I got a lovely email from one of my clients after reading my latest style note. Here’s what she wrote:
“Brilliant as usual! Just a thought .. how do I know what my style is in terms of my personality?”
It’s a huge question! It’s so key because once you know the answer, it makes throwing together outfits that you LOVE effortless! It makes shopping so much easier and less time-sapping. The great thing is with a little bit of work you can easily find yours.
You can totally feel lost when you’re not clear on what you like or what your overall vision is for your personal style. Have you ever coasted along wearing clothes you kind of like, but you don’t love?
Who wants that, really?
I’m guessing, not you!
Life’s way too short to be wearing clothes you ‘kind of like’.
I’m going to take you through the steps to nail down a personal style that you love. One that genuinely excites you because you can’t wait to get dressed in the morning. But also something that’s unique to you, not an off the shelf cookie-cutter formula. This isn’t a two-minute quiz that will regurgitate the same cyclical trends and put you in a box.
You deserve more than that.
You deserve a personal style that reflects every nook and cranny of your personality and feels like chicken soup for the soul.
To do this you’re going to need some ‘me-time’. Enough to dig deep, exploring and understanding your tastes, and getting real about what you’d wear.
So if you’ve been meandering through ‘meh’ it’s time to kick that feeling to the curb.
01 | Get creative
It starts by getting creative and gathering some inspiration. This will absolutely be a step you’re familiar with. Don’t worry. I know this time you’ll be seeing it through to the end. Don’t skip this part! Our tastes and preferences change over time so even if you did something similar 6 months ago, you’ll benefit from doing it again.
Start by gathering inspiration from all the usual places:
- The public eye
- People watching
- Online shops
- Real shops
- Try things on
You’re looking for outfits or items that for, whatever reason, resonate with you. Keep a physical or digital record of any images you find to allow you to easily refer back to them.
! | Important: When browsing Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs it’s easy to get swept up in the general aesthetic of the image or start fangirling/fanboying over the person wearing the clothes. Don’t save these images.
Ask yourself whether you’re catching feelings for the picture or whether the outfit or item featured is something you’d actually wear. 5-inch stilettos may look lush but if you can’t last longer than 30 minutes in a 3-inch heel, are you actually going to wear them?
02 | Time to edit
Ok, so you should have a collection of outfits and pieces. Some of them aren’t going to make the cut so it’s time to get editing. Work through each image and decide whether you like it or love it.
If you’re struggling to decide, I always like to listen to my gut, so go with yours!
Only keep the images you absolutely love. If you don’t love it, it doesn’t make the cut.
You’re now starting to define your style personality, your aesthetic, your personal style. So don’t move to the next step unless you’re 100% happy with the images you have left.
! | Important: Maybe you were really feeling leopard print when you gathered your inspo, or perhaps you’d somehow convinced yourself everything body-con was a good thing. If you’ve found you don’t really love your images as much as you initially thought, and have edited to the point where you’re practically left with nothing, go back to step 1.
03 | Tell me what you like
At this point, you’ll have a bunch of images of outfits and pieces you’re really feeling. You’re now going to define what it is you like about them. The fashion industry often generalises certain looks and tags them with a name to make it easy for people to understand what they’re talking about. You’ll know all the usual suspects; boho, classic, minimalist etc
But when you’re creating your own unique look it’s easy to be influenced by these pre-defined labels. That’s totally fine unless you can’t actually explain why you like something that’s ‘classic’ or what that actually means to you.
Imagine you’re going to describe what you love about this collection you’ve put together to your best friend, and you’re going to give them all the details.
You need to be able to explain to them what it is about this collection of photos you love so much.
Write down what you’ve noticed about the following:
- The colours – what colours have you been drawn to? Are they muted or are they bold? Do they include prints or are they block colours? Why are you drawn to them?
- The cuts – What sort of necklines have you picked? What about hem lines? Skinny or flared? Fitted or loose? Look at individual items and the outfits as a whole.
- The fabrics – Try and work out what fabrics appear in the pictures. Are they printed? Are they knitted? How about leather? Are they textured or smooth? Do they have any hardware (studs, buttons, spikes etc)?
- The individual pieces – What individual pieces have you picked? Do skinny jeans consistently feature for example? How about blazers? Make a note of the individual items that keep popping up
! | Important: Make notes about the styling that features in your images. I’ve left this one off the bullets because it’s SO important but often forgotten. Want to know how important it is? Ever seen someone in the street and swooned over what they were wearing, but when you tried something similar it just didn’t look the same? I’m guessing it’s not what you’re wearing but how you’re wearing them.
So pay attention to the way things are tucked in, what accessories are used, what’s going on with the sleeves, all the little details. It’s THIS that can make a simple outfit like a pair of jeans and a tee look so different on so many people.
04 | Themes
You’re almost there!
I’m sure you’ll have started to notice some common themes when completing step 3. It’s time to make a note of these and pull out some solid themes and elements that represent your personal style.
Go back through each of the bullets (and the styling) from step 3 and make a note any individual colours that keep appearing or colour combinations that stand out. Then do the same for the rest of the bullets. It’s really about picking out any common patterns that seem to reoccur across your images. These are things you’ve naturally been drawn to time and time again.
Once you’ve completed this step you’ll be left with an overview off your own aesthetic or style personality. One where you’re very clear on:
- The colours that you love
- The individual items you want to wear
- The cuts of different pieces
- The fabrics that you gravitate to
- The way you love your outfits to be styled
05 | Tone
Oh, you thought you were done huh?
Well, this is more of a bonus step so feel free to skip it if you want. Once you’re clear on your style you may want to think about how you can tone it up or down. This essentially means making things bolder or more reserved.
Let’s say one of your individual pieces is a denim jacket that has some embroidery on.
Embroidered denim Jacket
- Toned down – just a plain-old denim jacket
- Toned up – a denim jacket with embroidery and slashes, distressing, and may be some hardware like studs
This time I’ll use colour as an example. So, let’s say one of the colours that appeared often was a bold orange.
- Toned down – you may go for a softer burnt orange
- Toned up – this is already bold so there isn’t a way to really tone it up much more. However, you may want to tone down even further…
- Toned down again – you may add orange to an outfit in smaller amounts, including it in accessories for example or as a nail colour.
Depending on your choices you may be able to tone things up and down. On the other hand, if your style is very bold, you may be able to tone it down a couple of notches. Alternatively, if your style is quite reserved, you’ll be able to tone it up a couple of notches.
Whether you choose to do that is completely down to you. It just allows you to be really flexible without having to ditch your aesthetic.
You’ve come a long way and have completely invested in yourself. You’ve created your very own unique personal style that you can’t get from just reading a copy of Vogue or Grazia, so give yourself a high-five. It’s not easy work.
You should be really clear on what your overall theme is, don’t worry about labelling it. You don’t need to. You already know enough about the outfits you love, what colours you’re drawn to, what individual pieces fill you with joy, the fabrics and cuts of these items and how you like things styled. And you can describe the details of each part that makes your style.
You now have all the pieces to the puzzle. Now all you have to do is put it together. Whether you do that by going out and shopping for it or whether you choose to see how your current wardrobe matches against your newly formed style, I’ll leave that up to you (I’d recommend the latter).
Leave a comment below describing 3 of the items you found and why you love them so much.
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