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The people we see as fashion icons are usually instantly recognisable, with the same vibe running through their outfits from casual to red-carpet, and they always carry it off with confidence. You can be sure they weren’t always that way: their journey started with discovering their true inner style.

1. Research

The first essential step to discovering your style is research. Spend some time looking at images of outfits you like. Gather them together. Make sure they come from a variety of situations, casual and formal. Do this over several days or weeks; if you get 100 images that won’t be too many.

Take a good  look at your wardrobe. Probably you’ll see some style aspects popping up in a few of your items. And maybe one or two items that just don’t fit.

Try re-arranging your wardrobe. Put all the things you haven’t worn in more than a year at one end. Put your most favourite things that you wear the most and feel the most confident in at the other end.

Select some items to discard. Be strong.

Compare your wardrobe with your gathered pictures. What fits – and what jars?  Cull your images and your wardrobe for the obvious mismatches. Be a bit ruthless and you’ll start to see some underlying consistency of what you like and feel confident wearing.

The main thing is how you feel, above all confidence in how you look. If you aren’t sure how something makes you look or if you can carry it off, then trust your instincts. It’s probably not for you.

2. Plan for all of you

You’ve got more than one role in life.

Friends out on the town.  At work. Family events.  Sport and recreation. Whatever the main roles of your life are, you want your wardrobe to support you in them.

Re-arrange your wardrobe (again), this time creating a group for each role.  Are there holes?  Look too for items that can work across groups, especially accessories. These tell you a lot about your personal style.

Done? Throw some more things out.

3. Shop with a purpose

Study each of your role groups and write down what is missing. Be as detailed and precise as you can. I need a light coat for winter sports events at my kid’s school.

Put that list in your purse and keep it with you always. Take it shopping and shop with purpose; not to buy something on a whim or because it’s a “bargain” but to find the items that complete your wardrobe.

Do this and you won’t waste money on things you never wear.

4. Accessorise

The right accessories make any outfit. Accessories are especially good for linking items and dressing outfits up or down, giving your wardrobe more versatility. When you are looking at accessories, ask how many of the items in your wardrobe they can go with. When your wardrobe is right on your style, your accessories will each have multiple pairings.

5. Ask

Ask what other people think. Professional; advice will get you there faster, but there are many knowledgeable and honest people in sales, especially in high end department stores and boutiques. Ask your friends to. Don’t believe everything you’re told though, check it against your instincts. Gather up all this advice and filter it for the strong common threads.  Not all of it will be right for you, but you can learn from it.

6. Trust your instincts

Being authentic to yourself is more important than matching a trend. When you dress for yourself and feel confident in how you look, that will never go out of style.

The best indicator of inner style is confidence in what you are wearing, how you look and the context or social setting.

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