This article originally appeared in Tips on Life & Love from Simon & Schuster.
Do you feel like Tai from Clueless in a world full of Imans? The art of being chic is a learned trait; no one is born knowing how to tie a scarf just so. Anyone can become more stylish by following some simple rules. Look to your own fashion icons for inspiration—be it Bjork or Bridget Bardot—and follow through by whittling down your existing wardrobe, investing in items you love, and styling your clothes in new and exciting ways. You’ll feel like you’re riding through Rome on the back of a Vespa with Gregory Peck in no time.
Cover The Basics
Style-conscious ladies know that looking good begins with a high-quality foundation. Harper’s Bazaar recommends starting with basics like ballet flats, a little black dress, high-quality purse, and a striped bateau shirt. Since these items are classics, you don’t have to constantly update, but be sure to acquire pieces in different fabric weights and swap out seasonally.
You don’t have to be afraid of looking too young, just follow these four rules from Cosmopolitan:
- Match colors, not prints.
- Simple, graphic designs are easier to pair.
- Distribute the prints across your body: One on top and one on bottom.
- Use solids to break up the look.
It’s tempting to just ignore mixing prints and play it safe. But playing it safe gets boring, and isn’t that why you wanted to update your wardrobe in the first place?
Turn Up Those Cuffs
Go from a daytime office look to drinks with friends in the same button-down shirt, just by rolling up the sleeves. Like everything else when it comes to styling, there is an art to doing it well. To keep the look neat, make your folds large and even, paying attention to the placement of the cuff. Check out this tutorial for getting the look right.
Embrace Trends, Sparingly
The key is to stay trendy while embracing your own style. Wearing ripped wide-leg denim with a crop top might work for a teenager, but anyone over 19 will feel like a circus freak. Wear one trendy item alongside pieces from your classic foundation wardrobe. You’ll freshen up the look without being in costume. On a budget? Find fast-fashion knockoffs. When mixed with higher-quality details, no one will know the difference.
Change Up Your Look With Layers
Layering adds interest and variety to an outfit. You can more easily switch out pieces for post-work looks, and great undergarments help keep your silhouette smooth. As always, start with a sturdy foundation and go from there: Tights in unusual colors, flattering T-shirts, statement necklaces. You can change the color scheme to pop more or less, but know when to stop: the pirate look doesn’t work for everyone.