Defining Your Personal Style: A Complete Guide

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Everything You Need to Know About Defining Your Personal Style

Ever wondered how women manage to find – and stick – to a signature style? Heck, ever wondered what a signature style actually is or why it might be advantageous to cultivate one of your own?  Developing a signature – in whatever field, from cooking to dressing – has become the modern day emblem of a life efficiently lived. It’s time efficient, disciplined and budget-aware. It may seem constricting, but in eliminating all the distracting flotsam from your options, can be exhilaratingly liberating.

Your signature look (or uniform) is the flagship look of your own personal style. It should represent its core elements, the essence of your style, all in one outfit. Your signature look is the outfit people picture you wearing when they think of you, and your one and only look if you were a cartoon/fairytale/pixar character.

Personal style is an elusive beast at best. Besides the fact that it’s ever evolving, we’re sure you also appreciate a handful of different styles. But which one truly speaks to you? That’s where we come in. We’ve nailed down the steps to discovering the particular look that speaks to your most fashionable self.

Knowing Your Body Shape

The absolute first thing to realise is that silhouette is key – which means being realistic and honest about your body. We so often fall in love with things which are wrong for our size. The best way to work out what shapes work for you is to head to a big department store and use their (free) personal shopping suites. Get them to bring you a version of everything – tops, bottoms, skirts, dresses – and ask them to help you clinically assess what works and what doesn’t.

The Best way to go about it? Lauren Santo Domingo – a blogger who is always picture perfect – offers this excellent advice: “find your celebrity doppelganger – someone who’s your shape and size and looks great. Don’t be embarrassed about copying their proportions, silhouettes and colours. They probably have a very expensive stylist getting it right for them.”

Always play to your strengths. Is there something people compliment you on? Whether it’s your toned back or your hourglass figure, wearing clothes that play up your best assets always looks stylish, no matter what is currently trendy.

To determine your body shape and how it’s best dressed, see how StitchFix breaks down the above graphic, here.

Labeling Your Look

Take a second pass at your inspiration photos, look beyond the names, and focus on the outfits. Pick a few words to describe the vibe of the looks. Are they ladylike, modern, minimal, edgy, bohemian, or classic? Settle on a handful of words that feel true to your style, and write them down for future reference, as they will help you clarify and define your look.

Jot down the names of your favorite style icons and do a bit of research via Pinterest, Google, or Instagram to gather inspiration from their looks. Maybe you gravitate towards Jenn Aniston’s minimal/clean look, but with a dose of Lauren Conrad’s femininity, and a side of Alexa Chung’s hipster-chic aesthetic. Pulling different types of inspiration from several sources is a great way to figure out what you like and dislike.

If you still can’t put a finger on what to call your signature style, take this fun quiz to point you in the right direction.

Cleaning Out Your Closet

After you hone in on the looks you like most, make a list of your preferences to help define your style succinctly (for example, “ladylike luxe” or “laid-back hippie chic”). Now comes the hard part: sticking to this defined style.

Take a good, long look at your closet and the pieces you already own. Toss out what you haven’t worn in the last year, along with anything that doesn’t fit into your new style categories so you can start fresh. Then you can begin to rebuild and refine your wardrobe with a style that truly reflects where you are in your life and career. And if you waver between the keep pile and donate? Err on the side of placing it in the donate pile. The more you trust your gut, the faster the process will go.

Start here, with these these closet cleanout tips. Then, find a few trash bags, a sharpie (and maybe a friend and wine!). Label the bags donate, trash, and sell and get sorting! A good closet cleanse will allow you to feel ready to become the true you, in terms of personal style. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get dressed when you have only a few spot-on options, instead of unnecessary clothing clutter! Plus, you can invest in quality new pieces with the money you make selling your old threads on sites like Ebay or local consignment shops.

Choosing a Signature Piece

Audrey Hepburn had her cropped pants and ballet flats, Jackie O. had her oversized sunglasses, and Edie Sedwick had her statement earrings and mod minis. All fashionable women own a signature item or two that becomes part of their style identity. Yours can be as simple as a personalized piece of jewelry or a leopard coat.

Spotting problems

Take a hard look at your closet and notice the piece or two that doesn’t fit with the overall vibe. Is there a bohemian embroidered blouse among a sea of collared button-up shirts? That’s your outlier. Chances are, your odd piece out symbolizes a style you like, but aren’t fully comfortable trying. If you’re aiming to evolve your look or try something new, consider going after pieces that feel more like that aspirational item.

Have a closet full of striped tees? There’s a reason your closet has an excess of a certain item. You purchase these items again and again because they make you happy and feel comfortable. They are your style sweet spot, if you will. As long as the item is flattering and works for your current style, we say viva la repeat offenders! As we mentioned before, it’s not a bad thing to rely on a signature staple.

Considering Your Work and Lifestyle Goals

The perfect wardrobe should not only represent your vision and creativity, but also be tailored to your lifestyle. Consider the persona you want to present to the world. You want your style to reflect your personality, but it also has to make sense in your field of work, your overall lifestyle, the city you live in and aligned with your long-term goals. Do you want a better job? Are you trying to make it in a particular industry? Think about adding a few sharp and appropriate professional pieces for interviews in that line of work. Or if you want to work in fashion, add more on-trend pieces (but don’t spend too much, as they’ll go out of style quickly!). If your work environment is casual, you may want to purchase more knits and jeans.

Write down all the different situations you’re in during a given week—be it work, parties, dinners with friends or significant others, lounging, special occasions, the gym, and so on. Now, revisit this list whenever it’s time to clean out your closet, or shop for new clothes. If an item doesn’t check multiple boxes, it’s probably not worth your money. The key is to find pieces that can mix, match, and crossover from one category to another. For example, a great soft t-shirt to wear to the gym can also be worn with jeans and a blazer or tucked into a party skirt. Shop smart!

Knowing Yourself

Trust your instincts, and wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. If you have more of a feminine-meets-classic style, like Lauren Conrad, wearing edgy pieces is going to look unnatural. Similarly, if you align with Rihanna’s tough-meets-glamorous looks, a twinset would look downright funny. You’ve likely already got a sense of killer style, so embrace it, and refine it; don’t fight it!



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