In a sea of trends, moods, values, and costs, it can be hard to find your personal style. Your personal style reflects your identity, so naturally, it must be composed of more than just trends or imitations of celebrities. It needs to be authentically you. But how do you know what’s authentically you? How can you best embrace your identity through fashion? Try following this process to get you started:
Set Your Style Values and Boundaries
The first step to finding your personal style is to set your style values and boundaries. You probably already have a pretty good idea of which characteristics you look for in clothing items, and which ones you don’t care for. Are you a person who values comfort and modesty over glam? Do you struggle with patterns, or do you add them to your outfits liberally? Think about what kinds of clothing make you feel comfortable and confident and what kinds make you feel exposed, boring, or too showy.
Everyone’s style values are going to be different but whatever yours are, write them down. Make sure that when you are in the store or browsing styles online that they pass your values test. This will save you time and ensure that you are only selecting items that fit your personal fashion needs and preferences.
Next step: make a mood board. You can do this physically with poster board and cutouts, or you can do it on a device. Browse social media, magazines, books, movie posters, and whatever else you can think of for fashion inspiration. If a style passes your values test and you can see yourself being confident in it, save it to your mood board. Just as your personality grows and evolves, the styles on your mood board will evolve as you explore new interests and abandon past looks. The more styles you have on the board, the better, but try to save at least 15-20 before you move on to the next step.
Three Words as a Theme
After you have compiled a mood board, take a moment to sit down and ponder what it is you like about these styles. What features speak to you the most? How would you describe them? Do you find yourself gravitating toward Boho styles? Or do you notice that neutrals trend throughout your mood board? Take notes of your observations. And to take it a step further, take notes about why you like what you like. Ask yourself questions to probe your creative mind. For example, do you like a certain style because you feel elegant in it or because you feel like the shade compliments your skin color? Why do you think you tend to prefer neutral shades over others?
After you have gathered your notes together, look them over and try to identify three words that describe your style. For example: edgy, comfortable, bold. Take those three words, whatever they may be, and use them as your theme words for your style. These three words may change over time, which is totally fine! By identifying a theme for your style, you can make more educated decisions while you are shopping and browsing.
Start with the Essentials
Now that you are excited about finding your style, you may be tempted to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes. But, if you’re finding yourself to be without the resources to do so, it’s best to start small. Look back at your mood board and identify the five items that best characterize your style. When choosing your five items, consider selecting one from each of these five categories: pants, top, jacket, shoes, and accessories. Remember those three words you chose and ask yourself: “Are each of these items accomplishing my theme while passing my style values test?” If the answer is yes, you have got yourself some winners! It may take time to find your essentials, so be patient with the process.
After you have been creating outfits with your essentials for a while, you may want to branch out and select more pieces that fit your style. Gradually, over time, you will see your wardrobe evolving as your unique style is realized. But remember to give your old clothes a chance. Mixing and matching the old with the new may yield surprising results. Just remember: no one’s style is “complete” meaning we are all constantly evolving and trending toward different tastes. Stay true to your identity, embrace your personal evolution, and of course, always dress with confidence.