There’s nothing more polished than a classic look. But in a sea of clean-cut separates and neutral hues, how do you stand out and let your personality shine? Here are some ideas to help you develop personal style while channeling a classic vibe. Best of all, these little tricks work everywhere—from the office to the weekend.
1. Introduce Interesting Fabrics
Black, navy, and ivory may be classic colors, and blazers, trousers, and button-down shirts may be traditional silhouettes, but there’s no reason why they can’t be standards and standouts. The key to ensuring they pop? Choosing unexpected fabrics like velvet, brocade, lace, or silk. These materials add texture and can make a monochrome outfit way more interesting. Case in point: A pair of black pants paired with a black T-shirt sounds pretty ho-hum, but when the pants are made of luxe velvet and the T-shirt out of high-shine silk, the whole ensemble becomes a visual sensation.
2. Choose an Unexpected Color
There’s no rule that says classic items need to be neutral. In fact, one of the easiest ways to spice up a look is to add a pop of color. Wear a crisp white button-down with a bright pink pencil skirt, or swap your navy trousers for a baby blue pair.
Once you feel more comfortable with color, you can go for a more matchy-matchy look: a vivid, one-color suit is one of the best ways to make a powerful statement through clothing. Pair a cherry red blazer with a pair of cherry red trousers, and there’s no way you’ll blend into the background.
3. Make a Statement with Accessories
Everyone knows that a few well-chosen accessories can instantly add appeal to any look. But to really command attention and develop personal style, look beyond your usual statement necklace and instead reach for more unexpected accessories: a printed scarf, an embellished belt, or an extra-long, oversized pendant. And be sure to experiment with the placement and layering, too; instead of wearing a wide belt in the belt loops of your pants, try cinching it over a tailored blazer, or stack several cuff bracelets over the cuffs of a sweater (try a few on each wrist!).
4. Switch Up the Silhouette
One of the easiest, yet most underrated ways to develop your personal style is by swapping classic separates for more directional items. For example, a pant-and-blouse combo at the office is totally expected, but a jumpsuit? Wear a blazer over a jumpsuit for a chic, office-appropriate look that’s guaranteed to garner major compliments.
The same goes for a leather jacket or a faux fur vest. Wear either in place of a blazer with a button-down blouse and a sleek pencil skirt. If you’re worried about getting it just right, take scale, proportion, and style into consideration. For instance, if you usually wear a slim cut blazer, make sure the leather jacket is on the slim side, as well.
Remember that the biggest secret to pulling off any look—from the ultra-classic to non-traditional—is confidence. Pick pieces that you feel comfortable in because at the end of the day, if you feel good, chances are you look great, too.