February 9, 2015
Ready to start defining our personal style?
I took my time developing this post and this step of the closet mission in an effort not to rush through what might be the most important phase of this whole process. To be totally honest, I’ve avoided defining my style out of fear of pigeonholing myself or typecasting my look but I now see that it doesn’t have to be like that. Just because we define our style one way today, doesn’t mean it can’t change or evolve as we do. In fact, it should!
This ‘Defining’ exercise is really just about amalgamating everything we’ve discovered to date through the shopping fast and our style story. It’s about using some key words and visuals to bring our personal taste to life and give our closet concept a bit of structure. Otherwise our ‘style’ could easily just float about in our heads, perpetuating the cycle of adding pieces that don’t quite fit.
TO THINE OWN STYLE BE TRUE
To successfully define our personal style we need to know ourselves, understand what makes us feel good and be honest about our day to day lives. The Style Story Workbook helped me identify a few key influencers that should be top of mind while I’m defining my style. These are core aspects of my life that have evolved over time and aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
#1 – LIFESTYLE – I need to keep in mind that my day to day is pretty casual, with an average of 1 night out a week and a couple business meetings. This explains why all my fancy shoes last so long, I hardly wear them! I’ve got to remember that I wear looks for these occasions and overall my dress code is “casual chic”.
#2 – LOCATION – I live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Winters are long and cold, spring is usually rainy, summers are short and falls are brisk. Being able to dress well for the weather is a big factor in my closet contentment. Choosing pieces I love that are also practical is important.
#3 – FINANCES – This year, more than ever, I’m trying to save money and with a house reno, business plans and general adulthood dictating my spending I need to be stealthy about how I shop for clothes. That being said, I have expensive taste and until recently I’ve let myself feel guilty about it. I have friends with great style that don’t spend anywhere near what I do on fashion and wonder why I can’t be more like them. Yet every time I convince myself to settle for something that’s not quite what I’m after I end up regretting it. So I’m accepting my taste, expensive as it might be, and acknowledging that it’s going to come down to buying much less and choosing REALLY well.
#4 – VALUES – Growing up in a creative environment instilled a few values I try to live by. Listen to your gut, and trust it implicitly. Embrace your uniqueness and individuality in everything you do. Quality and craftsmanship should never be compromised. Patience, always have patience (this one I struggle with).
Understanding these things about myself will help a lot going forward and I’ll be sure to consider these factors before adding anything to my closet.
READY, SET, DEFINE
But enough about me, it’s time to get defining here! So just how does one go about that? Well, we’ll begin with 8 steps that should help us assign key words to our style concept and then we’ll start adding visuals. Defining your style isn’t easy. Take your time but try not to overthink your answers. Remember, nothing is set in stone! If it helps, try to think about your core style as the backbone of your taste and preferences rather than an all encompassing set of boundaries. It’s meant to be a base you can add to depending on the occasion or mood you’re in. I’ve also put together a workbook you can use (download links below).
1. Who are your style icons? Start with the more obvious, famous icons (mine are Audrey, Alexa, Caroline and Jenna) but consider designers, shops, characters, even an era in fashion.
2. How do you feel when you’re wearing your favourite outfit? Use descriptive words like: confident, organized, fearless, polished etc.
3. How do you feel when you’re wearing something that’s not right? Think about the feelings you want to avoid when you leave the house like self-conscious, frumpy, uncomfortable, fussy etc.
4. What are some styles you like but aren’t necessarily you? I listed feminine, bohemian, colourful and bold for example.
5. List the top five lifestyle activities you dress for. Things such as work, weekends, meetings, parties, workouts, dinners, events, travel etc.
6. Write down 15+ words that you associate with your style story. Use your workbook answers to help you and think about how you want to feel when you’re doing your daily activities. For me it’s put-together, comfortable and chic. Think about your moods and colours that come to mind. Take a look back at your Shopping Fast workbook for some key words too. What are your go to outfits? Describe them.
7. Let’s get visual! Collect 20 or so images that represent the words, feelings and elements you’ve listed so far. The photos don’t have to be outfits, they can be interiors, colour palettes, flowers or scenery. Feel free to include your own photos too. But before a shot makes the cut ask yourself if it’s true to your style story. Would you describe it using words from the list above?
8. Take all those descriptions, feelings and visuals and distill them down to 5 words or less. This might be hard, so start with 10 and narrow it down from there. Your final words should really resonate and genuinely feel like you.
Et voila! You’ve just defined your personal style. THIS. IS. HUGE!
Defining Style Workbook – PRINTABLE PDF
Defining Style Workbook – EDITABLE PDF
So that’s the process I’m using to define my core style, which is a culmination of different closet workshops I’ve investigated, in particular this one from the Wardrobe Architect series. What do you think? I’d love to hear any other suggestions for questions or methods.
Did you manage to whittle your style concept down to 5 words or less? Feel free to share in the comment section.
Next Up: I’ll reveal my answers and the visual board that helped define my core style.