7. Dare to be different

When I was growing up, I thought with my head of red hair I’d never be able to wear anything but black, white or navy. Any other color just seemed wrong and usually set off some schoolyard bullying. Depressed, I turned to black and graveyard music, even dyeing my hair black to get rid of the dreaded red.

At university a few years later I met a girl who eventually became one of my best friends. The first time I saw her she had a pixie cut, bright red hair and wore a red jumper. In fact, she loved wearing reds and oranges and it worked incredibly well with her pale skin and her red hair. I realised I had been missing out for years, and that she was using what I thought was a flaw to her advantage.

We often see what makes us different as an imperfection, and we try to cover it up. However style is about individuality, not conformity. You need to embrace yourself and your flaws to find your style. True style is not in your beauty, but in your attitude.

Forget the rules

People with style don’t play by the rules. With rules I mean the endless advice of what to wear as a “spring type”, an “hourglass”, if you are petite or tall. I’m not saying they are all rubbish, but most of them are. We human beings are simply too complex to slot easily into one of four categories.

Opposites attract

Style doesn’t mean matching everything to perfection. Often, it is the opposite. A great look integrates opposing elements, elements which should mirror who you are.

  • the hard with the soft: leather with lace, silk with studs, a ballroom gown with a biker jacket
  • the feminine with the masculine: a girly dress with brogues, a man’s shirt with a belt and heels
  • the conservative with the edgy: a tailored dress with bonkers heels, ripped jeans with a formal shirt and blazer
  • the sporty with the elegant
  • the grown up with the girly

What seems crazy usually looks amazing. Go on and try it for yourself.

Don’t be an actress

I can’t emphasize how important it is not to over-coordinate. A sixties inspired pair of boots is one thing, but if you go the whole flower power hog with dress, hair and blue eyeshadow you will look like you’ve walked off the set of an Austin Power movie. Style is not role-play; it is being yourself.

… but do be a drama queen

Oh yes. I do love a bit of decadence. That huge statement necklace, the blood red dress, a bit of fur (fake for me). If you see that one thing that makes your mouth water, and your toes curl, get it. Don’t worry what other people think when you wear it, just be confident. Don’t be afraid to be colorful. Most bold colors mix incredibly well. Don’t be afraid to mix materials, or prints, just try and stay within a color scheme. It takes some guts at first to be a great drama queen, but God knows it is worth it.

It’s in the detail

Accessories are so much more than add-ons to your outfit. They can transform your outfit from boring to stylish. A plain black trouser-suit can be updated by pairing it with heels in a scream-out-loud color and lots and lots of bangles. A little black dress will set one tone when you wear it with black satin courts, another with a pair of Doc Martens, black nail polish and a smoky eye. The most important part of your outfit is your accessorising. Be as individual as you can. Be a collector and let your accessories tell your story. The most expensive diamond jewellery is no match for the coin bracelet from Jordan, the latest designer bag no match for the camel leather satchel from Morocco.

Have fun

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about achieving a state of permanent perfection. Actually, perfection might make you seem a bit ridiculous. Don’t try too hard, wear what you love and have fun instead. People with style never do it all – perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect make up, perfect outfit, perfect accessories. It’s just too much, and they know that at the end of the day, looks aren’t all that important.

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