It’s often been said that style and fashion are two completely different things.

To me style is how we express our inner being outwardly; the combination of the way we think, dress, communicate and move. It’s everything on the outside being an echo of what’s on the inside. Fashion on the other hand wearing clothes without any point of view or personality.

We’ve all met women who seem to have been born blessed with a great sense of style; while the rest of us have had to learn how to develop it through years of experience, mentors, trial and error. But what is exactly is style?

To start, it’s more than:

  • Wearing the right thing at the right time
  • Looking good for the money
  • Setting a trend or following trends
  • Spending big bucks on designer labels
  • Looking better than everyone else
  • Wearing the same style as everyone else
  • Wearing labels and/or trends from head to toe

Our style development starts from the moment we start to take an interest in what they wear. The years of adolescence until early adulthood are both times of experimentation, and of discovering who we are, what we are good at, want we want from life and how to express that through our clothes, grooming and behavior. We reach the peak of our self-realization and self-knowledge during our mid to late 20′s. This is the period where we become more comfortable with ourselves, and start learning what works and what doesn’t. For most of us by the time we have reached our 40′s we have gained a good level of self-confidence and have settled into a personal style.

However, it is not only age that dictates style development. Your style can change at any point in your life, and will most likely coincide with changes in jobs/professions, attitudes and values, circumstances, lifestyles and relationships with the significant people in your life.

To make your style more consistent and lasting, you have to reconcile your personal preference with what suits your height, body type and age, and then marry that with trends that work best for you. When this has been accomplished, the result is a confident woman who understands her personality, body and is in tune with fashion without being a slave to it. That’s true style! As famous stylist Rachel Zoe says, “style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” Fashion is just wearing clothes. Style encompasses more than wearing clothes, it is communicating and expressing yourself with how you put ensembles together. From your hair and makeup, outfit choices, to your overall disposition, everything contributes to your personal style.

If style still seems a bit abstract  to you, let me help you by defining what style is and is not in my opinion.

Style is Not:

Fashion

A woman clad head to toe in the latest trends is nothing but a mannequin. Don’t ever think that you’ve got great style and the best pieces for you just because it’s the latest style and the trendy colours of the moment. No fashion fad, trend, or colour can make up for an unflattering or ill-fitting garment. Not all trends are created equal, and consequently not all trends are made for your personality, lifestyle, or body shape.

Being A Chameleon

Too much change is just as bad as not changing at all. Looking like a different person at the start of each fashion seasons means you don’t understand your true style just yet. Being a style chameleon also might mean that you’re spending too much money and time on changing your clothes so often.

Confusing

Wearing any outfit that has to be explained (“It’s in fashion! It’s supposed to be that way!”) is a no-no. First impressions last. More often than not, your appearance is how people initially judge you. How you look speaks volumes about who you are, and your style is exactly how you do that. If your look needs explanation, you’re already starting on the wrong foot, and this will always make the wrong impression (if you don’t believe me, check out some of the weird or backward fashions worn by celebrities). Keep it simple, straight forward, and appropriate.

Playing ‘Dress-Up’

Feel like you’re playing dress-up in someone else’s clothing? That’s because the clothing is not a reflection of your true self. In fact, wearing a style that doesn’t feel authentic to you will rob you of energy and undermine your confidence. Start by study fashion magazines, clothing catalogues and window shopping at malls. Create a collage of things that make your heart sing and personally speak to you—hairstyles, make-up, clothes, accessories, flower arrangement, interior designs, anything at all. All of this inspiration will all start to point to a style direction that speaks to your authentic personality.

Copying

Fashion magazines and Pinterest boards are great for inspiration. However, style is NEVER copying a look straight from the pages. Get inspired and put your own twist to looks that you love and are inspired by.

In a nutshell: Style is not being stamped all over with designer logos or changing radically from day to day or season to season. Style is inspiration, rather than imitation. Style is wearing what feels like the true YOU.

Here’s what style it is – and it’s simpler than you think.

Style Is

Simplicity

Less is more. Wearing clean and simple lines and minimal accessorizing is always best.

In the Details

The devil is in the details as the adage goes. Those in possession of real style always keeps details at the top of their list. Loose threads or buttons, runs in hosiery, worn out shoe soles—these are things that can ruin your overall style aesthetic.

Accessorizing with Care

Whether you’re partial to dramatic earrings or the most minimal studs, style is about mindful accessorizing. Taking the time to carefully choose the items you put on rather than just pile on the usual assortment of mismatched rings, watch and whatever earrings/scarf/bracelets that happen to be at hand.

Being Brave Enough to Stand Out

Stylish women aren’t afraid to experiment with new looks and wear what they like. If you find a piece that you love or a piece that you feel amazing in, wear it and flaunt it! Regardless of whether it’s on trend or not, being courageous enough to stand by what you love is genuine style to a T.

Being Respectful

Stylish women are thoughtful, caring and respectful of others. In a word they are ‘appropriate’; from the clothes they wear, what they say, their mannerism, gestures and the way they treat others. Remember, style is the whole package. Style goes beyond what you put on, it is also about the way you carry yourself and conduct yourself towards others.

Being Perfectly groomed

When she walks past you all you sense is beauty and order; from beautiful make-up, perfectly groomed clothes to a heartfelt smile. Keeping your brows, nails, hair, and skin in tip-top shape is essential to true style.

A Great fit

An inexpensive garment if fitted to perfection can look more expensive than an ill-fitting designer label. Items which are too tight or too loose will ruin your look every time. It is worth your time and resources to get clothing tailored to your specific proportions.

Poise

Being able to carry yourself with assurance and grace is one of the hallmarks of a beautiful and elegant woman. It is the beauty of being in the moment and in control.

Knowing How Much Skin to Show

There are few sights worse than a woman baring too much or baring it all. Putting everything on display sends the wrong message to men and women alike. You want to be known for your sensuality not your vulgarity. Stylish women know that when showing skin, you only flaunt one area i.e. wearing a mini skirt with a tailored jacket. When you’re showing off your cleavage, keep everything else covered up.

Only Purchasing Styles that Suit You

Knowing what works for you and only purchasing styles that fit and flatter is the quickest road to true style. You’ll be rewarded with self-confidence when you wear only what you love and what fits you. Style gives you a specific kind of freedom that allows you to succeed in other aspects of your life, knowing that you are looking your very best.

Naturalness

This only comes from wearing clothes that reflect who you are. If you persuade a very feminine woman to wear a dramatic over-the-top outfit, she won’t be able to walk straight in it and will feel very uncomfortable. When your clothes are right, you feel great in the skin you’re in. This will radiate to those surrounding you and they will, in turn, feel free to be themselves as well.
I’m sure that you can see the theme here. True style is about being true to what’s best for you—what you like, what fits well and is appropriate, and what allows you to carry yourself with confidence and poise. With a little practice, you’ll learn to love what you see in the mirror because it will be what you’ve seen on the inside all along.

I hope, I’ve shed some light on the meaning of style for you and that this becomes the starting point of your journey to an exemplary style that is uniquely you.