Have you ever seen one of those quizzes called something like “Which Style Are You?” where some magazine tries to pin you down into a category? If you like beaded jewelry, your style is bohemian! If you like black, your style is classic! Those never made any sense to me. Why do you have to pick just one “style?” Where did we get the idea that women can’t develop our own eclectic look comprised of a variety of things? I think the idea is to distill the “personal style” question into something so simple anyone can follow it, but to me it’s just too restrictive. So I say ignore all that and do things your own way! Here are my tips for discovering and developing your own personal style.
Find what you already love. Everyone has one or two outfits that always make us feel good – the outfit we wear when we want to know we look terrific. Go through your closet. Try things on. Find those favorite outfits and determine why they make you feel confident. Is is a flattering shape? The color? Keep those factors in mind when you shop so that you can have a closet filled with outfits that make you look and feel great.
Look for inspiration. Is there a celebrity whose style you love? A designer or store whose ads always jump off the page? A friend you love to shop with because she has great ideas? Keep those things in mind. Use your style file – rip pages out of magazines of outfits or trends you like and come back to them before you shop for new clothes and keep lists of things you like. Over time you’ll find patterns that will help you choose new looks.
Choose your best colors. Maybe you love the muted look of neutrals like grey and khaki. Or maybe you’ve noticed that you always seem to get compliments when you wear green. Keep those things in mind. A great wardrobe has variety, but also the ability to mix and match pieces for multiple looks. Find the colors that make you feel most confident and beautiful and build around them.
Think about shape. Every body has a different shape and will therefore be flattered by different proportions. Check out some typical body types here and think about which best matches you. Then consider what parts you want to minimize or accentuate. Details like embroidery, appliques, contrast stitching, pleats, or rhinestones will draw attention, so keep their placement in mind when you look at a garment. Keep the details and emphasis on your best areas and keep the color and line on the areas you want to mask more simple.
Experiment – but don’t drive yourself crazy. Drastic change in your wardrobe can be jarring. And if you buy something that doesn’t go with anything you already own or isn’t entirely you just because it’s trendy or “new,” the chances are that you won’t ever wear it. Try on new looks in small ways first. Love bright orange but don’t know if you’ll love wearing it? Try shoes, jewelry or a scarf before committing to a garment. Cautiously curious about skinny jeans? Try on an inexpensive pair (Old Navy has them for under $30) and wear them with roomy tops to get yourself used to them.
Don’t go it alone. Shop with a friend. You never know what they’ll pick up that you would never have chosen for yourself. Ask friends or relatives whose style you love for advice or tips, or just ask where they shop. Have someone you trust go through your closet with you and help you determine what works and what doesn’t. It really helps to have another set of eyes who don’t see all your flaws as keenly as you do and can give you new ideas.
These are pretty basic ideas, but they can get you on your way to polishing your day-to-day look and building a consistent but interesting wardrobe. So ignore the magazines and don’t get trapped into labeling yourself! Personal style is about a lot more than being pigeonholed into a category – it’s about building a style that’s all about you and that makes you feel great.