How do you express yourself through your clothing? In this podcast with Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types, we discuss how personality influences clothing choices, and how we can use the personality dressing styles to express who we are.
There are a variety of well-known personality dressing styles:
- Elegant Chic
Some feel more natural to you and others will feel more alien, and less like you. Yet you can access each of these personality dressing styles – it may be a wholesale embracing of a particular style, or it may be in tiny touches, to change the way your outfit communicates.
Sometimes the occasion may require it (such as wearing a more Classic outfit into a corporate business environment, or a Relaxed and casual outfit to watch a game of sport).
How you express creative will look different as an ESFJ (as Jill is) as compared to an INTJ (as I am) or any other Style Type. This is because each of the personality dressing styles (which I go into in great detail in Step 1 of my 7 Steps to Style program) has so many elements to draw from. From grooming (hairstyle and makeup) to patterns, jewellery, accessories, fabric choices, the structure of garments, construction and even just how you put elements of outfits together.
This is why some women have said “no” to one of the personality dressing styles (such as creative) as it’s only one expression of it – only one way of expressing what is a vast breadth of options that all fit within that personality dressing style.
For an example – an ISTJ who on the whole prefers a more traditional and Classic dressing style, you may think “I can’t do any creative – it’s way too way out for me”. There is no necessity to start wearing creative outfits, but if you want to you can – you’ll just do it in your own way (and that way will be very different from the way an INFP will wear the Creative personality dressing style, who can have the opposite issue of finding the Classic style too understated and straightforward for them).
Let’s take the example of the Rebellious style – how would different Style Types do Rebellious in an authentic way that makes them feel comfortable and confident in their style choices?
As an ESFJ – Jill is not a natural rebel (in fact she’d say she is a rule follower and likes to ensure that harmony, which is a key value for her) so rebellion is not a natural dressing style for her. So how does Jill rebel? In her high school years (often our most rebellious time of life) she would wear a coloured bra underneath her white school uniform shirt. Only something that would be noticed up close. A more private way of rebelling for a non-rebel. Now she experiences as an attitudinal rebellion, something that has a small subversive element – such as mixing a multitude of animal prints.
As an INTJ – I don’t wear traditionally rebellious clothing. I’m too aware of appropriateness and how clothes communicate plus I don’t want to put any more distance between those I’m trying to communicate with (particularly since I’m aware that I already have a personality that can be seen as intimidating by others, which puts me at a distance from others), for me to naturally embrace the Rebellious dressing style in a wholesale way. For me, it’s an attitude of rebellion (rather than specific items). I hate being told what to wear and refuse to wear uniforms unless I see it as a valid thing to wear. I hate being fenced in or boxed (it’s a very important value for me and probably many other INTJs), so don’t want to feel stifled by being tethered into a more conservative dressing style. Nobody can tell me that I can’t wear all 7 personality dressing styles at the same time if I choose to (there are many out in the world of personal styling and image who try and limit your choices to one or two dressing styles at a time).
I will include some elements of rebellious style into my outfits when I’m feeling so inclined – such as a leather look jean that has a “motorcycle rebel” feeling, or an item like a leather cuff accessory. I wouldn’t ever wear these to see a conservative or corporate client as I know that they are not appropriate for such occasions. I will never do it an extreme or do it in a way that is anti-establishment.
There are other Style Types who will be much more openly Rebellious in their style – as they have a naturally questioning personality – that will be sceptical about every “style rule” and want to push boundaries and create their own path. The tried-and-true way of dressing (such as the Classic style) seem old-hat and dull, they want to dress in a way they see is more innovative and novel, in a way that’s not been done before.
An INFJ in a corporate environment was told that they must wear a navy suit with a white or cream top, for them this was too “by the rules” and didn’t allow for their need for individuality. So to still “fit in and be appropriate” but also fulfil their individuality value, they wore a green-grey suit with a peach top. This was their form of rebellion.
You can see that you get to choose what it is for you. How much you want to do, and the way you want to express that personality dressing style in your own way.
As some dressing styles can feel so foreign if you want to add them in, start the way I did when I started adding in Dramatic to my personal style. I did it in baby steps, just adding a small element at a time until it felt comfortable and authentic to me, to a point that remains “me” rather than feeling like I’m in a costume that belongs to someone else.
Creating your style recipe gives you a great framework to start playing with and exploring the personality dressing styles in a way that is right and true for you. What is great is that you are not stuck with a style recipe – you can create a new one as often as you like – and reinterpret what you have in any way that feels right for you. Remember, style is a journey, not a destination and that you will continue to change and grow throughout your life.
How do you express your personality through your clothing?