Every woman wants to wear clothes that make her feel amazing, but in my job as a celebrity stylist, I know that creating that perfect look requires much more than just clothes. It takes deliberate choices about who my client is, and who she wants to be. I don’t just choose clothes that flatter her figure, either. While that is incredibly important, a stylist knows that to truly flatter a woman, clothes must capture something of the woman’s essence. Style is all about spirit: who you are, who you aspire to become, and what inspires you each and every day.
So while I can’t go shopping with you (though I’d love to!) I want to share a few of my favorite style strategies from my best-selling book, THE BEAUTY BLUEPRINT. I want you to learn what your own signature style is, and then embrace it!
Find Images That Appeal to You
First, go collect all the old magazines in your house. You can also grab some clothing catalogs or even go to online stores or designers’ websites. (I love the Chico’s website, for example.) Your first assignment is to look for hairstyles, accessories, and outfits you love, and then cut (or print) them out. Whenever you see an image or photo that immediately “pops”—one that appeals to you in a real and powerful way—grab it!
“But what if I’d never wear that?” some of my clients ask when we do this exercise together. “I love the look in this picture, but I couldn’t pull it off.”
Cut it out anyway! That’s all you have to do. This is an exercise—not a commitment to buy. I just want you to collect whatever inspires you regardless of whether or not you’d ever wear a certain outfit or copy a hairstyle. Fashion isn’t always meant to go straight from the photo to the street. Fashion is an art form, with each designer expressing a unique idea.
I’ve been backstage at the world-famous Fashion Week in New York City. I’ve stood next to the teeny-tiny models and the absolutely outrageous designs they wear. And you know what? I loved every minute of it, even though I would never wear many of the fashions myself. I understand the mission of those wild, over-the-top ensembles: all that creativity, the total fearlessness of the designer, inspires the rest of us. The excitement of innovative ideas and cutting-edge styles flood the market, and it enables everyone to interpret their own style in fresh new ways.
Fashion and design is all about experimenting with textures, colors, fabrics, patterns, and styles. Good designers find new ways to express what makes women like us feel beautiful. That’s what you’re doing in this exercise. You’ve become your own designer! You have identified images that moved you or piqued your interest, evoking powerful, pleasant emotions. In fact, that’s how I want you to feel every morning when you get dressed.
I want you to collect these images so you can see very clearly what most inspires you. I am helping you, through this exercise, to understand that style is about more than just the clothes. So many times, we confuse the excitement of a sale with inspiration!
Embrace What You Love About Your Body
I want you to embrace your body just as it is today. What is it about your figure that you really like? Your hourglass shape? Your strong legs? Your toned arms? Your graceful neck? Write down your best features. Can you come up with at least three? I hope so, because I know you have them. You need to know that, too. When you begin picking clothes, it will be important to know what physical features you want to accentuate.
My number one rule with all my clients is to accentuate the positive. Even celebrities struggle with this concept. We live in a world that harps on our figure “flaws” instead of celebrating what makes each woman unique. Creating your own special signature style will keep the emphasis on what makes you unique, and uniquely beautiful.
Identify Your Style Key Words
Next, what is in your heart and spirit that you’d really love to express to the world? I call those your “style key words.” To better understand this idea, let me share a story. . . .
I once had a client who would only wear black clothes and red lipstick. She interpreted this look as “dramatic creativity,” and those words made her feel beautiful. (Did I mention she was an artist?) This woman judged all fashion and style choices by this standard, until she realized that it was actually restricting her creativity instead of enhancing it.
Together, she and I hunted for photos of clothing styles and makeup looks that appealed to her, and she chose some wild stuff—including, to her surprise, ensembles that weren’t all black. Doing this exercise gave her the freedom to fully discover her sense of style. She still loved the notion of “dramatic creativity,” but now it could be expressed in many different ways. In the past, she would have skipped aisles of clothes that didn’t prominently feature black tops and bottoms. Now, she had a clear idea on how to incorporate new pieces into her wardrobe to freshen up her look without losing her identity.
Knowing what images appeal to you, and matching them to your style key words, will give you a beauty breakthrough. So what are your style key words? Read through the following list, and in your journal, jot down the names of those that appeal to you. When you’re finished, narrow your list down to your top five.
Style Key Words
- Animal prints
- Bold primary colors
- Casual elegance
- Classic, timeless
- Clean lines
- Flirty and fun
- Lace and ruffles
- Leisure wear
- Outdoor adventure
- Sleek and chic
- Statement pieces
Not only have you identified your style key words, but you can also see fresh ways these looks are interpreted in fashion, hairstyles, and cosmetics. This can have an immediate payoff. As a former salon owner, for instance, I can’t tell you how many women thought they were describing what they wanted when they said, “I like Jennifer Aniston’s hair,” or “I like the layered look.” In reality, I had very little idea why those looks appealed to a client. My stylists and I would have to make an educated guess. But if a woman came in and said, “I like a sophisticated look with a modern edge. Here are a few photos I cut out from magazines that really appealed to me.” Wow! That information gives me so much more insight—and the ability to create a hairstyle that my client absolutely loves. As a stylist, I needed both the key words and the pictures—and so do you.
You’ve just created your very own Signature Style, just like all my clients who use my techniques from THE BEAUTY BLUEPRINT. Keep a copy of your choices, words and images in your purse. You can get put this information right to work, and it will save you hundreds of dollars. You can shop with the confidence of a stylist, knowing what features you want to emphasize, and what colors and designs reflect your spirit.
Don’t go shopping without this information! Without it, it’s easy to fall back into old habits and choose items that don’t reflect your style key words and images, or your best features. You might pick up something to please your spouse or peers, or because you found it on the clearance rack. Now you have an easy way to stay grounded and check whether something is aligned with your personal style before you hit the cash register and potentially waste money.
Always remember that the more you honor your true beauty, the less prone you will be to caving in to old insecurities and making the same old mistakes in life or at the cash register. You have a signature style to come back to, which allows you to rediscover (and celebrate) the real, beautiful you every day.
Celebrity stylist and life coach Michelle Phillips (www.MichellePhillips.com) shares secrets from her new book, THE BEAUTY BLUEPRINT, to help you save money and look fabulous.