First impressions can speak volumes about who you are.

When your style is polished, you look and feel more attractive. When you look a mess, people tend not to take you seriously.

Being sloppy or untidy in your appearance is never stylish.

In last week’s column I talked about the need to elevate your style in ’09. That means finding a look that works for you and making it your own. True style is about individuality, and that comes from within.

As promised, here are some tips:

1. Edit your wardrobe – Go straight to your closet and get rid of every item that is too small, too big or outdated. Trust me, you’ll feel better. Let go of the sweater that no longer fits, or the dress you never wear but still hold on to because you paid “good money” for it. Don’t cling to items that don’t represent the new you.

2. Wear the right clothes for your body type – Every style is not for every body shape. Accept your weight and height and dress accordingly. If you’re trying to loose weight, that’s great, but stop trying to squeeze into clothing that no longer fits.

3. Get inspired! – Inspiration is everywhere! Try magazines, old movies, books, even nature. I love to people-watch, especially in airports and other cities.

4. Look beyond the mall – I’ve found great items at boutiques. They typically carry a limited number of pieces, so you won’t see everyone else wearing your outfit. Also, try your friends’ closets. You can trade something old for something new. Just think, you might rock that skirt better than she did.

5. Invest in pieces that make a statement – I have garments that stop traffic. You should too! A statement piece should be the foundation of your look. It should be unique, timeless and make you feel fabulous each time you put it on. My favorites are jackets and dresses.

6. Find a good tailor – Fit is key. Take your slacks, blazers, shirts and dresses to be adjusted. Here’s one of my style secrets: I have my tailor nip my jeans at the waist to avoid the dreaded gapping in the back. Try it. It will make you look bootylicious in your jeans!

7. Ladies, check your rear view – Panty lines are never cute. Some women don’t realize how much they ruin an outfit by not wearing the proper under garments. Try seamless underwear and bras, especially when wearing something form fitting.

8. Don’t neglect the shoes – Nothing’s worse than being well dressed and having shoes that are run over. Don’t wait until a heel breaks to do shoe maintenance. Get your shoes shined regularly. I take my boots to be repaired at the end of winter. That way they are ready to wear come fall.

9. Be high maintenance – Being well groomed in essential. Update your hairstyle, make sure your skin looks healthy, keep your nails manicured and keep your breath fresh. Stylish people know that bad breath and chipped finger nails are not a good move.

10. Have confidence! – Being stylish means being comfortable with who you are. If you feel good about yourself, it will show, no matter what you wear. To quote an old Hasidic saying: “The man who has confidence in himself gains the confidence of others.”

(Lashawnda K. Becoats is a lifestyle consultant and owner of La Concierge in Charlotte, N.C. Email her at Read her column here each Thursday, only on Qcitymetro.)

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