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50 Fashion Secrets Personal Stylists Won’t Tell You for Free

These genius tricks of the trade will have you looking like you've got the budget for a professional stylist every time you step out.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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Timeless staples instead of oversaturated trends

Before you rush out to buy new style essentials to add to your weekend look, work wardrobe, or date-night ensembles, you’ll want to read what these professional stylists have to say about nailing the perfect look. Their suggestions might surprise you—and land you with more compliments than ever. Read on to see which key pieces you really need, how to update and wear the looks you already own, and try new things without spending a bundle. Use this information wisely and you’ll not only understand the style secrets of women who always look put together—you’ll actually be one of those women!

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Having style doesn’t have to mean dresses and heels

“Fashion doesn’t mean having to be super girly. I am a tomboy at heart, so I like to encourage women like me to experiment with menswear or more casual pieces. One tomboy trend I love is a trench coat with cute sneakers!” —Olivia Pierson, TipTalk fashion expert and the star of ‘Relatively Nat & Liv’

Try this: To nail the look, try a slip-on shoe that has both sneaker-like comfort and attitude. These cushy-soled LifeStride Zaza Loafers will do the trick! Find out what your favorite shoes say about your personality.

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woman taking a selfie against a pink wall. try this sweatpants.rd.com, Getty Images, via soma.com

Don’t believe everything you see on Instagram

“Social media doesn’t always show the whole picture. For instance, as glamorous as I appear on social media, I wish people knew that not only am I most comfortable in sweatpants and a sweatshirt but it’s also when I feel the sexiest!” —Natalie Halcro, TipTalk fashion expert and the star of ‘Relatively Nat & Liv’

Try this: Opt for confidence-boosting athleisure that’s cute enough to wear out and comfortable enough to sleep in, like these Soma Sunday Pants. FYI, here’s how you should be washing athleisure.

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Spending too much time choosing your outfit can ruin the rest of your day

“Not enough people have heard of decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the result of making too many decisions during the course of the day. All of these little decisions add up and actually drain the brain of decision-making power later on. So don’t waste your brainpower in the morning trying to get dressed. Get rid of things you can’t or don’t wear regularly and simplify your wardrobe to pieces you like. Keep your clothing simple so you will have the energy to tackle life’s tougher problems.” —Dan Moyer Jr., stylist and national director of social media for Closet Factory

Try this: You should finally get rid of these articles of clothing and accessories in your closet, and then invest in core staples like this Dangela Embroidered Denim Jacket from Francesca’s. You’ll find yourself wearing it with everything from flouncy skirts to colorful pants, and even over little black dresses for a polished weekend look.

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The hottest clothing item isn’t clothing

“There are so many trend pieces, online articles, news snippets, and magazine blurbs about what the next ‘it’ things are or what things you ‘should never be seen in again.’ All that is propaganda. True personal style is that which looks great to the outside world but makes the wearer feel even greater inside. If you are confident in your style, it will project beauty no matter what you’re wearing.” —Stephen V. Hernandez, a personal stylist based in New York City

Try this: These figure-flattering Liverpool Los Angeles Ripped Ankle Straight Leg Jeans look expensive, but they’re actually affordable and just as comfortable as loungewear. Here’s how to find the best jeans for your body type.

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Save money by combining expensive items with sale-rack stuff

“It’s perfectly OK to mix expensive items with cheaper pieces.” —Pierson

Try this: This discounted Rosamonde shirt by Bobeau offers a twist on a core classic that can just as easily be paired with denim as it can with a work-appropriate skirt. And no one would ever guess that you paid just $17 for it! Here are more simple fashion upgrades that can make you look expensive.

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two trendy friends looking at a phone. try this scarf.rd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

Don’t be a slave to trends

“Regardless of what’s trending at the moment, try to stay true to yourself. Know what you look good in and what you like and stick to that.” Halcro

Try this: Timeless basics like this Lulu Dharma scarf are trend-resistant and always look elegant. Don’t miss these other fashion rules you should know by the time you’re 40.

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Investment pieces are actually a good deal

“Many people think they can’t afford high-end style. But you’ll get more value if you spend your money on one good investment piece that you’ll use for years, like a cool bag, instead of wasting money on multiple pieces that aren’t classic.” —Halcro

Try this: High-quality materials like genuine leather often cost more than fast-fashion pieces, but they’ll add sophistication to your wardrobe for years to come. Try this Parker Clay Layla Satchel in an eye-catching rust-brown color. Here are more classic handbags to add to your wardrobe.

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mature woman walking. try this pencil skirt.rd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

Fashion rules exist for a reason

“Your personal style should suit your lifestyle, mood, and resources, but don’t feel like you have to break the rules to create a unique personal style. The classics are called ‘classic’ for good reason.” Kylen Moran, stylist and fashion blogger

Try this: Versatile pencil skirts stand the test of time and are easily paired with blazers, sweaters, button-downs, and even tees. Try this Esteez Charlotte Pencil Skirt with slimming panels, which offer a more comfortable solution to shapewear. That said, depending on the piece, you might need another smoothing solution. Make sure you own the best shapewear for every type of outfit and you’ll be all set.

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Don’t forget who’s the boss! (Hint: It’s you, the one with the wallet)

“The most important thing to remember about personal style and fashion is that you are the client. Fashion is here to work to fit you, not to make you work to fit fashion!” Hernandez

Try this: Don’t be afraid to make an unusual silhouette, print, personal statement, or color part of your signature style. Ease into your personal expression with a fun take on the classic tee, like this affordable Desert Dreamer Raw Edge Oversize Tee. It’s fun paired with denim or loosely tucked into a smart, Boho-inspired maxi skirt. Next, check out these fashion rules you can break without guilt.

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You are not too good for secondhand stores

“Whether you’re buying or selling, consignment shops can be your best friend. Sell last season’s key pieces and you’ll have a bigger budget to pick up some fun pieces for next season!” —Halcro

Try this: Not sure where to start? Online thrift stores like ThredUp offer pieces as inexpensive as $1 each, and they let you make extra cash by trading in your own wardrobe, too. Don’t miss these shopping tips for finding hidden gems at thrift stores.

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Stop trying so hard

“It’s important to find the staple pieces to make up the core of your wardrobe and then build on them, using the foundations to explore fashion trends. When paired with white leather booties, key jewelry, and a fur vest, classic ripped jeans and a white T-shirt that you have owned forever becomes high fashion. This required very little effort or expense, with big results.” —Chaya Milchtein, a plus-size fashion influencer and style blogger at Mechanic Shop Femme

Try this: Elevate any little black dress, jeans with a tee, or other treasured look with these Sterling Forever silver hoops. The braided look adds a layer of expensive-looking detail, and recently back-in-demand silver makes a timeless style statement that’s easy to coordinate.

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Wrap-style shirts and dresses are flattering on most body types

“If you have an hourglass body type, look for styles and fabrics that reduce bulk and showcase your waist. Tailored pieces and stretchy fabrics that hug and accentuate your frame will bring out the natural lines of your hourglass shape. Look for blended knit fabrics and slimming neckline styles such as V-necks and scoop necks. A simple wrap dress is the one go-to piece a woman with an hourglass frame should have in her closet.” —Kristina Michniak, stylist and global apparel manager for Spreadshirt

Try this: Did you know the right wardrobe can make your body look fitter and more toned? Try this White House Black Market reversible wrap dress for a slimming style that’s also effortless in its execution.

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jeans on hangers in a storerd.com, Getty Images, via nordstrom.com

Skinny jeans aren’t for everyone

“If you have a pear body type, look for styles that elongate your figure to take the emphasis away from your lower body. You want to draw attention to your upper torso, and the best way to do that is by pairing dark-colored bottom pieces with lighter shades and patterns up top. Think of bold patterns and necklines that have detailing like embellishments or ruffles. You should avoid skinny jeans and instead opt for bootcut or those with a slight flare. Showing your shoulders also helps in drawing attention upwards and balancing your top half with your bottom half proportions.” —Michniak

Try this: Bootcut and flare jeans are back in style, and these Wash Lab Flare Leg Jeans will make you look like you deserve your own #outfitoftheday Instagram account. Avoid these other denim mistakes that could ruin your outfit.

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Don’t have a waist? Fake one!

“If you have a boxy (or apple) body type, the goal is to create curves and elongate your silhouette. Stay away from boxy, loose-fitting shapes and monotone colors on both top and bottom. Instead, select wardrobe pieces that have a strong emphasis on the waist, and when in doubt, wear a belt to give the illusion of a natural waist. An ordinary boxy sweater, when paired with a thick belt, can add instant curves to your body.” —Michniak

Try this: Try a basic black, tan, or cognac-colored belt to give the illusion of a tapered waist. An affordable belt like this Exact Fit Women’s Belt is an easy way to play around with this idea.

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Knowing which clothes you hate is just as important as knowing which ones you love

“Don’t be intimidated by fashion! Fashion is supposed to be fun and happy, not to cause stress. The key to finding personal style is to list—yes, write them down—items that make you feel comfortable and confident and the things that make you feel uncomfortable or just not yourself. The latter group? Don’t wear them—no matter how trendy they are.” —Hernandez

Try this: Try looks that help you embrace your love of fashion, like this Chaser Cozy Zebra Shirt, aptly named for its neutral black and white stripes. It’s perfect for a day of relaxation and fun.

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This season’s must-have is next season’s fashion must-never

“I don’t recommend buying a highly trendy item for a lot of money because in just a few months, it’s almost guaranteed to be on the ‘out’ list next year. I’d look to stores like Zara or Topshop for great versions at an affordable price.” —Hernandez

Try this: Skip the Lululemon fashion-print leggings and spend about 30 percent less on Luminora leggings, another cult-favorite brand revered for lower prices and UPF 50+ fabrics.

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You have to try stuff on. Have. To.

“Whenever you think something looks good but you think you couldn’t pull it off, take it to the dressing room and try it on. Some of my most successful styling jobs started with a client saying to me, ‘Forget it—it’s not my cut, or color, or length,’ only for them to end up loving it after they tried it on. What do you have to lose?” —Hernandez

Try this: Consider a rent-before-buying service like Rent the Runway. You’ll save loads of cash on single-use items like fancy-occasion dresses, but you’ll also have access to thousands of things you’ll wear more regularly, like designer jeans. You can try them on for size (literally), wear them around for a few days to see if they’re really your style, and then go ahead and purchase them at a discount if it’s true love. You can also try before you buy from the comfort of your home with Amazon Prime Wardrobe.

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Only runway models look good in head-to-toe trends

“Most people should do trends in small doses. For instance, this season is all about velvet, but you don’t have to go full goth or pimp to embrace it. Try it out on a small scale, like a velvet pump, a velvet skirt, or even a velvet corded necklace. Find a way to work it in a way that is right for you.” —Hernandez

Try this: Speaking of velvet, these Felina Velvety Soft Lightweight Leggings are just the right amount of on-trend smooth fabric to pair with a favorite dress, tunic, or oversized sweater.

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Two Women On City laughing with inset of sweat suit to buyGetty Images, via mmlafleur.com

Expensive clothing makes you act better

“You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to look fantastic. However, we do tend to feel and act a little different when we wear things that are expensive. We treat those things differently, too—with more care. We tell ourselves that they are special and that we are special when we wear them. But really, it’s the mental story we assign to those items that make them special. Expensive things might trigger those feelings more easily, but you can shine just as bright every day with ordinary things, just by acting as you would if they were expensive.” —Jennifer Lowe, stylist and designer for Water Vixen Swim

Try this: Learn some more ways you can use clothing to influence your mood, and then consider upping your sweater game to genuine cashmere. Try this M.M. LaFleur Judith Cashmere Hoodie for an upscale take on a comfortable classic.

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Designer clothing online is often cheaper than generic clothing in stores

“Online shops like eBay and Poshmark allow you to get high-end brands at pennies on the dollar. There are so many people selling brand-new or almost-new items that you can literally buy designer items at less than you would spend at a discount or big-box store for generic items.” Lowe

Try this: You’ll find imported designer bags, genuine leather bags, and designer labels like Furla on eBay for up to 90 percent off typical retail prices.

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Artificial fabrics cheapen your look

“Natural fabrics last longer, feel better, and look more expensive. I can see the difference in, say, a silk chiffon blouse versus a polyester chiffon blouse in an instant. Silk moves nicer, feels nicer, and looks more expensive, even if the item wasn’t more expensive.” —Lowe

Try this: Don’t worry—you can still have fun with natural fabrics. Experiment with patterns, bold colors, and flattering cuts like this Quince Mongolian Cashmere V-Neck Sweater in a gorgeous shade of deep green, orange, or blue. Just make sure you know how to take care of these more delicate items by avoiding these 10 laundry mistakes.

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Jewels make every outfit better

“If you want a designer look, you don’t have to wear all designer items. For instance, I have a great set of huge Chanel earrings. I wear them with an $18 black dress and still look like a million bucks.” —Lowe

Try this: The right accessories can elevate any crisp white shirt or little black dress. Try adding always-elegant pearl studs, like these freshwater cultured pearl earrings from the Pearl Source. They’re the expensive-seeming jewels you won’t know how you ever lived without. Speaking of that little black dress, it’s not the only staple you need. Here are the classic dresses every woman should own.

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yound business woman sitting on steps outdoors with coffee cup and cellphone. professional attire and high heels.rd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

Be prepared for painful high heels

“Love sexy shoes but not interested in getting blisters? Use moleskin on your feet. I cut six strips before I go out and keep them in my purse. Then, the minute I start to feel any pressure in an area, I apply it and I avoid any issues. I haven’t suffered from blisters since college. Being unprepared in heels is a rookie maneuver!” —Lowe

Try this: Keep a roll of moleskin tape in your purse for painful shoe encounters. It’s one of the everyday items on Amazon you’ll love having on hand.

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You’re not dressed without accessories

“I wish people knew how important accessories are in style. Jeans and a T-shirt are just that until you add all the fun stuff that punctuates personal style.” —Carlton Jones, a designer and celebrity stylist

Try this: Not sure where to start? Opt for pieces that inspire you, like this feminine Sunday Afternoons Vivian Hat made of high-quality felt wool. Wear it out with a cape, a blazer, denim, a sweater dress, or anything else in your wardrobe that screams chilly afternoon.

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Woman Texting Outdoors with inset of shoes to buyGetty Images, via cariuma.com

It’s OK to copy someone else’s style

“Sure, everyone’s style should be true to themselves, but fashion insiders know that style is a journey, not a destination. One way to fast-track that is to identify style icons that speak to you. Look for what aspects of their style you specifically relate to. Pinterest boards can be a great help. From there, put your style into words to help guide you through the exploration to develop your style.” —Jones

Try this: There’s a reason these Cariuma canvas kicks are every Insta influencer’s favorite wear-with-everthing white sneaker. They’re not only stylish and endlessly comfortable—they’re also easy to care for. Toss them in your washing machine to clean them and they’ll last for years.

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Ask for help already

“Don’t be afraid to consult friends or, even better, a professional when you need fashion help. You wouldn’t hesitate to ask for help with algebra or geometry, and your closet really is no different than a math problem. Professionals can identify variables, constants, and exponents that can help clarify and define your style.” —Jones

Try this: A variety of stylist-assisted online shopping services exist now, with sites like StitchFix employing professional stylists for adults. Before you sign up, find out everything you need to know about clothing subscription services.

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Trends are suggestions, not rules

“Don’t go out and purchase all the latest trends if they are not flattering or don’t go with your personal style. Your style is about taking what is out there and combining it in unique ways that express who you are. It is not about being a clone and looking like everyone else. So don’t take the rules too seriously.” —Diane Pollack, a personal style curator and wardrobe consultant in New York City

Try this: This Foxcroft Diane Button Up-Shirt is fun to wear as is or tucked in with rolled sleeves. It’s a timeless, trend-resistant style that comes in a variety of flattering colors and sizes. Check out these secrets you never knew about your own clothes.

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A good tailor is even better than a good stylist

“Always wear well-fitted clothes. Bad fit kills even the best outfits.” —Sarmistha Goswami, designer and founder of the website Style Over Coffee

Try this: Head to sites like Measure & Made to order clothes in styles you already love made specifically for your body. Input information about your size and body type, and you’ll be presented with a selection of picture-perfect options. That said, these super flattering bootcut jeans will look great on just about anyone.

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Having an off day? Wear your favorite hue

“When in doubt, wear your favorite color. You will always be confident in it and thus will look good.” —Goswami

Try this: That can be as simple as a quick swipe of your favorite bright pink or red on your lips. Try Mineral Fusion Hydro-Shine Lip Gloss in a rich shade like Jaipur or Kyoto to bring a dash of added excitement to your smile. Bonus: The non-sticky formula also works to hydrate lips and keep them super soft. Here’s what your favorite color lipstick says about your personality.

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Clothes reveal much more than they hide

“Wearing clothing that attempts to conceal who you are as a person shows that you are out of touch with your age, body type, or the social situation. Not only does the outside world pick up on this, but your clothing has an effect on how you feel about yourself psychologically.” —Moyer

Try this: Neutral choices and color palettes on high-quality fabrics help onlookers focus on the best parts of you instead of any potential fashion faux pas. You can’t go wrong with a winter white coat and denim, which are age-appropriate for just about everyone and always current.

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Stop worrying about the size on the tag

“One of the most important things that people need to realize is that just because they buy something in their ‘size,’ it doesn’t mean that it’s going to fit them. People get very invested in being a certain size, but this is a huge mistake, as different designers cut for different body types and many companies also ‘play with size’ in order to flatter customers. Buy what fits, regardless of the number on the tag.” —Michael O’Connor, personal stylist

Try this: Try expressing your personal style in forgiving garments that are less sensitive to size fluctuations, like this thoughtfully designed Alex Mill Pull-On Skirt that flatters and accentuates while remaining modest. You also have options if you’re in between sizes. Check out these surprising fixes you didn’t know tailors could make.

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There is no such thing as “one size fits all”

“If you see this on a tag, run! Every body is different, and nothing is truly one-size-fits-all. It’s the quickest route to fashion disaster and to making you look unkempt.” —O’Connor

Try this: Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and clothes should too. Snag Tights offers an inclusive sizing system that includes size, width, and length, so you’ll never have to fight with the crotch of your tights again. You’ll appreciate our guide to the clothing that looks best on you, based on your body shape.

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Be brand loyal

“When you find a particular piece that looks good on you and fits well, chances are that designer cuts for a body type like yours. Explore other options and clothing pieces in their line. Chances are they will look best.” —O’Connor

Try this: Brands like Chico’s are known for their tried-and-true women’s shirts in regular and plus sizes, with customers usually buying their favorite styles in multiple colors and sleeve lengths. Try this non-iron crisp button-down in a variety of colors to wear with just about anything.

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Runway clothes are not meant to be real-life clothes

“What you see on fashion runways are not looks everyday people generally like to wear. Instead, I look more to movies and music for my fashion inspiration rather than what’s on the runway. It’s still current and fun, but a little more realistic and wearable.” —Vicky Sullivan, stylist and blogger at Aspiring Socialite

Try this: Of course, there’s no reason runway fashion can’t inspire your actual style—as long as you don’t recreate the look precisely. Try this photo-worthy Adrianna Papell sequin dress at your next formal event. It’s a runway-worthy take on sheer hems and intricate details that flatters and accentuates real bodies.

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Less really is more

“I wish people understood that in fashion, less is more. For example, if you are wearing an off-the-shoulder top, make that your focal point. You don’t need anything else. Huge earrings or a statement necklace will be overwhelming—the top is sexy and chic as is!” —Jennifer Berger, stylist and president of Wear It Well

Try this: Don’t overdo it with bold statements or in-the-moment trends. Stick to face-and-body-accentuating basics in high-quality materials, like these Bobeau Doris Cozy Crop Pants, which are soft enough to lounge in at home and versatile enough to dress up a bit. Pair them with a simple white, black, or one-color tee to sharpen your look. Just make sure to avoid these fashion mistakes that make you look older.

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A white T-shirt is the most important piece in your closet

“My secret style weapon is a perfect classic durable white tee. It never goes out of style and you can dress it up with a blazer, black skinny jeans, and a pair of heels.” —Berger

Try this: Arguably the best part of this fashion staple? How easy it is to buy and care for. Flattering white tees can be less expensive than a Starbucks latte.

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Sunglasses hide a thousand sins

“There’s a reason celebrities are never spotted without their shades. Sunglasses can be the best accessory, especially if you are having a bad day, feel extra sleepy, or have a hangover. Glasses cover everything.” —Berger

Try this: Great sunglasses never go out of style, either, and these Privé Revaux 3.0.5 shades are no exception. They’re versatile, timeless, and as practical as they are stylish. Here are another 15 affordable sunglasses that look expensive.

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If you have to adjust something more than once, put it back

“The key to having great style is to buy things that fit you properly (or have them altered by a tailor). If you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb is if you have to adjust it more than once while you’re trying it on, then it’s not for you. It should feel comfortable.” —Lindsay Narain, designer, founder, and creative director of Vaughan clothing

Try this: Undergarments are no exception, which is why it’s a good idea to be properly fitted for a bra and then order multiple colors and styles from tried-and-true brands. Soma lets shoppers get proper bra fittings in their stores, or you can use their nifty online software to determine the best possible fit from behind your screen. Make sure you have these 9 essential bras for everything in your wardrobe.

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Find your white Hermes scarf

“Remember how in The Devil Wears Prada, the editor always wore a single white Hermes scarf as her signature piece? What’s your version of this? No matter how traditional or fashion forward you like to be, have a think about what pieces you really gravitate to and make it your signature style. It doesn’t have to be a scarf. Consider brightly colored shoes, men’s-style watches, or classic shirts.” —Narain

Try this: An easy way to try this bold move is with accessories and jewelry—like adding a dash of unique character with a headband or a statement band to your Apple Watch. This classic link bracelet from Goldenerre attaches to your Apple Watch face and offers a bold dash of your new signature metal—rose gold.

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Makeup can make or break an outfit

“Your makeup can make or break a great outfit, so it’s important to know what works for you and what complements your features and coloring. Contacting a professional can help you figure out how to make your makeup and clothing work together. Also, know that even though many women want a ‘natural look,’ it actually takes a lot of products and time to do it right.” —Brooke Baker, beauty and style consultant

Try this: Try cult-favorite brands like Yensa, and swap your usual foundation for the easier-to-match-and-blend Beauty BC Foundation with SPF 40 built into the formula. Whatever you do, though, avoid these makeup mistakes that can make you look sloppy.

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Never buy anything too small, not even as diet “inspiration”

“As a male model, I’ve learned this the hard way. Even when I see something really eye-catching, if it’s the last one and it’s not my size, I still have to pass. I used to impulsively buy things because they were the last one and I thought I could make it work. But you can’t fix it if the fit is wrong.” —Michael Freeby, model and fashion photographer

Try this: Opt for confidence-boosting shapewear as part of your daily fashion routine, with jeans designed to shape you as you wear them, like these Yummie by Heather Thompson High Rise New Skinny Jeans.

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Fashion and style are not the same thing

“‘Fashion’ is the tangible clothes, the ones you see in stores, in magazines, and on celebrities. Style, however, is intangible. Style is how you take the fashion and interpret it into an outfit or look that makes you feel like you. It’s not all about the fashion or trends, but rather about accepting yourself, working with what flatters your figure, finding what tickles your fancy, and wearing what makes you confident.” —Laurie Brucker, certified image consultant, personal stylist, and speaker

Try this: Style can sometimes be an overwhelming concept, so start small. Look for well-made jewelry accents that excite you, and gradually work those elements into your broader look to achieve a sense of personal style. Browse low-key statement pieces until you find the one that seems just right for you, like this zodiac-inspired necklace from Sterling Forever. Speaking of the stars, check out our ultimate gift guide for every zodiac sign.

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Don’t hide—highlight

“Dress to show off your favorite areas and not to hide the ones you don’t love. We all have trouble areas, so choosing your outfit based on hiding behind your clothes is negative. Instead, focus on the areas you love, then dress them accordingly. Not only will you look great, but it will also help you appreciate the good things about your body instead of worrying about the ‘problems.'” —Brucker

Try this: Love your collarbones? Check out this designer top with a slightly wider-than-average neck at a fraction of its regular price from Marshalls. You’ll highlight the parts you feel most confident about while being more reserved about others. How else can you boost your self-esteem? By avoiding these 14 things confident people never do.

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Anything less than four items doesn’t count as an outfit

“I call this the four-piece formula. I believe that a great outfit consists of four standout pieces. A blouse and a skirt are not an outfit; they are just clothes. But a blouse, a skirt, a jacket, and necklace? Now that is an outfit. Any combination of four or more works.” —Brucker

Try this: Add a happiness-evoking blazer to your T-shirt, jeans, and boots look. The classic print of this smart Madewell number is a statement of its own.

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woman standing proadly. painted brick wall background.rd.com, Getty Images, via naturalizer.com

Curvy girls have to make their own rules

“As a size 14 myself, I have loved seeing the emergence of plus-sized women in fashion who have completely shattered expectations and rules over the last few years. Their confidence shines through in every photograph, and they don’t listen to silly rules about what ‘curvy’ girls can and can’t wear. They just wear what they love.” —Alison Jimenez, stylist and blogger at NYC Recessionista

Try this: Look for labels and brands known for supporting realistic body shapes, because the days of curvy fashions being matronly are over. Naturalizer makes wide-calf boots that are comfortable and on-trend. If your toes are always cold, you might also want to pick up these super comfy Uggs that just might change your life.

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Avoid cheap accessories

“You can wear the same jeans every day and the world’s cheapest T-shirts, but when they’re paired with high-end, quality accessories, the look is instantly elevated. Look for better-quality materials like real leather handbags that last for years and genuine solid metal jewelry instead of just silver or gold coatings in a bid to save cash. Bags, shoes, and jewelry should be style staples you expect to keep in your wardrobe for years at a time, so don’t be afraid to splurge a little on important pieces.” —Astar Davidson, a fashion merchandising expert for Athleta

Try this: Upgrade your core accessories like your purse, everyday necklace, and favorite sandals to keep your look crisp and high-end. This Frances Valentine leather crossbody bag is a versatile addition to any wardrobe, and genuine leather takes it up a notch.

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fashionable woman from the waist downrd.com, Getty Images, via walmart.com

First impressions are visual, and outfits matter

“Are you a boho gal who loves kale salads, yoga sessions, and beaded jewelry? Or are you a preppy woman who loves anything from Kate Spade and has a penchant for stripes? Ask yourself what image you want to project and how you would want people to describe you based on first impressions. The truth is they are already thinking something about you when they meet you, so make sure it’s what you want!” —Christina-Lauren Pollack, fashion expert and editor of Inspirations & Celebrations

Try this: If you said you love stripes, join the club! They’re an easy way to define preppy style. Try this Time and True striped cowl neck sweater. Don’t miss these other proven ways to make a good first impression.

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close up on anonymous woman. gold earrings and gold lapel brooch.rd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

Match your metals

“Matching metals on a dainty necklace, a pair of classic hoops, and a belt buckle on slim to medium belt will always be in style.” —Sadie Cherney, fashion expert and owner of three Clothes Mentor stores in South Carolina

Try this: If you’re on the fence about how to elevate your style and look expensive without overdoing it, keeping one metal tone in mind for your entire outfit is a simple way to start. Try pairing this sentimental All My Love Necklace from Isabelle Grace Jewelry with other silver-accented pieces like your watch, shoe hardware, and purse buckle.

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happy woman with red hair, with inset of headband to buyGetty Images, via bellefixe.com

No style rules are hard and fast

“If making sure that all your tops hit at your hips makes you feel beautiful, that’s a rule for you to hold onto. If wearing white after Labor Day makes you feel airy and bright, then any rule that prohibits that needs to go. Fashion is fluid, unique, and adaptive. You are the author of your own style guide, and you should write it to make you feel confident!” —Cherney

Try this: It’s easy to make your signature look work year-round with accessories. Play up your bold sense of whimsy with this Bellefixe Las Vegas Collection twist headband.

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woman in a green t-shirtrd.com, Getty Images, via carhartt.com

Styling T-shirts is a great skill to have

“Whether you’re sporting your favorite graphic tee or making the most of a uniform T-shirt, T-shirts are the versatile go-to you need. Accessories pull this look together in almost any situation.” —Cherney

Try this: Tuck an edgy, fitted pocket T-shirt of any color into denim, a statement skirt, or beneath your favorite blazer. This tough-as-nails Carhartt WK87 Workwear Pocket T-Shirt comes in a near-endless array of colors. Next, check out the styling tricks that can help you revamp your wardrobe in a weekend.

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Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at RD.com, although you've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children. Find her on social media at @brycegruber.