Fashion says "me too," style says "only me"
How do you find your personal style? Defining your style is important because it allows you to communicate who you are to the world, just by what you choose to put on. A defined personal style lets you express yourself to others in a more-dimensional way since your style "introduces you before you even speak." But how do you define your style? It sounds so simple at first, but something as complex and beautiful as style can be hard to put words to — and even harder to dig in an define for yourself.
Last week I wrote a post, Style Yourself Happy: How to use clothing to boost your mood — and you LOVED it. We examined the effect our clothing has on our confidence, mood, and even health, and even dove into some of the science that supports that. After that post, I got so many requests to do something similar and talk about how to define your personal style, so that is what we are here for today.
Find your personal style
Before I share my advice for finding and defining your style, we first have to talk about what personal style is not. It's not a limitation — your personal style isn't a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Your style should be dynamic. It will change as you grow and reflect the changes you experience in your lifestyle. Some people might also have a wider range of than others — liking a wider variety of styles and pieces — while others have a little more set or specific style.
❝ Style is a deeply personal expression of who you are, and every time you dress, you are asserting a part of yourself ❞ - Nina Garcia
This is ALL OKAY. Style is your fashion personality — its the vibe, feelings, and traits that you convey through the pieces you choose to wear. Not only can style empower us and boost our confidence, but it's also a powerful communicator in conveying our personality and uniqueness as a person to the people we interact with on a daily basis.
The point of finding your personal style isn't to define what you can and can't/won't wear, but do dig a little deeper and identify not only what style means to you, but also discover how you can use it as a tool for self-empowerment and to help you move through the world confidently and proud of your uniqueness.
Time to dig into my best tips for how to find your personal style. I have a little list of questions for you to ask yourself, some adjectives to try on or use to define your personal style, plus some of my favorite style quotes to give you a little inspo — don't forget to pin them for later.
❝ What do I feel comfortable & confident in during the week?❞
The pieces or outfits you find yourself in during the week are usually the pieces that will dominate your wardrobe - simply because you wear them so often. Are you a business casual office babe who loves skirts and a comfy sweater? Do you stay at home with your little one(s) and find yourself in leggings and a v-neck? Do you work from home or a coffee shop and frequently wear denim and a print top?
When answering this question, don't just list out the things that you usually wear on a daily basis during the week, but think about the pieces or looks you've put together that made you feel confident or good about yourself while also helping you feel comfortable or at ease.
Comfort + confidence are the basics of any good outfit and this question will help you identify some personal style elements that include both. Pieces that are comfy but don't encourage confidence aren't going to be a staple in your wardrobe. You really do need a balance of both to find your personal style.
❝ What do I feel comfortable & confident in for nights out / weekends?❞
This question is similar to the first one, but focuses more on what you want to wear vs. the pieces or outfits your day-to-day requires. This is basically the things you are drawn towards or would want to wear when there are no "rules" about what you should be wearing — weather that is literal dress code for the office or just some soft rules based on the functionality your outfit needs to have.
Think about both specific pieces and outfits when answering this question, but also address textures, colors, etc. Are heels your go-to for a night out? Do you love a flowy dress for weekend errands or brunch? Don't forget the comfortable & confident piece here — make sure you are thinking of pieces that have that balance and help you feel both.
❝ When I go shopping, what section / pieces do I gravitate towards?❞
When you first enter Nordstrom or even Target, which section do you tend to gravitate towards. Your shopping tendencies can give you some great insight into what your personal style is — although you may have never even noticed this before. When you go in a store to just browse, do you head to the denim section? Go start flipping through the dresses? Grab a few tops to try.
Often, our shopping tendencies are based on where our most self-confidence lies. If you love showing off your legs, you might easily find some pants you love - while if you feel more self conscious, you might avoid that section until you have to. Don't think of these tendencies as a "shopping rut" but instead, use them to help gain some insight into what types of pieces really do create that comfortable & confident feeling for you.
❝ What 4 pieces have I worn the MOST in the last month?❞
Your favorites are your core starting place for really establishing your style. Try to pick a piece from each category: tops, bottoms, shoes and accessories so you can get a more full idea of what your style looks like. Think of the pieces that made the cut when you were staring at your closet thinking you have nothing to wear or nothing that will work. What did you reach for that made you feel good about your look? It can be so easy to build your personal style off of trends or what you see others wearing — which are both great adds to your wardrobe. But you want the core of your style to be all you, things YOU love. What are those pieces for you?
❝ What 4 pieces have I not worn AT ALL in the last year?❞
Maybe you tried a trend and it flopped, maybe you've undergone a huge lifestyle change like a weight-loss journey, becoming a mom, or landing your first full time job out of college. These different life forces can contribute to an evolution of your personal style, which usually means there are are pieces in your closet that you're phasing out or even avoiding altogether. Maybe this change has been gradual for you and you simply find that your personal style has changed over the years and there are some pieces that don't fit your new approach.
These 4 pieces are not for making a list of what you "shouldn't wear" — they are just a super good guideline of what isn't working for you. When you think of these pieces alongside your favorites, you probably begin to see a trend emerge and can more clearly see what's really working for you and helping you feel confident, comfortable, and put your best look forward. So yes, it might be time to part with these pieces you're not wearing and maybe even avoid them in the future, but dont throw out the entire trend or look over just one piece that didn't work unless you really know the trend or style just really doesn't work for you.
❝ What is one trend I've seen recently that I LOVE?❞
Personal style is not built from trends. Again for the people in the back, Personal style is not built from trends. But, trends are a tool for enhancing your personal style. They let you step out of your comfort zone a little and try things you otherwise might not try. Adding trends to your wardrobe is one of the ways to experiment and let your style evolve as you find new things you love. This trial and error is a super essential way to find your personal style.
❝ Trends are just another accessory for a girl who's got great style❞
A stylish wardrobe is built with your no-fail basics then supplemented with trends you find that you love wearing. I love to stay that trends are just another accessory for a girl who's got great style. Style is defined by creativity and what makes YOU feel confident and comfortable — not all trends are going to be a fit and thats OK! You don't want to be the girl that is just wearing the same pieces as everyone else all the time just because they're "in," but it certainly doesn't mean you cant rock a fund trend when you find it.
❝ What trend(s) do I NOT feel comfortable & confident in?❞
Just because it's in, doesn't mean its for you. This is the part where you get to be honest with yourself about those pieces you see everywhere but just don't like. Whether its a trend that makes you full-on cringe or just a piece that you can totally admire on someone else but just know its not for you — it's ok to decide that these trends dont work for your style and aren't something you can rock confidently.
Trends are fashion, but curating which trends are a fit for you is style
Thats the other key with trends: it might be something that other people thing is totally adorable on you, but if it's something you don't feel comfortable and confident in, then it can totally be a no for your style. Don't feel like you have to include a piece in your style just because it's really hot right now.
❝ What pieces or outfits do I get the most compliments on?❞
This is where we find those sneaky pieces you might not even think of as favorites, but others tend to notice on you. If there is a piece you're wearing that you're getting a lot of compliments on, it might be because its a perfect fit for you and helps convey your personal style in a really clear way.
What pieces do you wear fairly often that you always get compliments on? These might be a sneaky favorite and a great inspo piece for defining your personal style.
❝ What are some inspiration pieces that I haven't give an a try?❞
The easiest way to find these babies is with a quick scroll through your style or fashion board on pinterest. What looks have you pinned that you LOVE but haven't tried? What about these looks draws you in? Whether its a look you dont think you can wear or something you know you can totally rock — try it out! It will help you further define your personal style.
Can you create this look from pieces you already own, just worn in a new way? or is it time to go buy some brand new things for a little style experimentation?
❝ What adjectives (see below) do I feel describe my style?❞
The final part of establishing your personal style is to be able to put it into words and describe it. Can you put some adjectives to the style you've been defining through the previous questions? Check my adjective list below for some ideas or come up with your own that really speak to who you are in terms of style.
If you need a little boost, I usually describe my day to day style as "Casual Chic with Pops of Color" as you might have known form my Instagram bio and the fact that I'm a self-proclaimed color and prints enthusiast.☺️
photography by jenna sparks
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