Reader question – When answering style quizzes or determining a personal style, should one do that based on living in an ideal world and make adjustments for our real world? In other words if physical time and budget restraints were not an issue, should we select our preferred style and go from there. I’ve had to make some changes to my personal style which could almost put me into another style category. I understand that we are not just one but a combination of several styles however I know what remains at my core.
Over the years I’ve been working as an image consultant I’ve realised that style is a journey, not a destination. When I started image consulting I worked through a process to discover my style personality, but since then it has kept evolving. Your personality develops and changes.
Answering those style questions comes down to what you would ultimately wear because it’s what you love and it expresses your personality at your core.
It is very important to be honest. There is no point trying to conceal your real personality and giving what you may think is a socially acceptable answer. You aren’t being judged, no one will see your answer so there is no need to choose answers with the hope of making a good impression or to avoid embarrassment with the results. You want the answers to reflect your true self of who you are, not who you think you should be.
Your personality is the most important factor in finding and expressing your unique style. Your clothes must express who you are, without this you won’t appear confident. Without confidence, you won’t be anywhere as near stylish as you could be.
What would your personal style look like if money, time and expectations were no object?
How does your Dream personal style vary from your Actual personal style?
You have a style essence; it’s a dimension of your true essence, your core personality style. It’s your unique approach to style, and what works and is true for you. Your core style is impacted by your environment and lifestyle because what you do, who you do it with and how you approach your regular activities should all be supported by the clothing in your closet.
I’ve developed the Personality Style Quiz to help you figure out which are the personality dressing styles that work best for you. I know that my style is not your style and I don’t want or expect you to copy my style – what I want is for you to define and develop your own personal style – that is a true expression of the amazing person you are on the inside expressed through your image on the outside!
There are a variety of well-known personality dressing styles:
- Elegant Chic
The Expression of Your Style
Your style is impacted by your life because what you do, who you do it with and how you approach your regular activities should all be supported by the clothing in your closet. Knowing who you are as a person, your personality style and how that relates to personality traits remains fairly constant. Your expression of style is a combination of how your personality lifestyle, environmental, physical needs intersect.
I’ve had clients who’ve got a casual lifestyle with physical needs which require them to wear very practical clothes and when they’ve ignored a part of their personality dressing styles such as a Classic preference for being more dressed up, Dramatic flair or Feminine detail, they’ve been really dissatisfied with their wardrobe. You get to choose what elements of a personality dressing style are for you – how much you want to express and the way you want to express that personality dressing style in your own way.
Elegant chic is a sophisticated and often expensive dressing style because of the luxurious fabrics such as silk and cashmere. However, if your finances lean towards cotton and polyester, then there are other elements of elegant chic such as good grooming, sophisticated shoes and smart accessories that might be easier on your budget. Even then, you may choose to save up for one high-quality item rather than settle for cheaper versions.
If you favour an elegant chic style but you have a retired life, living in a casual location, where a traditional elegant chic dressing style is not practical then you will want to add elements of elegant chic that make you happy while still fitting into your environment. It could be as simple as swapping out a silk blouse over a cotton t-shirt or an asymmetric construction element or sewn on details in your t-shirt rather than a t-shirt that is completely plain.
For those with a classic personality where you’re more naturally responsible, organized and efficient, the last thing you need to wear if you have a relaxed, casual lifestyle, for example, a mother to young children, is a corporate suit. But knowing that you prefer a classic dressing style means you will tend to select solid colours or neutrals over patterns; you prefer garments with structured finish rather than flowing fabrics or fussy details.
Making those elements work for you by adapting your style
Recognizing your core style allows you to reconcile your need with any dress code you are expected to wear. By understanding the deep elements of each of the personality dressing styles, taking the parts that work for you and leaving the rest. It’s how you take elements from your core style and incorporates them into the expected style that will make that a dressing style work for you.
I had a client who did not like the classic dressing style but it was expected in her corporate law office. She preferred a feminine dressing style. She considered changing jobs as she felt so uncomfortable in suits. Now that’s pretty drastic when you’ve spent years studying to be a lawyer at university and building a career!
Once we established her preferred dressing style was dominantly Feminine, we searched for suits that included feminine elements – a peplum flip at the back of the jacket; blouses over stiff cotton shirts; floral jacket lining etc. These small changes made the suit feel more feminine, more true to her style yet still appropriate for that work situation.
Suddenly she could see herself continuing to work as a lawyer, but instead of being distracted by the dress-code, she learned how to adapt it to suit her. That’s a win-win!
Personality dressing styles are layered and complex because it’s about everything from the top of the head to the soles of your feet – grooming, fabric choices; patterns and prints; garment construction – and how you put all those elements together. You need to answer these questions with who are you at your core but then look at how to adapt it for your lifestyle.
There is no right or wrong. There is no one way it has to be done except how you want to do it. How you figure out what it is you love about the dressing style and then leave the bits that just don’t appeal to you is part of your unique style journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about your style, then 7 Steps to Style will give you the tools to become more stylish. It’s the in-depth training course that will give you the information you need. Combine it with doing the Evolve Your Style challenge (which comes free with 7 Steps) and it will give you an added boost to finding and developing your style in only 31 days.
Style is a Journey Not a Destination – 7 Ways to Define Your Style
Imogen, what a perfect answer to the reader question! I agree completely that personal style is a continuous journey. I find that my style changes with the seasons and I revisit some styles over and over again while others may only be a part of my life for one season.
I freely admit to finding the the whole style thing totally confusing at times. Quizzes usually have me as relaxed or casual, but then often go on to say that this group doesn’t read fashion mags (I do) or care about grooming or make up (I do). Often the suggestions looks unstructured or baggy (I have an hourglass figure and need to show my waist or I look and feel strange). On the otherhand, clothing suggestions for an hourglass are often very dressy, and I live in the deepest countryside, where the weather can change any minute. Hourglass colour suggestions are often seductive reds and floral patterns that look a bit unatural where I live too. Confused – oh yes, and this doesn’t get any easier with age and retirement either, but hey, I still keep trying!