Style personality is a way you present yourself to the world, your own unique esthetics in clothing, accessorizing, interiors, taste in literature and music, preferred color palette, hair style and lipstick shade… It is all that tells the outside world who you are before you even say “hello”, it adds to the first impression and builds a consistent image of you. It is a vision of yourself. Style personality can be a powerful ally when done right and a big foe if wrongly chosen. The question is, how to chose the one that is right for you and maintain it over years?
I wish I could say – follow your instincts, but it is not so simple. We are all exposed to multiple influences – opinions of others, mass & social media feed, fashion and trends, ever present advertising, movies… as a result, one is constantly bombarded with persuasion meant to tell you what you should buy, like and desire, even though you prefer something different. High street brands and fashion magazines present the same selection on repeat, if 80-ties are dominating catwalks, 80-ties you shall have, who cares that you hate the 80-ties style?
To define your style personality and start living it, you need to name it and find what it means for you.
Discovering your Style Personality.
As I described before in Buy Less, Choose Better , mood board and descriptive lists are useful tools to verbalize and visualize your look. You can also use a following exercise – imagine you are left with no clothes at all and are only allowed to select 10 pieces. What do you buy? If that was me, I shop for:
- black trousers
- grey trousers
- white shirt
- blue shirt
- grey V neck cashmere sweater
- off white silk shirt
- grey merino wool turtleneck
- black dress
- navy blue cardigan
- beige trench coat
If I could add 5 accessorizes, I would go for:
- black leather boots
- black leather pumps
- classic watch on a gold bracelet
- big black handbag
- colorful Hermés silk scarf
I am almost certain that you can imagine my wardrobe and picture my typical look. What would be yours?
In deciding what is right for you, apart from your sense of style, it is important to take into consideration:
- your lifestyle and typical activities – focus on occasions that you dress for most often and on clothes appropriate for those, clothes in your closet should represent activities that you need them for, for example – if you hardly ever wear cocktail dresses and stilettos, do not allow them to take the majority of your closet space
- climate and typical weather – wardrobe covering all four seasons has to be more complex than the one covering less variety in seasons and weather conditions
- your figure, height and overall physical built – even if it is love at first sight, some cuts and shapes may not be meant for you, sad but true, best to move on without regret
- colors flattering for your complexion, eyes and hair color – some colors compliment your type of beauty, why not make them your go to colors? and same as above, even if you love a particular one, it may not be right for you, best to avoid or use with moderation in accessorizing (think shoes or handbag, not earrings or scarf)
Seek for inspiration all around you. Clip and combine images on paper (or virtually via Pinterest and Tumblr) and create selection for your own reference. It is very likely you will see commonalities and repetitions in colors, cuts, fabrics, pieces and looks. This is what you like and what feels right for you. Once you know what image you want to project, it is time to start living it.
The Art of Shopping.
Before you reach for your bank card, wait and see what you already have. This is the perfect moment for an overall, total wardrobe detox. Once you are done, you should have some pieces that you like and want to keep. I bet they are close to your style personality, unless you really shopped randomly or someone else did the shopping for you. Do not be afraid to let go of things, if it is not right, it is not right, time to say goodbye. It may scare you to be left with too little, but in fact you need much less than you had before. If all you own makes you happy and is of quality, you will rejoice at owning less but much better.
When the big clearance is done, start from identifying pieces that will ground your look, being worn on repeat, defining your style personality. For me that would be slim fitting trousers, classic shirts, woolen sweaters and black dresses, all in classic color palette. See what you have and where potential gaps are, what should be replaced and where you have too few. Make a list and do your research before you head to a high street.
From own experience I can say that unless you have big budget to put in your closet (like we all do, right…?), shopping for quality basics and wardrobe essentials is the toughest. Here you need to think long term and be demanding. Do not settle for acceptable, spare no efforts or time, search only for what is really good.
In the digital age when internet shopping is so common, I still encourage a first hand experience. If you do not know the brand from before and are not certain that you know their sizing, there is no way to assess a quality of a garment or its fit without an encounter in the fitting room. What looks great on pictures may not live up to expectations when seen in a broad daylight in your living room, coming out of the box.
Do not rule any brand out, I myself had many shops I never went to, for this or that reason. That was my story with Massimo Dutti, it used to seem too exclusive and too expensive, until I actually went there, loved the style and had been shopping there ever since.
And when it comes to sales, as much as I do not approve of falling into the sales madness (been there, done that and so donated to charity tones of wrong choices), it is a good way to supply for basics and classic pieces like white shirts, turtlenecks and similar, all that is seasonless and of quality is a great find, as long as you really need it and will actually wear it. Never ever buy for wrong reasons (very cheap, on final reduction, great brand, …), even on sale it cost you real money.
Devil is in the Details.
Even the most perfect and well thought through look can be ruined by small things, so be careful and do not forget about important details that should become an integral part of your style personality – clean and polished shoes, suitable underwear, well kept hosiery, quality accessorizes (sunglasses, scarf, gloves, handbag – better one proper than a big selection of poor quality), manicured hands, good hairstyle, discreet make up and – always and forever – smile and good manners.
Remember that discovering and building your style personality is a process, not an event that will happen overnight. Give yourself some time, be patient and allow for some mistakes to happen, but at the same time try to stay disciplined and conscious. If you know where you are heading it is much easier to reach the destination, even if you take small detours and occasional stops on your way.