Today we’re talking about how to find your style.
Discovering your personal style seems easy enough, but start to dive into it, and you’ll quickly realize it can be confusing and a little overwhelming.
Have you ever sat down and thought about what kind of clothes and outfits you like?
Probably not, because as busy women, we have no time has the time?
For many, myself included, there comes the point in life when we end up with less of a style and more a closet full of clothes we accumulated over the years.
How to Find Your Personal Style
The decades since I graduated from college are a jumble of personal style trial and error.
I fully embraced the late nineties style with my low rise jeans and mid-drift tops, not so much a personal style as a required uniform for frat parties and college life.
After graduating, I remember trying to look like a “grown-up” or my version of one. Thankfully, that was a quick phase, and I spent most of my twenties and early thirties experimenting with different styles, all while having babies and building a business.
While I’ve always understood the fundamentals of dressing, like proportion and fit, it’s very different to navigate personally. As we age and watch our bodies change, it took me a minute to understand that what worked in my 20’s and 30’s doesn’t work on my body at 40 after three pregnancies – no matter how much I work out.
At my core, regardless of my age or size, I’ve always loved classic American Style. As a young girl, I worshiped Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrara. I was mesmerized by their shows, models and dreamed of growing up to exude their effortless elegance.
But it wasn’t until my late 30s and now at 40 when I felt like who I am as a woman and my personal style match. Like they are finally meeting at the same point.
Because for years, I convinced myself that that was too boring. So I bought things because:
- I thought I should like it.
- It was on sale.
- I was just happy it fit.
- Or all of the above.
Maybe that’s the beauty of aging, the confidence you get in being able to say, this is who I am.
So how do you create a personal style that feels authentic?
What are you supposed to do when you like everything?
And where should you start if you have no idea?
Today, we’ll talk about how you can find your personal style, based on what worked for me, and the strategies we used to help clients over the years.
How to Find Your Personal Style in 6 Easy Steps
When I worked with clients, the first step in our process was to figure out her style.
I created a client questionnaire, which included a section that asked them to think about women with a style they admire. It could be anyone, but it always ended up being celebrities from Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly, Laura Hutton, or more current famous women like Jen Anniston or fictional characters such as Olivia Pope.
It was an easy first step to get a sense of what the client liked.
To start this process, ask yourself, who do I think always looks great?
This is like a brain dump; it can be anyone with any style. THEN, take that list and narrow it down to who you want to dress like.
For example, I love Diane Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter. I appreciate their bold, wild, and unique style. But do I want to dress like them? No.
Readers often tell me they get stuck here because they like everything. And I get that!
It’s a lot like when you’re in the process of decorating your home. You can enjoy all kinds of style, but what do you want to live in?
Can you want to live in more than one? Sure!
And that’s what makes your style unique. It’s how you combine those elements in your unique way.
I narrowed my list down to three:
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Oliva Palermo
- Carolina Herrera
What do they have in common? They all share a classic American style with some modern elements that feel relaxed and casual.
Who’s on your list?
Of course, we don’t have the resources (budget, stylist, make-up artist, etc.) to dress like a celebrity every day. So we want to create a visual to help practically guide us.
This step is by far my best, most well-received tip. We go through this process in detail in our free Wardrobe Challenge (coming back in September!).
It’s the most effective way to break down the difference between styles you appreciate and how you want to dress every day. AND it helps you build a wardrobe you love quickly and easily.
Spend some time on Pinterest. Create a personal style board, and “pin” all the looks you like. Then, and this is important, go through them and edit down to only the ones you love.
You may have pinned all different styles. But remember, there is a difference between appreciating a style and wanting to live in it. The pins you keep should only be the ones you want to live in.
After you gather a few dozen pictures, look for cohesive elements.
Do you prefer:
- Pants or skirts?
- Silver or gold?
- Mixing prints and patterns or monochromatic?
- Romantic or tailored pieces?
- What colors show up over and again?
You’ll quickly discover there is a thread of commonality within the looks you keep.
Having clarity around your preferences is the first step in understanding your style and making better choices going forward.
Once your board is together, use it as a guide while shopping. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if that piece will help you create the look you are going for.
Armed with your Pinterest board, do a quick edit purging everything in your current wardrobe that doesn’t get you to your ultimate style goal.
Quite literally, stand in your closet with your Pinterest board open and see if your current wardrobe is a reflection of it.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t. That’s generally the takeaway.
Follow our tips on how to organize your closet in 60 minutes.
Be ruthless. You’ll feel lighter when you get rid of items you don’t like, need, or use.
As you look at your favorite styles, try to determine the pieces that keep showing up.
For me, my signature pieces ended up being dark skinny jeans, an animal print flat or bag, a crisp button-down, white tee shirts, a tan boot, and better jewelry and, for work, sleek dresses and neutral-to-me pumps.
These pieces work as an anchor for your style. They are the items you can always count on to ensure your outfit “looks like you.”
One of the reasons your wardrobes and style goes off the rails is that we don’t put the proper time and strategy into shopping. We need to be intentional about what we bring into our closet.
A simple tip to follow when building your wardrobe is only to buy something you can wear three different ways.
The pieces that meet this criterion are what should be your core wardrobe pieces. These will help define your personal style and make it easier to get dressed.
Of course, you’ll buy items that you can’t wear three ways, but they should be few and far between.
As you move through discovering your style, you’ll start to feel more confident in your choices. It’s essential to trust your instincts.
Don’t talk yourself into a purchase you’re not thrilled to make.
Stop wear something because someone told you to.
Avoid buying something just because it’s on sale.
The process of building a wardrobe takes time. Try not to feel overwhelmed by everything you might need. Write a list of what you could use to pull some outfits together and only purchase from that list.
Our Style Content is Inspired by Our Readers
Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers.
Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail.
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