Understanding Your Personal Style – Is Your Style Your Own or Someone Else’s?
Have you ever stood in front of your closet, surrounded by heaps of clothes, yet still unsure of what truly reflects your personal style? You find yourself second-guessing whether your choices are genuinely yours or merely a reflection of others’ expectations. Well, you’re not alone. Many of us face this perplexing dilemma, often influenced by societal norms, friends, family, or even past relationships.
In fact, this is a common struggle, not limited to just one gender. I recall a conversation with a male client who, post-divorce, grappled with deciphering his own taste in clothing, uncertain if it was his or his ex-wife’s who had bought a lot of clothing for him during their many years of marriage. So, if you too wonder if what you have in your wardrobe is your own taste, or that of friends, family, and influencers (who tell you that you “must have” a bunch of the latest trends in your wardrobe) rest assured that this confusion is a part of the journey to finding your true style identity.
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Understanding Your Values: The Key to Authentic Dressing
Let’s delve into the importance of understanding your values. For some, who have a strong value for Connection, conforming and fitting in is paramount, and they might choose clothes that align more with the group’s preferences rather than their personal liking. Alternatively if you value Freedom more highly, then you don’t need or want to conform, instead you will want to figure out how freedom impacts your style choices. Is it freedom of movement? Freedom of expression? Freedom from conformity? Recognizing your values in clothing choices is crucial. In my 7 Steps to Style online program, I emphasize the significance of comprehending how your values influence your fashion preferences it’s an integral part of one of my 7 steps. This understanding can aid you in discerning whether your choices resonate with your genuine self or cater more to external expectations.
Values impact all your choices, and when you’re out of alignment with your values in your wardrobe or clothing choices you won’t feel good or confident. Knowing what your values are and then how you apply them to your wardrobe is really valuable as it helps to keep you on the right sartorial path. Making decisions about what to buy and wear is always easier when you can run your values past that decision, you’ll immediately know if something is in alignment or out.
One of my top values is Independence, which means one way I like to express this is to customise clothing (I did the Sashiko stitching and patching on these jeans) so that it’s completely unique and individual. I also have a hairstyle that is not too common and am always looking to trying to combine my clothing into new and different outfits.
Embracing Dress Codes and Making Conscious Compromises
Moreover, it’s crucial to acknowledge the presence of dress codes, especially in professional environments. Your workplace might necessitate adhering to specific attire guidelines, emphasizing the company’s values. While your work attire might not entirely match your personal taste or values, remember that you represent your organization during work hours. Balancing your individual style preferences with professional demands often requires compromise. However, if your values fundamentally clash with your workplace culture, it might be a sign to explore career options more in tune with your beliefs.
Discovering Your Aesthetic Beyond Clothes
To truly discern your personal aesthetic, it’s beneficial to venture beyond your wardrobe. Explore the aesthetic details of the items you cherish in your living space. I once assisted a client who adored a simple, sleek drinking glass. When asked to describe it, her response was sturdy, sophisticated, and unpretentious and these attributes helped us identify similar qualities in her clothing preferences. We got rid of the frilly and complicated clothing, instead, she opted for beautiful structural pieces that felt sophisticated and uncluttered. Understanding what resonates with you beyond clothing can be the first step in cultivating your authentic style. Always look beyond your wardrobe to other aesthetic elements of your life to help define and refine your style.
Practical Tips to Uncover Your Style Identity
Here are a few practical exercises to help you unearth your unique aesthetic:
1. Home Reflection:
Take a moment to scrutinize your beloved household items. What do you own (not clothing or apparel of any sort) do you really love? Consider what attributes do they possess that draw you in? Is it their simplicity, their functionality, or their elegant design? Maybe it’s their decorative details (and all your wardrobe is full of the “basics” that we are all supposed to own… no wonder you’re not happy with your current style). Now, consider if these very traits can be translated into your clothing choices. For instance, if you admire the clean lines and practicality of your favourite vase perhaps you’ll find yourself drawn to sleek, minimalist clothing styles that exude functionality and sophistication. Recognizing these connections between your home decor and your clothing preferences can provide valuable insights into your aesthetic preferences.
2. Visualization Techniques:
Engage in visualization exercises to understand your genuine aesthetic taste. Start creating vision boards of things you love (Pinterest is a great tool to do this on and a wonderful source of inspirational images). Once you have 20 or so images pinned, notice how do these images make you feel? Do certain patterns, colours, textures, structure or silhouettes resonate more with your inner self? If you feel lost or would like a guided way to do this, my “Visualize Your Style” program is designed to help you manifest your aesthetic vision, enabling you to align your clothing choices with your authentic self-expression. and is also included as a bonus in 7 Steps to Style if you want your complete education in colour and style.
3. Creating Personal Style Criteria Using Your Values:
Define your values, narrowing down your personal values to 2-3 core values will help you to also cultivate your own personalized style criteria. This framework will serve as your compass, allowing you to navigate through your wardrobe with clarity and confidence. If you know that you value Connection, then choosing clothes that will help you fit in to your environment will be key to your style. From there you can then define the specific elements that truly speak to your fashion identity. Is it the comfort of certain fabrics, the allure of specific colors, or the allure of particular silhouettes? By establishing your unique style criteria, you can easily distinguish the clothing pieces that authentically reflect your essence from those that don’t align with your genuine aesthetic vision. This process empowers you to curate a wardrobe that is a genuine reflection of your personal style and values.
4. Put Your Criteria into Action
Now it’s time to start creating outfits, making changes, and auditing your wardrobe so that you have in there what speaks to you and your taste, your values, and fits your body and life.
Think about what works and what doesn’t and what can be changed and renovated to make work with your personal style criteria and values. There are pieces in your wardrobe that probably exist from a previous part of your life. It’s time to figure out if it could still work for you now, or whether to let go and let someone else get the wear from them.
I value sustainability and reducing waste, which is why I recently painted these boots which were black which are too dark now for most of my clothing and so are less versatile (and I love versatile clothing, it’s another element of my personal style criteria), and now they are pewter, they provide a perfect bookend for my silver hair. Rather than getting rid of a perfectly well-fitting boot and trying to find a new pair in silver (next to impossible), to me, taking a few easy steps to paint them a new colour was the simple, easy solution that brought new life into an existing item in my wardrobe.
Remember, defining your personal style is an ongoing journey. Embrace the process of self-discovery, and let your unique essence shine through your wardrobe choices. If you’re seeking comprehensive guidance, my 7 Steps to Style program is designed to empower you in cultivating your authentic and captivating personal style. If you just want to get yourself on the right path, my Visualise Your Style program is a cheap and quick way to get you going.