Fashionista Versus Stylista

The single biggest mistake when it comes to styling is too many clothes and not enough accessories. So stop the shopping and start the styling.

by Shirley Yanez • More.com Member { View Profile }

For those amongst us, dare I say it, with a shopping addiction, giving up a $20-a-day habit is preferable to never setting foot in a shopping mall again. Take it from us, the people who put the word "shopaholic" in the O.E.D. But like any bad habit, when the fix is temporary and only leaves you wanting more money for more wardrobe space and ultimately more shopping, you can do one of only two things:

  1. Die under a mountain of unworn clothes and final demand notices, or
  2. Learn how to work with what you’ve got.

Styling is a basic skill that appears to elude many of us. We have chosen to shop till we drop instead, the fashion industry’s answer to reaching fashionista’s nirvana, the place celebrities in magazines tell us they go in between rehab. Despite the rising cost of everything, the price of clothes is actually lower than 20 years ago. One of the key factors keeping inflation statistics unrealistically low, a phenomenon attributed to either volume sales of ignominious proportions, slave labour or likely a combination of both.

The TV gives us our weekly dose of fashion shows that all talk of styling without actually delivering any concrete "how tos" (got to keep those advertisers happy), and the constant use of "on trend" and "must haves" puts us once again firmly in that subliminal, inescapable shopaholic matrix.

So if, like us, you are sick of being a slave to the fashion industry’s rhythm but could never swap your stillettos for sneakers (unless you’re exercising of course), here’s what you do. First, learn these two simple rules.

Rule Number 1: Style equals confidence; style does not equal fashion. 

Rule Number 2: Style is free; fashion is costly. 

Then sort out your clothes into seven groups: Tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, shoes, bags, and accessories. The largest group should always be accessories (hats, belts, jewelery, hosiery, scarves, hair clips) as they fit you on fat days, take up minimum storage space, and last a lifetime.

Beware: The single biggest mistake when it comes to styling is too many clothes and not enough accessories. The desired ratio accessories to separates is 3:1.

Now find a look in a magazine you love and have a go at copying it piece by piece. It doesn’t have to be exact. Copy colors if you can’t match shapes or visa versa. By experimenting with what you have, you’ll start to recognise duplicate items are pointless when it comes to styling as are things that don’t fit. For each outfit you style, add at least three items from your accessories. It is these additions that make your look unique to you. As you work, gaps in your wardrobe will start to appear. When you do decide you deserve a little retail therapy, resist the temptation to be drawn to the High Street and do what every savvy style guru does — pick up your individual must haves, a.k.a. another shopaholic’s mistakes, from our style studio without spending a penny. Take it from us, as experts at conquering addiction (trust us you never escape it), the buzz is even better when you get what you need not just what you want.

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