What Not To Wear: DIY Version

Contributing Writer

Style is about everyday choices; from what color of eye shadow you choose to wear, to what color you paint your walls in your home. It is apparent in everything we do. So why does it elude so many of us? Why does it seem so unattainable? It seemed easy enough for Jackie O, Audrey and Coco Chanel. Were things just more simplistic all the way around? Should style define us or should we define our style? We could talk all day about which came first, the wedge or the stiletto…

First of all, to know your style is to know yourself. Is that why most of us find it difficult to define ourselves through style and fashion? Do we not have enough of a grasp on who we really are as women to convey it to the rest of the world? Well, being that most of us are mothers, wives, daughters and friends, bosses and entrepreneurs, run a household, have full-time jobs and raise children all at the same time? No wonder we are confused…maybe we can’t remember which hat to put on and at what time. Not to mention having to re-evaluate that style every decade. Yes, that’s right at 20, 30, 40 years old and so on, we must take a hard look in the mirror and in those dreaded closets and re-define ourselves.

Just ask Stacy and Clinton of TLC’s “What Not To Wear.” Probably 99 percent of the time their clients on the show are tossing tight, tired, ill-fitting, just plain worn-out or ridiculous clothing in that shiny silver can. The next step is into the all-telling 360 degree mirror to find that they are seeing themselves for the first time and can’t believe they look such a wreck like somehow Stacy and Clinton have a magic mirror that is different from their looking glass at home. Or they defend their disastrous ensemble until the end like somehow they can’t see themselves as others do or are simply caught in a time warp and only see themselves as they used to be. Almost 100 percent of the time these lucky people are transformed into slimmer looking, more updated versions of themselves and thus happier. But it’s not without some mental struggle. Most of the time people found they were either trying to cover up body issues, just not seeing themselves clearly or holding onto the past. There is always a lot of justifying, procrastinating, and even crying. Sometimes we have to be pulled into change kicking and screaming! Ask them a month later if this transforming make-over event is life-changing and you will get an undeniable “YES!”

So, why should this life-changing event be reserved for just the lucky and the few? It shouldn’t! Most of the rules are the same for every body type. I think most of us just get stuck. It does take a certain amount of time and creativity to keep up your style but it is so worth it!

Try some of these TLC tried and true tips to re-fine your style and re-create your wardrobe…

• Neutrals are black, tan, gray, navy and green and can be combined together in any shade.
• Neutrals can be mixed with any color or pattern.
• Other colors and patterns can be mixed together if the same colors are present within the color palette.
• If you are going to wear denim go for dark denim in a trouser fit.
• Don’t underestimate the power of good undergarments.

Clinton Kelly’s favorite fashion rule of thumb:
“Learn the basics of fit and you’re off to a great start. For example, shoulder seams should sit at your shoulders, your jackets should always close; your buttons shouldn’t pull and your pants should hang about a half inch from the ground. I could go on and on.”

Stacy London’s favorite fashion rule of thumb:
“If it doesn’t match anything you own don’t buy it. It will never match anything you own.”

Had you even heard of a fashion stylist a few years ago? Most of us go to a professional to get our hair done. Shouldn’t we give what we put on our body day in and day out the same treatment? Once you find out what works on you, is knowledge that you will have for life. Take advantage of the complementary services offered by some of the smaller stores and boutiques. At Isabella’s we offer complementary fashion styling. You can even bring in pieces from your own closet and we will help you update them.

Watch shows like TLC’s “What Not To Wear,” and “Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style” on Bravo. There are a ton of great tips and lots to learn. Styling is what makes you stylish and the thing that puts fashion in styling.

Styling is about accessories, flipped-up cuffs and that one scarf or piece of jewelry. Jackie O., Audrey and Coco all had a staple piece or look that they were known for. What’s yours? The fun thing about fashion is that you can re-invent yourself over and over. Once you find out your own guidelines you can have a fashion frenzy! Grab two of your brutally honest friends to play Stacy and Clinton to help you put together some new outfits in your wardrobe or head down to your local boutique and get styled together.

Updated 10-21-2008

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