Easy ways to feel more confident about your style

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Annie Johnston

Personal style is a work in progress. I know, I’ve been working on mine for years. Not exclusively, mind you. I do have other falafel to fry… Just as with a favourite recipe pulled out on a busy weekday evening, co-ordinating an outfit gets better with practise. The jacket and jeans (or cargo pants) combo is one of my default, feel-good outfits. These are all items I’ve owned for a while and this new confidence-boosting configuration came to me in a rush to get myself to the Fashion Revolution panel discussion, a couple of weeks ago. Experimenting with style is the way to add flair and personality, but feeling comfortable and confident matters. It pays to have a reliable uniform of not-so-basic-basics, items that you can call upon when pushed for time and want to grab-and-go. For me, the just-smart-enough combination of casual cargo pants and a classic blazer is a winning formula. My desk buddy prefers a long denim skirt and a fitted jumper. We both want an outfit that works with comfy shoes and trainers. Business at the top, creative co-working at the bottom.


Here are five easy ways to feel more confident about your style:


Know your style

I had a really lovely message from a reader recently, she had left work and found ‘the loss of identity, personally and professionally challenging.’ But thanks to the invaluable writing both on the main stage and in the comments box of That’s Not My Age, the one thing she has learned is that you have ‘to know what you want.’ Style is personal and understanding what suits you and what you feel good in is the sartorial daily double. Get it right for the win-win.

If it works, wear it again (and again)

Many women wear the same outfit, or a version of an outfit, for two or three consecutive days. This is not slovenly, it makes perfect style sense. When you’ve found a winning combination, reissue it with a minor tweak (and clean underwear) the next day. Like leftovers for lunch, an outfit is tastier when it’s had time to evolve. I’ll wear the same jeans and jacket several days on the trot, but I’ll roll the jeans up and swap trainers for loafers, trade a simple t-shirt for a silk blouse, tie my hair up and add a pair of statement earrings. Stick to what suits and then switch things up.

If it doesn’t feel right, forget it.

There’s absolutely no point buying an item of clothing, or having something lurking in the back of the wardrobe, if it doesn’t fit right or feel right. For me, fit is the most important thing. I can’t stand armpit or crotch-bothering clothes. No-one wants to be constantly fiddling around with ill-fitting garments, faffing is not chic. Not so long ago, I was down to the last bra in the drawer, an item well past its sell-by-date but needs must and all that. I reached lunchtime and had to go and buy a replacement, the old one went straight in the bin. Less faffing equals more time to pursue other more important matters.

Keep a note of winning combinations

Having a record of all your top-notch outfits is a time-saving device. Take a photo (often, I have a quick look at my outfits online as a reminder, I guess that’s one of the advantages of plastering images of yourself all over the internet…), Lucinda Chambers told me that she keeps a list in a notebook as a reminder, alternatively, take notes on your phone or hang items together (possibly on the same hanger) in the wardrobe.

And don’t forget to experiment

Every now and then the not-so-basic uniform needs freshening up – and this involves experimenting with new combinations of clothes, adding a new colour or silhouette to the armoire. Earlier this year, a pair of camel suede boots introduced me to a number of new outfit possibilities, in different colour combinations, and a burnt orange leopard print fleece came together with a pair of ancient white jeans and last year’s velvet mules. Back to the favourite recipe analogy, take the essentials and then whoop them up with a sprinkling of new ingredients.



Please note affiliate links in this post may generate commission

Keep Reading

Don’t miss Magdalene Odundo ‘The Journey of Things’ at the Hepworth Wakefield

Personal style is a work in progress. I know, I’ve been working on mine for years.