Personal style can be an elusive thing. That sounds counter-intuitive: after all, no one knows us as well as we know ourselves. But many women, when faced with racks upon racks of clothing in a department store find themselves getting overwhelmed and unable to discern what their "look" is.
I'm almost 39 years old. I am by no means an expert on fashion, but I have finally figured out what is most flattering for my body type. I've discerned my aesthetic, and let me tell you - it has made shopping much more enjoyable. Style is something that evolves over time - and there are no right or wrong answers. In order to not become a slave to trends, it's nice to know the brands and cuts which are consistently flattering for your body type and make you feel pretty. It also saves you money.
Mood has a lot to do with this. One day, you might feel like a punk rock princess, the next a demure '50s housewife. I tend to vacillate between the two! Makes my husband a little dizzy, and my daughter always has an opinion about my outfits, but that's ok - I'm really dressing for myself!
So, how do you track down your personal style? Here are a few methods which have helped me:
- Closet Edits. Periodically, it's good to clean out your closet, sort through all of your items, and figure out if they are still flattering on you. If they are worn out, or just no longer your style or size, donate them or host a clothing swap. Getting bogged down with clothing that doesn't fit keeps you from seeing the good things you do have. Have a friend lend an eye if you have trouble letting go, but trust your instincts.
- Mood boards. One weekend, sit down with your favorite magazines, or your Pinterest account, and clip/pin looks, actresses, and even landscapes that inspire you. Perhaps you have a distinctly Byronic taste for dark colors, ruffles, and tartan. Or you may favor the clean, classic look of Ralph Lauren or Tommy HiIfiger - very preppy and chic. In time, you'll sense a common denominator. Run with it! Chances are, you already know who your inner muse is - you've only yet to embrace her. The singular Isabella Blow was inspired by medieval history - and she brought her unique style perspective to the pages of Vogue, with much acclaim.
- Take photos of yourself in your outfits, and examine them with objectivity. Becoming a personal style blogger has become both an enlightening and sometimes awkward endeavor - but it has taught me a lot about what works for me, and what doesn't. The mirror isn't always trustworthy, but photos seldom lie.
- Ask your friends to sum up your look in three words. Tell them to be kind, but honest.
- Do you have a favorite movie? What was it about the cinematography or costuming that appealed to you?
- Style blogs are great, but copying someone to the letter isn't personal style. Use the blogs as inspiration to find your own way in the fashion world. I love ankle socks with high heels on my young indie blogger friends, but I would feel ridiculous sporting the look!
- Finally, how do you feel when you are in your clothing? When I wear vintage, I walk a little taller, smile more, and tend to feel like I've donned my true persona. For you, that level of comfort may be in jeans and a flowing t-shirt with an eye-catching scarf. It's so subjective!
Take your time. They're just clothes, and it's not a life-or-death dilemma! But peeling through the layers of your psyche to determine who you are as you get dressed in the morning is a great gift to yourself. You may just discover untapped areas of creative expression and self-confidence, and nothing is more attractive than a confident (and happy) woman! Good luck with your own personal journey.
Here are some of my favorite bloggers, who each have a very discernible and unique personal style:
Catherine @ Not Dressed as Lamb
Rebecca @ The Clothes Horse
Rachel @ Rachel the Hat
Elizabeth @ Delightfully Tacky