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The elements of style


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.

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