How to Style an Outfit – using Maggie’s STAR

December 7, 2022

This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.

Fashion Fades, but Style is Eternal’ Yves St Laurent.

You see a great dress in a magazine.  But then you read the caption: “YOU choose how to style it.” Okay. Hang on. It’s a nice dress. Surely that’s enough. Do we have to do more, for heaven’s sake!  In other words, we have to choose things to go with the dress.  We have to accessorise it and make it special for us.  Is it really saying that the way we wear it is just as important as the dress itself? As if we didn’t have enough in life to worry about! 

Well, of course you don’t have to do any more than wear the dress, on its own, pure and simple… and enjoy. You don’t have to ‘style’ it.  And often the dress, (or sweater or cardi or coat) is enough in itself.   But if you do want to make the most of the garment, put your own stamp on it, then ‘styling’ it can make all the difference.  With a bit of thought you can transform something from ‘nice’ to ‘special’.

This must be worth a go, don’t you think?  And it’s not too difficult.  In the book I wrote several years ago, “It’s Never too Late to Look Great”, I reckoned there were four ways to make a difference to the way we look.  And I coined the word STAR : an acronym for Surprise, True-to-yourself, Artistry and Reinvention. And I think this is still a good way to find your own individual style. So let me explain a bit more and you’ll see it’s not so daunting as it may seem initially.


There should be some aspect of your outfit that stands out. Two clashing colours (latest fashions often combine fuchsia and orange, or chestnut and blue, or even red and pink). Or a complete outfit that sticks to one colour, or different tones of one colour.  Or including just one quirky item, like an unusual hat, piece of exuberant costume jewellery, or an amazing patterned scarf.

T R U E – T O – Y O U R S E L F

This means sticking to your character type. If you are sporty, it’s difficult to pull off a formal dress with pussy bow. Rather go for jeans, or trousers and casual tops (which come oozing out of fashion factories) and are varied enough for any occasion. 

If you feel more feminine than boyishly casual, choose frills, florals, and pastels which are so easy to find nowadays.  

If you like to be slightly (or very) adventurous you can check out independent shops like Blue (in Cheltenham and Bath as well as online). They have a wide range of edgy, colourful clothes to test your imagination. By dressing to echo your personality (or an element of your personality) chances are you will feel, and look, more confident, as well as stylish.

I would add a rider here. If you do fancy going out of your comfort zone – by being more ‘funky’, or sporty or feminine than you think you are, dressing in a completely different way could add a new sparkle to your life.  You know that a change is as good a tonic / a transformation… even a rest!


You don’t have to be talented with a paintbrush or be a dab hand at interior design. It just means adding unusual things together in an eye-catching way.  And all of us have this talent to some degree. Think about putting flowers together, attractively, in a vase.  Not that difficult, is it?  Layering, which has been in the fashion directory for yonks, is especially favoured now.  So, experiment to your heart’s content. Perhaps by putting a sleeveless vest or waistcoat (seen all over the place now) over a jumper or dress.  Or mix spots, stripes or flowers together.  Or put together textures which we used not to put together – for instance a tulle skirt and knit top.


Now this is probably the most tricky fashion aspect to pull off.  What I mean by this is keeping an eye on new trends and choosing some that truly suits us.  We will not be sheep dressed in lamb’s clothing.  But we want to add enough contemporary flare, to show that we are keeping up with the 21st century. 

This does not mean buying into every latest ‘fashion’ trend.  Things like dresses with cut-outs or thigh hugging sequins and frayed jeans that may have worked when we were in our teens or twenties, but no longer flatter us more mature creatures.  But… we do need to keep an eye on the contemporary world of design, because if we shut out eyes to everything new that comes on scene, we will soon become frumpy.  

We need to look at new ideas and think if they will add a sparkle to our wardrobes. Think black evening trousers with a fringe of feathers on the hems.  Shorter skirts with opaque tights and boots.  A small addition, such as a bag or scarf, in a very bright colour.  Green and fuchsia are very popular at the moment.

So why not give some thought to my STAR formula.  Maybe this can kick-start a few new ideas, or a total wardrobe revamp to get you through the Winter months ahead. And it help you find ways to add that touch of individuality and panache which Yves St. Laurent called ‘eternal style’.

Lots more excellent style tips from Maggie for “young oldies” can be found here

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