Every woman should develop her own personal style and create a wardrobe to express it. Building a style is a gradual process that happens as you find and collect pieces that fit into the big picture. Does that mean you have to look the same all the time? No. It’s okay to have subsets of style. The image you want to project at the office is going to be different than on the tennis court. But you have to remember that you’re projecting an image in both places. If you’re going to have a personal style, those images generally need to be compatible.
With that said, I know how overwhelming and confusing building a wardrobe can be. It may take some time before you have the confidence to walk into a mall or department store and instantly say, “Oh, that fits perfectly in my closet.” Finding items that are a perfect fit (and I mean that in both senses of the word) can be difficult. But look at it this way: Because you have so much to choose from, differentiating yourself from everyone else becomes a little easier, and after all, that’s really your goal.
There’s no end to the type and amount of items you can purchase to jazz up your wardrobe. What you choose defines your personal style. So if the items you select are all of the latest fashion, then your style is going to be high fashion. If you choose to wear T-shirts and jeans every day, that too is a style statement. By carefully choosing what you wear every day, you’re projecting an image. The fol- lowing sections help you get started in developing your own personal style.
To have the confidence you need when buying clothing, you must become familiar with the different fabrics and styles. That way, when you grab an item from the clothing rack, you can be absolutely sure of what you’re buying. Keeping up with what’s “in” is also important. Picking up a fashion magazine every month is a great way to stay in the loop. And remember, the ads are just as important as the editorial pieces. The magazines, as well as what you see celebs wearing on talk shows or the red carpet, can give you a glimpse into what’s hot. Even if you examine only one of these outlets, you’ll be able to pick up the basic trends like the latest hemlines, colors, cuts, and fabrics (for example, pashmina scarf vs linen trousers).
What about you can be part of your personal style? Lots! Your lifestyle, age, profession, attitude, and hobbies all play a part in defining your personal style. Here are some guidelines:
Lifestyle: Are you a single woman living in the big city or the mother of three running an entire household? When you’re on vacation, do you head for Broadway or the beach? The answers describe your lifestyle and, in turn, help define your personal style.
Age: Everyone wants to look younger, right? The desire to knock off a few years is natural, and your wardrobe is one of the ways to do that. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to dress in the latest trends, but do it in an age- appropriate way. Some trends transcend gener- ations. Asymmetrical necklines (see Figure 2-4), for example, were big at the Oscars and Golden Globes in 2009. Celebrities of all ages were wearing one-shoulder dresses as they graced the red carpets. It was just how they were wear- ing them that was different. Don’t be afraid to get in on the latest trend if it’s something you love. Just make sure you do it in a way that fits your age, personality, and body type. If you like a current trend but feel it may be too youthful-looking for you, it probably is. This is true of fashions that reveal the most skin and are the most adorned. Use your judg- ment when trends veer in this direction, and err on the more conservative side.
Profession: If you work in an office, the dress code is likely different than if you work in a store or at a school. Although you have to work within the constraints of your particular industry, you should be able to express your style no matter what the dress code.
Attitude: Whether you’re a free spirit or some- one who’s more conservative, your clothing can reflect your attitude. Use your wardrobe to express yourself.
Hobbies: What you do in your free time determines your look as well. Whether you’re running errands or running on the beach, your outfit reflects your personality and what you like to do.