25 Definitive Style Rules Every Woman Should Follow
After years of dressing, observing and advising you ladies, I've come up with a list of definitive style rules guaranteed to make you look your best.
A structured bag gives your outfit instant polish.
Even jeans and a tee look pulled together when you wear them with a top-handled bag that's sharp, not slouchy. Try one in gray, the neutral of the season, or a bold color like cobalt or lipstick red, which adds pop to whatever you wear.
Blue bag, $450, ToryBurch.com. Gray bag, $35, HM.com. Red bag, Calvin Klein, $198, Macys.com.
Don't be afraid to mix gold and silver.
There's no need to fret about matching all your jewelry if you have one mixed-metal piece that unites them. Put on this classic boyfriend watch and let the metallics fall where they may.
Watch, Tommy Hilfiger, $135; Tommy.com
A jeweled belt makes everything more luxurious.
Anyone can throw on a skinny leather version, but cinch a dress, a sweater or even a jacket with an embellished number, and your look goes instantly to the next level.
Belts, $75 to $315 each; DeepaGurnani.com.
You don't have to go strapless for everything.
A bag with a strap—I love this gorgeous gold purse—leaves your hands free for nighttime sipping, eating and Instagramming.
Bag, Halston Heritage, $325; Halston.com
Stock up on cashmere—but don't spend too much.
Cashmere is eternally stylish and butter soft and works with any outfit. This sweater is super easy to wear thanks to its relaxed shape and longer length (translation: extra rear coverage, should you need it).
When in doubt, choose a v-neck. It flatters both small and large busts and makes your waist look smaller.
Sweaters, $149 each; LandsEnd.com.
Shop your closet.
Snap pics of your best outfits and make a look book for those days when you don't know what to wear. Apps like StyleChat
, which enables you to create style boards from your photos, make it easy.
Fall in love with flats again.
Not only will your feet thank you, but the season's freshest styles—menswear inspired, pointy and slip-on—will instantly update your outfit.
Shoes, from top: American Rag, $49; Macys.com. $138; Bodenusa.com. $30; CallItSpring.com
Don't buy anything unless you love it. So simple, but so hard to do. For this very reason, I've sworn off sample sales.
Try a fresh alternative to black.
You'll be pleasantly surprised at how color can rev up your look. This season sangria is hot. It flatters every skin tone and is the perfect gateway shade if dark is your default.
Skirt, Oasis, $90; Oasis.AndOtherBrands.com.
Trade in your usual blazer for something fresher.
Try these inspired-by-the-runway jackets, which finish your outfit in a modern way.
From top to bottom:
Bomber: $86; JCPenney.com.
Collarless: $478; NanetteLepore.com.
Motorcycle: Elizabeth and James, $465; Bloomingdales.com.
Find your true skinny pant.
How do you know you've found The One? It will make you look longer and leaner without being uncomfortable or clingy.
Why we love this pair:
1. It has a thicker waistband whittles the waist.
2. The stretch fabric moves with you for comfort but also retains its shape.
3. Its strategic seaming visually elongates legs.
Pant, White House Black Market, $78; WHBM.com.
Extend the life of your shoes by adding a thin rubber sole. Make friends with your cobbler and have him put these babies on your shoes before you wear them. You (and your now longer-lasting footwear) will get an extra layer of protection from the mean streets.
If it looks good on a hanger, chances are it'll look good on you.
A garment with a sound structure sucks you in and gives you a sleek shape that's visible before you even put it on.
Dress, Roland Mouret for Banana Republic Collection, $140; BananaRepublic.com.
To create a signature look, scarf it up. Cultivate personal style by choosing a distinctive accessory—like an artfully knotted scarf. (Note from the fashion team: Adam demonstrates this tip every day!)
Scarf, Me & Kashmiere, $249; Unica, 713-927-7215
Assemble a white-shirt wardrobe.
The versatile button-down is not only a classic piece, but a huge trend this year—and there's a shirt for every vibe. Whether your look is traditional and crisp or relaxed and tomboyish, there's never been a better time to do the white thing.
Shirt, $175; AnnMashburn.com.
Wear your size, not the size you want to be. There is no standard sizing method. And, while only you see the number on the tag, everyone can see when your clothes are too tight.
Think of your little black dress as the perfect blank canvas.
The right accessories transform an LBD from a staple to a showstopper. Consider the suggestions above—though not all in the same outfit, of course.
How to style this one:
1. Add a statement necklace.
2. Cinch with a "notice me" belt.
3. Shoes and bags are instant changers. Try metallics, brights or graphic black-and-white.
Dress, $328; JillJillStuart.com.
Build your look from the inside out.
No matter how lovely your outfit, ill-fitting undergarments sabotage the entire effect, and you just won't look as good. So start with a solid foundation: Invest in the perfect T-shirt bra, with cups that don't cause lumps or bumps under thin fabric. Also worth the expense: smart layering items like this top, which smooths jigglier bits without adding bulk.
Bra, $78; US.Chantelle.com. Top, Commando, $58; WearCommando.com.
Show off your legs or boobs, but not both. As anyone who's seen a Real Housewife knows, there can be too much of a good thing. Pair minis with modest, longer-sleeved tops; a plunging neckline is classy, not trashy, when legs stay under cover.
Diamonds are always a do.
Try diamond hoops instead of studs—they're less expected and add more sparkle to your face.
Earrings, starting at $1,750; HeartsOnFire.com.
Your outerwear is the first thing people see, so make it count.
A classic trench will never go out of style, but choose one with special details—like the leather sleeves and trim on this jacket—to make it a stylish day-to-night option.
Trench, $248; AnnTaylor.com.
Every woman needs one good animal-print accessory.
It's classic, works as a neutral and jazzes up solid pieces. A shoe or a bag lets you try just a touch—safer than a full-on animal-print dress.
Boot, $199; Chicos.com.
Obscure less toned areas with patterns.
Strategic prints—like this blue and black one—draw attention away from trouble spots. Shape-shifting fabrics like thicker knits and ponte don't hurt, either.
Dress, $238; NicAndZoe.com.
Hide a tummy with a flowy, hip-length top.
Look for fabrics that conceal rather than cling. This easy knit not only camouflages, it has a chiffon bottom that adds extra coverage and creates a soft, feminine look.
Sweater, Style & Co, $50; Macys.com.
Expand your definition of "suit."
When it comes to looking sleek and sophisticated, nothing beats a suit. But a matching top and bottom—like this polished printed number—is less formal and more modern than the traditional blazer-and-skirt combo.
Top, $40, and pant, $70; thelimited.com.