How to refine your style in three easy steps

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper

The three-slogan mantra is trending right now. Which got me thinking that an effective three-parter could be a useful style guide (this is what happens after seven and a half weeks in lockdown…) As any decent journalist, communications expert or yogi knows, a mantra helps to focus the mind and provide calm. Unlike a Word Salad, which can have the opposite effect. Having a style mantra could be one way to encourage more discipline over clothing choices and eliminate Wardrobe Chaos. We don’t need loads of stuff, we just need the right stuff. An outfit should fit well, suit the person (in terms of image, personality and lifestyle) and have the all-important feel-good factor. A winning combination that makes the wearer feel champion.

With this in mind, here’s my new, straightforward style mantra to help you to refine your style:


KNOW your style

You have to know what you want. The clothes that suit you and make you feel-good. Define your style before you refine your style. What do you want to look like? An elegant gentlewoman, ageless rocker or  Casual Glamoupuss? (These are some of the Style Tribes from my first book) Do you live in dresses, or are you more at home in jumpsuits? Is the preferred look pared-down minimalist or pile-it-on maximalist? Before buying anything new ask, ‘Is it me?’ And ‘ Am I going to wear it?’ Keep the wearable items, lay the fashion ghosts to rest and make the most of the everyday basics already hanging in the closet. Really Knowing Your Style will provide clarity and increase wardrobe confidence.

LOVE your clothes

There is no ‘just in case’ or saving for best. A wardrobe should be full of the clothes you love and will live with for a long time. When buying something new, following your heart, or going with your gut, can often be the right move. But pause before you purchase. Consider existing clothes and whether or not the lovely new item sits with them. The gentlewomanly, pink corduroy blazer wasn’t on my shopping list but I was drawn in by its mood-boosting allure (and I love a tailored jacket). After a wee closet calculation, I figured that warm pink tones go perfectly with navy and khaki and the rakish jacket could be readily introduced to my wardrobe favourites. This wasn’t an impulse buy, it was carefully considered. I went back to the shop twice before I splurged.

When decluttering the question becomes ‘do I still love it?’ If you don’t then what’s it doing in your wardrobe? Give the item to charity for someone else to fall in love with.

WEAR winning combinations

This doesn’t happen by magic. It takes practise. Experiment and play around with clothes, try different configurations to work out what goes with what. I’m all for faff-free, simple, streamlined basics but then no-one wants to look basic; adding an unexpected item, one standout piece, really whoops an outfit up. See how a pair of track pants and a navy cashmere roll neck go from park runner to podium with the addition of a snazzy tweed jacket (an incredibly generous gift from Winser London). As Michelle Obama says, ‘ Try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone and soar.’


Follow steps one, two and three for an assessment of what you own, what works and what you need. Remember: KNOW, LOVE, WEAR. And stay stylish.


More tips on what to keep and what to chuck HERE. And how to make your old clothes feel new again HERE.

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