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Online and hard-copy tools exist to help craft your style




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For women who want to bring a little more style into their lives in 2011, taking that step often means determining one’s style and editing down one’s wardrobe to fit. There’s help via some books and the website Boutiques.com.

The quickest route to finding your style is via Boutiques.com, where clicking on "Create Your Boutique" leads you to its Stylzer analysis. It shows pairs of photographs along with the question "Which is more your style?" You’ll make dozens of choices that will lead you to one of six style categories: Boho, Casual Chic, Classic, Edgy, Romantic or Street.

It won’t be easy to choose sometimes. In that case, hit the "SKIP not my style" button and more images will appear. It’s better to move quickly than overanalyze.

Once the logarithm has determined your style, a boutique is created for you, filled with items that suit your style, allowing you to shop more precisely.

Harper’s Bazaar delivers monthly fashion, style and beauty tips, and now, in a book by Lisa Armstrong, "Harper’s Bazaar Fashion: Your Guide to Personal Style" (Hearst Books, $24.95), compiles that advice in one place.

Illustrated with "to do" photos of celebrities and trend setters, past and present, the book puts readers on the path of discovering and refining their personal style.

It starts by stating the obvious, that "Style is elusive," which is what makes it so difficult to define. It isn’t the same as being chic, fashionable or well dressed, "a worthy but less exalted state that can be achieved via a personal stylist," Armstrong writes, yet "we know stylishness when we see it."

Finding one’s style takes fearlessness and an ability to not take oneself too seriously. The stylish "relish the process of putting themselves together to face the world" though likely don’t "have a clue about the alchemy that resulted in her own sense of style."

The book lists only five steps to finding your signature style, which starts with knowing your proportions, seeking a uniform that flatters, jettisoning everything that doesn’t, determining your likes and dislikes and, finally, feeling free to break all fashion rules.

In a chapter on "The Art of Shopping," and with spring around the corner, the recommendation is to perform a recon mission early in the season, allowing ideas to percolate and giving you time to figure out what you need before cash changes hands.

In "Get the Look: Extraordinary Style on an Ordinary Budget" (Octopus Publishing Group, $17.95), U.K. fashion expert Mark Hayes shows ways to translate the looks of designers like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace and Giorgio Armani, on a budget.

There are plenty of pictures showing celebs in designer garb, with Hayes’ analysis of lengths, fabrications and accessories, to come up with options for every figure, whether you’re curvy or petite. He includes ideas for better melding a house style with your own style, to make selections that are more tailored, sexy or modern, for instance.

And he includes a category that doesn’t usually pop up too often in style guides, that of the cute, quirky girl, with Miumium and Prada as the inspirations.

 

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