January seemed like the best month for ‘Possessions’, one of the twelve areas of my life I will be looking to improve this year. A new year brings with it the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ ethos that is perfect for having a good purge of all the stuff we surround ourselves with.
Nowhere is more satisfying to de-clutter for me than my wardrobe. I immediately set to it, culling anything that wasn’t ‘me’. I had recently read a free online series about determining your style (more on this below), and finally reckon I’ve got mine nailed for once in my adult life.
You might be thinking ‘why would I want to know what my style is?’ Knowing what clothing suits you and makes you feel good, saves you precious time and money when shopping. If you’ve been a long-time follower of this blog, you will know I do my best to be frugal. Knowing what my style is helps me to stay frugal. I can quickly scan clothing racks for pieces that are me-clothes, and disregard the others. I no longer have a wardrobe filled with things that aren’t right or don’t go together. Knowing your style is also helpful if you find shopping torturous, as you soon learn which shops sell ‘you’ clothes and which don’t.
Some people already have a distinctive style. I have a friend who loves to wear bright colours and patterns that on others would look ridiculous. But they are very her, and she looks terrific. Sometimes when I’m shopping I will come across a garment and think ‘Oh that’s such a J top’, so defined is her style.
But many of us try on different hats at times – excuse the clothing pun. We put on various outfits which sometimes work for us, and at other times make us feel uncomfortable, self-conscious or like we are wearing a costume. Some of us have many items that are so mismatched in style that it is tricky to pull an outfit together.
Bear in mind that style isn’t necessarily a fixed thing. Heaven forbid clothing should become like a uniform (hello, Star Trek), or we wear our teenage fashion crimes well into our dotage. But so much time is saved in the mornings by having a wardrobe of clothes that make you feel good, that go together, and are suitable for all occasions and weather.
If you are feeling stuck in a style rut, or have a wardrobe full of clothes but think you still have nothing to wear, this is the post for you.
How to find your style:
- Before you start biffing things in the bin, head on over to Wardrobe Architect, or Paris to Go for advice that will get you thinking about your clothing style. Wardrobe Architect has an excellent series of tutorials that will help you distill your core style and create a wardrobe that actually works for you. One of the most helpful things in the WA series is figuring out what silhouettes you like and which ones suit you (they are sometimes not the same thing). This can take some detective work and pinteresting, but eventually you can discern what you do and don’t like. My BFF and I have a silhouette board on Pinterest here if you are wondering what the heck a silhouette is.
- Dig deeper into yourself and learn how to ‘dress your truth’. The Dressing Your Truth system was invented by Carol Tuttle, famous for her ‘energy profiling’. It may come across as a little strange at times, but trust me – this system is spot-on. You can sign up here for a free workshop to find out what really suits YOU. Are you bright and animated? Calm and subdued? A force to be reckoned with? Still and deep? Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes that aren’t really you? Do certain outfits make you feel like you are wearing a costume? Find out how to dress true to yourself.
- Choose five items from your wardrobe that you absolutely LOVE. Five things that make you feel great when you wear them. Then analyse these pieces, as they are your biggest clues as to what your personal style is. Do they have anything in common? Are they similar shapes? Colours? Are they modern or vintage? Bold or subdued?
For example, here are my five favourite pieces of clothing: two print dresses, a skirt, a cardigan and an embroidered velvet jacket.
The black dress with the pink and red heart/leaf print is my most favourite thing to wear. I normally steer clear of black, but the print is quirky, colourful and fun. The fit of this dress is incredibly flattering; I wish I could order 10 dresses in this style. In this dress I feel tall and slim.
The lipstick dress is navy blue, and I love it. Again,the print is fun and the cut is flattering.
The floral skirt gets comments every time I wear it. I love the bright blue within the print, the floral print itself, and the vintage look of the material (it’s not). The cut is classic. I definitely have a thing about flowers.
I adore the colour of the cardigan in the top picture. It’s a warm duck egg blue, and it ties together with ribbon. I love little touches of embellishment like that (too much and I’m in a costume). I love bright colours, although I usually pair them with something dark lest I be mistaken for someone off to a rave in the 90s.
I love the feel of the red velvet jacket. I literally stroke my arms all night when I wear it (and so does everyone else!). The velvet is lush and it is a very dressy item in my wardrobe.
So, from this exercise, you can deduce that I like clothes that are fun, quirky, colourful, flowery and have a novelty print.
Oh yeah, so I also have a thing for stripes!
Using other favourite items in my wardrobe, I can dig even deeper.
I definitely like little touches of fun. I am the person who wears fox socks, or a Hello Kitty watch, or a badge saying ‘I love Vegemite’. I like to dress appropriately, but life is too short to be boring. Here’s another example of my ‘fun’ style – a printed skirt I own (that could clearly do with an iron…).
I like my clothes to be interesting. I own very few items of clothing that are completely plain (usually to be teamed with patterned items); most of my tops have some sort of embellishment or an unusual design or pattern. For example:
I love the bodice of this tunic
I like interesting patterns
I like clothes that are well cut and form-fitting. I also like clothes that are ‘dressy’. I have never been a t-shirt-and-track-pants sort of person, jeans are about as casual as I get. As I am running around with my kids most of the time, I have had to make some concessions to my wardrobe, but I wear dresses and skirts at every opportunity. This outfit below is what you typically find me in any day of the week: a print dress (flowers!) with a cardi and boots.
Dress scored in a clothing swap
I hate shirts as they almost never fit me correctly and make me feel like a kid wearing dress-up. I only have one shirt, and that is because the fit is impeccable, the colour a bright jewel blue, and it has a cool ruffle detail. All my other tops are scoop-neck or wrap tops in jersey cotton. Body skimming and comfy.
Armed with this knowledge, I can be in and out of a shop within minutes, sometimes seconds. I can look at something on a hanger and say yes or no with certainty, and don’t waste time trying on 100 different things to see how they look on me.
So that’s it. If you feel like your style is all over the place, or it got up and left you back in 1977, do a little detective work to see what makes you feel good now. Your style is bound to be very different from mine, but wouldn’t it be helpful to know what it is?
Do you have your own distinct style? Would you give the five-piece challenge a go?