Updated: Jul 12
When we see a woman with great style, we often do a double take. What is it that makes us admire what someone else is wearing? Can we learn to develop our own personal style in the ever-changing pace of fashion and trends? Of course, we can. It isn’t about dieting or changing our bodies in any way that isn’t genetically possible, it’s about confidence. The way we feel like a million dollars when we put on an outfit that fits perfectly and suits us to a tee. The most important thing to remember in personal style is self-care and taking pleasure in it.
As we develop our personal style, there are some things we should be mindful of. We’ve created an easy 4 step guide to discovering your own personal style.
1. Developing a personal style isn’t innate or instantaneous, most people develop a personal style from understanding a least a few of the below:
Know your personality.
Are you outgoing and like having attention focus on you? You might wear bold colors and prints with maximalist styles that are big and oversized
Are you reserved with quiet understated elegance? You might like minimalist neutral colors in refined tailoring that cuts close to the body
Are you a mix of both? Do you have a professional persona and a social persona? Most of us fall in this category where we need a balanced wardrobe to reflect our style.
What fits your body type? There are 12 body types, but we will review the main 5 for now and discuss the other 7 variations of the main 5 at a later date in a separate blog post.
The rectangle- proportional the bust to waist to hip ratio are very similar with minimal curvature
The hourglass- the bust is proportionate to the hips with a nipped in waist
The inverted triangle- wide shoulders and full bust narrowing down to small waistline with narrow hips
The diamond- slim arms and legs with broad shoulders, a large chest with the waist and hips usually tend to be the same creating an almost circle shape
The pear- the hips and thighs are the biggest parts tapering up to the smaller bust-line and narrow shoulders
Know the lifestyle you lead and the wardrobe you will need to reflect it.
Someone who is always on the go and travels a lot for work will most likely have different needs from her clothes than someone who is more stationary and works in her local area.
A single woman may not be participating in the same social activities as a mom and wife.
Learn and understand fashion. A woman with great style has invested time in following fashion trends. She has gone through the mistakes of fashion faux pas.
Invest time to study stylish women and why we like their aesthetics.
Emulate stylish woman to see what works and what doesn’t work for you- copying isn’t a necessarily a bad thing here.
Ignore trends because being “trendy” isn’t the same as having a great sense of style.
Ignore “expert” opinions and try things for yourself.
Have a cheat sheet with what you own, styles you want to buy and any style inspiration you want to have when you go shopping. You can create a moodboard or pinterest lookbook of what you own and style inspirations. Create looks and outfits with what you have in your closet. This way- the next time you shop- you can see what you own if it is something similar to what you have or if it works with your existing wardrobe. Accessories like shoes, bags, belts and scarves are a way to add current trends without losing your personal style.
2. Identifying your body type and dressing for it as opposed to dressing for the fashion model on the runway is a great place to start when you’re developing personal style. Most of us have imperfectly perfect bodies which fashion trends and even many celebrities have embraced. Just a few are:
The rectangle: Kate Middleton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Palermo
The hourglass: Sofia Vergara, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence
The inverted triangle: Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Jennifer Hudson
The diamond- Kate Winslet, Queen Latifah, Adele
The pear: Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna
3. Great women of style often have a “uniform” that creates a look for which they are recognized. Take a look at:
Anna Wintour: lady-like tweeds and colorfully printed frocks with oversize glasses
Audrey Hepburn: effortless chic fitted dresses and wardrobe basics
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy: the immutable modern minimalist style of soft power tailoring
Faye Wong: a Phoebe Philo style icon representing women dressing women with feminine power dressing of luxe fashion
4. Owning style staples makes it easier to develop and enhance your personal style with current trends. Women with great style usually have key pieces they build a look around to suit the lifestyle and impression they want to present to the world. Whether you’re into neutral minimalism or structured maximalism, printed frocks or streetwear, having quality staples on hand is critical. Staples I believe are great places to start are:
Classic pieces that are flattering to your body silhouette
For a minimalist aesthetic: a blazer, white shirt, tailored pants, slip dress and a knee-length skirt in a neutral color
For a maximalist aesthetic filled with statement pieces: on-point tailoring in oversized coats, pleated tuxedo pants, an embellished dress, a top in a bold color and a voluminous skirt
Great staple prints for dresses- leopard prints, polka dots, understated florals along with tweeds
For a street-wear aesthetic: basic t-shirts, white sneakers, denim jeans and sweatshirts with a luxe brand logo. Luxury fashion has embraced brand recognition with bold logos on clothes in this aesthetics.
Personal style should embolden you to be confident in the way you present yourself to the world. It should be a representation of the way you want others to remember you. Most people think style is about first impressions but a true woman with style knows that you leave making a lasting affect. While establishing your preferences can be a long process, two important things to remember when defining your personal style are to choose pieces that suit the lifestyle you lead and to invest in quality pieces that will last.