The 8 Commandments of Foolproof Style
Rule No. 1: Mix Masculine With Feminine
A mash-up of ladylike and tomboy elements creates a look neither too saccharine nor too tough. Try feminine silhouettes in classic menswear textiles (case in point, this coat and skirt), or go in another direction and pair traditionally masculine clothing (like wool trousers) with a delicate, wholly feminine silky top.
Rule No. 2: Style Around Your Shoes
The most strategic way to create an outfit? Start from the bottom and work up. If you're going to be doing lots of running around, by all means wear flats. (The strappy style here is as chic as a pair of heels.) Then pick pieces that work with them (like a dress that hits just right, at your knee). Letting great footwear shape the colors, the prints, and the silhouettes of your ensemble, instead of adding them as an after-thought, ensures that you'll be put together top to, well, toes.
Rule No. 3: Add One More Accessory
Personal style is exactly that—personal. Add your own finishing touches by stacking bracelets, layering necklaces, or even reimagining how you wear a classic scarf. With all due respect to Coco Chanel, sometimes (a little) more is more.
Rule No. 4: Let Bigger Make You Feel Better
It sounds counterintuitive, but voluminous pieces can have a minimizing effect. Slenderize hips by pairing a full skirt with a close-cut top, or shrink a large bust with a boxy blouse and slim-fit trousers. The narrower lines will look as if they continue under the puffier pieces.
Rule No. 5: Use Casual to Elevate Dressy
Nothing says "confident, effortless style" like combining elements from two different dress codes and pulling it off. Layered over a formal full-length silk dress (!), a chunky sweater simultaneously tones it down and modernizes it. Let your accessories dictate the vibe. The stiletto heels and the statement jewelry here keep things on the dressy side.
Rule No. 6: Wear Just One Color, But Vary the Tones
Pulling together a monochromatic outfit in the morning is a no-brainer. Make it look more dynamic by mixing light and dark versions of your shade of choice. Put those variations to work for the ultimate figure flattery: The darker tones in the outfit will have a minimizing effect, while the lighter ones will draw attention.
Rule No. 7: Temper the Extreme
They're striking, to be sure. But exaggerated styles can also overwhelm (billowy bottoms) or overexpose (cropped tops). The key with these pieces is to pair them with a foil: If you're going for an abbreviated blouse, stick with an excess of fabric—like high-waisted trousers or a midi skirt—on the bottom. Likewise, to keep wide-leg pants from taking over, less fabric on top is the answer.
Rule No. 8: When in Doubt, Define Your Waist
No matter what type of middle you're starting with, narrowing it is an instantly slimming strategy. Find a silhouette that's right for your shape, be it Empire or A-line. Or, for a universal fix, just add a belt to a capacious dress to counteract the tent effect.