If you find yourself tossed around on the latest fashion trends of the day or overwhelmed with your options on every shopping trip, it’s a good sign you haven’t yet settled on your own signature style. How exactly does one achieve their own signature look? My style journey involved a lot of trial and error before I finally found my way. Here are my top 5 personal style secrets for getting me to the place of confidence.
Secret #1: I use high fashion as inspiration for low fashion and I mix and match styles.
With the exception of my 40th birthday Zac Posen dress and my pair of Christian Louboutins that were a gift from my husband, I do not typically buy high any high fashion designer clothing. I define “high fashion” as designer items usually only bought by a small number of people who can afford them. Truth be told as much as I love high fashion and consuming fashion blogs and magazines, I would be ashamed to spend that level of money on clothing. I have a voice in the back of my head that reminds me of the actual difference I might be able to make in the world with the large amounts of money that I’d need to shell out on high fashion so instead I choose to get my inspiration from high fashion designers and use them to guide my street fashion purchases. Obviously, I’m not the only one- this is why Zara and H&M are so popular, but it is an important distinction to make on the philosophy that informs your look, so I included it in my list.
Secret #2: I Know what I like.
I like simple, clean lines. I also like pops of color now and then. I like textures. I do not like jewelry, bracelets are uncomfortable for me & earrings hurt my ears so I accessorize with shoes, bags, sunglasses or belts instead. I hate shopping because I can find myself like a kid in a candy store overwhelmed with so many wonderful options and it used to lead me to buy everything I tried on only to return it a day later or worse leave without buying anything after hours in the store. Knowing what I like helps me to shop much more strategically.
For example, I know that I like Chanel. But, due to secret #1 I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I spent $5,500 on a handbag or a suit. That said, I don’t buy Chanel but I allow Chanel designs to inform my personal tastes so when I happen to see a dress that has similar elements to a Chanel, I snatch it up. This photo is one example of a suit I spotted a few years ago at White House/Black Market which reminded me of a Chanel.
Secret #3: I Have a fashion Icon.
I didn’t always know what I liked. I used to see random things on sale and buy as many as I possibly could for $100 feeling like I scored a great deal. Choosing a style icon helped me find my personal style and become more intentional about my wardrobe purchases. My fashion icon is Jackie Kennedy. I also have a short list that includes Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss, Kate Middleton, Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Aniston, Chiara Ferragni & Olivia Palermo. These gals inspire me, get my fashion juices flowing and help me to say no to bad wardrobe choices I’m tempted to make. Having these ladies in the back of my mind when I shop helps me to say no to buying things just because they are on sale by asking myself, could I see Jackie or Kate wearing this? Substitute your fashion icon in that phrase and it will help inform your shopping decisions much better. The old adage “less is more” is true so live by it and it will serve you well.
Haven’t chosen a fashion icon yet? Try thinking of someone who has a similar coloring or frame as you have and whose look you admire. Then search for images of that person. This can help you to envision their different fashion looks on yourself much easier and will save you loads of time and money later.
Secret #4: I plan my outfits in advance.
I do not have an extensive closet. I often hear things like “is that a new outfit? I’ve never seen that before?” or “I would love to see your closet” but the truth is my closet is super small and unimpressive. I mix and match tops and bottoms and shoes to keep things interesting. Pinterest is my go-to for planning my outfits. If I’m going on a trip I’ll search outfits for that city or time of year, for example “NYC Winter Outfits” or “Summer in San Francisco Outfits”, I get my inspiration from there and plan every outfit in advance for every activity on the trip, down to the shoes I will need. It cuts down on packing time and leaves me more headspace for exploring the new city rather than trying to decide what to wear each day I’m there.
Secret #5: I know myself.
Ask yourself what type of person are you? Are you a free spirit? Structured and organized? Classic or Trendy? I am a classic person who wants to be rock n roll so that is what shapes my personal style. It’s why I’d pair a classic tweed dress with black & silver moto boots for instance. Once you discover what you like and what type of person you are, let your personal taste inform your shopping habits. I took the time to figure out what necklines look best on me, (V-neck and Boat are my favorites) what looks terrible on me (cropped pants make my legs look short and stubby so I don’t even try to wear them) and what compliments my coloring (my skin is fair, my eyes are green, my hair is black) so I have found that neutral colors like beige and taupe make me look washed out but blue, black and green accentuate my features so I gravitate toward these colors. The best way to figure this out for yourself is to try different styles and colors on and ask yourself how you feel when you’re in them. “Do I feel confident right now or Do I feel like I’m not myself, like I’m trying too hard?” These are the honest questions you alone can answer that will propel you into adopting your own signature style.