Style is a very personal thing. Your “look” is yours alone and ultimately serves as the image you broadcast to the world. That’s what makes the subject so intimidating, and yet so important for many people. Everyone wants to accentuate their best features and let their authentic selves shine through, but they don’t always know how to get started.
Fortunately, after being a style and image consultant for 25 years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about putting my best foot forward and helping others do the same. The truth is, a trusted advisor can give you the perspective you need to help you see your closet, your clothes, and your habits a little clearer.
I feel grateful that I am able to do what I love every day, by helping my clients hone their style, and find confidence and joy. Of all the advice I’ve shared over my career, there are several key pieces of advice that apply to nearly everyone. These style and life rules never go out of fashion, and they are as true today as they ever were.
Below are 11 of the most useful “client-approved” pieces of advice I have had the pleasure to share over the years.
Remember that column dressing is your best friend. When in doubt, wear a matching column of color to make you look taller and leaner. You can either wear a skirt and top, or a top and pants in the same color to look pulled together and great. Then top with an accent jacket—or the column can be a matching jacket or top with a skirt or pant.
Figure out your best colors (and the colors that don’t work). Wearing the right colors for your skin tone is one of the simplest improvements you could ever make—and it can make a big difference! Figure out which colors make you look best, then remove the non-flattering colors from your closet and refrain from buying more of those colors. Once you’ve got a closet full of flattering colors, your outfits will come together more easily and your accessories will match your clothing.
When you are stressed, take a minute to adjust your body chemistry. It takes only 60 seconds of focused breathing to help you calm down when you feel stressed or anxious. Take several moments to breathe steadily and concentrate on your breath flowing in and out of your nose. You can do this anywhere—in a car, your office, or a bathroom stall—and it will instantly give you the presence you need to stay focused and calm in any situation.
Don’t rely solely on elastic waist pants. It can be all too easy to slip into leggings or pants with an elastic waistband each day. But it’s important to resist this urge because elasticized pants are so forgiving that they allow you to gain weight without the telltale snugness that accompanies regular pants. Instead, choose to primarily wear pants that feature a zipper and waistband. Jeans and slacks with this design style keep you in check by giving you an accurate reading of your size and weight. So save stretchy pants for your yoga class or the gym.
Know that organizing your closet can change your life! Having the right hangers and organizing your clothes by color and classification will make getting dressed in exciting and well-accessorized outfits easy. And it makes getting out the door a breeze. Take the time to organize your closet from top to bottom, and get rid of any clothes that no longer fit, flatter, or represent you. You will be amazed at how much calmer you feel when you see a neat and tidy closet of clothes waiting to be worn!
Photograph your favorite outfits. Take photos of totally accessorized outfits that you love and would like to remember to wear again. Then refer back to them anytime you need a great outfit fast. This is so helpful for everyday dressing, last-minute parties or events, and organizing for travel. You can create an album on your smartphone full of these ready-to-go outfits. Or print out a handy catalog of photos and keep them on a shelf in your closet for easy, fast access.
Create boundaries and stick to them. It can be very hard to put yourself first in your life, but doing so will bring you much more joy and ease—and remember that you can’t help others if you are too frazzled from overextending yourself. So make time for you and learn to say no to invitations and commitments that don’t resonate. It’s also smart to be upfront with your employer, friends, and family about your limits and priorities. If you don’t establish boundaries, no one will do it for you.
Have your garments tailored to fit properly. When your clothes fit you well, you will look and feel better than ever. It is a wonder what a difference a few strategic seams, hems, and tucks can make on how you wear a garment. Tailoring your clothes takes them from looking okay or good to amazing. Even if you can usually find clothing that fits, having those clothes professionally altered will give you impressive results. The extra expense of a tailor will pay for itself when you have a closet full of clothes that look great and fit you perfectly.
Pack light and smart. When traveling, the last thing you want is to be burdened by an enormous, overstuffed suitcase. That’s why it is so important to pack efficiently and carefully select the clothing you want to bring along. Choose versatile pieces that you can mix and match for a variety of outfits and focus on high-quality fabrics that travel well. Be sure to include a couple of accessories to accent your looks and don’t forget to pack appropriate footwear. Finally, wear your bulkiest outfit on the plane instead of taking up valuable space inside your bag.
Hydrate for health and happiness! You should be drinking eight to ten glasses of water daily. This helps your organs function properly, makes your skin and hair look great, and energizes your whole body. When you think you are hungry, drink water first as you may actually be thirsty. Drinking the proper amount of water daily can help you to lose weight. Water helps fill you up and flushes toxins out of your body. And remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
If you’ve outgrown it, let it go (that goes for clothes and people too). We often keep people and “stuff” in our lives that no longer enrich us, but it is advisable to let go of the old and make room for the new. Whether you need to release a stagnant friendship or remove yourself from a toxic relationship, respect yourself enough to politely cut ties and move on. The same goes for old clothing and even old habits. You don’t need that old sweater from the ’90s any more than you need to cling to old hurts and fears. Take a deep breath and purge the things that no longer serve you.
If you’re lucky enough to be given good advice when you need it—whether we’re talking about fashion tips or wellness guidance—you are much more likely to succeed and feel good about making informed decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to help change someone’s life for the better.