One of the best things you can do to look and feel your best is find your personal style. Most people can generally describe what they like and dislike but aren’t crystal clear on their aesthetic.
When you know your style, deciding whether or not to try trends, maximizing your clothing budget, and feeling confident in what you wear all become easier.
Finding your style is a journey, and it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. I’ve been honing mine for a few years, but even as a fashion blogger, I’m a work in progress!
There are a few things I’ve found helpful in learning what works, and that’s what I’m sharing today.
Here are five essential steps to find your personal style.
How to Find Your Personal Style
1. Gather Fashion Inspiration
Fashion inspiration can come from anywhere, but the most reliable sources are right under your nose.
Look to your immediate circles. Is there a family member, friend, or coworker whose styles resonates with you? Notice what you like about what they wear.
Google and Pinterest are also amazing for inspiration. Search ‘women’s style’ and browse from there. Click what catches your eye and ask, could that be me? Would I wear that?
Other sources of inspiration can be anything from window shopping to magazines, runway shows, TV shows, and real world elements such as art, botanicals, and nature.
2. Create a Fashion Mood Board
Creating a Pinterest fashion mood board for style inspo has been the single most helpful tool in developing my sense of style.
To do this, create a new board (mine is private, but it’s up to you) and pin 50-100 outfits that catch your eye. Once you have enough pins, go through and delete any you don’t absolutely love.
Next, notice themes in the remaining images. Neutrals or colors? Solids or prints? T-shirts or blouses? Skirts, leggings, or pants? Fitted or flowy? Casual or dressy? Identify what’s cohesive—these are hints about your personal style!
If you want, you can create different style mood boards for different settings (workwear, special events, weekend) and seasons.
3. Do a Closet Edit and Make a List
Once you have a mood board, use it as a reference to evaluate your wardrobe.
Starting with one season’s worth of clothes, take everything out. Piece by piece, decide whether items align with the mood board. Set anything aside that doesn’t for sale or donation.
Editing your wardrobe can be challenging (we all have those emotional pieces we hang onto just because!), but it’s essential if you want your closet to reflect the style you’re after.
Another great thing about this process is that you may naturally identify gaps that are missing, such as a certain wash of jeans or style of top. I keep a list of those pieces on the notes app of my iPhone so that I can be strategic about acquiring them over time.
4. Play Dress Up with What You Have
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the real work of finding your style happens when it’s just you and the clothes in front of a mirror.
What looks great on someone else may be a flop for you, so set aside time to experiment with your style.
Try clothes on and see what you like and don’t like. Expect that some things won’t work. Keep it lighthearted by putting on some music, making yourself a little mocktail, inviting a friend—whatever works for you!
The point is to style yourself sans the pressure of going anywhere. Take note of the outfit combos that feel most like you.
5. Allow Room for Change
Finally, expect your personal style to evolve over time. Personal style is a reflection of who we are, and we’re always changing.
Life circumstances can impact style choices, from moving to a new climate to working from home, becoming a parent, and experiencing loss or trauma.
For example, I rarely wore color before my husband had back to back seizures earlier this year, and after that experience, I craved color. Your style will change as you do.
What Is Personal Style?
Personal style is all about developing a sense of self and expressing it, whether that’s through clothing, a writing style, or a home decor style.
In fashion, “personal style” and “style” refer to how you express yourself through aesthetic choices including clothing, accessories, jewelry, and hair and makeup.
Developing your personal style isn’t about being on trend. It’s about staying true to what you love.
Why Is Defining Your Personal Style Important?
1. Personal Style Showcases the Heart of Who You Are
This is the most important thing to understand in this entire blog post. You can, of course, choose to dress for practicality rather than expression, but I think the latter is what makes style fun.
It’s a beautiful thing to incorporate your personality, experiences, and emotions into your wardrobe.
For example, a big part of my personal style is sophisticated elements, like tailoring, blazers, collars; things you might normally see in a business casual setting. It makes me feel mature and like I can be taken seriously, which is important to me since I value work ethic, achievement, so on and so forth.
However, another part of my personal style is romantic details like ruffles, bows, and statement sleeves. These elements make me feel like I’m showcasing my softer, feminine side. I feel just as much like myself in them as I do in the sophisticated pieces. Both express the heart of who I am, just different sides.
2. Feel More Confident In Your Clothes
The real secret to feeling good in your clothes is how you think about yourself, but being clear on your personal style does make it easier.
When you personal style becomes your signature, you’ll feel like the clothes are enhancing who you are.
There’s power in being in charge of what your style says about you and how you’re seen in the world.
3. Shopping Becomes Easier
Have a clear perspective makes shopping a breeze because you have a filter to determine if piece suit you. This cuts down on collecting a random assortment of things that will go unworn.
When you don’t know your style, there’s a disconnect that translates into how you shop and usually results in a hodgepodge of pieces.
4. Getting Dressed Gets Fun
Chefs who master their signature dishes get to experience the fun of trial and error with new ingredients, twists on classics, and new methods of cooking. Similarly, once you define your personal style, there’s joy in experimentation.
You can approach new ideas with excitement (‘Let’s try this with this!’) rather than worry (‘I don’t even know if this will go together…’) when you have signature looks, colors, and elements to fall back on.
Common Personal Style Examples
If you’re struggling to define your personal style, it can be helpful to read examples.
Below I’m sharing common styles. You may resonate with one, two, or none. Almost any adjective can define your style, from whimsical to quirky, colorful, relaxed, and preppy. These are just a starting point.
Here are common personal styles:
- Minimalist: Simple and sophisticated. Neutrals and blacks with limited colors and prints. Versatile investment pieces and streamlined basics that mix and match easily.
- Classic: Sophisticated silhouettes with a focus on effortlessness and versatility. Navy, white, tan, and black. Pops of classic colors such as red and blue.
- Romantic: Feminine details like ruffles, smocking, bows, scarves, and ties. Light neutrals, pastels, and floral prints.
- Edgy: Toughness through dark colors, leather, asymmetrical silhouettes, and bold hardware on accessories.
- Glamorous: Polished and elevated. Flashy details like jewelry, defined prints, heels, makeup, and tailored silhouettes.
- Bohemian: Details and colors that mimic nature. Loose silhouettes, muted color palettes, lightweight fabrics, and flowy sleeves/skirts. Some foundational pieces, plenty of layering.
I hope these five tips help you get started finding your personal style! There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re inching closer to your true style, and you’ll know you’re making progress as getting dressed becomes more natural.
Let me know if you have any questions about personal style in the comments. xo!
2 thoughts on “How to Find Your Personal Style”
I’ve loved this column on finding your personal style, I’m so happy I found it and have managed to compile a My Style on Pinterest of what I love. I’m having one problem at the moment and that is finding the type of clothes I love to wear in a store. I live in Sydney and I find it so difficult to shop here. I’m 172cm in height, weigh 58kg and wear a size XS – S or 6-8. It is really difficult to find my size as well. Can you recommend the best way to find the clothes that suit you in the store? I would really appreciate any help. I used to be a flight attendant so I was able to shop overseas where the clothes always seem to be amazing! But over here the fashion really is quite awful. Warm regards Liz xx
Hi Liz, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the post and found it helpful! That’s a great question. We have so many retail stores here in the United States and great online shopping as well (with nice return policies). If you can, I recommend finding a few brands that fit you well and sticking to them, especially for your basics. When you’re in a store, try things on and notice the fit, fabrication, and of course, cost. I always like to ask myself, “Could I style this 5-8 ways with other things I already own?” That question has helped me avoid impulse purchases time and time again. I hope this helps! Best of luck.