Style. A Guide for the Sartorially Puzzled

We all have an inner style sat nav: Here's how to access yours...

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“I want to look unique, do my own thing with style.”

So many of us think that. Maybe we even hunger deeply to get our chic on.

Then stuff gets in the way. Picture this: you're trying something new in the changing room, swivelling around at the full-length mirror. Then you hear the voice - you know the one. It's vicious and confidence-slaying and may well say something like: “You’re kidding, right? That makes your butt look like a bouncy-castle!”

Fear of standing out is another blocker that can kill our fledgling instincts stone dead. People look when you’ve got your own thing going on. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Dressing for your best self means not hiding behind the clothes. You put an outfit on. Then you own it. If you’re not in the right headspace, that can feel freaky.

The good news is this: your style doesn’t have to mean channeling Grayson Perry – unless, of course, that’s your thing. Discovering and expressing your style can be a quieter, subtler process. In fact, I’d say that doing your own thing style-wise is a constant evolution that requires listening deeply to your own inner stylist.

That’s right, I just said, "listening to your inner stylist."

As part of our sartorial hardwiring, each of us is blessed with an inner stylist. It’s the voice within us that encourages us to dress for our best selves; to experiment; to get out of black, black and more black. It champions us to make the effort, because life is worth dressing for.

The inner stylist is not to be confused with the inner critic. You can spot the difference in the tone. The inner critic has a Simon Cowell feel to it. The inner stylist, on the other hand, encourages you to be playful, to rut-bust, to make some time to showcase your fabulousness.

Note that the inner stylist’s support is not dependent on a good hair day. It doesn’t mind the Easter Crème Eggs you're still carrying around your waistline. Its support is unconditional.

This is not to say it’ll encourage you to wear something distasteful, garish or inappropriate. It’s just kinder in conveying that a certain look may not be for you. See the difference?

So lets go off-piste for a moment. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, tapping into the best possible you – that part that cares less what others think. Lean into that energy of freedom and amazingness (or whatever comes up for you).

Now, inside your mind, ask your best self the following question: "If I gave myself permission to shine more brightly, what would I really love to wear?"

Be patient. Ask again if necessary. Then listen with an open mind.

I’ve had people say their best self has responded with:

  • Colour – I’d love to wear colour
  • Accessories – I’m intrigued, but terrified
  • A skirt. I haven’t worn once since university
  • Red lipstick
  • Flicky eyeliner – sassy!

What does YOUR inner stylist encourage you to try, if you give it permission?

Can't get enough style? (Me either!). Hang out with me @mandylehto and at

Dr. Mandy Lehto

Coach, Presence Expert, Courage-Builder, Possibilitarian,

Hey gorgeous! Have we met? I'm Dr. Mandy Lehto, speaker, coach and writer who helps amazing people get out of their own way already. Nearly ten years ago, I waved adios to my senior investment banking job in London to help as many people as possible start living their un-lived lives. Nowadays, I spend a disturbing amount of time thinking about overcoming fear and the obstacles we place in our own way (we are bizarre creatures, aren't we?). If being braver, a bit more bonkers, and living on purpose is your thing too (squeal!), lets hang out here, and come for green tea over at mine on


Go to the profile of Christine Livingston
over 7 years ago
I love the idea of an inner stylist, Mandy. Right now my inner stylist is encouraging me to wear a bohemian long dress in my quite conservative neck of the woods and to pot with the strange looks I know I'll get in the village. Can you imagine?!
Go to the profile of Dr. Mandy Lehto
over 7 years ago
You know what I'm going to say, right? Yes, I can totally imagine. Go for it! And let us know how you got on!
Go to the profile of Helen Bunker
over 7 years ago
Be careful what you wish Inner Stylist has just encouraged me to buy the brightest pink pair of cropped jeans ever! I'm a girl who loves a 'uniform' but even I was getting bored of the jeans and variety of white shirts/tops combo. But pink jeans turn out to not be too far out of my comfort zone after all and they are making me feel great! Thanks for the encouragement.
Go to the profile of Beatriz Garcia-M
over 7 years ago
I like that "inner stylist" wisdom. I have to say, every time I let myself be guided by it the outfit, or shoes, or handbag is a success! It is not because I am a stylist guru, it is because I wear the garment or the accessory with confident and pride, and that give it. The last "inner stylist" shout I had was about a black&white stripy pair of shoes that everybody loves but my husband who says "those are Alice in Wonderland shoes!" which is true but they are so madly fun that they give me license to laugh ;-)
Go to the profile of Dr. Mandy Lehto
over 7 years ago
Helen, that's just perfect. Keep listening to that inner stylist - see, she didn't lead you astray, but to fun and feeling more alive. Brilliant. Thanks for your comment too, B! Style isn't necessarily anything to do with being a 'guru,' but about feeling good and having fun - like Helen's hot pink trousers!