We don't suggest using your friend's birthday as an excuse to provide passive aggressive input on her particular brand of style (e.g. she has a butterfly tattoo on her neck, so you give her two turtlenecks and some tattoo concealer). But if she's openly told you that she's struggling to find her fashion footing and often begs you for advice on how to update or alter her wardrobe, then giving her a style-related gift will probably make her happy. And making each other happy is what friendship is all about, right?
What kinds of gifts should you consider giving your wayward friend? Let's take a look at some possibilities.
Style by the Books
The best gift you can give someone with no style is the information they need to acquire it. There are so many books out there about style, it's nearly impossible to list them all. But we recommend a few:
- Clinton Kelly and Stacy London's "Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body"
- Isaac Mizrahi's "How to Have Style"
- Tim Gunn's "A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style"
- Clinton Kelly's "Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them"
One piece of advice we hear over and over from style mavens is that every gal should have a few of classic pieces in her closet. Classics are clothing pieces that never go out of style, and therefore are always good bets for your wardrobe. Here are some examples of these go-to pieces:
- Tailored white shirt
- Fitted tees in several colors
- Little black dress
- Plain black pumps
- Stylish tote bag
If you have the means, why not purchase one of these for your style-challenged friend?
It can be hard to buy a friend a piece of clothing, if you don't know the person's exact size. After all, you don't want to risk embarrassing her by gifting her something too big or too small. However, accessories really are one size fits all! The right accessories can tie just about any outfit together and reflect someone's personal style at the same time. Consider these items:
- Cashmere scarf -- a timeless wrap
- Leather handbag, black or brown -- the darker colors show less wear and tear
- Diamond stud earrings -- if you're in the habit of handing out gemstones to your friends
- Silk scarf -- can be worn in the hair, around the neck, or even tied to a handbag for a splash of color
When someone's looking to develop her own style, she should start with the foundation. Elegant clothes or lovely accessories are great, but if they're partnered with raggedy nails or a bad haircut, they may not do much. Instead of telling your friend she needs a new hairstyle or that she might benefit from an exfoliating treatment, just give her a gift certificate to a local spa or salon, and enclose a card that lists its services: manicures, eyebrow waxing, facials or haircuts. She can choose whichever service she likes, and she's bound to feel pampered by the experience!
Stage a Fashion Intervention
We only recommend this as a worst-case scenario. If your friend has absolutely no style, to the point where both you and she are wits' end, then it may be time to intervene, "What Not To Wear"-style. You and your friend will go through her closet, piece by piece, and toss the items that don't work or don't compliment. A couple of important tips for this strategy, however:
- You should only do this if you're good friends who completely trust each other.
- Be nice.
Talk to your pal about what styles she admires on other people, what she likes best on herself, and what kind of clothing looks most flattering on her body. After you've established all that, it's time to go shopping. One thing every style guru agrees on is that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince -- that means trying on a lot of jeans. And that brings us to Tip No. 3: Be patient.
We love your style! To find out more about fashion, check out the links on the next page.
Squeezing into a tight pair of Spanx can make you look better, if not feel better. Learn about shapewear by reading this article at HowStuffWorks.
- "Classic Fashion Accessories Checklist." Real Simple. 2010. (Oct. 9, 2010)http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/shoes-accessories/classic-fashion-accessories-checklist-00000000000196/index.html
- "The Perfect Ten: How to Create a Functional Closet." The Budget Fashionista. Jul. 9, 2005. (Oct. 9, 2010)http://www.thebudgetfashionista.com/archive/the_perfect_ten_how_to_create_a_functional_closet2/