One of the first steps I always take with clients is to help them define their style. I’ve written about it before, and it’s one of the most important things you can do to create a mindful wardrobe. Why? Well, if you don’t know what you like, you’ll buy things you end up not wearing. If you don’t know what you like, you’ll keep things you don’t need to own. If you don’t know what you like, you’ll put on outfits that make you feel uncomfortable.
(Skip all the talk and head straight to the style quiz I created - Go here!)
With my clients, I’m able to help them through the process by looking at images with them, seeing what’s in their closets, listening to them talk about clothes, and trying different styles. I want to be very clear, this is not what they should wear based on their body type, or their “colors” or any other relatively arbitrary system. It’s what they just like the look of and what they feel most like themselves in. If you're working through this on your own, it can be hard to figure out what exactly you do like.
I get it. I have had a really hard time discovering what I actually like. To read, to buy, to wear, to eat, to do. Not just what someone else thinks is cool or what my parents thought I should do or what fashion magazines say I should wear. Here are some of the random things I’ve discovered about myself - even though pretty much everyone says they love to travel, and I feel like I should love to travel, I don’t. I like being at home in my familiar space. Despite it being the trendy healthy food, I actually really like kale. I like the taste and the texture of it. Even though I was the good girl in school, and often caught up in competition to be the best student, it took me a long time to realize I have no desire to be a high-achiever. I just want my quiet little life with enough money and time to live simply and healthily.
Let’s take it back to style. I talked in my last post about how I’ve tried many different styles and over time come to learn what was “me” and what I felt best in. And now I really love my style. Like, a lot. Most days, it takes me 30 seconds to get dressed.
So, how can you figure out what YOU really like and want to wear? How can you define your personal style? Here are a few steps:
Explore and research. When I was talking to mr. mindful closet about this post, he made the good point that many people don’t know what their style is because they’ve only been exposed to a few ideas. Without seeing what’s out there, it’s hard to know what you like. Pick up a few fashion magazines, read a few blogs, and start listening to your gut reactions about things you see.
Collect inspiration. Once you’ve explored a bit, start a collection of images that you know you like. Of course, Pinterest is great for this. After you have 20 or 30 images, look at the collection as a whole. Are there any themes throughout? Do you like bright colors or neutrals? Do you like patterns or prints? Do you like straight lines or flowing edges? Do you like clothes that fit close to the body or flow away? Do you like frills or no frou-frou? For comparison, here’s my Pinterest style inspiration board, and here’s one from one of my favorite St. Louis fashion bloggers, Psyche Southwell. You can see our styles defined pretty clearly from each of our boards.
Experiment. Unfortunately, there’s no prescription for style. Even if you can tell you’re visually drawn to certain looks, you have to try the things that you like the look of and see how they FEEL. Maybe you appreciate bright colors and bold prints on someone else, but feel uncomfortable in them yourself. Conversely, maybe you appreciate clean lines and neutral palettes, but really don’t feel yourself unless you’re wearing a bit of fun color. Think of this like looking at art in a museum - you can see it and appreciate it, but it doesn’t need to hang in your home. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to experiment. You can spend time trying things on at various stores, or thrift secondhand items to give them more of a long-term try.
Lastly, there’s always a quiz for everything. I finally put one together myself to help you define your style. Are you Sporty Spice, Romantic Bohemian, Glamour Girl, American Classic, or Modern Minimalist? As with all quizzes, this won’t give you all the answers. If nothing else, use it to practice listening to your gut when you read the answers. Go with the answer you feel, not the one you’ve been told works for you. There’s never going to be one neat category for everyone. Although I’m sure you can guess which quiz category my style falls into, I like to think of my style as “70’s French art teacher” - not a description you’re going to find outlined in any book.
Go here to take the quiz and leave a comment below with what your personal style is!