Styling: The Most Common Mistakes Women Make
What our clients say over and over; "I never feel right in my clothes? "How do I style myself?" "Why do I always buy the wrong things?" "How do I find/define my style?" "I've always loved clothes but I wear the same thing everyday"
The first thing you have to understand about “Style” it’s a feeling, an intuition not something you can pick up if you can afford it. So you don’t buy it or acquire it, like most things in life you have to work at it and with practise it comes more easily, intuitively and instinctively.
And once you change how you think about your style it will change how you shop and in turn will change how you look.
Many years spent styling women of all ages from young professional models starting out to working as TV stylists in the US and U.K. to styling the public live at Butlins “The Hollywood Look For Less Show” teaching woman how to have great style we can tell you with certainty avoid these common dressing mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to commanding attention every time you enter a room for all the RIGHT reasons without ever even opening your mouth.
Here are our 10 style mistakes to avoid;
1. Wearing what you wore at 20 at 40, at 30 at 50 or at 50 at 70.
Style is not one dimensional, you are changing, evolving, growing (as a person) every day, as the fashion business moves and changes too so what suits you and you love as a child of the 70s say for example (we’re old) is not going to work on you present day 40 years later - that’s how you look DATED
Think about a beautiful tailored sleeveless tight shift dress to the knee. Put that on a thirty something, Kate Middleton type and she’ll look sophisticated and chic, but put it on a fifty something and she’ll look like a librarian.
More common styling mistakes are sticking with something you love just because it was expensive, you believe it suits you (like a boot cut or high-waisted jean) or you are simply delighted you can still fit in it.
We’ve all got things in the wardrobe however old we are that remind us of a time way back when, women who love clothes get attached, but it’s important to recognise when you are completely stuck and still wearing a look that has long passed by or you have outgrown. If you wake up every morning with no idea what to wear and always reach for the same thing even though you have a wardrobe full of clothes it’s time to open your eyes.
2. That’ll Do.
We’ve all done it, not really bothered or properly checked the outfit before leaving the house then ended up feeling dowdy, a frump, lesser than everyone else. Again this is not an age thing.
How you stop that happening is by making you and your style a priority, putting some effort into your wardrobe, planning ahead and making sure you have enough time to get ready properly. Then actually checking you have got all the elements right before heading out. Even a stylist can make a mistake especially when building a brand new look or working with a new element like a sock boot, where you have to consider things lying correctly or ankle gap so give yourself time and if you are styling something new do it the night before.
3. Desire To Look Younger
The truth is the only way to look and feel younger is to take extremely good care of yourself, to truly love yourself from the inside out. The right clothes will help, but if you have completely let yourself go, you cannot style no shape so this has to be addressed first. Many women believe if they wear that short baby doll sleeveless dress they will become the little girl they once were. Shirley often recalls a story in her thirties when an attractive man at a dinner party she was sitting next to observed a then older woman in her 50s opposite wearing a sleeveless dress & mused why the woman would choose to expose the part of her body that immediately revealed her age. Shirley never forgot it.
4. Mind The Gap
The ankle gap has got many women we meet completely flummoxed and at the moment when the ankle grazer is the only length to be wearing it has caused no end of problems when it come to styling. If you want to wear jeans you need to be showing some skin, don’t try styling sneakers or trainers with jeans if you are beginner and don’t wear visible socks with trainers or sneakers. Never put an ankle boot under an ankle grazer (that will take you from "NEW" to “NEW AVENGERS” and stretch or skinny jeans that are too long need either cutting off or rolling up. (We advise you try rolling to get the length exactly right before you start hacking your Paige denim or Mih to bits)
5. Buying Clothes Too Big
When it comes to style fit is the MOST important factor. Women that don’t love their bodies buy their clothes too big in the hope they can disappear under a mountain of fabric, a common dressing mistake. What actually happens is no one can tell what is the person and what is the clothing and you end up just looking worse so always go smaller not bigger, particularly on the top. The secret to great style is great fitting clothes “Haute Couture” hello. Get some foundation garments on that show you exactly what you are working with and if you hate what you see, face it, embrace it and let it be the motivation to do something about it. Learning how to layer up black leggings will get you through this difficult time.
6. No Finish or Edge
The difference between an A and an A* is very small that one extra piece of knowledge that separates the best from the exceptional and styling is the same. A branded well cut well fitting jean, white shirt, plain cashmere sweater, padded jacket and simple black boot will look the same as the individual pieces cleverly selected from the High Street (even a stylist cannot tell if you are wearing a £30 Zara jean or a £200 7 for All Mankind jean yet costs 6 times the price.) However put an Hermes scarf for example round the waist of the Zara jean, or add one expensive accessory picked up second hand and the cheap high st outfit will look more expensive than the much more expensive staples on their own.
7. Aubergine, Jade, Mustard and Turquoise
This is a controversial one and many will argue they love wearing these colours, "the jewel tones" and defend them to the hilt and for sure an aubergine leather legging styled correctly can look incredible but as a general rule if you don't know what you are doing avoid these colours for staples (and definitely go no where near these colours in prints) whatever your age for the time being and try black instead. If you are extremely pale or feel too old to pull off black without it draining you stick with Navy, Charcoal grey or light grey at a push.
8. Copying/Envying A Look On Someone With A Completely Different Body Shape
Don't make your style icon Ariana Grande, super petite if you are built more like Serena Williams, tall and athletic, because what looks good on one won't look good on the other, it's as simple as that.
9. Cutting Your Hair Too Short Or Dying It Pink
The minute you give up on your hair you are effectively giving up on your style. It’s very easy to allow a hairdresser to talk you into chopping all your hair off because it’s a pain, you cannot be bothered to do it, it’s not the colour you like and the maintenance is all too much. Vibrant hair colours are very fashionable at the moment but remember hair colour is not only permanent but damaging too and bright coloured hair adds one more styling limitation/pitfall into the mix. Dramatic changes with the right stylist can be amazing but putting your personal style in someone else’s hands completely when it comes to your hair, is more likely to be a massive mistake.
And grey hair, whilst a handful of women do rock it; Christine Lagarde, (in the Guardian Mayfair stylist Jo Hansford says the Silver Vixen, head of the International Monetary Fund hailed by many stylewatchers could look younger with some help from her) most cannot pull it off (Teresa May) so additional work to face sadly for the more mature amongst us if the snow on top is just not cool.
And when it comes to lopping it all off of course it’s easy for the hair stylist to get that “low maintenance” Bob or Boy cut looking great when you leave the salon but is hair you have to style everyday really that low maintenance? One thing is for sure, in the style stakes there is no way back from bad clothes AND bad hair. We recommend leave your hair alone, let it grow, give up one cheap fast fashion top and use the money instead to enlist the help of an amazing stylist you trust for weekly maintenance. And on the days you cannot do it yourself wear a ponytail or a hat.
10. Poor Posture
You can have the most beautiful clothes, styled by the most talented stylist but if you are round shouldered, eyes down, carrying the weight of the world you are never going to pull off the look you want. This is not about age, although how carry ourselves does get worse as we get older. Start to be aware of your body when you are walking. Lift you head up, your chest up and out and get your shoulders rolled back and down with your shoulder blades pushed together. Just by standing correctly you'll be head and shoulders (he he) above the pack when it comes to great style.
When people look at themselves after being professionally styled they always say “I FEEL a million dollars” not “I LOOK a million dollars” so style is instinctual, a feeling, a confidence borne from challenging yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone & doing some work.
A visit to a professional stylist will get you on your way as they will look at your body in a completely different way, unlike you they are looking only for the positive and then working to make the most of it.
We have given you some guidelines (and you'll notice they are all things you don't need money to change) on the fashion mistakes every woman makes here but remember we are all unique and in reality you can wear whatever you like when you can do it with complete confidence. Only you will know when you feel absolutely sensational and when you feel like that, you will also know inside you have got it right even if you cannot put your finger on exactly why.