InStyle

How to Find Your Amazing Personal Style

Finding your personal style is fun and easy.

Whether you want to overhaul your entire wardrobe, make a few little changes or if you feel lost, finding your personal style can go along way. The impact of having your own personal style goes beyond making a good first impression, it’s about feeling confident and beautiful all day, every day in what we’re wearing.

Fashion fades, style is eternal 


 Yves Saint Laurent

Knowing what style you love and what suits you best makes a massive difference in your confidence.

Your personal style is always evolving and will change depending on your lifestyle, career, body shape, and a heap of other things as well. Being clear on who you want to present to the world is unlikely to be terribly different no matter what’s going on in your life.

What is personal style?

Personal style is knowing what you like, what pieces look good on your body and that make you feel self-confident and gorgeous in your day to day life.

Personal style means knowing how to create a flattering outfit that reflects you and how you want to be perceived, whether you aspire to be known as someone who has their shit together, or as someone who is a 6-figure CEO, or a person who spends more time at the beach than anywhere else on the planet.

Personal style is for everybody. Every age and all body types.

How to create a personal style concept

A style concept represents your distinct personal style and your aesthetic preferences. It’s a sum-up of all the elements you want to base your style on. Creating a style concept is the best way to become aware of your precise likes and turn a cluster of ideas into a polished personal style that expresses your aesthetic ideals.

You can have a style concept for your overall personal style, but also for smaller contexts, like a single season, specific activity(work wear, or a holiday), or even just for a solitary outfit (signature look). If this is your first time creating a style concept, then the ideal time frame is a single season, because you’ll be able to get to the bottom of your current likes, without having to commit too much. Even if you have a good idea of your personal style, a seasonal style concept can be super helpful to incorporate new elements.

How to create a style concept

Mini-mood board.

A style concept often originates as a general impression. Try to capture this impression by choosing 3-6 pics that best sum-up your style concept’s overall aesthetic. Don’t restrain yourself to outfit photos, you can include images of details, objects, landscapes, art- whatever you want, but make sure that when your pics are put together, they convey the aesthetic you’re going for.

Stella's Summer 2018/19 Mood board.
My Summer 2018/19 Mood board

Elements

Writing a list of elements is another excellent way to decide what exactly you want to include in your personal style. Get specific with items, colours, details, fits, combinations and whatever else. If you want to explicitly exclude an element, like graphic tees, or skinny jeans, write that down as well. 20 is a good number to aim for,don’t stop when you can’t readily thinkof more things, break through the barrier and dig a little deeper.

Bear in mind that the same set of pics can be interpreted differently by different people. The elements that you take from your mood board will depend on your own underlying idea of style and the associations you have built up over the years. There are no rules when it comes to dissecting a mood board. Some examples of things you might extract from a mood board

  1.  A single colour
  2. Combination of specific items
  3. Mood
  4. Single item
  5. Beauty look
  6. Colour combo
  7. A silhouette or formula.

My elements

Trousers. Not jeans.Not graphic Tees. Long-sleeved shirts. Jewel tones.  Patterns, not prints. Clean white. Light grey. Mustard. Burgundy. Teal. Sapphire. Pearls. Silver. Peach.Jewel tones. Dark lip. Dark brow. Matte nails. Cufflinks. Men’s watch. Signet ring. Minimalist whimsy jewellery. Fitted shirt + maxi skirt. Loose shirt + Slim fit pants. Over shoulder bag- small. Side part- ‘messy’ hair. Maxi dress- fit and flare- shirt style bodice- long sleeves. High heels. Flats- sandals. Not flipflops. Dawn & Dusk. Summer nights. WitchBoss.

Personal style colour palette

Colour may be the most critical factor to consider in your style concept because it can instantly trigger a mood, emotion, association to a culture or certain era. Many associations with specific colours are universal- to an extent- your culture and experiences will provide you with your own ideas that include a preference for particular colour palettes.

To reveal that preference, work with a mood board, collect everything that inspires you and edit. Remove elements that no longer speak to you, and add more of what you like, until it’s perfect. Or close as it’s going to get.

As you train your eye, your preferences will become more and more evident. If you look closely, you’ll be able to spot this evolution on countless Pinterest boards, where people’s first pins are often scattered, but eventually,they converge and follow a single style.

You may see that finding your colour palette is more about subtraction than anything else. You probably already have a preference for colours that has stayed fairly constant since childhood but have adjusted for current trends, or what’s available in the shops. In that case, you must consciously define these colours and takeout the ones that just distract from your personal style.

Your colour style will not only influence your wardrobe choices but other lifestyle areas, like your living space. Your preferences may vary slightly for different contexts, like seasons, work, or going out.

When you create your colour palette, keep in mind what you want to build it for- general personal style, a single outfit, or a seasonal capsule wardrobe.

Once you have your context, in our case a season- for me it’s summer, start by collecting a metric heck tonne of images with colours that inspire you in some way regarding your context. Go through all your Pinterest boards, inspo folders, and organise everything in one place, digital or physical. Focus on the colours of the images, and feel free to pick landscapes, abstracts, animals, food-whatever you like the colour of.

Once you have your image set, take a break. Get some distance for a couple of hours, or a day if you can. When you get back to it, look for themes within the images and pick out the main shades. You can do this by choosing your own colour descriptions or use a colour picker to get the exact shades.

Be as specific or as general as you want to be and include variations of similar colours if they’re dominant in your collection.  Any set of pictures is going to consist of a heck tonne of individual shades, so the key is to focus on the most dominant colours in your collection.

Stella's personal style colour palette Summer 2018/19
My personal style palette. Colours are probably misnamed because I’m partially colourblind. But they’re my colours, and the look good to me. 

The second step in creating your colour palette is to create a practical and versatile colour scheme that can be applied to your current wardrobe. To do this, we’re going tocreate a hierarchy by separating the colours into three groups: main colours,neutrals, and accents.

To build your hierarchy, go back to your list of colours and think about how versatile each colour is, and how big a role you want it to play in your wardrobe. Then, assign the colour to one of the groups.

Main Colours 3-4

Your main colours are the ones that best represent the overall feel of your mood board, and that you can see yourself wearing most.

 Neutrals 1-3

The neutral shades in your palette are supposed to support and balance your other colours. Neutrals don’t have to be white, black, grey, or cream, they can be different colours, if they go with, if not all, then most, of your other colours.

It can sometimes be easy to get carried away in your picture search and just focus on the main colours, so if your mood board doesn’t have any neutrals, brainstorm a few shades and test them by adding a pic of them to your mix.

Accent colours 2-5

Your accent colours are the ones that you don’t think should play a main role, or could work as a neutraliser. They’re worn mostly with neutrals, or in small doses with your mains. Your accent colours could also include your metals.

Is your palette wearable?

For each colour in your palette, ask yourself: Do I want to wear this colour, and if so, in what doses? Imagine the types of things that could be a part of your capsule wardrobe, should you apply the colour palette:

  • Main colours- Your main colours should be the ones that would work for your key pieces, like shoes, trousers, dresses, skirts, coats, etc. Your main colours should work with all of your neutrals, and at least two accent shades.
  • Neutrals- Your neutrals should suit your basics, simple tops, trousers, cardigans, shoes. Any shade that creates a neutral canvas can be used, like muted or pale colours. Your neutrals should go with every other shade of your palette.
  • Accents- Your accent colours should work for accessories and single items, like tops or skirts that you would pair with your key pieces or basics. These colours should work with your neutrals, and at least two of your main colours, and ideally each other as well.

Is your palette varied enough?

Having a specific colour palette doesn’t mean that you’re confined to the same look every day. Your colour palette should give you heaps of variety, but still, express the theme you’re going for.

If you know you want loads of options, make sure that you choose a range of different hues for your accent colours and a mix of shades for contrast. If you want a less varied palette, try a few colours that a roughly the same hue, but differ in shade- dark purple, and light purple, for example.

Your colour palette isn’t meant to be restrictive, but to help you build a wardrobe that’s in tune with your personal style. You don’t need to fit the exact shades or to solely own items in those colours. Your palette should be used as a guide to help you build better outfits and make sure that any new additions fit the overall vibe and work well with the rest of your wardrobe

5 Key Pieces.

Your five key pieces are the ones that you consider to be essential to represent your style, and that you plan on wearing a lot. A Lot. Shoes, coats and bags are classic key pieces, but skirts, jeans and accessories like a watch, necklace or ring can also be chosen.

Neutral trousers. Long sleeved maxi dress. Long sleeve loose shirt. Navy maxi skirt. Long sleeve fitted shirt.

Signature Look

Your uniform is the signature look of your personal style. It should represent the essence of your style concept. This is the outfit that expresses your style concept best.

Long sleeved maxi dress- dark floral pattern. Linen? Blazer-light neutral. Small shoulder bag. Beige heels- poss sandal/wedge. Dark lip. Dark brow. Side part. Messy hair. Matte nail polish.

Formulas

Your formulas are the recipes for your outfits, for example, ‘Skinny jeans + T-shirt + boots. These are super useful for building a capsule wardrobe, developing a signature look and just expanding your repertoire.

Depending on how many item categories you include, or how narrowly you define them (anything from ‘jeans’ to high-waisted, skinny jeans with tears’ is fine), there could be an infinite number of formulas.

I usually choose variables like:

  1. Type of bottoms (skirt, pants, shorts)
  2. Fit of bottom (loose, skinny, pencil)
  3. Fit of top (fitted, loose)
  4. Length of sleeves
  5. Optional topper- cardigan, jacket, a specific pair of shoes.

A formula says very little about the personal style of the wearer. Someone with a minimal style could wear the exact same recipe as someone with a bold boho style, because it’s the specific pieces you choose that make the look.

When it comes to your formulas, it’s important that you look past the overall style of an outfit and focus on the silhouette and the general type of pieces that make it up.

Long sleeve loose shirt tucked + pencil skirt + heels

Short sleeve loose shirt + Skinny jeans + heels

Loose shirt untucked + skinny jeans

Short sleeve Tee tucked + loose maxi skirt

Maxi dress + linen blazer

long sleeve loose shirt tucked + wide leg linen trousers

Fitted Tee + Skinny jeans + long line coat

Midi skirt + Loose shirt tucked

Wardrobe Categories

From your formulas, you then deduce your wardrobe categories, which are the main categories you need to have in your wardrobe to create the outfits that express your style. Keep in mind that this is just a basic sketch of what your wardrobe structure could look like.

Midi skirt

Loose fitting shirt

Fitted shirt

Fitted Tee

Maxi dress

Linen blazer

Linen trousers

Maxi skirt

Pencil Skirt

Skinny jeans

This is just an example, of categories from the handful of formulas I made up. As I’m intending to create a capsule wardrobe, I’m going to make a list of clothing in detail- plain dark shirt, printed shirt, plain light shirt, etc.

A capsule wardrobe suits me best for a few reasons, I only wear a few different outfits, my body shape is changing rapidly, and I have trouble finding most of the items I actually want to wear, so I have to make them.


The most important thing to remember in creating your personal style, is that it’s your personal style. So you make the rules. For me, that means sticking vaguely to the colour palette, but stronger to the formulas. You might decide to go the other way around, or stick strongly to both, or neither and worry more about the vibe of the pieces you wear.


Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

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