like to dress? Are you wild or more conservative? Do you prefer business formal or casual comfort? Is your current wardrobe classically elegant or fashion forward? Consider the persona you want to present to the world.

Think about:

  • Your age. Clothing should always be age-appropriate. If you’ve got grandchildren and you’re dressing like them, there’s a problem. It’s OK to want to look youthful — just make sure your outfits suit your stage of life.
  • Your occupation. You wouldn’t wear jeans and a cut-off T-shirt to work at a law firm, and you wouldn’t wear super-high heels and a short skirt to teach kindergarteners. Use your profession as your guide when you shop. Once you’ve got an appropriate ensemble for your job, jazz it up with a few accessories to add your own personal flair.
  • Your lifestyle. Stiletto heels are just fine for the city, but they’ll make you stick out like a sore thumb if you live way out in the country. Fashion should combine form and function, and it should fit well with your surroundings.

Remember that you don’t need to buy designer duds to express your personal style. Even jeans and T-shirts can be stylish if you feel comfortable in them and choose the right ones.

Fashion inspiration can come from a variety of sources, from magazines to your friends' personal style. M. Nader/Getty Images

9: Look for Inspiration

Find a celebrity or model (or a few) who best captures the style you want to emulate. Flip through the pages of leading fashion and entertainment magazines to find pictures of your style icons. Cut out those pictures and paste them into a binder or hang them up around your room to inspire you. Don’t copycat –just use elements of that celebrity’s look as a springboard to create your own style.

Take your own pictures. Carry along a camera or sketchpad as you window shop.

Inspiration can come from a variety of sources. Don’t just look at what’s hot today. Scour vintage clothing stores and flip through the pages of old magazines and history books so you can see the origins of the latest styles. Look to both modern and classic fashion icons, like Jackie Onassis or Grace Kelly. You might find that your personal style combines elements from both your grandmother’s era and your own.

8: Know What You Want to Accomplish

If you want to upgrade your career, you might want to consider upgrading your wardrobe Hugh Sitton/Getty Images

Do you want to get a new, high-powered job? Are you trying to meet the guy of your dreams?

Take out a notebook or journal and write down your goals — in life and in fashion. Then start to think about which design elements and accessories can help you accomplish those goals. If you want to get a better job, think about adding a few pieces to your suit collection. If you’re headed back to school, you’ll want to trade in a few of the suits you already have for some casual knits and jeans.

Once you have your list in hand, take it with you when you shop. It can also help to bring along some pictures or descriptions of what you already have in your closet. Ask the salesperson to help you pick out pieces that will enhance your current wardrobe and help you accomplish your goals.

Fashion-forward women should pick pieces that highlight their favorite body parts. Dan Hallman/Getty Images

7: Accentuate Your Assets

What are the best parts of your body? Focus on the areas that you like best; choose clothing and accessories to highlight them.

For example, if you have gorgeous blue eyes, show them off with eye shadow and liner colors that really make them pop. Endless legs deserve to be seen in short shorts and mini-skirts.

Know your measurements so you can find clothing that fits well. Write down your measurements and bring them with you when you shop.

Try to dress to your body shape. For example:

  • Most women’s bodies are pear-shaped, which means they have a narrow waist and wider hips. If you’re pear-shaped, buy clothing that draws attention to your slim upper body. Brightly colored shirts, scarves and modern-looking shoulder pads should work well. Wear tailored pants and skirts, as well as hip-length long jackets. Avoid pleats and stripes, which will further accentuate broader areas.
  • If you’re rounder and more apple-shaped all around, you’ll want to draw attention away from your waist. Go for flat-fronted skirts, empire-waisted dresses and tailored, wide-legged pants.
  • Don’t accentuate a flat chest with a deep v-neck. Instead, choose rounded-neck tops, and add a layered necklace to add dimension.
  • If you’re busty, accentuate your curves by wearing a scooped neckline that hugs your chest appropriately.
  • If you’re extra curvy, you don’t have to wear baggy, saggy clothes. You can still find fashionable, tailored clothes that comfortably compliment your body. Shop in stores that can accommodate your shape and buy clothes that fit well.

6: Take a Style Lesson

You don't need a degree in fashion to understand it. You just need a good eye and a willingness to learn. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Don’t know your Armani from your Kmart casuals? Do you have to twist around and check the label to know what you’re wearing? Time to brush up — fashion illiteracy can stop your personal style quest dead in its tracks.

You don’t need a degree in fashion to understand clothing. You just need to be more aware when you shop. Look at different fabrics. See how polyester feels compared to silk. Learn the difference between plaids and houndstooth prints. Figure out how to see differences in an outfit’s stitching and cut.

Look for a variety of fabrics when you shop. Choose some cotton pieces for everyday, silk ones for dressing up, wool for the winter and linen for spring and summer. Learn how to care for your fabrics too: Cotton/polyester blends are great for everyday because they barely wrinkle, but you’ll need to keep your linens carefully pressed if you don’t want to walk around looking rumpled. Silks are more delicate, so be extra careful about spills.

Know which fabrics and textures are most flattering. Shiny, bulky, or stiff textures can make you appear bigger than you really are. Smooth, matte surfaces, like cashmere and jersey, can really slim you down.

As a student of fashion, your “textbooks” should be the big magazines, like Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle. Study the ads and articles, including the picture captions, to see what fabrics and colors are “in” this season. Look to the masters — Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and the like — to see what elements they use in their designs. Use those designs as inspiration to create your own fashionable looks more affordably.

As you develop your personal style, don't be afraid to throw out anything that doesn't fit your current look. Anthony Saffery/Getty Images

5: Assess Your Current Wardrobe

Get to know the contents of your closet. Looking through your wardrobe will help you identify your current style — what you like about it and what you wish you could change.

A walk through your closet will help you get a sense of what you feel most comfortable wearing — short skirts or long flowing dresses, business suits or track suits. Look at your clothing styles and colors, as well as your shoe and accessory collections.

Also use this opportunity to do some spring cleaning. Pull out each piece in your wardrobe and ask yourself:

  • Is it worn out, ripped or stained?
  • Is it more than three years old?
  • Is it out of style?
  • Does it fit?
  • Does it match anything else in your wardrobe?
  • Has it been hanging in your closet unworn for more than a season?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, put that item into a bag. When the bag is full, give it to charity and take the tax write-off, or sell it at a consignment store and make some extra cash that you can use to fill your wardrobe gaps.

4: Make a Few Changes

You don't need to reinvent your entire wardrobe to develop your personal style, but you do need to pick up a few new things. Tim Kitchen/Getty Images

You don’t need to reinvent your entire wardrobe. That would cost a fortune. Instead, update it. Start by introducing a few up-to-date pieces that reflect your style — some earrings, a new pair of shoes or a scarf.

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little, but take baby steps. If you’ve been very conservative your whole life, buy one “out there” piece. Shop in places you wouldn’t normally go, like an antique clothing store or (if you can afford it) a high-end designer boutique. You might find that you like taking a few risks with your wardrobe.

To save money, try updating what you already have. Do you have an old pair of jeans that’s starting to look ratty? Crop or roll them up into Capri pants or shorts. Have a pair of pants that no longer fits? Have them tailored to look like new. Re-invent an old boring dress with a new belt.

Although change is good, it’s also important to maintain a core wardrobe composed of a few well-designed and constructed pieces. Keep some classic staples in your closet that you can mix and match to give you more bang for your fashion buck. Head to the next page for some pointers.

The little black dress is a fashion staple that few women can go without. Inti St. Clair/Getty Images

3: Stock Up on Wardrobe Essentials

Now matter what your personal style, every spectacular wardrobe has to start with a few basic pieces. You can incorporate these classics into a variety of looks.

Here are the must-haves for every wardrobe:

Black pants. The quickest way to dress up any shirt is to put on a pair of black pants. Pick a versatile fabric that will take you through the seasons.

Black tank top. Wear it solo during the day, or throw a blazer over it to dress it up for nighttime.

Black turtleneck. Unless you live in Miami, you need this winter wardrobe staple in your closet. Just like the tank top, it can stand on its own or be used for layering.

White blouse. A plain white blouse never gets old, and you’ll never run out of ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe.

Jeans. Have a couple pairs of everyday blue jeans and a pair of black jeans for going out. Just make sure they fit you well, and don’t forget your skinny jeans — they’re real lifesavers on those “I feel fat” days.

Little black dress. This isn’t a cliché. Every woman looks great in her little black dress. It’s slimming, sexy and versatile.

Pencil skirt. Perfect for interviews or elegant dinners, this classic piece looks best hovering about two inches above the knee.

Trench coat. It looks stylish, and it will keep you dry and warm when the seasons change.

Cardigan sweater. Throw this over a tank top to transition an outfit from fall to winter.

Black high heels. Nothing shows off a great pair of legs better than a set of high heels. Black is the most versatile color. When you’re looking at heel height, go for both design and function. You can’t look good if you’re stumbling.

Once you have these essentials hanging in your closet, you can keep them updated with trendy jewelry, belts and shoes.

Rather walk around in flats than suffer in high heels? That's totally fine. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

2: Stay in Your Comfort Zone

Don’t suffer in stiletto heels when you’d rather wear flats. And don’t suck in your stomach to squeeze into a skin-tight pair of designer jeans. Wear what makes you comfortable.

If you’re not sure what makes you comfortable, look to your closet for inspiration. Sift through your clothes and pull out your favorites. Ask yourself why you love them. Do the fabrics feel good on your skin? Do you like the way the clothes make you look? Do you get a lot of compliments when you wear them? Use those favorite pieces as a springboard when you shop for new looks.

Speaking of shopping, don’t just rush in and out of stores — take time when you’re trying on clothes. Consider the ease of putting on the article of clothing, how good you look in it, and how well it fits in with your current wardrobe and needs.

Don’t go for the trendy; go for the comfortable. Wear what works for you. Paul Viant/Getty Images

1: Trust Your Instincts

No matter what the hottest designers, celebrities and stylists are saying on the pages of the fashion magazines, ultimately the only person you have to please is yourself. Buying an article of clothing that you hate just because it’s trendy is never a good idea. It’s going to hang idly in your closet until you finally decide to throw it out or give it away.

Similarly, don’t give in to pushy salespeople who are trying to convince you that they know what looks best on you. If don’t like what you see in the dressing room mirror, you won’t like that outfit any better once you get it home. Thank the salesperson for his or her time, and make your exit.

At the same time, if your instincts are telling you to put on the same ratty sweat suit you’ve been wearing for ten years, that’s the time to ignore them. Turn to the people you trust to help you weed out items in your wardrobe that didn’t showcase your best judgment.

For more fashion tips, take a look at the links on the next page.

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What’s Your Fashion Personality?

Our clothes are often an expression of our spirit and character, so there is nothing wrong with finding a look that suits you and relying on it. What category best characterizes you?

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The most stylish women in the world are surprisingly consistent in what they wear every day, whether that means keeping to basics or getting creative all the time. Some are known for a classic aesthetic, others bohemian. There are those who are not afraid to be edgy and those who prefer a more ladylike way of dressing. No matter which signature look best describes them, they’ve found something they feel confident in and stuck with it. These women seem to have dressing down pat and look comfortable and secure in their clothes — and that’s what we all strive for. Here is a peek at fashion icons and the style that best sums them up. Where do you fit in?

The Classicists

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These women prefer basics — the T-shirt, blazer, white shirt, suit, and trousers — and look effortlessly chic in simple staple pieces.

Embrace tradition. Sticking with things that have stood the test of time is often the key to looking clean and elegant.

Say “no thanks” to trends. The hottest and newest don’t always suit a simpler style. If intrigued by a trend, incorporate it into your look in a subtle way, maybe with an accessory.

Keep a clean line. Frivolity, frills, and fanciful cuts are not in tune with a more established approach to dressing.

Pick a pared-down palette. Black, white, navy, gray, and khaki are classic. When going for color, stick to print-free pieces in straightforward.

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The Bombshells

Sexy is the mantra for these women. And for them, picking pieces that show off a curvy, feminine figure is the norm.

Look for clothes that accentuate the hourglass. Deep V’s and high slits are de rigueur.

Choose body-hugging, figure-flattering cuts. Avoid sack dresses, dirndls, masculine tailoring, and anything with too much coverage.

Brights, white, and black all work in solid shades. Prints, patterns, and elaborate embellishment detract from the focal point, your body.

Wallflowers need not apply. When dressing like a sultry siren, be prepared to draw attention to yourself.

The Bohemians

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Bell-bottoms may have given way to breezy gowns, but these freespirited style setters love earthy, ethnic-inspired looks.

Stay chic. Dressing like a modern-day flower child isn’t license to look sloppy.

Master the mix. Layering pieces, pairing new with vintage, and combining multiple textures all add to the appeal.

Banish plain shades. Wearing a rainbow of colors highlights a carefree demeanor.

Play up prints. Swirly paisleys, pretty florals, retro patterns — the haute-hippie chick can pull off funky patterns.

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The Ladies

Grace Kelly’s white-glove look may be a little old-fashioned, but her prim, polished, and pulled-together air still resonates with today’s refined set.

Keep it feminine but not flirty. Pick a silhouette that shows off your waist but not too much else. If you want to show some skin, choose one erogenous zone — like your shoulders, ankles, or décolletage — at a time.

Add charm. A bow, a touch of lace, or a slight ruffle offers a sweet edge. But keep it to one or two flourishes.

Classic colors are most appropriate. Black and white will never fail you. Avoid anything over-the-top or garish. If you want to add color, try a red shoe or lip.

Fabric counts. Look for structured, high-quality materials. Anything too flimsy or sheer should be shunned.

The Mavericks

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New designers? Avant-garde cuts? Bold looks? Bring them on. This fashion-forward group is not afraid to experiment.

Don’t follow the pack. Look for pieces no one else has and start your own trends. (People will follow!)

Relish the unexpected. The dress code calls for black tie? Try a short dress studded with sequins instead of the usual floor-length gown.

Seek out unique colors and trimmings. Think taxicab yellow or marabou feathers.

To add just a slight edge to your style, try working a supermodern accessory or two into your look.

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The Minimalists

Sleek, simple shapes in a monochrome, toned-down palette are what keep this clan looking sharp and smart.

Black is your best friend. The no-frills hue always works, whether in a skirt, top, pant, or dress.

Go for a lean line. Clothes that are cut close to the body but aren’t overtly sexy will serve you well.

Keep it reserved. No need to be risqué or show too much skin.

Stay away from loud colors, embellishments, and fanciful details. They aren’t your thing.

The Eclectics

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It’s all about having fun with fashion for these playful women. Bright colors, madcap pairings, and loud patterns are part of the package.

Never say never. Follow your heart when it comes to picking out your clothes. Forget what’s appropriate or safe, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Eye-catching hues and look-at-me motifs are par for the course.

Mixing and matching makes sense. Try a tailored jacket over a funky frock, for example.

Be wary of crossing the line into tackyville. Keep one piece pared down or your accessories classic when wearing something wacky.

Written By: Harper’s Bazaar Staff Publish Site:

5 Fashion Trends for Spring 2013

So for those facing the change from winter to spring, it’s worth baring in mind which trends will remain in fashion for spring 2013.

1. Capes

The cape is such a perfect winter layering staple that it can be hard to imagine wearing one in spring. But capes can not only work, they can be a pleasant and unexpected surprise in the warmer months. Burberry Prorsum’s runway was the perfect example of that: capes in Duchess Satin in seasonal colours proved that the cape was here to stay, and more desirable than ever.

capes for all seasons
Salvatore Ferragamo F/W ’12, Burberry Prorsum S/S ’13

2. Oriental-inspired clothing

You known when Miuccia Prada jumps onto something, it’s here to stay… for a while at least. Prada’s Japanese-inspired runway of modern Geisha girls brought the oriental fashion fascination into the coming warmer months. And it wasn’t just Prada – the likes of Etro, Issa and Behnaz Sarafpour bought Asian influences of their own. So those kimonos and oriental-print silks you got for fall, are more than welcome to stick around.

asian inspired fashion
Dries Van Noten F/W ’12, Prada S/S ’13

3. Leather skirts

Leather is just for winter – said no-one ever who actually knew what they were talking about. Leather works across the seasons and those leather skirts we loved so much for the colder months aren’t precluded from working in spring and even summer. Lighter weight leathers and in lighter hues will of course be ideal, but don’t forget that you can always head out at night – once the sun has gone down – in your black pleated leather skirt even in spring.

leather skirts
Akris F/W ’12, Rag & Bone S/S ’13

4. Playful retro pieces

If you’ve found yourself indulging in some playfully retro pieces – like 1950s style costume jewellery, pencil skirts, vintage-style hats and anything that takes its cues from the bold, bright side of 1960s fashion, fear not: there’s no reason you can’t keep playing dress-ups with it. Spring brings ample opportunity to show off legs in micro-mini mod dresses, or to cinch waists and layer on the attitude like a retro bombshell babe.

playful retro
DSquared2 F/W ’12, Moschino S/S ’13

5. Metallics

The spring 2013 runways shone with metallic hues: bronze, gold, silver, leather, silk, lurex… If it was metallic, odds are you could spot it on some runway or another. You’ll also find that, come spring / summer 2013, metallics will be on many a shop shelf. Keeping any metallics you’ve invested in through 2012 is not only a good idea, it’s a must.

metallic to keep
Paco Rabanne F/W ’12, Emporio Armani S/S ’13


Written By: Tania Braukämper Publish Date: February 1, 2013 Publish Site:–clothes-to-keep-across-seasons-37644.html

Most Wearable Fashion Trends of Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Bermuda Shorts

The slouchy, cool-girl shorts that were all over the New York runways this season are perfect for every girl who never felt like she could pull off those cheek-baring cutoffs so beloved on Instagram (i.e., most of us). They’re ultra chic, fam-friendly, and flattering; seriously, what’s not to love?

Peter Som, Rag & Bone, DKNY, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Black and White

“Spring trends” might typically call to mind Easter-egg colors and happy-go-lucky floral prints, but this season, designers put the emphasis on strong black-and-white looks (OK, there were a few floral prints, too). Appropriate to wear year-round, easy to pull off at every budget, and sleek enough to work at the office or on date night, this trend is the definition of wearable.

Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Peekaboo Pieces

Speaking of date night, this spring you’ll have zero problem finding something sexy to wear: Daring cutouts, midriff-baring separates, up-to-there splits, and sheer fabrics were all over the runway. The beauty of this trend? There’s a peekaboo option for every body shape (and level of modesty) up for grabs.

BCBG, Cushnie et Ochs, Diane von Furstenberg, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Statement Sunglasses

Want to add a runway feel to your everyday basics? Pick up a pair of spring’s OMG-worthy sunglasses. They hit the runway in every shape and size, each pair louder and more fabulous than the next. (Case in point: Google’s augmented reality glasses even took a turn on the catwalk.)

Anna Sui, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Diane von Furstenberg, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Bold Stripes

If those Rorschach-esque digital prints are too OTT for your style, take spring’s big, bold, uncomplicated stripes for a spin instead. With denim, they’re all-American; with navy, they’re nautical-chic; and worn head-to-toe, they’re just plain cool. Bonus: You’ll definitely be able to wear them for seasons—even years—to come.

Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Luxe Leather

Time-honored and fashionista-approved, a luxe leather piece is more than worth adding to your spring shopping list. Minimalistic shapes, rich colors, and a no-fuss approach to the hair, makeup, and accessories that complete the look make these investment items seem like they’re from 2013, not 1983. (And with spring clothes hitting stores in February, there’s no need to stress about the sweat factor.)

Derek Lam, Monique Lhuillier, Proenza Schouler, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Beautiful Beading

After fall 2012’s whirlwind of brocade, fur, and embellishment, it was no surprise to see a little razzle-dazzle on the spring catwalks. You could see influences everywhere from India and the Middle East to Russia, and it made for some seriously stunning evening wear. Push that itchy, too shiny sequined minidress to the back of your closet, gals. You won’t be needing it for a while.

Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra, Marchesa, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Shorts Suits

If you buy one thing this spring, make it a shorts suit. This look was on dozens of runways in New York and is the ideal blend of “guy hot” (hel-lo, legs) and “girl hot” (Annie Hall, anyone?). They’re purposeful, versatile, and office-appropriate, and we’re betting you’ll be able to find all-star versions of this must-have at every price point come 2013.

Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Helmut Lang, Spring 2013


Spring 2013 Trend: Sporty Dresses

Spring’s sporty dresses—with their flirty A-line skirts and shoulder-showcasing bodices—are going to distract quite a few dudes next season, we guarantee it. We love them because they work just as easily with wedges and high-heel sandals as they do with comfy canvas sneakers. Go all Saved by the Bell with the addition of a collegiate cardigan or letterman jacket.

DKNY, Rag & Bone, Victoria Beckham, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Flats and Low Heels

Sexy ’90s pointy heels are back and have been modernized with everything from dainty ankle straps to cylindrical heels. There will always be a moment for four-inch pumps (and that moment is date night), but these ladylike heels are such a nice option to have on hand. Extra cool points if you wear them with slouchy boyfriend jeans or Bermuda shorts to brunch with the girls.

Peter Som, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Written By: Megan Gustashaw Publish Site: