1. People-watching
    Even those with limited fashion instincts can pick a truly disastrous look out of a crowd. People-watching is an interesting and non-threatening way of surveying the myriad of "real" looks that are out there.

  2. Magazines
    We know, we know: many fashion magazines are trashy wastes of paper. They will, however, give you a better sense of which colors, styles and silhouettes are happening, and also where you can find them. Don't bother with Vogue or Elle - glossies like these treat fashion as art, and are probably more appropriate for fashionistas who care a little too much about the subject. A better place to begin is with down-to-earth mags (Marie Claire, Jane) that feature beginner-friendly clothing with attainable price points, as well as handy guides to smart mix-and-match dressing.

  3. Watching TV
    E! Entertainment Television's makeover show, Fashion Emergency, is always good for a few laughs--and for a few useful tips. The Style Network, a spin-off of E!, offers runway coverage and other helpful fashion programs. MTV is another good source. Besides the occasional viewing of House of Style and Fashionably Loud, pay attention to the clothing you see on videos (no, this doesn't mean you have to dress like Britney Spears). Also, be aware of the clothing shown on popular network TV shows such as Friends, Dawson's Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Characters on such programs are usually pretty stylin', and a lot of thought (however insignificant it may seem) goes into what they wear each week.

  4. Surfing the Web
    The Web offers a host of fashion sites that can help you step up your style, from comprehensive directories to digital runway shows.

    SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW dress better (for women)?