Over the years, I have worked on my personal style. I think some people are born with more natural "flair" than others, but those of us who weren't born with the gift for style can certainly work to develop it. Here are some tips that have worked for me and, I hope, can go a long way toward helping you develop a style that's truly your own:
- Watch television. I know that seems stupid, but channels like Style, E! and TLC with programs like How Do I Look?, Fashion Police, Isaac, and What Not to Wear have helped me a lot. It's not every day that a regular working woman like me (and most of you) has access to a professional stylist, or a celebrity stylist, at that. But on programs like these, as you watch a person being made over, you can apply the tips the stylist gives to yourself. I have watched for years and paid particular attention to those makeovers wherein the woman has a body shape similar to mine or an aesthetic that matches or approximates my own. I also pay particular attention to makeovers done on women of color and women with natural hair. Watching shows like these are where I found out about my favorite blush colors, what shapes of clothing work for my body and how I can work trends into my wardrobe without looking like I fell out of the pages of a fashion magazine. Also, there's a show called The Look for Less that is beyond awesome - it gives you tips on how to find trendy pieces to suit your budget.
- Books. There are plenty of books on fashion and make-up. Check Amazon. Books that I love and cherish are What You Wear Can Change Your Life by Susannah and Trinny (from BBC America's original version of What Not to Wear), In Style (a book from the editors of the magazine) and The Lucky Shopping Manual. For make-up tips, I love In Style: Getting Gorgeous and any of the books by Bobbi Brown and Kevyn Aucoin. Iman also has a wonderful book out called The Color of Beauty.
- Magazines. There's nothing more fun for me than flipping through the pages of Lucky, Allure, In Style, Glamour or Essence with a pen in hand and my little shopping book. I jot down shopping ideas and pull out pictures showing pieces, colors or ideas that strike my fancy.
- Make your own personal look book. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great idea. J, from City-Itis has a post about this up on her blog. I've found that, when flipping through magazines, I'll come across a picture that isn't exactly what I'm thinking, but will give me an idea. For instance, today I was turning the pages of People Style Watch and saw an ad with a woman wearing a green top and a flared green and white printed skirt. Now, I don't want that exact outfit, but it made me think that I want to add more greens to my wardrobe. So I took that picture out and will add it to my lookbook, with a note that I need to look for more green wardrobe pieces. I pull pictures that give me ideas for shoes, tops, shapes that'll look good on me, pictures of flowers or other things that inspire me. These inspirations work for clothing and make-up. Some days, my face is based on how I want to feel or an image I'm trying to convey and that idea may have come from something as small as a blade of grass.
- Surf the web. There are so many incredible websites out there - you can find a site or a blog about anything that interests you. I have a huge list of fashion and beauty websites and blogs that I frequent. Some of my favorite fashion blogs are: I Like Her Style, My Wardrobe Today (Dilly is so great at showing how an ordinary woman can have extraordinary style), and The Budget Fashionista. For beauty/make-up/skincare ideas, you can look here (of course!) and 99 Products, Afrobella, All About the Pretty, and The Makeup Girl. You can also search some of the networks I belong to like The Beauty Blog Network, Glam, and the Timeless Beauty Network.
- Learn the rules ... then break them. It's all about experimentation. But, one thing I've learned from my bellydance journey is that, you should learn the fundamentals first and understand why they work and then, once you've found your way and are secure in what you know ... branch out. There are so many fashion rules: Don't wear white after Labor Day; Don't mix metals; etc. But true style is found when you decide that you don't have to follow the rules all the time - fashion is about expressing who you are. But you can only do that when you know the basics first.
Try these tips and let me know how you're finding your own style!