Do you want a style makeover? From smart shopping to discovering your personal style, here’s my COMPLETE 15-step guide on how to be stylish.
Hey gorgeous! I always say that style is a language everyone understands but not everyone speaks. People may or may not admit, but being stylish is something everyone wants. After all, being stylish makes you feel better about yourself, it opens up new opportunities for you and changes people’s perceptions about you. But before we discuss how to be stylish, let’s ask ourselves – what does it really mean to be stylish?
Shilpa’s 15-Step Guide on How to Be Stylish
We all know those people who are always impeccably dressed and get second looks wherever they go. What is it about them that makes us want to observe the tiny details of their outfits, and look up to them for inspiration on what to buy? People who can make even the most simplistic clothing seem like the latest fashion trend! Well, I found out! So I’ve created a step-by-step, complete guide on how to be stylish that everyone should read.
Step 1: Understand What Style Means and Why It’s Important
Style is not really about wearing the latest trends or expensive clothing all the time. Style is a combination of good fashion taste and confidence. Things like body language, grace and coolness add to your style factor. Stylish people have their own fashion taste and they aren’t afraid to look unique. They understand the importance of personal style and grooming and spend time on it.
Remember that being stylish is an ongoing process. It’s not something you can achieve overnight. If you want to know how to be stylish, remember that it takes time. And most importantly, you can only be stylish if you’re really interested in it. So ask yourself why you want to be stylish.
You can read all about what fashion and personal style is and why they’re important in my video here.
Step 2: Develop Your Interest in Fashion and Style
Those who don’t enjoy fashion almost never dress well. So you need to find your passion for style. Getting dressed and trying new things should be something that makes you feel excited. One of the best ways to do so is to follow your favorite fashion brands or stylish celebrities either on Instagram or by signing up for their email newsletter. This will help you sort through different types of styles and discover exactly what makes you feel interested. It’ll also help you check out new trendy pieces.
Step 3: Create Your Inspiration Board or Dream Look-book
Contrary to how fashion bloggers and celebrities may make it seem, personal style is not all about looking good in the pictures. It’s about practicality and feeling good everyday. That’s why it’s kind of like the mid-point between your comfort clothing and your preferred ideal style – built to optimize your dreams, budget, personality and lifestyle. But to get there, you first need to know what your dream style looks like. So go ahead and create your personal style inspiration board on Pinterest.
Create your board without thinking about budget or other limitations, let your imagination run wild. Let visuals inspire you. Before you discover how to be stylish, you have to unleash your inner fashionista!
Learn about the different types of fashion styles. Find and pin pictures of celebs, bloggers or brands that inspire you and that you’d want to incorporate in your own style. You can also do this by saving pics in a folder on your laptop.
Step 4: Do a Closet Purge
Since confidence plays a very big role in looking stylish, you need to have a fresh mind every morning while getting dressed. The best idea to do so is to remove things from your closet that you no longer wear or fit into. Donate anything that doesn’t make you feel confident, comfortable and stylish. Doing a closet purge will also help you understand what kind of clothing you love wearing and why.
Step 5: Understand Your Body Type & How to Dress for It
Mastering your body type is one of the most important steps on how to be stylish. For starters, there are a few different types of body shapes, such as pear, hourglass, rectangle, strawberry and diamond. Here’s how to find out what yours is: How to Find Your Body Type and How to Dress for it.
If you’re curvy, you can find out your curvy body type here: Different Curvy Body Types & Hip Shapes.
If you often buy things that you don’t end up wearing, it’s probably because they don’t suit your body shape. Understanding how to dress for your body type will help you shop for things that flatter your figure. It’ll help you invest in items you’ll actually wear and feel good in.
Step 6: Invest in Good Quality Wardrobe Basics
Ideally, your wardrobe should consist of all the basics, some trendy items and a few statement pieces. Basics form the foundation of a stylish wardrobe. Being stylish is not just about wearing trendy clothes, but also about knowing how to pull off a simple outfit with confidence. All supermodels know that! The first step of dressing stylishly is learning how to create basic outfits. Try simple outfits by combining simple neutral colors and clean silhouettes – skirts, jeans, white t-shirts and button-ups.
Step 7: Learn About Good Quality Clothing and Fabrics
Never buy anything that looks bad quality, stained or worn out, even if it’s on sale. Pay attention to the stitching, seams, fabric finish and even the inside of the clothing before you purchase it. For example, cotton shirt, a cashmere sweater, a good quality wool coat, and a simple black satin blouse are some of the items to invest in. For fabrics, look at the texture, blend, finish and weight, especially for wool, cashmere or silk.
Maintain your investment pieces well and learn how to store them properly. Every type of fabric has its own way of care. For example, cashmere wool fabric should be dry-cleaned or hand-laundered, and lightly ironed on the lowest heat setting before wearing. Sweaters should be neatly folded, stored in a plastic bag and wool coats should be hung in individual hangers. Expensive evening dresses should be hung in packaged hangers so that adjacent clothing’s hardware doesn’t ruin their finish. You can learn about the different types of fabrics on premium fabric brands’ websites such as Tissura.
Step 8: Keep Yourself Updated About Latest Fashion Trends
A stylish woman may not wear only what’s trendy, but she’s always aware about what’s in. Read magazines to know what’s trendy and this will help you avoid shopping for old fashioned items. You can catch yourself up on the latest fashion trends here.
Step 9: Discover Your Signature Style
If you’ve taken the time to follow the above steps, you’re already on your way to discovering your signature style. The one important thing that’s left to do is try new clothes and see what makes you feel stylish.
Before you go shopping, keep a wish list ready, and that’s the reason why the previous step was to learn about the latest fashion trends. The best idea is to do window shopping in stores instead of online, so that you can try different things on yourself. Go on this shopping trip alone and don’t actually buy anything this time. This trip is for research purposes only!
Also check out: Identify Your Fashion Style: Signature Look Tips
Step 10: Learn How to Shop Smartly
Make your shopping trips a time investment for your style endeavors. One cannot learn how to be stylish without learning how to shop for themselves. Try different silhouettes and colors that you haven’t tried before. You may discover something unexpected that suits you or makes you feel stylish. Use the mirror selfie in try rooms so that you can look back at the outfits you tried. Keep editing your Pinterest board to collect more inspiration accordingly, so you can hone your style.
Never buy something that doesn’t fit you well or that you don’t have the need for. Dressing stylishly does not have to be too expensive, so don’t feel the need to buy too many new clothes, especially while you’re still discovering your personal style. The way to buy only what you really, really like is to sleep on it and see if you still want to buy it the next day. Here are more tips on what not to buy.
Step 11: Learn to Put Together Outfits
Now that you know how to pull off the basic outfits, and you know what new colors and styles suit you, it’s time to go to the next level and put all that you’ve learned into practice.
There’s a difference between just wearing clothes and creating a whole outfit or a look. You can create “looks” by carefully selecting what to pair with what, matching and contrasting colors. You can use different color schemes or ways of color co-ordination.
Keep your outfits simple. Try plain clothing without prints that can be paired with each other easily. Avoid over-layering, too many colors, prints or silhouettes. Such things looked confused and never age well. Select a few go-to outfits or combinations, such as travel, work, etc. so that you don’t get decision fatigue on a daily basis.
Learn the art of accessorizing. Here’s how:
Shilpa’s Pro-Tip: Once you get home after buying a new item of clothing or accessories, try it on in your free time with the existing items and accessories in your wardrobe to see what it can be paired with and what doesn’t look good. This will help you create pre-planned outfits so that you can dress stylishly & quickly when you need to!
Know that looking stylish is time consuming. So don’t let it become too overwhelming. Just think of it as something you can learn to do to refresh or during your free time. It should not feel like work to you or make you stressful.
Step 12: Take Risks – Try New Styles & Colors
Take risks and avoid playing it safe all the time. People who are not stylish usually try to avoid bringing attention to themselves, by dressing the same way as everyone else to get lost in the crowd. However, being stylish is all about expressing yourself in a unique way.
When trying on things that you’ve never worn before, start slow. It may feel intimidating to change your style altogether. So try one new item of clothing, makeup or accessory at a time. If you feel comfortable, try them more frequently – switch it up more.
Step 13: Be Confident in Your Style
Wear your outfits confidently and gracefully. People will notice your change in style, and not everyone will like it. So ignore the haters and learn to take compliments with a simple “thank you”. Don’t listen to advice, just say “okay” and wear what you like!
Step 14: Stay Fit, Work on Your Body Language & Grooming
Body language says a lot about whether you’re feeling confident with your own sense of style or not. Constant fidgeting can subconsciously reveal that you’re feeling nervous or unsure. Constantly checking yourself out in the mirror can reveal that you’re only dressed for people to notice you. On the other hand, confidence can make even an eccentric outfit seem like a new fashion trend.
So work on how you sit, walk, talk, your hand movements and facial expressions. You don’t have to look posed – just feel natural. But making your body language gracious needs practice for it to become natural. Don’t put a deadline on it – just work on it when you can over a whole month.
Also take care of your skin and hair. Get a good haircut or try a new hair color, learn the basics of makeup and try to keep your nails filed and clean. Try some classy nail polish colors. Also read: How to Look Polished.
Most importantly, work out, eat healthy and maintain your body. Fitness is very important for those who’re wondering how to be stylish. Exercising improves your mood, maintains your figure and improves your posture, making outfits look better on you. Unfit people don’t look stylish, since their body seems rigid or their posture seems bad. So take up a sport or jog.
Step 15: Keep Refining Your Personal Style
Your style has to grow and evolve with you. It has to suit your lifestyle and personality for it to feel right and comfortable. It has to send out the message that you want to send out. Improving it takes time and once you have enough practice, you’ll start dressing stylishly without even thinking. Follow blogs or magazines by reading them or on social media to keep evolving your personal style.
Learn about fashion outfits for different occasions, cultures and weather needs. If you’re in doubt, Google it so that you can dress appropriately for every occasion.
Remember that dressing stylishly is an ongoing process. This is not something that you can achieve in a day. It takes time and as I said before, a true interest in fashion. But the fact that you’re reading this and have reached so far means that you already care about how you present yourself. So it should be fairly easy for you with a little practice.
So I hope my guide on how to be stylish was helpful. Let me know if you have any doubts, and I’ll try my best to answer your questions. I’d love to see your outfits, so don’t forget to tag me in your pics on Instagram @shilpaahujadotcom!
Shilpa Ahuja the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion. Other than defining the direction of the magazine, she also writes about fashion & beauty trend forecasts, industry analysis, and opinions.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University.
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