Just figuring out your own fashion style, never mind learning how to actually put it into practice, can take decades. It sounds like something that should come naturally, especially if you love fashion but very often this isn’t the case. Most people fall into one of three categories;
A) They have absolutely no clue about what’s fashionable, how to style an outfit, what outfits look good on them or even what they’d like to wear.
B) They love fashion, have a clear sense of what they love, what suits them and how to style different pieces but the styles they love are diverse and fit into multiple conflicting style genres.
C) They have a clear sense of style direction, their clothes embody themselves in fabric form and their sense of fashion has a clear point of view.
Most people interested in fashion will fall into categories B or C. If you’re an A and are serious about developing your own style, invest in a personal stylist and give your closet a full makeover, it’ll be worth it! If you’re a C and your friends could easily whip round a boutique pointing out all the clothes that are so “your style” congratulations, you can stop reading now because you’ve got it sorted. Give yourself a gold star, a pat on the back and carry on with your day, this article isn’t for you – but we are beyond excited that you’re already there, seriously! This article is for all of you B’s out there (and there are many!) whose closets are filled with pieces that they love but no understanding of how to pull them together.
Here’s the problem my fellow B’s and you’re not going to like it: If you want your personal style to look developed, you have to pick a genre not pick and choose different pieces from different genres.
(Left to Right)
Genres : Girl boss Glamour, Print Lovers, Boho Chic, Comfortable Basics, Sophisticated Athleisure
Case In Point
People don’t necessarily notice everything you’re wearing on a daily basis but they do notice your style from an overall point of view. I learned this the hard way. My first fashion job in Paris was in the woven tops and dresses department of a major fast fashion retailer. It wasn’t my first office job but it was my first office job in fashion environment so I had no idea what people were going to be wearing to work. Would it be standard pant suits and other regular office attire? Would people be wearing the clothes of the brand? How lax would the rules be considering the brand was known for its youthful designs and denim? I decided to air on the side of caution and bought myself a couple of pairs of slacks, a couple of blazers and a few blouses I could mix and match altogether.
During the first week of work, I realized that nobody else was dressing that way, they all wore outfits that were in line with their own personal style and each and every day, their own outfits were like an extension of their talents as a designer. But the blow really came about one month into the job, during some office gossip time. The designers in my department were remarking upon another department designer’s choice of office outfits, exclaiming they just couldn’t make sense of her; one day she would appear in boho chic, the next girl boss glamor, the next street style and so on. It didn’t matter to them that the pieces she styled together looked great, the point was that she had a different genre on every day of the week and they actually found it hard to respect her style (and her equally diverse design work) because of it. I realized, I also fell into that category.
I started to think about my own closet and how it actually related to the style I considered to be most “me.” I wanted to embody girl boss glamor with neutral shades, timeless pant suits with an edge, Parisian classic at its finest and yet my closet was a mix of that and eccentric shoes in acidic colors, dowdy knitted tunics, Aztec prints, animal prints, embroidered pieces, minimalist pieces, you name it, I had it in my closet. It was no wonder I hadn’t developed my own personal style properly, my closet was simply filled with random pieces that yes, I loved but didn’t go together and were too diverse.
Streamline, Streamline and Streamline Again
So, how can you fix this? Creating your own personal style is very much like designing a collection, the question you should be asking yourself every time you look at a garment is “Would the same girl wear this?” Designers ask themselves this question over and over again when editing a collection, the same girl should want to wear every piece in the collection and if one piece is standing out to be for an older or younger person than you’re designing for, it has to be cut. Similarly, if some styles don’t resonate with the persona you’re designing for, they have to go too and your personal style is exactly the same. The person that wears this striking Girl Boss Glamor pant suit to an evening event isn’t going to wear this Boho Chic maxi dress to a wedding, the two genres are complete opposites.
It’s all about streamlining. Do it now, do it in a month’s time and continue doing it for the rest of your life. Choose the genre or broad spectrum style that you want to embody and stick with it. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own of course. After being indirectly blasted for my indecisive style choices, I pulled everything out of my closet that didn’t fit in with the style I wanted to create. Most pieces I passed down or gave to charity but there were some things I just couldn’t bare to part with, in particular, my crazy shoe collection. Instead of not allowing myself those items or forbidding myself to ever buy bizarre shoes again, I integrated this into my looks. Now, my personal style is known as tailored chic with eccentric shoes and I keep this consistent (for the most part!)
How Do I Build My Outfits?
Once you’ve streamlined your closet, building your outfits is the easy part. After this overhaul, everything bar a few pieces should go together as everything is in the same genre. My options no longer include a bohemian style maxi dress versus black jeans and a blazer and deliberating which style I want to be that day. Now, it’s about do I want to wear a dress or a jumpsuit or separates and no matter which pieces I pick, my cream knitted sweater will go with my tailored blouse which will go with my blazer, which will go with my slacks and my jeans and copper shift dress, they all work together in perfect unison.
I still allow myself to splurge on items that don’t fall into my perfectly curated closet but I always regret it. Those items, spur of the moment purchases always either get relegated to my holiday edit or worn once and never again. Because I know my personal style now, I know who I am and what I want to look like and although that fringed coat in bright blue suede looks immense, it just isn’t me and sometimes you just have to let those pieces rest on the shoulders of others.
Article Commissioned by Mod'Art University of Shanghai