Fashion is designed to be overwhelming. We are set up to fail.
It’s a business! The fashion industry is built on a model of perpetuation, so styles are constantly changing to keep selling clothes. Fast fashion (which is what they call high volume trend stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara,) has changed the landscape of the market. Twenty years ago, stores only offered 4 different ‘floor sets’ a year, where all the current clothes were switched out for new things. Some retail stores now offer 52 sets of change per year, every week offering new things for purchase! Zara, specifically, has design factories that can churn out the design and manufacture of huge quantities of an item of clothing in just one day!
Having so much choice makes it really hard to shop. It’s impossible to focus your energy on finding something you truly need when you are so overwhelmed with choice.
I’m a minimalist consumer. I don’t want to buy a ton of things that I don’t use. I want to wear the clothes I buy. I don’t want to feel constantly driven to need to shop, but I want to feel beautiful in my clothes!
Defining my personal style has been my secret to cracking the fashion code.
Now that I’ve defined my personal style, I can see pieces that I like but don’t reflect my core style and think “oh that is really beautiful, but it’s just not me.” I can now walk into a store with 10,000 things that are “cute” and not feel a need to buy anything based on just that. It took me half a lifetime to articulate this! I’m now actually wearing everything I buy.
Maybe you’ve never considered that you have a core personal style, but we all inherently do. Your personal style is your preference when it comes to the clothes you like. Your personal style is what your fashionable self is drawn to. Everyone has things in their closet that they feel especially connected to but very few have actual defined personal style. Once you go about the work of defining what it is you like, you can create a dream wardrobe for yourself.
Here’s the work you need to do.
It’s time to define your core personal style.
Your goal: find just THREE words to define your core style!
- Head to your closet and look for something you love to wear. Why do you feel great in it? What words describe how you feel when you wear it? Do you see any patterns in your closet, multiple items of the same thing? (Same shapes of skirt, stripes, scarves, cowboy boots?) If you have anything you’ve bought more than once it may be part of your signature style. Do you see many items of a specific style category? (Rocker, Bohemian, Sporty, Preppy, etc?) Is your closet cohesive to one style with just a few ‘outliers’ that don’t fit the rest of the look? What are your favorite colors to wear? What colors do you have the most of?
My closet has lots of bold patterns and glam statement pieces like sequins and faux fur. I have lots of black/grey/white v neck tees, skinny jeans, pencil skirts, and fit and flare dresses. My preferred shoes are always pointy toed heels or flats, ankle boots, black nikes, black flip flops, and strappy sandals. I prefer silver jewelry and like bold pieces of jewelry over delicate things. Before I defined what it is I really prefer I spent a lot of time searching in stores for ‘cute’ without a specific style vision. I had a lot of pieces hanging in the closet with tags and shoes I didn’t love.
- Head to Pinterest and search “style icons.” Look for pictures of outfits that connect with you. Most people won’t just have one person with style that speaks to them, so find your Style Spirit Combination.
My Style Spirit Combination is a NYC socialite, a Californian blogger and a French Vogue editor. I like the colors, styles and combinations they wear. I love Shea Marie’s down to earth accessible style but I love Olivia Palermo’s mix and match outfits. I like how Carine Roitfeld dresses very simply and monochromatically, often in pencil skirts and dark colors. I’m also really drawn to Emmanuelle Alt’s skinny pants and button ups, I’m also inspired by Brigitte Bardot and her big blonde hair and Rosie Huntington Whiteley and her soft makeup and style.
Always look upwards for your style inspo- to the very elite of the fashion and style world. They have had the most style education and exposure and you can learn style best from them. You can find them by searching for Style Influencers, Most Stylish Women in Fashion, or Style Icons.
- How do you want to feel in your clothes? What words describe how you want others to think of your style?
- What are your best assets? What do people compliment you about? Do you know your body type? What kinds of clothes are flattering on you? Can you put a name on the style of clothes you are drawn to?
I’m tall and look best in slim bottoms. I always need an open neck top like a v neck or scoop because of my chest. I get compliments on my legs and I prefer to wear short dresses and skirts over long ones. I know I should dress in styles with fitted waists but I still am really comfortable in my jeans and tees and try to work my style into what works best on my body type.
- Look at your home. You’re likely drawn to the same types of styles of home decor that you prefer in your clothes. Are you drawn to textures and earth tones, chic and sleek kinds of decor, soft and comfortable kinds of things?
- What clothing stores really speak to you? Even if you’re not shopping, is there a store where you love everything they sell? Most stores have a defined style, here are a few examples of my opinions of the styles of these stores:
J Crew- Glam/Modern/Preppy/Classic;
Banana Republic: Glam/Modern/Chic/Classic/Preppy;
Urban Outfitters: Rocker/Bohemian/Trendy/Earthy,
Ann Taylor/Loft- Chic/Classic/Glam;
French Connection: Edgy/Modern/Chic;
Old Navy: Modern/Preppy/Fun;
- Can you name any styles of dressing that you appreciate as being beautiful on others but don’t feel like your style? Are there any styles that you strongly dislike?