How does a woman develop a style that is personal, distinctive and polished? For suggestions, we turned to several stylish women, including fashion buyers, retailers and consultants. Here are their tips:
* Identify your basic style. Give it a name. Is it dramatic, romantic, tailored, casual, conservative, sporty, eclectic, feminine, funky? Now stick with it.
* Find stores that carry fashions that appeal to you. Shop primarily in those stores.
* Hook up with a sales associate whose look you admire and who inspires your confidence. Work with this person to build a wardrobe that suits your personality, taste and lifestyle.
* Don't ask your friends for opinions. Their preconceived notions about you and their reluctance to hurt your feelings may cloud their objectivity.
* Be daring. Try on a lot of different styles -- even those you don't think you'll like. You may be surprised.
* Be patient. Developing style takes time and practice.
* Trust your instincts. When you put something on and it instantly feels good, go with it.
* Keep informed about fashion trends but don't become a victim. If a trend is not "you," don't buy it.
* Cultivate a "trademark" -- a garment, accessory or color you love. Wear it often.
* Buy the best quality you can afford.
* Spend the most on the things you wear most often.
* Buy clothes that fit comfortably or you'll look ill at ease.
* No need to buy a whole new wardrobe to look stylish -- just a few unique and fashionable accessories.
* Keep things simple. Winnow out all but your most favorite clothes and accessories.