Top ten style rules

The secret's out... here are the ten style rules that make the fashion world go round. Heed our advice and live fabulously ever after.

10 style rules

1. Accessories: less = more

Take one pair of denims and a plain white vest. Now add Dior wraparounds and Prada tote and it completely transforms the look. The trick with accessorising is not to overdo it. Coleen McLoughlin is a huge fan of sunnies, but she knows that combining big earrings and necklaces à la Vicky Pollard equals accessory overkill. The right shoes will make (or break) your outfit (remember the meedja furore over Theresa May's leopard-print heels at the Conservative Party conference?) Read Let's Accessorise for more ideas.

2. Money can't buy you taste

Who will ever forget the sight of Daniella Westbrook clad head-to-toe in Burberry check? It's clichéd but true - you don't have to flash the cash to be stylish. Victoria Beckham loves Gap Kids jumpers and Kate Moss owns Top Shop vests in every single colour. See Chic on the Cheap for shopping that's more Primark than Prada.

3. Keep it classic

Timeless classics will never go out of fashion. Whether it's a plain white T-shirt from Gap or your favourite pair of battered Levis, these are style staples that look great season after season. In terms of investment pieces think Chanel suit, Hermes bag, string of pearls, classic black D&G dress... your wardrobe becomes the stuff of heirlooms - your daughter will thank you for it!

4. Keep something back

Unless Jodie Marsh is your personal style icon, don't let it all hang out. If you're wearing a top that reveals lots of cleavage, cover your legs. Equally, if you're wearing a mini, wear it with a loose-fitting top. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, such as a show-stopping Julien McDonald evening gown, but as a general rule it's best to leave a little to the imagination. And remember, sexy never ever cuts it in the workplace.

5. Good fit

A bra that's too small will distort your shape with cleavage overspill and pads of back fat. Trousers that are too tight will create the dreaded camel's hoof and a muffin-middle. Harsh, but true. Narciso Rodriguez, designer to the stars, has just one fashion rule: 'the thing must fit - I can only take it to a certain point and then the wearer has to make sure it fits perfectly.'

6. Don't be a slave to fashion

Just because a Juicy Couture tracksuit looks great on Jennifer Lopez doesn't mean it's going to look great on you. Odds on it won't (come to think of it la Lopez is probably the only person to look good in one). Dedicated fashion-following fashion is exhausting, expensive and not terribly imaginative. Far better to invest in classic pieces (see rule 3) and update your wardrobe in small doses. And never sacrifice your own style for fashion. If your instinct tells you a trend is wrong, you'll never feel really comfortable in it.

7. It's what's inside that counts

Whether it's an uplift plunge bra, a Spanx girdle (or two if your name's Gwyneth Paltrow) or a seamfree short, what's on the inside shapes what's on the outside. Stand in front of a long length mirror and critique your outfit - if you can see a VPL so can everyone else. The jury's out on coordinating bra and knickers. Tara P-T says they simply have to match but Victoria Beckham goes with Agent Provocateur knickers and Calvin Klein bras.

8. Good grooming

Lank hair, dirty nails, and straggly eyebrows = not a good look. Practice an emergency up-do for bad hair days/hideous hangover days and keep a nail file and tweezers in your make-up purse so you can groom on the move. Regularly audit footwear and get those scuffed mules reheeled before it's too late. Finally strike up a friendship with your local dry cleaner and negotiate a loyalty discount.

9. Create your own signature style

Fearne Cotton, a girl who always looks fabulous, estimates that 90% of her wardrobe comes from second-hand stores. It's a great way of ensuring that her look remains uniquely hers. Fashionably Vintage has more ideas. Buying clothes abroad and customising your clothes also puts an individual stamp on your style. Whilst we all worship the hallowed ground that is Top Shop, it's hardly a guarantee of unique chic now is it?

10. Being aware is more important than what you wear

And finally, a word of perspective. We all love clothes but hell, there's more to life! What we wear doesn’t define who or what we are. It’s corny and it's hackneyed, but the things that show your spirit don't come on a hanger. A laugh with your mates, an intelligent debate, a hug, a genuine smile… these are the beautiful things.