Finding Your Personal Style
Style Board Example
Step One: Create a Style Board
Before you can go on a wild shopping spree to outfit your new style ideals, we need to determine what you find attractive or interesting. Using an interactive website like PInterest or Polyvore can be a great resource here, or feel free to simply save images to a file on your computer.
For this step, we aren't really looking for availability or comfort; instead, focus on patterns, shapes, colors, embellishments, or just an overall tone or attitude. Find pictures of celebrities, art, fashion shows, home furnishings, or just lovely photography.
PIn or paste as many images as you want, then take a minute to review back through them. Remove any that you are not sure of, or you decide you do not like after all. (We can always add more as we move on!)
Step Two: Evaluate Your Closet
Once you have a selection of pleasing images, you can begin your closet overhaul for personal style.
- Begin by emptying your closet and making piles of relevant clothing, such as sweaters, shirts, pants, dresses, etc.
- Place clothes back in your closet in these groups, but only return things that you love or that meet your new style standards.
- Bag up those unwanted clothes for donation, or host a clothes swap with friends. What you no longer want, they may need, and vice versa!
- Once the overhaul is complete, make a list of items you want to fill your closet with, following your style inspiration boards.
Step Three: Making a List of Wardrobe Wants
So what is your newly cleaned and streamlined wardrobe lacking?
Is it color? Basics? Patterns? New everything?
Make a list of items you wish to purchase in the future, even if they feel a little over the top (who says a leather pencil skirt won't pull your style together?!). This list will become your compass when shopping.
If lists are not your thing per se, then consider an app for your smartphone. Using something like Closet or Walk in My Closet, to document the clothes you have and make wishlists of the clothes you want.
Having a virtual representation of your newly stylized wardrobe can make it much easier for our next step...
Step Four: Start Shopping!
Now for the truly fun part (at least for me!), the shopping. Now, don't focus on certain stores or brands....brands do not make style! Fit, proportion, color, and material, matter so much more to personal style.
It can be difficult and seemingly insurmountable to refill a wardrobe, especially during hard financial times. But style does not have to be expensive...
- Going to discount stores and factory outlets. Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc, can be great sources for lower-priced, high quality goods. Especially good for shoes, handbags, and interesting, designer and designer-inspired pieces. Another option is to hit up factory outlets for more luxury retailers: Coach, Michael Kors, J. Crew all have outlets, and many other brands do as well. However, sometimes the prices can still be pretty high.
- Checking out teen stores. While not usually on the forefront of the adult style-cast, teen oriented stores are chocked full of trendy, experimental pieces with a much lower price point than their department store competitors. My favorites are Forever 21, Dots, and Rainbow, for blouses, skinny jeans, statement necklaces, and fanciful jackets.
- Check out donation stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. This option is going to be more time and labor intensive, as the best items are not often the easiest to see. And you will need to thoroughly wash any clothing items you purchase, as the disinfectants used on the clothes have a rather distinctive smell. Great treasures can be found, though. My favorite finds over the years: a structured silk cocktail dress, velvet blazers, and fur-trimmed wool coats.
- If you aren't up to the Goodwill challenge, consider thrift and vintage stores. Many times, the owners have already ransacked local Goodwills and such, and are able to offer cleaned products with a mark-up. These can be great resources for truly unique statement items, but you will being paying more.
- Check Ebay. Often you can find high-end designer items for affordable prices on auction sites like Ebay, but be careful to ask the seller about quality and condition, as well as authentication of luxury items (that Louis Vuitton might only be $150, but make sure it has a serial number!)
- Finally, consider Etsy! So many artisans flood the site daily with new products, that you will surely find something you love, and there is a price point for everyone! Look into up-cycled clothing, vintage clothing, hand-knitted and crocheted items, and of course, the jewelry. Handmade, up-cycled, vintage, everything can be found on that site.
Keep in Mind
Think in terms of outfits, not individual items.
This goes for shopping, throwing out, anything. An awesome sequined peplum top may seem like the perfect piece, but if you have to buy new pants, skirt, jacket, and shoes to make it work, then it may not be worth it right now.
But that killer pair of black or nude pumps? I'll bet they match more than half of your wardrobe.
Also consider the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes have a limited number of items that can be combined in a variety of ways.
French women are notorious for having elegant, beautiful capsule wardrobes of two pairs of pants, two tops, one dress, three pairs of shoes, two sweaters, and a jacket. That may be too extreme for you, but having a set of basics that you can mix up with seasonal trendy pieces that fit within your style profile.
At right, you can see two wardrobes: Basic Capsule and Styled Capsule. Both feature the French ideal for clothes...but one has a little more flair, panache, or glamour. This is personal style. Any of those pieces can be combined to make a chic, comfortable outfit that reflects the style board created above.
Think about Step 2 helping you to make a Basic Capsule, and the list of items you make in Step 3 become the details and personality of the Styled Capsule. It can simplify the process!
I hope that this steps lead you to a glorious, confident, stylish life. Remember, clothes are just clothes, but how you put it together and wear it, can show a great deal of your personality.
So what are you showing the world, besides a lovely smile?