The key to stylish dressing....

 Are you a stylish dresser? Do you put effort into your appearance and rarely leave the house without making sure you are perfectly co-ordinated? Are you often complimented on the way you look?

Or do you break fashion commandments all the time, choosing styles which do not suit you, outfits which do not match and mistakenly believing that cheap always means cheerful? Or maybe you make fashion statements all the time - the wrong sort that scream fashion disaster!

If you are tired of being a clothing catastrophe and are keen to improve your image then spring is the perfect season to develop a signature look.

It could be well worth your while. About 55 per cent of first impressions are based on appearance, such as how you dress, your grooming, and body language.

So, what are the golden rules for dressing well and how can you get it right season after season?

1. You cannot buy style. It really is a mixture of what you wear and how you carry yourself. However, you can make smart sartorial decisions which will ensure you look good. You do not need a fortune to end up on the best dressed list - although most of those who do have tidy sums tucked away - all that is required is an ability to maximise your good points, a flair for mixing and matching which will extend your wardrobe, and a keen eye for accessories which will revitalise jaded outfits or add panache to the season's newest looks.

2. Do not be a fashion victim. Trends come and go and if you make a habit of emulating them you will end up out of pocket and with no identity. Gianni Versace is reported to have said when a woman alters her look too much from season to season, she becomes a fashion victim.

3. Dress to suit your body type. Unlike fashion which changes with the seasons, your face shape, neck length, shoulder width, leg length, and foot size tend to remain the same. All you have to do is learn to choose the most flattering clothes for your body type and complexion. Wise choices should highlight your assets and play down your less positive parts. If you are overweight, for instance, steer clear of horizontal stripes because they will make you look bigger. If you have a small waist you will look good with a belt and your shirt tucked in. If you have narrow shoulders opt for a jacket with pre-formed shoulders or if you have very skinny legs tailored trousers may be a better option than figure hugging jeans.

4. Find your signature style. This may take time and involve lots of experimentation and trial and error. But the effort will pay off. Do not be tempted into adopting looks that flatter other people but do not feel right on you. You do not need to fit a certain mould, dress to suit your figure, personality, and pocket and this will become your trademark.

5. Co-ordination is the key to creating a complete look. Ideally, the colour, pattern and fabric of your clothes should co-ordinate. The colours should complement your eyes, skin, and hair colour. If you have dark hair opt for navy, black, red and white. Pale shades, such as beige, cream and khaki usually do little for people with strong colouring and features. It is a good idea to wear shades that are complementary to you closest to your face so that they bring your best features into focus.

6. Widen your shopping focus. If you usually shop in high end department stores or certain boutiques consider extending your reach. Visit budget friendly chain stores, secondhand outlets, charity and vintage shops, and even the humble jumble sale. Shop online or attend clothes swopping parties. Any of these can throw up unexpected delights not to mention downright treasure. Period garments are particularly appealing in terms of their unique style and workmanship. There is also the exclusivity factor. By injecting fresh ideas into your wardrobe and taking calculated risks with colours, styles, and patterns you will give yourself limitless options.

7. Use accessories to stamp your identity and add the finishing touches to an outfit. Accessories can make or break a look and are an ideal way of revitalising dated pieces or adding pzazz to this season's favourites. Belts add style and should ideally match your shoes. If you are wearing a watch with a strap, it should match as well. The same applies to briefcases. Classy scarves look great with winter coats. Hats are another option which have a practical as well as a style value.

8. Find your true colours. If you feel your natural beauty is not emerging or you always seem to look dull and tired maybe you have yet to discover the real magic of colour. Perhaps you never thought about it or the effect it has on your appearance. When dressed in the wrong colours you can, in effect, "disappear". They can make you look washed out or they can overpower you with your clothes appearing to "wear" you, not the reverse. Colour analysts use the seasons of the year to describe the colours that look best on people. Their analysis is based on one's colouring - skintone, eye and hair colour determines if you look best in a spring, summer, autumn or winter palette.

9. Keep abreast of changing trends. There is a world of difference between being a fashion victim and wearing clothes that are current. Styles change seasonally and it is easy to remain up to date. You can achieve this by buying classic clothes which will not date or lose their appeal. Then, all you have to do is update your image each season by investing in a few key pieces, such as shirts, shoes, ties, trousers,even shades, if you want to go that little bit extra.

10. Develop an eye for bargains. This is not only a fun thing to do it is also an investment in your wardrobe. You can pick up great buys if you a regular visitor to the shops. Time spent window shopping or browsing, not just during the sales but all year round, is time well spent as you may bag a cut-price outfit. The end of the season is a perfect time to shop as items will be reduced to make way for new stock.

Why not reflect and dicsuss in greater detail over a tasty cup of cofffee at Caprice Cafe?

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