It’s so much easier to love a person’s style when they wear items that you can picture yourself wearing. Things get trickier when you see well dressed people wear items that you wouldn’t wear. Yet they wear them perfectly because it’s THEIR personal style.

When a person has a dress sense that is flattering, well executed, individualistic and “effortless” – they have great style no matter whether its trendy, arty, bohemian, romantic, bombshell, sporty, earthy, vintage, classic, spunky or edgy. When an outfit is perfectly styled and the wearer is confident, it’s a style I can appreciate.

I haven’t always been able to do this though. It is an ability that I was forced to develop because of my line of work.

As a ladieswear buyer you often buy in for an area of the retail store that you wouldn’t shop yourself. For example, in my early 30’s I was a specialist buyer for both junior fashion, where my target market was a decade younger than me, and high-end branded classic fashion, where it was quite a lot older. Not only were my customers in a different stage of life, but they also had a wide range of personal styles that were very different to mine. In order to be successful I needed to identify with the styles that excited them most.

In the beginning I did this by mapping my customers to people I knew. For example, when I was buying classic fashion I imagined what my mother would think of an item. Over time I needed this device less and less — my definition of stylish became more independent of my own personal style. Appreciating other personal styles was like a muscle that I developed.

And I am grateful that I did, because there is an almost infinite number of spectacular ways that people can express themselves with fashion. There is so much more wonderful style to appreciate than the small subset that works for me. And having an open mind to different styles also helps me to evolve my personal style.

These days I find myself wanting to help other people to develop their style appreciation muscle because without it they are only having a tiny fraction of the fun they could potentially have with fashion. Not only testing the boundaries of their own style, but also by enjoying things on others that they will never wear themselves.

When I started to write this post I immediately thought of Audi from geekthreads. She is theatrical and creative in a way that is very different to my own more clean cut style. My looks are about strong simple statements, where she loves to pattern mix and layer many interesting and complicated items of clothing and accessories. I never wear muted colours, but Audi wears both bright and muted colours in dramatic combinations. In my opinion Audi’s daring ensembles are amongst the most creative in the blogosphere. They are always flattering and perfectly executed, which is why I appreciate them and adore her style.

How well developed is your style appreciation muscle? Can you appreciate a style that is different to your own, or do you struggle with this? Can you like a bohemian style on someone else when you’re sporty? Can you love a modern classic look when you’re an edgy rocker gal? Can you appreciate well styled, fringe trends when you’re modern classic at heart?

Audi's Ensembles

For a quick flip through Audi’s fabulous style, look at her anniversary post. Her outfits are impressive and inspiring. Above all, I love that Audi has fun with fashion.