Break out of Your Fashion Rut

Are you in a fashion rut? Maybe you dread Mondays because you have to choose from the same-old, same-old set of clothes. Or maybe you love the fashions you see in magazines but think they’re too over-the-top for you. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to be stuck in a pattern of, well, clothes patterns. It’s time to break the mold and make over your look!

First, go through your closet -- do this twice a year, if you can -- and toss or donate any clothes that are stained, torn, outdated or ill-fitting. When you shop, base your wardrobe on where you spend the majority of your day, whether it’s at work or home. Finally, follow these tips to find new and fabulous items to replace your old yawners:

Find your personal style.
“I instruct my clients to create a fashion vision board, where they cut out pictures in magazines of items that they like immediately, without any judgment,” says Jill Laine, a fashion stylist on the West Coast. Even if you don’t think a particular dress would work on you, it might have a color or sleeve style that would. Soon you’ll start to see an overall theme -- feminine, hippie-chic, tailored -- that you can use as a jumping-off point.

Add color.
Carolyn Wang, Senior Merchandising Director of Ming Wang, believes there’s no better way to spice up your wardrobe than with color. Use brights and jewel tones as neutrals and necessities. You can have a lot of fun mixing and playing with color combinations, such as turquoise and red.

Invest in your accessories.
Jewelry, handbags, scarves, hats, and yes, a good pair of shoes or boots, can change a whole outfit, says Shana Colbin Dunn, owner of Kismet, a chic accessories boutique in Denver.

Lisa Rosenthal, founder of the jewelry store Alcea Collection, agrees. “The easiest, least expensive way to quickly try a new trend and break out of a fashion rut is with accessories,” she says. “A single statement piece of jewelry can set the stage for your entire look.”

Don’t be afraid of trends.
Think the newest styles won’t work on your body? Wrong! Everyone can wear trendy clothes if they keep their personal style and body type in mind. For example, animal prints never seem to go out of style. Wear a black tank and pant with an animal-print jacket for a slimming and fashionable style, suggests Wang.

Wear one standout item.
Picking one standout item will give your whole look a put-together feeling. Try a black outfit with a red bag. Or layer a crisp white shirt under a cropped vintage jacket with a colorful bauble necklace and skinny jeans, suggests Dunn.

Play with jackets.
A fun jacket is a good way to break out of the jeans-and-T-shirt slump, without busting your budget. Best of all, jackets can be played up or down: Pair one with a pencil skirt for a business meeting, or throw one on over jeans for drinks with the girls, suggests Wang.

Own your look.
The key to fashion is ownership, says Deanna Oerman, the Los Angeles-based owner of Nyx Models. Even as styles change, you need to constantly apply your own sensibilities. Try investing in timeless separates that will work in a variety of situations, and then spicing them up with something colorful or unusual. Whether you’re wearing jeans or a black dress, make that classic style your own by adding a funky bracelet, a cool-looking clutch, or even -- if you’re brave -- a stripe of hair mascara.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to have a little fun. When you experiment, you’ll find the right style for you!