Seven tips for a signature look

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Oprah’s guide to building a signature style.

Found an article on Oprah’s site today about finding your signature style

There are seven basic tips. 

1: Stock up. When you find something that suits you perfectly, buy more than one. 

Broadly, I’d agree with that, especially when it comes to cut – if you find a cut that fits, it’s worth buying an item in more than one colour. I have the same flippy skirt from Damart in brown and in beige, for instance, and the same long-sleeved cotton tee in white, black, pink and sky blue. When it comes to trousers and jeans, it’s definitely worth buying a pair and a spare, because they wear out so quickly. In fact, with your main jeans and your fluid black trousers, you could do worse than get three pairs: one for flats, one for heels and one for spare. 

2. Don’t make things too hard. Great style enhances your life—it shouldn’t rule you.

The author mentions the hard time she gave herself with her high-maintenance hair, and settling for the look that actually suits your life can sometimes be hard. I had a great fondness for Louise Brooks, for instance, but it was many years before I acknowledged that with my naturally blonde hair, dyeing my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes jet black constantly was WAY too much hard work. If you can’t wear your clothes in the rain, or you’re always cold, or you can’t walk in your heels, your style doesn’t suit your life.  

3. Experiment a little.  Once a month, change something.

Worth a try, I guess – it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut once you hit 40, and after all, a mistake won’t kill you. You’ll know if you got it right because you’ll get compliments. You’ll know if you got it wrong because you’ll feel like you’re wearing someone else’s clothes.  

4. Find a great salesperson whom you can trust.

Oh, I wish. Living as remotely as I do (23km to the nearest clothes shop), a helpful saleswoman is a long-distant memory. But I did once have one who was fantastic. Working in a department store selling Bickler, Planet, Alexon and Windsmoor, she would put things aside for me that she thought I might like, hold items so I got them at sale price, and generally acted as my partner in crime. It is definitely worth cultivating a good sales assistant in your favourite shop, and if you have access to one, use the free personal shopper in the local department store. 

5. Pay attention to your gut.

In other words, you KNOW when the clothes aren’t for you. In our age group, the most frequent question is ‘Is this too young for me?’. If you have to ask, unfortunately, it very often is…But if you pick the right clothes, you’ll feel right as well as look right.

6. Play to the positive. What are your best features? 

You should know by now what those are – great legs, great boobs, strong colouring, etc. But if you’re not sure, the article suggests, catalogue your compliments – they will tell you what you look best in. Colours that make you glow, cuts that make you look thinner or sexier, these things get reactions from people. A friend recently emailed to tell me I’d looked ‘absolutely stunning’ in the colours I’d worn that day, so I wrote them down for future reference. OK, it’s anal, but it does help you remember things. 

7. Keep having fun! A signature style has consistency—but it should still have some joy. 

The French have this down to a T – somehow, a well-dressed Frenchwoman has a certain charm and wit about her look, as if fashion is fun, not a chore. This is usually the case even though she may own far fewer clothes than the average Englishwoman. Even if your style is nothing but black suits and white shirts, you can at least have some fun with accessories and details – a cute cuff, a sexy kickpleat or ‘the stupid pin with the good dress’ as Andrée Putnam once said. 



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