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Fashion is never constant; simply put, it is a style of clothing, hair, decoration or behaviour which is popular over a certain period of time. Style, on the other hand, is what you, as an individual, decide to do with the large amount of trends thrown your way every season. Style has very little to do with money because elegance, originality and creativity aren’t traits that can be bought.

While mass production has made it easier for people all over the world to know more about fashion trends and try them, it’s also put us at a disadvantage of looking like everyone else. The same skirt is sold to a million other people around the globe, hence making it very difficult for anyone to truly own a single unique item, which nobody else possesses (except for the impossibly rich who can afford haute couture). What is one supposed to do in such a situation if he/she really wants to flaunt his/her distinctive style? Why, blend and mix the wide variety of options available to us, of course!

Here are a few steps to get you started on the journey of discovering your own personal style:

1. Quit the Herd Mentality – To stand out from the crowd, you have to stop behaving like them. The search for authentic and valuable gems requires time, effort and a good eye. Avoid being a part of the herd – don’t purchase every little thing promoted by advertisements and your posse of friends. I’m not saying you should give up shopping at your favourite high street stores all together; just use more discretion the next time you’re eyeing the peplum top that sold like “hot cakes”.
Try calling your favourite store to find out when the wholesale deliveries are made – you’ll be surprised to find things you may never have noticed before!

2. When in Doubt, Accessorize – Your accessories are your best friends. They always make the difference – whether it’s a pretty scarf, a gorgeous belt or a stunning pair of shoes. Agreed, when you invest in fine accessories, they end up costing as much as 2 or 3 pairs of pants. However, when you already have 11 pairs of jeans stacked in your wardrobe, it makes perfect sense to purchase something which will last you for years and will help brighten up any look, such as a jeweled belt or designer heels.

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3. Mix It Up – Don’t stick to one ensemble. Mix and match – combine designer with vintage and cheap – that’s where you can let your personality resonate. This principle applies to all brands and budgets. The best way to start is by pairing a basic, like a little black dress or a cozy sweater, with an accessory that adds allure to it, such as a statement necklace or gold hoop earrings. Layering goes a long way too!

4. Add Your Own Touch – Your personality can shine through your clothes if you’re willing to go the extra mile and customize. You don’t need a sewing machine or great skills to replace regular buttons with ones you bought from a hardware store or snipped off a vintage item. You can even sew on a badge to a waistcoat or jacket; add an embroidered collar to a pullover; cut off the top of a T-shirt leaving a raw, unfinished edge; shorten a man’s sweatshirt with scissors; cut a long lace skirt to mid-thigh length – the options are endless. Go play!

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5. Cheap is Not Chic – When you’re at a sale, it’s very easy to get sucked into the trap of cheap basics. Do NOT buy V-neck sweaters that come in cotton jersey, jackets that have too many zips, black pants that are way too wrinkled, fake-satin shirts that look too shiny, clingy dresses made of synthetic material, over-faded jeans with too much metal, plastic belts that are too plastic to be true – you get the point. Always remember, with very few exceptions, what you find in bargain stores will only last you a season.

6. It’s All in the Shoes – Did you know that when you go for a job interview, your prospective employer gives you the once-over and checks the state of your fingernails and the quality of your shoes? An unpolished, scuffed shoe with a worn down heel on one side and the faint outline of toes will be the end of you. An ugly pair of pumps will make any elegant dress look vulgar, while a simple, refined sandal will class up even your oldest pair of jeans. Trash the low-priced leather shoes, which never age well, and place your trust in high-quality, classics. Never underestimate the power of your shoes – give them the attention they deserve and renew your shoe wardrobe at frequent intervals.
Dear men, please take note: the shoe rule applies to y’all too.

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