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DIY personal style

An unexpected fashion mix like biker boots with ethnic prints and you're styling like a celebrity

Ellen Warren

Shopping Adviser

August 5, 2011

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Wouldn't it be great if we all had the cash to hire a personal stylist who would put together great outfits that make us look and feel terrific?

Dream on.

Until you win the lottery or your start-up goes public, I've got an absolutely free alternative that can have the same effect: Go window shopping.

Every time I walk by Forever 21, I get new ideas about how to put things together and how to challenge my old (boring) way of dressing.

For sure, I'm not going to be wearing short, frayed cutoffs any time soon. But, why not a subtly sequined striped T-shirt underneath a men's denim shirt? Or a funky feather necklace over a crocheted top (or two)? I could do that. So can you.

By paying close attention to the mannequins in stores you admire, you can be your own stylist.

To prove my point, photographer Heather Charles took photos of some of my favorite on-trend outfits on Forever 21 mannequins.

Then I called Esther Chang, the head of Forever 21's visuals — store displays, windows and such — to talk about the photos.

Chang, 24, is the fashion-savvy daughter of the founders of the giant fast-fashion retail chain, Don and Jin Sook Chang, and is uniquely positioned to offer style tips based on the photos and her own take on today's fashions.

shopellen@tribune.com

Esther Chang's tips to amp up your style

Combine opposites for an "unexpected twist."

Avoid matching shoes/belt/bag; one bold accessory.

Texture on texture on texture.

Start small with just one "risky" thing out of your comfort zone.

Study celebrity photos; steal their stylists' ideas.

There are no rules. "Follow your gut" and wear what works for you; ignore trends that don't flatter.