When I used to get dressed to go on a night out in my early 20s, one of the the ways I kind of knew that I’d got my outfit perfect was generally just a gut feeling. It’s difficult to put into words. It’s just a feeling in the pit of your stomach that you know that something looks right. This gut feeling is what I used to help me work in high fashion when really I had no previous background in it, other than working in a stockroom in River Island. I’d never actually dressed anybody, or put outfits together for people, but when I went to my interview at Harvey Nichols, they didn’t know that.
As I continued to work there of course I received training, often directly from some of the labels we were selling! I also went out and started to do my own research and development on all your typical guidance around dressing before completing a course to become a personal stylist. Things have changed a lot since then!
However, not everybody has the time or inclination to spend hours, weeks, or even years researching and finding out about the so called “rules” of fashion and personal style.
So how do you develop that gut feeling?
If you’ve ever read my newsletter (if you don’t you really should, you can subscribe here) you’ll hear me mention the term Style IQ a lot. To put it simply; Style IQ is someone’s ability to naturally put pieces together and form a stylish outfit or craft their own unique personal style. It’s a term I completely made up to describe that gut feeling I talked about earlier in this post.
You may have experienced the following with friends or colleagues –
They’re always impeccably dressed so you ask them for advice, but they struggle because they find it really difficult to articulate how they manage to make their outfits work and always make them look great.
That’s how I see Style IQ playing out. Some people just naturally have a bit of a gift for putting clothes together and just knowing deep down “yeah that works”. This may be really annoying for you because you want to understand how they make it work and you really want to understand their secrets, but for them, it’s just something that comes naturally.
The good news is I personally believe it’s a skill you can develop and you can craft overtime. However, it’s a skill I don’t see many people talking about and it’s something in particular I don’t see many personal stylists talk about. But that makes sense. If you have a client that relies on you to show them and direct them on what to wear, then that person isn’t going to come back to you season after season and spend money on your services.
But I’m a firm believer in helping you to understand the principles and steps you can go through to not only develop a style yourself, but to understand and develop that natural knack for putting outfits and clothes together. You can then become one of those people who just has that gift. Then you’ll have people coming up to you to ask you how you put together those amazing outfits.
So how can you actually develop your Style IQ?
01 | Shopping ban – Take a month and ban yourself from buying any new items. You could even try it for 3 months if you want to really challenge yourself. Explore every inch of your wardrobe and try creating new outfits with the clothes you already own. This forces you to really think about pairing different pieces together you’d never have combined before.
02 | 30 x 30 Challenge – Take 30 pieces from your wardrobe and wear them for 30 days. This is a little bit more of a challenge and gets you thinking about how you can wear a restricted set of clothes in different ways. It forces you to look at the same clothes day in, day out, and try and figure out a new way of making them fresh and exciting.
03 | 10 x 10 Challenge – This is the same as above but for a shorter period of time and with fewer clothes.
04 | Observe people – I don’t mean staring creepily at them. This is an exercise in thinking rather than doing. Just observe people. When you’re out and about try and spot stylish folk out there and when you see someone you think is really stylish try and figure out what makes them look so great:
- Is it the colours and the way they’ve combined them?
- Is it the specific pieces of clothes they’re wearing?
- Maybe it’s the way they’ve styled specific pieces?
- It even may come down to simply having a lot of confidence in what they’re wearing – you can usually tell by how they hold themselves.
The final thing is to no be afraid of getting it wrong. Everybody will make mistakes on their own style journey. We’ve all looked back at old photos and thought to ourselves “oh my god what was I thinking when I wore that?”
Just be patient, this isn’t something you’ll get over night. But don’t be afraid. Be brave.
You will make some mistakes along the way, however, you’ll also learn a lot as well. Even now there are times when I put together an outfit then I get home at the end of the day and think to myself…
“you know what that wasn’t that great I don’t think I’ll wear that again.”
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know how have you developed your own Style IQ?