Pop quiz! Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Now describe your style in two to three words. There is no right or wrong answer.
Can’t describe your style? This blog is for you.
Everyone has style. You may not like your style, but you have one. Uptown girl. Trendsetter. Frumpy mom-on-the-go. Vintage. Avant-garde. Fashion forward. Hipster. Bulky and shapeless. Bargain bin.
Whenever one speaks of style, the impression is some of us have it, and some of us don’t. This isn’t true. Everyone creates a style. Yes, even if you rarely shop for clothes and borrow from your daughter’s closet, you are still creating a style.
My style? Elevated boho. I love bohemian embellished and cut clothing. I do deviate from this style from time to time, but I can also incorporate it into my casual and professional wardrobe. A little bit boho and a little bit glam. A suit isn’t bohemian at all. But I can add boho accessories. Other people describe my style as fun and quirky — much like my personality.
But my style may not work for you. That’s the point. If you emulate other people’s style, you may end up confused, disheveled, and dissatisfied. Not knowing your own personal style is the reason clothes hang in the closet with tags still attached.
This is the most important blog I will ever write on the subject of fashion. People are clueless about fashion, because they are clueless about style. Your fashion sense flows from this valuable understanding.
Here are tips to developing your own style.
Study fashion. Most people have no idea what they can and can’t do. Can you mix prints? Does this top go with these pants? If you don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed by the whole fashion thing, study the fashion industry. That’s how I started. Elle. Marie Claire. Vogue. What Not to Wear. America’s Next Top Model. The Face. The Devil Wears Prada. Project Runway. Fashion Week. I read and watch fashion. I understand that I will never afford couture, but I realize that trends begin from the runway. Create a Pinterest board of your favorite items. Eventually, you’ll figure out what goes and what doesn’t. I didn’t know purple lipstick existed until I saw Coco Rocha wearing it on The Face last season. It doesn’t get any more boho than purple lipstick. Take the ideas you like. Disregard the rest. Not all runways are couture and avant-garde. Many showcase ready to wear-to-wear items you will find at Target or Belk. Some people have an innate ability to pair patterns and colors effortlessly. The rest of us have to work at it.
Avoid trends. Trendy and stylish are not the same. Just because it appears in the window of a store doesn’t mean it will look good on you. I avoided last season altogether. I hate peplums and chevrons. I’m too short for maxi skirts. I’m too small boned for bauble necklaces. I think maxi skirts are fabulous on tall women. Baubles are lovely pieces of jewelry. But not for me. And we won’t discuss the flourescent phase. Orange is the current color of the season. Most people do not look good in orange. It’s a hard color to pull off. If a trend works with your aesthetic, buy it. But it’s not an obligation.
Break rules. We love rules. Never wear white after Labor Day. Belts, bags, and shoes must match. Black and navy do not match. Leggings are not pants. Well, okay, that last rule should never be broken. The rest of the rules are archaic. Welcome to 1950s style.
There are few rules in fashion. To quote Jack Sparrow, “they’re more like guidelines actually.” We hold on to those rules for dear life. We call other people out when they break these sacred rules (I’ve been on the receiving end of this many times). No open toe shoes at work? Depends. In the hot South, employers don’t care. Is it okay to wear white after Labor Day? Of course. It’s just a color. Do black and navy match? Both colors are neutrals, and you can mix neutrals. Don’t even ask. Leggings should never substitute pants on anyone or anywhere. The point is fashion has few rules. Rules hinder us from following my next piece of advice.
Experiment. Wearing navy and black together can be fabulous. You won’t know until you try. That little voice inside your head telling you that everyone else looks better than you, and the same style won’t work for you? It’s fear. It’s a false sense of body image. Give it try. Play with the items in your closet. Take selfies. Play dress up with a friend who will give honest feedback. More importantly, listen to what the friend has to say. Don’t create your own set of rules to fill in the blanks.
I purchased an olive dress that I was certain would not look good on me. Guess what? It is so my color. I receive more complements on the color of that dress. Listen to the feedback of others. If you receive complements, it’s a thumbs up. Whatever you do, don’t make excuses. Just say thank you.
Always remember — it’s only clothing. Clothing can be removed. Not everything I wear works. I wear it with so much confidence that I think most people think I’m fashion forward. At the end of the day, what I wear doesn’t change who I am. I went out this weekend in rolled up jeans, a t-shirt from my alma mater, plastic flip-flops, sans makeup and jewelry. I didn’t feel like dressing up today. Ultimately, you should feel as confident dressed down as you do dressed up. I dress for me. If it means wearing white pants after Labor Day, so be it. I actually create looks based on my feelings from day-to-day. Fashion is a form of wearable art. Nothing more, nothing less. Everyone has an off day. It’s okay. Let this tip free you up to experiment and play with style. Eventually, something great will stick.