The 49 Best Style Tips of All Time — Straight From Fashion Experts

Dressing is an art and apparently a science, too.

Alexa Chung in a green slip dress, leather trench, and patent leather boots

Gilbert Carrasquillo / GC Images

Above all, fashion is a form of self-expression —meaning, you should wear what makes you happy and never feel limited in your wardrobe choices. That being said, as InStyle editors we feel compelled to share certain bits of fashion know-how that we've picked up over the years — not only from our own experiences but from celebrity stylists, as well. So we're rounding up our best fashion advice and style tips to help solve any and all of your wardrobe conundrums. Let this be your guide to feeling more confident the next time you get dressed.

Keep scrolling for 49 style tips that have withstood the test of time.

01 of 49

Show Skin Strategically

Angelina Jolie in a black one-shoulder gown
Michael Tran/Getty Images

Looking truly sexy involves knowing what to bare-and what to keep under wraps —otherwise, where's the mystery? "Choose one-only one-body part and show it off," advises Jen Rade, stylist to Angelina Jolie. "If it's cleavage, don't show your legs. If it's your legs, stay covered on top."

02 of 49

Round Up White Button-Downs

Marilyn Monroe in a white button-down and jeans
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

Take a classic cue from Marilyn Monroe and reach for a classic button-down. They elevate jeans and keep ball skirts from drifting into fantasy-land. But all that mileage comes at a cost: a short shelf life. So buy three, don't overbleach (which can cause yellowing), and refresh regularly.

03 of 49

Accessorize With Brights

Karlie Kloss with jeans, a black top, sequined jacket, and red fanny pack
Steve Granitz/WireImage

If you've got a closet full of neutrals — be they navy, black, camel, or gray — add energy with boldly hued shoes and bags. Not only is a ruby red satchel more lively than ho-hum black, but it's also surprisingly versatile. Feeling really brave? Wear a neutral base with shoes and a bag in two different complementary colors.

04 of 49

Hem Your Pants for a Shoe Height

Dakota Johnson in a white ruffle dress with black bodice
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

"The biggest mistake women make is wearing pants that aren't the right length for their shoes," says stylist Kate Young. To fix this, hem to either flats or heels like Dakota Johnson — no going back. Generally, hems should just graze the tops of your shoes and be from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch off the floor.

05 of 49

Go Hands-Free for Evening

Nathalie Emmanuel in a deep purple coat
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

A dressy bag with a chain helps you hold crudités and a cocktail — plus, it lends a cool edge to evening wear, says stylist Cher Coulter. Wear the chain diagonally across your body for the best effect.

06 of 49

Know Your Stretch

Model wearing stretch jeans and a black top and blazer
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The secret formula for a soft but formfitting T? 95% cotton, 5% Lycra spandex. For jeans to hold their shape, they need at least 2% Lycra.

07 of 49

Throw on a Scarf

Alessandra Ambrosio wearing a red sweater, midi skirt, and neck scarf
Timur Emek/GC Images

It's the ultimate accessory according to a host of the best-dressed people we interviewed. Stash one in your purse or carry-on to transform simple Ts in the time it takes to make a knot.

08 of 49

Consider the Wear and Care

Eva Mendes walking a dog and holding her dry-cleaning
Philip Ramey/Corbis/Getty

Before you buy, try to gauge how a piece might hold up after a few washings. And don't shell out for clothes you can't, or won't, take to the dry cleaners. If you know you'll never hand-wash that embellished sweater or fancy bra, walk away.

09 of 49

Embrace Your Shape

Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian on a yacht
J. Almasi/GC Images

"Once you know which silhouettes flatter you, filter trends ruthlessly," says designer Shoshanna Gruss. For instance, if you're petite and shapely, you may want to forgo tall columns and billowy maxis — unless you love them, of course. Go for a dress with a defined waist and a just-above-the-knee hem.

10 of 49

Make a List

Cindy Crawford carrying a shopping bag
Team GT/GC Images

Not of what you want to buy, but of the 10 fave items in your closet. This will help you zero in on pieces that mesh with what you own (or remind you that you never actually wear big floral prints).

11 of 49

Hit the Dressing Room Prepared

Kim Kardashian holding up an item of clothing in a store
Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

If you're shopping for that ultra-important dress, get a true feel for the fit by bringing your Spanx with you. And while you're at it, bring heels, lipstick, and a hairbrush. These will help you get a better sense of the final result.

12 of 49

Round Down in Denim

Aimee Song in wide-leg ankle jeans, turtleneck sweater, and patterned trench

Claudio Lavenia / Getty Images

When in doubt, go with the smaller jeans size. They always stretch, and nothing's more unflattering than the unintentionally baggy derrière.

13 of 49

Edit Your Closet

A walk-in closet
Getty Images

Clothes need breathing room. You should be able to see every item without rummaging. Consider donating anything you haven't worn in the past year.

14 of 49

Always Check Out the Rear View

Person on the phone wearing all white in a shoe store
Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

And don't leave the house until you like what you see in the mirror. Every angle matters. Trust us.

15 of 49

Layer Your Necklaces

Emily Ratajkowski in a white top with layered necklaces
Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Coco Chanel's more-is-more approach still makes a statement today. You can do multiples of the same material, or better yet, go for contrast: Try a femme piece with edgy chains, feathers with beads, or pearls with diamantés.

16 of 49

Check the Inside

Person in a striped dress and denim trench coat
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

A garment's lining is often a designer's calling card and a good way to judge quality. A well-crafted lining is a sign that the whole piece has been sewn with care.

17 of 49

Open Your Mind

Olivia Palermo in a dressing room
Will Ragozzino/Getty Images

Always take one "it's cute but so not me" thing into the fitting room because you never know. Clothes look different on the hanging than they do on.

18 of 49

Show Some Loyalty

Kate Middleton Fashion Tips
Heathcliff O'Malley/WPA Pool/Getty; Parveen Negi/India Today Group/Getty

A great-fitting dress or pair of pants from a line one season may mean similar success the next, as shown by Kate Middleton. Designers, especially higher-end ones like Middleton's fave Temperley London, tend to size their clothes based on a regular fit model.

19 of 49

When in Doubt, Wear Nude Pumps

Yara Shahidi in a red knit skirt and nude pumps
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Matched to your skin tone, they're a pretty safe bet. (And they make legs look longer.)

20 of 49

Wearing white? Seek out light.

Jennifer Lawrence a white dress
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Keep in mind: White clothes always look more see-through in daylight. Check yourself out in a bright setting to be safe, like Jennifer Lawrence must have done.

21 of 49

Stripe It Up

Person in a striped top, vest, and mini skirt
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

"Striped pieces are a nice, classic way to pull yourself together for the weekend," says stylist Tina Chai. A red- or navy-and-white bateau neck, for instance, has presence and versatility.

22 of 49

Upgrade Your Buttons

Person wearing a double-breasted navy pinstripe suit and pink booties
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Sometimes, the only giveaway that your cute jacket cost less than lunch money is its cheap hardware. Swap in nicer buttons, or have a tailor do it.

23 of 49

Never Buy a Boring Coat

Olivia Culpo in a black and white statement jacket and thigh-high boots

Kirstin Sinclair / Getty Images

"Outerwear should never be an afterthought," says Holmes amp Yang co-designer Jeanne Yang. "So many people only see you in your coat — if you're not wearing something great underneath your trench, they'll never even know!" Look for a stylish coat, like Olivia Culpo's here.

24 of 49

Own Something Leopard

Molly Sims in a leopard-print top and black pants
Alessio Botticelli/GC Images

Make the print "a staple in your accessories wardrobe," says stylist Rob Zangardi. It's timeless, racy enough, and always glamorous.

25 of 49

Mix Your Prints

Gabrielle Union in a printed top and high-waist skirt
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Combining colors, scale, and patterns in a way that looks dynamic takes practice, but there are some basic tricks to getting it right. You can wear two prints that repeat the same colors or mix a large-scale pattern with a smaller one. What's even easier is to use the second motif as an accent (like Gabrielle Union above).

26 of 49

Conquer Your Fear of Color

Renee Zellweger in a bright yellow dress
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

To play it safe, combine a neutral, like flax, with something bolder, like yellow. But think twice about pairing intense hues with black, which "can look dated," comments designer Chris Benz. For something punchier, try two colors that are beside each other on the color wheel, such as coral and orange. Not sure where to begin? "Notice what colors you love and respond to in your decor," says Benz.

27 of 49

Go For the Knockout Accent

Grace Kelly wearing drop earrings
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If your evening dress is a stark stunner (or has a lot of embellishment), one single showstopping accessory, like Grace Kelly's drop earrings, is all you need.

28 of 49

Vet Your Vintage

Tilda Swinton in a sequined jumpsuit; Raquel Welch in a shiny blue jumpsuit
Samir Hussein/WireImage; Ron Galella/WireImage

Nothing comes back the same way, and today's jumpsuit is not necessarily the same as a version from the '70s. Check out the difference between Raquel Welch's and Tilda Swinton's jumpsuits. There are subtle design tweaks that make any revival slightly different from the original. Does that piece from your "archive" really work now? Ask a trusted friend for a second opinion.

29 of 49

Only Buy a Bargain if You Love It

Black Friday sale sign on a storefront
Richard Levine/Corbis/Getty

Be dubious of that voice that tells you you've got to buy because it's "only" $39 or that if you don't scoop it up now, you'll never find it again.

30 of 49

Try a Thicker Waistband

Ashley Graham in an all-black outfit with thick belt
Pierre Suu/GC Images

It will accentuate your waist and also help show off your curves. Take a note from Ashley Graham.

31 of 49

Go Beyond the Blazer

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend holding hands
SMXRF/Star Max/GC Images

You should already have your go-to tailored jacket. But a wardrobe of less formal toppers will help you look pulled together even on casual days. Opt for a leather jacket with wool trousers, a jean version over a silk shirt, or an army jacket over just about anything.

32 of 49

Master Menswear

Bianca Jagger in menswear
Syndication International/Getty Images

Don a pantsuit a la Bianca Jagger and you'll immediately stand up straighter. Anna Johnson, author of Savvy Chic, says, "A waistcoat, a crisp pin-striped shirt, or a really big watch or cravat telegraphs power." Don't forget to balance it out with lipstick and taller shoes.

33 of 49

Make Friends With a Good Tailor

Person cutting fabric alongside person watching
Getty Images

Nothing raises the quality of moderately priced clothes more than having them altered to suit your shape. Build a relationship with a tailor or dressmaker who knows your body and your taste and you'll never look back.

34 of 49

Look for Twists on Classics

Priyanka Chopra in a light peach belted trench atop a dress
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

The right tweak can turn a staple into a statement. Try tuxedo pants in a graphic print, a trench in silk à la Priyanka Chopra, or the classic L.L. Bean tote in camouflage.

35 of 49

Don't Skimp On a T-Shirt Bra

Victoria Beckham in a white t-shirt and jeans
JP Yim/Getty Images

The right one will give you confidence and shape under those unforgiving tissue-thin tees.

36 of 49

Add an Element of Surprise

Kerry Washington in a plaid coat and red boots
James Devaney/GC Images

Whether it's grosgrain with sequins, a motorcycle jacket over a formal gown, an oversize choker with an easy white T, or a vivid shoe like Kerry Washington's, a touch of contrast makes good outfits great.

37 of 49

Recast Your Jewelry

Kate Bosworth in a black and white checkered dress and crossbody
starzfly/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
  • Loop a chain through the clasp of a brooch for an instant necklace.
  • Use the same jewel to add a touch of sparkle to your handbag.
  • Wrap your chains or lariat around your wrist for a tough-luxe bracelet.
  • Snap clip-on earrings onto flats for an instant evening shoe.
38 of 49

Spend Your Budget on Accessories

Alexa Chung in an eclectic dress with flower earrings

Neil Mockford / GC Images

"Cool shoes, interesting jewelry — those can really elevate your look," says stylist Isabel Dupré, who notes that a wardrobe of the right little extras lets you be more relaxed about the rest of your outfit.

39 of 49

Have a Stylist Emergency Kit

A variety of styling tools, from measuring tape to scissors to thread
Getty Images
  • Double stick tape for loose hems or a gaping bodice
  • Tide To Go eraser pen for getting wine off whites, fast
  • Safety pins for allover damage control
  • Bra clip to control peekaboo straps
  • Lint brush or roller to run over your coat or woolens
  • Makeup sponge for removing deodorant stains
40 of 49

Pair Loose With Tight

Charlize Theron in head-to-toe black

Few mortals can pull off head-to-toe baggy. So take a cue from Charlize Theron and team your billowing pieces with something body-conscious. (Hint: This is what leggings were made for.)

41 of 49

Jazz Up Your LBD

Mandy Moore in a black dress with cutouts and rainbow sandals
Brad Barket/Getty Images

Simpler shapes cry out for styling. Try dressy jackets or a slip-on shrug, colored shoes and bags like Mandy Moore, or tinted sheers plus booties.

42 of 49

Dress for First Class

Rosie Huntington in a leather jacket and hat at the airport
Han Myung-Gu/WireImage

You want to be comfy, sure, but also chic enough to be tapped for an upgrade. A sharp blazer and scarf or a leather jacket is the unofficial uniform of jet-setters worldwide, as shown by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. To complete the outfit, just throw on jeans or leggings, then add flats, heels, or riding boots.

43 of 49

Get Studs

Rachel McAdams wearing stud climber earrings
Mike Marsland/WireImage

"Fake or real, big or small, they will go with any color, fabric, or style of cocktail dress and will never compete with other jewelry," says stylist Rob Zangardi, who works with Rachel McAdams.

44 of 49

Check the Rise

Joan Smalls in a monochrome blush pink outfit
Marc Piasecki/GC Images

On trousers, the distance between the crotch and the waistband is critical to the fit. It's also not something that's easily altered, so make sure pants are neither too snug nor droopy in this area before you buy them. Joan Smalls shows off the perfect fit.

45 of 49

Do a Cashmere Quality Test

Selena Gomez Fashion Tip
Gotham/GC Images
  • The thicker the knit, the denser its gauge, which means there is more cashmere in it.
  • Gently stretch the body of the sweater to test if it snaps back. A lower-quality cashmere won't.
  • While some great cashmere is milled in the U.S. and in China, a label that says "Made in Scotland" or "Made in Italy" often indicates a superior weave.
46 of 49

Create Your Own Lookbook

Adrianna Lima taking a selfie on the street
Ray Tamarra/GC Images

Got compliments on your outfit today? Snap a photo of it with your phone. You'll have a quick reminder of what to wear the next time you're in a rush.

47 of 49

Think in Multiples

Jackie O in a sheath dress
National Archive/Newsmakers

Take a cue from Jackie O, who had a closet full of sheath dresses. If you find an especially flattering fit right off the rack, go ahead and buy doubles. When it works, why question it?

48 of 49

Can You Say D'Orsay?

Kristen Stewart in a sequined jumper and pumps
Jacopo Raule/GC Images

This style pump will always slim down a thick ankle because the vamp is cut close to the toe box and the sides are cut away. Super flattering.

49 of 49

Dress for Your Body, Not Age

Julianne Moore in a green suede dress
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Are your arms svelte enough for a sleeveless sheath? How about legs toned enough for shorts? Take a note from Julianne Moore and show off what you've got — why not?

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