How to Find Your Own Style
“The worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and not see yourself.”
This quote is from 97 year-old fashion icon, Iris Apfel. She’s spent a lifetime developing her iconic style and wardrobe by playing with accessories, patterns, textures and creating her own unique look.
In this post, you’ll learn how to find your own style in just a few EASY steps!
There’s also a FREE PRINTABLE STYLE WORKSHEET (see Step #5) to download fill out while you read this post and take with you when you go shopping.
Who’s Style is It Anyway?
Developing your own style takes time and there are lots of saboteurs along the way who want to dress you and make you into their style. Have you encountered any of these style saboteurs?
Friend - You’re out shopping with a friend and you buy a few garments only to get home and realize that what you bought doesn’t go with anything else you own. When you take a step back and look at the clothes, you realize what you purchased is your FRIEND’S style and not yours?
Parent - Yes your mom has been dressing you since you were a baby. But now that you’re an adult, should she really be dictating what you wear?
Mannequin - You go into a store see an outfit on the mannequin, buy said outfit, and only wear those garments as they were shown in the store. You never mix them with any of the other clothes in your closet.
Spouse - Do you only purchase clothes that your significant other likes or approves? It’s an easy trap to fall into!
Trendy - Do you only make clothing purchases because they are supposed to be the latest trend? In just a few months, you’re on to the next fad and always trying to keep up. You tend to buy a lot of fast fashion that seems out of date just weeks after you bought it?
Lazy - Do you feel overwhelmed by what to wear every day so you’ve just opted to put on the most comfortable and “old standbys” in your closet? If you’re in a rut, it might be time to reevaluate your wardrobe and style.
If you said YES to any of the “style saboteurs” above, you may be lacking your own sense of style.
Guess what? It’s not a disease that can’t be cured!
You can develop your own style in just a few steps.
As Apfel says, “Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s now how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and, above all, attitude.”
How to Identify and Develop Your Own Style
#1. Look in Your Closet
Take a look in your closet, pull out all of your favorite items (at least 10). Don’t just leave them in the closet. Lay them out on your bed so you can see them as a group.
Do your favorite clothes have anything in common? For example:
A particular color or color palette? Do you like brights, pastels, or earth tones?
A style such as preppy, bohemian, sporty, vintage, artsy, or sophisticated?
How do your favorite clothes fit? Loose, fitted, or tight?
Do you have a particular body part you like to hide or accentuate?
Make note of these observations and use them as a starting point to help you define your style.
#2. Consider your Lifestyle
Before we go any further, it’s important to identify your CURRENT lifestyle.
Throughout your life, how you dress will change and sometimes that leaves you wondering what your own personal style is.
For example, if you recently graduated from college and are working in an office, you’ll most likely need to add career pieces to your wardrobe.
Or, let’s say you just had a baby, decided to stop working outside of the home, and be a stay at home mom. Well, the clothes you choose will dramatically change again.
Most likely, you’ll want more comfortable pieces that are easy to care for and provide a lot of movement. That doesn’t mean you can’t develop your own style! You can still have a modern, stylish wardrobe no matter where you are in your life!
#3. Get Inspired
Instead of letting someone else decide your style. Take some time to find out what you really like. Grab a fashion magazine, surf your favorite clothing sites, or follow some Instagram influencers who’s style you love.
#4. Pin it
I find Pinterest to be a highly effective tool for helping to define style.
Start by creating your own fashion board (or boards) and whenever you see an outfit or garment you love, pin it to your fashion board.
You can check out my Pinterest boards to see what I mean.
As a side note, you don’t have to pin only from Pinterest, you can pin from anywhere on the internet including Google, Instagram, blogs, and shopping sites. If you don’t have it already, install a Pin Button on your browser (works on any desktop, laptop, or handheld device).
After pinning a bunch of stuff, you’ll actually start to see a trend of things that you like! I bet some of the things you pinned may even be similar to those favorite items you already have in your closet.
Do you see any trends popping out when you look over your Pinterest board? Is your style classic, sporty, vintage, or casual?
Do you notice you pin a lot of the same colors, patterns, or silhouettes? Perhaps you’re noticing you have a preference for stripes or leopard print. Maybe you’ve pinned a lot of orange or olive green. Do you gravitate towards skirt outfits, dresses, jeans, or leggings?
Make note of all of these things - you’re defining your style!
#5. Look at the accessories, too.
Accessories are a really important part of developing your style.
The shoes, bags, jewelry, belts, scarves, and glasses are all key elements to your style.
For example, the bag you carry every day (no matter what you’re wearing) is a statement piece. It helps pull together your outfit and define your style. Make sure it’s bag YOU love to carry!
Go ahead and create Pinterest boards for accessories. You can create one board for all of your accessories or individual boards for each category.
Let’s start by making a handbag Pinterest board.
Just like with the fashion board, you should be able to notice your personal preferences start to emerge.
What kind of bags did you pin? Are they totes, crossbody bags, clutch bags, hobo bags, or even backpacks?
Do you like a particular bag shape?
What color bags did you choose?
Do you like small, medium or large bags?
What type of fabric are they? Leather, straw, canvas, or vegan leather.
What about the hardware on the bags? Do you prefer silver or gold?
Answer these questions and guess what? You’ve just defined your handbag style!
Now repeat this technique for all of the other accessories.
#6. Write it Down
This is a step a lot of people want to skip but it is really important!
While you are identifying your personal style using Pinterest board, take a moment to write down all of the style notes for each category.
I’ve created a helpful style worksheet for you to print and use while following this style guide. Add your email address below for the free printable!
#7. Photograph your Outfits
While you are developing your personal style, it’s very helpful to keep a catalog of your favorite outfits. Just snap a quick photo every day either with your outfit (with accessories laid out together) or right after you’ve gotten dressed.
Before you know it, you’ll have an entire catalog full of outfits you love to wear. It will make getting dressed each day easy and effortless.
#8. Start Shopping!
Now that you have a worksheet filled out with your personal style, take it with you next time you go shopping.
It will help keep you focused on what you like and what you need in your wardrobe. You’ll be more likely to have confidence with your buying choices and less likely to buy items that don’t fit your lifestyle.
What if I have more than one Lifestyle?
What if you work in an office, have kids, and do a lot of entertaining on the weekends? Isn’t that at least 3 different lifestyles?
Yes! But you can define your personal style for each lifestyle following the method above. Just separate out each lifestyle and create a Pinterest board for each.
For example, I have boards on What to Wear to Work, Casual Wear, and even Athleisure. Each board is full of items I love that reflect my personal style no matter what activity I’m doing.
Did you find this style guide helpful? Don’t forget to Pin It or Bookmark it for easy reference!