Understanding what suits you – the colours, contrasts, clothing styles and lines, where to add the details, where to keep free and plain, which proportions are best for you and all those other physical aspects of fabric selection (texture, sheen, drape) are important and form your style foundation. You need to know them to start developing your style.
Then we layer your personality on top of this foundation. This personality piece informs your decisions. What I’ve discovered over the years of being an image consultant, the better we can pin down your personal style, the better buying choices we can make and so you’ll love your wardrobe a whole lot more because the clothes really reflect who you are on the inside – the authentic you.
Your Style Recipe includes the ingredients that go into making up your unique style. In my opinion, it’s one of the most useful tools anyone can have when developing their style. 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.
Understanding your personality traits will assist you in understanding what you should wear as the two things are interrelated. Taking the time to write out a list of describing words that express who you are as a person, on the inside, the parts of you that you want to share with the world. These words form the base of your Style Recipe and you should feel they represent all of the best elements of who you are and you can use these words to assess any new purchases.
When you create a style recipe, it should also be present and future focussed, expressing who you are and where you’re going, the very best version of you that will help you achieve your aims in life. A style recipe should be something that is exciting for you, something that makes you feel that it’s a slight stretch, but a stretch you want to make as it has a very desirable outcome.
The Style Recipe as a Sartorial Dish
So once you have a Style Recipe then you can start to create outfit combinations or Sartorial Dishes. Think about each word as being part of the flavour. Each word will add an element to your outfit. Different occasions will demand different quantities of each ingredient. For example, for work you may want to pump up the “Successful” ingredient if you need to appear more professional or competent, but socially that ingredient may be used in a lower quantity and the “Friendly” ingredient is more prominent.
Fashions are like food, they have a used by date. Sure some have longer used-by-dates such as tinned foods, these are the more classic garments. Then there are the short term garments that are like milk that go off much more quickly – these are the fads. Treat your wardrobe is like a kitchen, and purge of the out-of-date and no longer desired ingredients.
Style is a journey not a destination
We change as people, fashions change, and so our style will change and morph over time. Some people will stick more closely to a particular style over their lifetime, others will change way more radically.
So when you apply this thinking of being on a journey rather than finding a never-changing style recipe, I think it’s important to realise that the words you choose to represent your style will change over time, and some of us may even have multiple recipes, depending on how we feel on a certain day or which role or activity we are undertaking at that time.
My style recipe has evolved from Dynamic, Unexpected, Vibrant, Unique to Functional Individualist because to me Functional relates to so many elements – being comfortable (I hate being uncomfortable), the clothes fulfilling the needs of the occasion and being appropriate (they function how they are supposed to), and even to how the clothes make me feel – they need to function in a way that makes me feel good and feel stylish in a way that screams Imogen. Then Individualist is about being a little unexpected, vibrant or different. It’s about the piece of clothing being truly me.
Every season, or at least once a year – take some time to reassess if your style recipe is still resonating with you and assisting you in making the best selection when shopping.
Style recipes are not a set and forget thing – they are an everchanging, morphing reminder of where you are now and where you want to go with your style with any new purchases.A style recipe is something to help you make good decisions regarding your style and to help you create your most authentic style.
If you say to yourself “but I know what I like” that’s great – all a style recipe is doing, is putting that “feeling” of what you like into words. A set of words that you can use to define your style, to define what you love. If you feel a style recipe is limiting you, then you haven’t found the right recipe!
If you are curious about the ingredients of style recipes, some of the members on my private 7 Steps to Style group shared their style recipes and I think they provide some great inspiration.