Style is all about achieving coherence between each item of clothing and accessory in terms of its style or look.
The style of a garment or accessory is determined by a number of factors, including color and texture ... However, shape, size, cut, finish, level of detail, weight, and even the kind of buttons or stitching that are used will also contribute to its style.
For example, garments and accessories that have a feminine style tend to use more delicate fabrics and colors, floral or fussy detailing, and are cut in a way that enhances the female form. A dress made of light blue, soft green and white floral chiffon might have a feminine style. A lightweight clutch handbag in blue satin would go well with it. To complete the look, pearl earrings and nude sandals might be worn. Each element contributing to the look has a complementary, feminine style.
In almost every circumstance, the "style" of each contributing element should be consistent. Contrasts of style generally look "wrong." For example, if creating a clean-cut corporate look with a trouser suit and crisp shirting, then detailed, ethnic-bohemian jewelry won't work.
Understanding style well can be a tricky and subjective subject to master. For example, could one carry a lightweight wicker basket with the aforementioned feminine dress? Yes, possibly. If the shoes were open-toe sandals and you were off to a garden party, then it would be in keeping. But if one was wearing a more formal, tailored jacket and closed-toe pumps with hosiery, then the wicker basket would probably be too informal.
The trick, therefore, to getting elements of style right, is not just about individual garments or accessories, but how they are being combined in a way that is in keeping with the setting or event that is being dressed for.
Following are some simple steps that you can apply to garments and accessories when considering "style" in putting together a stylish outfit:
Identify the overall look you are creating. Is it classic, ethnic, sporty or corporate? Is it 1950s Grace Kelly or funky-cool street chic? Get clear on which one it is before you style the outfit.
Establish the base of garments that will form the foundation of your look. Is it in a dress, or pants and a shirt? Is it jeans and T-shirt? Make sure these work well together in terms of color, texture and proportion.
Identify the setting/environment you are going into. Is it casual or formal? Is it indoors or outside? Is it day or evening? The style of elements must be consistent with the environment you are going into. The classic dress will be styled differently if worn to work than if worn on a hot date to seduce the man of your dreams.
Choose your shoes well. The style of shoes you choose needs to be consistent with your look and the setting. If the look is “ethnic," then black lace-ups won't do. If you're off to work, then sports sandals won't do. Shoes are fundamental and will instantly spoil a look if you get them wrong.
Accessorize carefully. Handbags, jewelry, scarves and even hair and makeup should complement the look being created. While a perfect match might not always be essential, complete contrasts should be avoided, and the overall look must be coherent.