Daily Life


The secrets of stylish women

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I interviewed Carla Zampatti last week and she answered the door wearing an immaculate black jumpsuit, a marabou feather bolero, knotted gold belt and velvet flat shoes. She was perfection. Elegant, restrained and polished. Carla is the genuine article - forever chic - and she made me realise how all the stylish women I've interviewed - from stylists to supermodels to politicians - all share a similar set of principles when it comes to getting dressed. Here are the top five lessons we can learn from the wardrobes of stylish women.


This is the oldest chestnut in the style book but there's a reason for that. Restraint is the single most important element in the personal style equation. Why? Control means that you have considered your outfit and consideration is self-editing. Thinking about your look from head to toe will always result in a better, sleeker, more uniform outcome. An great outfit starts in your head but often needs a little tweaking once on the body. Switch a top, lose a bracelet - all the little tricks stylists perform on models, stylish women perform on themselves. Gwyneth at this year's Oscars was a text book example of restraint. No big hair, no coloured lips, no necklace, no earrings - she shone in her simplicity. You remember Gwyneth, not the frock, and that's what you want to achieve every day. Try it tomorrow: plan your outfit before you get dressed; stand in front of the mirror and critically examine how it looks. What can come off? Be honest. There will be always be at least one piece you can remove. You'll be amazed at the impact taking something away makes to the overall look.



Jennifer Aniston is the poster girl for good grooming. She always looks effortlessly natural and that's because she never misses a beauty appointment. Stylish women never drop their standards when it comes to self-maintenance. It's little details that will make you look pulled together. If your hair is done (and by done, I mean washed and brushed), your eyebrows are plucked, nails are polished - then all the rest falls into place.  You can wear an amazing dress but it won't look any good next to chipped polish or split ends. This same kind of care should go for your clothes too. Look after them - no scuffed shoes, pulls in jumpers or dropped hems. Finish is everything.


Style can be innate but it can also be learned. Developing a signature style means understanding what look suits and flatters you no matter what else is going on in the fashion sphere.  Jackie Kennedy Onassis wore a classic shift dress for three decades modernising it with subtle shifts in accessories, cut and print.  Truly stylish women are their own best stylists and always choose clothes that match 'who they are' instead of copying a look from a magazine. Finding your style confidence is important and can be very freeing - once you know what works, you don't have to look anymore and can develop a true signature.


Style is not about size but about the way clothes fit your body. A beautifully cut dress or tailored blazer can change the way you look in clothes - exhibit Adele in Giorgio Armani at the Grammys. Too often women choose ill-fitting clothes out of insecurity. This means exercising discipline when you shop – stop buying pieces that are too big or too small for you. Accept and embrace the shape you have and then work on what flatters you the most. Spending a little bit extra on quality and cut goes a long way to improving the end result. It is better to have fewer good things and wear them well than lots of pieces that don't work.


Even classicists take little risks with their wardrobe. The mark of a great dresser is wearing something that is just ever so slightly out of place. Something quirky or unexpected that makes the whole outfit perfect and special. Keeping things simple doesn’t mean keeping it boring. Remember when Sharon Stone wore her husband's white shirt to the Oscars with a ball skirt? It's that kind of thinking that you want to achieve. Diamonds with a t-shirt, denim with pearls, sneakers with a suit – push yourself to find new ways of putting your look together.

Paula Joye is Editor of www.lifestyled.com.au or you follow her on Twitter and Facebook.