Fearless GirlsWearing a clever ensemble with such confidence and ease that it appears to be something only she can pull off, the fearless fashionista can be spotted from a mile away.

Stars like Kelis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gwen Stefani, and Sarah Jessica Parker have practically made careers out of taking the kinds of fashion risks that spark the imagination and, inevitably, the next big trends. Ready to take your fashion game to the next level? Read on to find out what lessons should be learned in order to skillfully tow the line between fashion forward and fashion victim.

Lesson #1: Forget the rules. Rockin’ the new ish first in a totally unexpected way is the mantra of the fashion fearless. Be confident and challenge yourself to be ahead of the curve instead of looking behind you to see what everybody else is doing. The fearless fashionista is driven by the desire to be truly original. She has absolutely no interest in looking like everybody else and is always searching to add her own special twist. It takes a certain disregard for the “rules,” along with a keen sense of self, to establish a unique style.

Lesson #2: Mix it up. Combining prints and patterns with different textures and proportions is one of the best ways to create a look that’s fabulous, fun, and one of a kind. Go for yours in the dazzling array of vintage inspired, floral, stripes, dotted or animal prints being offered this spring. Another option is to make use of dynamic silhouettes in order to make a statement. Billowy tops, cropped jackets, wide leg or skinny denim, and flirty dresses can be layered with bold or understated accessories to suit your taste level. Don’t limit the remix to just patterns. Mix and match from different eras (think vintage with modern) or mix casual and dressy items (try them together to create a hi-lo effect). A wardrobe that is balanced with basics, trendy items, and classic pieces, will give you the kind of versatility that is conducive to inventiveness.

Runway Looks

Lesson #3: Embrace the attributes that make you different and work them to your advantage. While the thought of being fearless about anything can be a bit daunting, the idea of simply mixing in with the crowd or mindlessly following the latest trends is equally terrifying for the fearless fashionista. Angie, a 27-year-old entrepreneur and self proclaimed “shopaholic” from Valdosta, GA, puts it this way, “Anybody can put on a pair of pants and a shirt, it’s the way YOU put it together that makes the difference.” Got a quirky personality or offbeat sense of humor? Let that shine through in your fashion choices. Think of clothing as more than just a basic necessity; consider getting dressed as an opportunity for self-expression.

Lesson #4: Fashionista, know thyself. Most women will tell you that their sense of style is innate, but personal style can also develop over time. The confidence to break the rules, mix it up, and dare to be different comes with knowing who you are and how you want to look. Not to say that there won’t be some wonderful mistakes made along the way, but your instincts will rarely lead you astray. If all else fails, seek out the advice of stylish (and honest) friends who can help you to nail it and circumvent a major faux pas.

– Nikki Duckworth

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