How to build a stylish outfit..

You don’t have to shop the trends to be stylish, says Jane Lewis, the founder of the fashion label Goat. She shares her tips for building a winning outfit – every time

BY JANE LEWIS | 24 NOVEMBER 2014

Yasmin Sewell ticks all the boxes at London Fashion Week

Yasmin Sewell ticks all the boxes at London Fashion Week

Pick style over fashion
Style is innate and can be honed and cultivated: it’s what makes you individual and sets you apart from the generic. It’s very easy to be led astray by the current trends, as we are bombarded by them from the catwalks, magazines and retailers. Part of being stylish is knowing when to give trends a miss. Switch on your internal filter when you are shopping and be honest with yourself. But do try on new silhouettes and colours when you are in a shop because you might be pleasantly surprised.

Dress for comfort
I believe one of the primary rules of dressing is “comfort equals confidence”. If you are uncomfortable in any way – it could be your heels being too high or trousers too tight – you can lose confidence. Comfort and freedom of movement are elements of dressing we take for granted and are often overlooked, but they imbue you with confidence and elegance.

Comfy culottes and man-brogues on the Erdem spring/summer 2015 catwalk; Natasha Goldenberg wearing Stella McCartney flatforms at New York fashion week

Work out your fashion sums
Balance, dimension and proportion are fundamental to the mathematics of fashion. For example, you might need to wear a wider top when wearing peg trousers or skinny jeans; wide-legged trousers should be balanced out with a top that flatters your waist; don’t wear a plunging neckline with a short skirt.

A slitted pencil skirts compliments this boyfriend-fit knit; Yasmin Sewell wears a shirted tunic and slimming black knee-highs at London Fashion Week

An outfit should enhance your best features, so play to your strengths. If you have wonderful legs but a barrel waist, go for a tunic and a pair of coloured trousers to detract attention from your middle. Also, underwear is the underpinning of all outfits: avoid pant lines and visible bra straps at all costs.

Shop intelligently for foundation pieces

Caroline Issa in muted wardrobe staples; faux fur accessories transform these timeless basics

I like modern classics as the basis of my wardrobe. A classic is a design that delivers across seasons, years and decades. You can never go wrong with a terrific white shirt , a wonderful cream silk blouse or a great little black dress because they are timeless. The same applies to pencil skirts and peg trousers. Flares can look incredibly flattering, especially when they cover the bottom of your shoes and elongate your legs. I call upon these items again and again. Once you plant your feet firmly in style with timeless pieces, you can sway towards the fashion trends. For example, you could try the same shape of your favourite pair of trousers in the season’s fashionable colour, which could be novel for you and might make you feel like a million dollars.

Choose complementary layers

Roberta Benteler wears shades of brown to London Fashion Week; Olivia Palermo packs a punch in a grey Gestuz coat over a grey jersey dress.

Wearing items that are the same tone is the easiest way to dress with colour. Tone-on-tone layers are a great daytime look and, because the colour flows and doesn’t break up your figure, it’s forgiving. Different textures can make layering exciting, but keep it subtle. For example, this winter I would layer an alpaca coat with crêpe trousers, a silk blouse and a gorgeous cashmere cardigan with lovely buttons. I think subtle tone and texture make an outfit more refined. You don’t need to wear a statement dress in a statement colour with statement shoes and statement jewellery. Simplicity is something to strive for and master. It takes skill to make something look effortless.

Interview by Rachael Dove

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