New Year, New You: Define Your Personal Style
Personal style is a journey, not a destination. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself lately. I recently had to define my personal style for a project I’m working on (you’ll find out in February!) and it was surprisingly tough. I see what I like, I try it on, if it looks good, I keep it. If not, I don’t. My style is very eclectic. drawing heavy inspiration from 70’s babes, Alexa Chung, and early Vivienne Westwood. I consider myself equal parts old money Rittenhouse elderly women in mink coats and Hermès scarves, and West Philly DIY basement show tattooed babes with ripped jeans. I’m somewhere between the two, and consider high-low to be what I’m good at. But how did I get there? I sort of stumbled upon it after years of doing this blogging thing. If your New Year’s Resolution is to find and refine your personal style, I’ve amassed a few tips along the way and I’m here to share my expertise. Ready? Let’s go!
First things first, you’re going to want to find what you like a put some words to it. A lot of people use Pinterest for this, but for me, it’s a mix of old school inspo—magazines, television, etc.—and Instagram. (I just do not have time for another social media platform!) While I scroll through my feed, I bookmark things that stand out to me. I have different collections such as makeup, outerwear, formal wear, general aesthetic goals, and the like. In the moment, I don’t tend to stop and think about what, exactly, I like about the look—I just know that I like it. When it is time for me to go shopping, I scroll through and make a note of what I liked about the things that stood out to me, and more often than not, I see trends develop. More recently, I’ve liked bold colors, classic silhouettes, all-over prints, and bold accents. I know to keep those trends/styles in mind when shopping. The more you practice this, the better you’ll become at realizing what you like and why. It’s the first step—and a huge one—in defining your personal style.
Take some time to look around at celebrities, creatives, and influencers with a personal style you admire and draw inspiration from them. Following a large array of these types of people and keeping a little bit of variety will help the inspiration you draw from them to be well-rounded and not just a carbon copy of one person.
Once you have a list of styles that inspire you, it’s time to check you closet to see what fits your aesthetic and what might not fit your aesthetic. Sometimes, you can take an old piece and style it with something different to make a completely new look.
find what works for you.
Once you know what you like, it’s time to see what works for you and what doesn’t. For example: I love the color pink but it doesn’t love my skin tone. I look great in neutrals though, as well as high-waisted jeans that accentuate my waist and my… well… ass. (It’s a great ass and I’m not afraid to admit it, just as you shouldn’t be afraid to embrace your body as well!)
When looking for what works for you, keep these comparisons in mind: flowing vs. structured, minimal vs. maximal, casual vs. glam, colorful vs. muted. I’d say that for myself, I tend to be more structured, minimal, casual, and muted. I like to dress simply and add intrigue with my accessories. (And footwear. I’m a huge fan of shoes, especially ankle boots!)
When I was coming to terms with my body, I did an exercise I read about in a Trinny & Susannah book YEARS and years ago: dress yourself in tight black leggings and a tight black top. Look into a mirror and make a note of your favorite features: NOT ones you want to hide, but ones you’d like to accentuate. That will give you an idea of what to wear to feel your best. For example, I love a boyfriend jean but my hips and thighs don’t really allow for it—so I wear high-waisted, straight-cut, cropped jeans instead. Similar look, but kinder to my form. Find what you like—and what makes you feel good—and stick to it.
When comparing your looks to those of people you follow online and seek inspiration from, remember that you’re seeing a photo of them, while you’re experiencing the living, breathing unflattering angles that occur in real life. Comparing bodies and lifestyles seems like an easy thing to do but it’s not healthy, and you’ll be better to stick to what you’re thankful for instead of considering what you don’t have.
Once you’ve put together a few ideas in your mind, put ‘em into practice. The looks that you really, really love, snap a photo for future reference. The way I can tell when an outfit is a win is when I feel just as good taking it off at the end of the day as I do when I put it on in the morning. Some outfits look great but they’re not comfortable. I’d rather keep looking for something great than wear the same riding-up, too-sheer, falling-down kind of outfit over again.
The most important thing about having a personal style is making sure that you wear the clothes—not that the clothes wear you. Regardless of how comfortable you are in your skin, you won’t feel absolutely amazing about what you’re wearing if you’re constantly pulling it down, making sure the straps are staying up, etc.
You should focus on having fewer of higher quality items rather than more of disposable clothing. (More on that here.) Once you find pieces you really love, consider getting them tailored—it makes a world of difference!
Remember, it’s a journey—not a destination. Just as my personal style is constantly evolving, yours will as well. Best of luck on your journey—I’ll see you next year!