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Style Clinic

How to Look Fabulous All the Time, at Any Age, for Any Occasion

Style Clinic by Paula Reed
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Fashion's best-kept secrets from London's leading fashion authority

Why is it that simply getting dressed in the morning can be a bewildering experience? Last month's must-haves date you faster than a frizzy perm, and before the credit-card bill is paid, some expert is telling you your latest fashion fantasy is now "so last season." The more you buy, the less it seems you have to wear.

Knowing what works and what doesn't, how and when to shop, how best to dress your body shape, and how to work an accessory like a styling pro will propel you on your way to fashion nirvana: the effortlessly chic set. With timeless tips and practical advice, fashion editor Paula Reed proves that you don't have to have a big budget, a whole new wardrobe, or the latest fad to look great.

Transform your life with these expert lessons

  • When to spend: what is worth a budget blowout and what can be a cheap buy.
  • How to find the fabulous in every figure: dress thin, tall, and timeless . . . promise!
  • Secrets of the successful shopper: how to know if it's eek! or chic!
  • The essential proportions of the perfect pants, the jacket you'll love forever, and dresses to die for.
  • And much more—on coats, suits, shirts, shoes, bags, and essential accessories. Here you'll find everything else you need to release your individual style.

Each chapter focuses on a particular element of fashion—coats, dresses, suits, bags, jewelry—making it easy to navigate the world of fashion. From eveningwear to work wear, weekends to big nights out, from the boardroom to the home office, Reed covers it all with warmth, wit, and intelligence. With a little basic skill, deftly applied, you can have confidence in knowing that what you put on looks great and serves you well. Whatever your age, whether you have a big budget or are flat broke, Style Clinic will help make fashion work for you.

HarperCollins; May 2009
272 pages; ISBN 9780061914539
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Style Clinic
Author: Paula Reed

Chapter One



Let me Guess. If you've come this far, chances are your closet is too full of stuff you never wear: all-time favorites, one-season wonders, and bargains you always thought you could slim down and fit into. Filleting out fashion mistakes is tough. But it is time for action if:

  • What's in your wardrobe has become a mystery to you. You have no idea what you own because everything is stuffed in together.
  • At the end of a season your wardrobe is full of unworn clothes and things that don't work with more than one outfit.
  • Getting dressed has become a chore and looking good is a grind. What stands between you and looking fabulous is some tough decisions. But the results are so worth it. "Effortless chic" is fashion's biggest lie. Great wardrobes don't just happen.

What to keep and what to ditch

Let's be clear about one thing: Getting a great wardrobe is not about being spoiled or self-obsessed. Knowing what you have and how it works for you saves you time and will give you peace of mind when you need to know you look good. You can look great, every day, with minimal fuss.

You may never be satisfied that the job is done. This doesn't matter. It may never be done. But knowing what you need makes you a better shopper, less likely to be tempted by impulse buys. And being able to see just what you have can inspire outfits you didn't even know you had. Old favorites become new looks when you spot combinations you never considered.

If, throughout this process, you can be as honest and ruthless as possible (or, failing that, find a friend who will be), you'll quickly begin to find out what works and what doesn't. The things that work are the elements of your personal style, the basis of your own personal fashion rule book. With time and confidence, your rules may be bent, but never, ever broken.

If the job seems enormous, don't worry. Getting started is the hardest part.

Know your style


You can't do this in an hour, so make sure you set aside enough time. A day should be enough to reorganize shelving and hanging space, but if there is any DIY involved (repainting, shelf hanging), you'll need two days. Have all the things you need at hand: a full-length mirror, garbage bags, hangers (see page 24 for the essential wardrobe kit).


Empty your wardrobe completely. Immediately cut your task in half by setting aside out-of-season clothes. This is only a temporary measure, but it feels so good to get fast results. That set-aside stuff will eventually need to be sorted, but at least you can tackle it later.


Try everything on. If it no longer fits (your look, your shape, your taste), get rid of it. Make five separate piles of clothes for the dry cleaner, the tailor, the charity shop, the trash, and eveningwear. You may end up with an "iffy" pile, but don't let it get too big. The trash and charity piles should not be left lying around or they'll creep back into your wardrobe. Some charities and recycling companies will collect old clothes. Call them immediately.

Failing that, turn your trash into cash by having a yard sale or taking a stand at a flea market. Gently worn or collectible labels can go on eBay. Or, even better, plan a swap party: Your fashion mistake could easily be your girlfriend's dream dress. What remains can, collectively, be dispatched to the charity shop.


  • All clothes that have shiny, worn patches on the seat or the knees.
  • All clothes that show the shape of your butt or knees when you are not in them.
  • All clothes that are beyond the help of the best tailor you can find. The telephone numbers of experts like these are often one of a stylish woman's best-kept secrets. Failing that, good stores generally have a direct line to the best alterations -people. Be brazen. If you don't ask, you don't get.
  • All clothes that are too small or too large.
  • Anything that's not clothing (wrapping paper, photos, and books belong somewhere else).

If you're still having trouble working out what to ditch, put it in the iffy pile and apply the two-year rule: If you haven't worn something in that long, it has to go; there is no excuse. Once that's done, only the best of what you have remains in the cupboard.

The Only Exceptions

  • Eveningwear. It gets worn less and so, if it's stored correctly, stays in good condition for longer. And classic trends always come back.
  • Stuff you think is collectible (don't you envy your friends whose moms kept their Halstons?). By all means keep your favorite fashion moments for posterity, but that doesn't mean those harem pants should get another airing in your lifetime.
  • Anything that has made it through all these filters because of its fantastic quality. Keep these in a box with all the other iffy items for annual reassessment.

Your new order

When you put everything back in your wardrobe, try to work out a way of arranging things so you will know immediately where to look for things. Here's my running order, but feel free to adapt to whatever works for you:

  • Tops (shirts, shells, cardigans)
  • Bottoms (pants, jeans, khakis, skirts)
  • Tailored jackets (hanging with the skirts or pants they go with)
  • Dresses (progressing from casual to evening)
  • Eveningwear and coats (should have a little section of their own)

Don't forget: Put the out-of-season stuff away. No one wears flannel in July. And February is no time for a pretty peasant skirt.

  • News
Paula Reed - she's in fashion - Derry Today
Tue, 26 May 2009 01:25:57 -0700
Paula Reed - she's in fashionDerry TodayFor most of us the daily commute can be a grind, but for high-flying fashion writer ...