“Style, you either have it or you don’t.”
This is a lie many of us believe. Personal style is commonly misdefined as a quality or a trait that a person is simply born with. Believe it or not, personal style is something we all possess; it’s just a matter of developing it. Being “stylish” is often confused with being “fashionable,” which can be unappealing to the everyday person who’s not interested in following trends or making a statement with their clothing.
But true style is simply this: dressing in a way that best expresses your inherent dignity and reveals the unique beauty you possess as an unrepeatable person, both body and soul.
Developing your personal style requires a knowledge of your interior self and finding the items that best reflect it. But this doesn’t come easily for most people, and that’s totally okay. Defining your look can feel like a huge undertaking if you don’t know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got the first step to get you on your way.
Personal style begins with asking yourself the right questions. Your answers will create a guide to choosing the right items that best express who you are, helping you to feel more confident in yourself and your wardrobe.
- What do you want your style to say about you?
- Who are your style icons?
- What items are you always drawn to?
- What do you already repeatedly wear?
- What is your lifestyle?
- How do you picture the style of your ideal self?
Get your notebook ready, because it’s time to write down some descriptive words! Style is a form of self-expression and a means of communication, so reflect on what you want people to know about you through your style.
Start jotting down any words that come to mind when you start thinking about the identity you want your style to convey — some examples might be: professional, mature, creative, relaxed, innovative, expressive, free-spirited, polished, confident, strong, quirky, pulled-together.
Identifying the qualities you want to reveal to the world will help you become more conscious of how you’re actively communicating those traits via the way you dress.
Looking to the stylish men and women who have come before us is a great way to draw inspiration for your style. This doesn’t mean copying them entirely, but simply noting some of the style choices that also reflect elements of who you are.
Think of family members, friends, modern-day celebrities, old Hollywood celebrities, style bloggers, or any influential people who dress well. Think about the overall look of his or her style and the specific items in their trademark ensembles.
If you’re still struggling, ask yourself this question, “If I could raid anyone’s closet, who would it be?” The wardrobe you dream of ransacking can reveal a lot about your personal style. Which items would you go for first? If you’re going through Alexa Chung’s wardrobe, would you immediately grab her quirky mini dresses or her oversized blazers? If you were going through Ryan Gosling’s wardrobe, would you snag his polished oxford shoes or his dapper cardigans?
Start writing down the style traits of these inspirational style icons and note the specific items that create their look so you can shop for them yourself.
You know that moment when you walk into a clothing store and immediately gravitate toward something? What are those items, and what do they typically have in common?
Are you always drawn to bright colors? Bold prints? Or more simple patterns and neutral color schemes? Perhaps there’s an even larger theme that you’re attracted to like preppy nautical vibes, 1950s femininity, bohemian details, sleek and chic professional staples, or classic silhouettes.
Noting the natural gravitation you have toward one type of clothing versus another can help you understand which styles you actually like and will most likely wear. Also, noting the overall style of the stores you frequently shop at can help you narrow down your own personal style. There’s a reason why you keep shopping there!
We all have a few items in our closet that we’d like to wear, but never do. Being practical about what you will actually wear will help you stay true to your personal style rather than getting carried away with an idealized look that actually doesn’t suit you.
So, take a peek into your closet and reflect on the items you reach for every day and wear numerous times a week. These items can tell you a lot about the style you naturally gravitate toward.
What is the common theme between these items? Are they super comfortable? Basic? Bold? Versatile? Do you wear a lot of dresses or separates? Are the looks you create more casual or formal? Ask yourself why you like to wear these items and write down the answer.
Going off the previous question, it’s important to consider your lifestyle when developing your personal style. There’s no sense in building a wardrobe full of business professional suits if you’re a freelance entrepreneur who works from home. Your wardrobe should match your everyday activities. Think about the items that are necessary for your job, home life, and social life.
Keeping your lifestyle in mind when defining your style will help you create a wardrobe that reflects reality so you’ll always have something to wear.
If you’re still not sure what your personal style is, picture yourself three years from now. Imagine going to a party, walking into work, meeting up with friends on a Friday night, going out to brunch, etc. Now, what are you wearing?
Envisioning the future version of ourselves can show us who we really want to be right now — but why wait? Clothes can help us become the person we want to be, allowing us to feel more confident in whatever challenges we face in life. Write down what it is that your future self is wearing: the styles, the colors, the silhouettes, and the key pieces.
Begin incorporating these items into your wardrobe now so you can start owning your newly defined personal style!
Lastly, personal style isn’t just about looking good, having a great wardrobe, and feeling confident in our clothes. Dressing in a way that upholds the dignity of our bodies and expresses the soul is a way to realize our own true worth as people made in God’s image.
The things we wear can celebrate and further express the inseparable relationship between our bodies and souls, more clearly revealing our human nature and our relationship to our Creator.