What does personal style mean?
When I say personal style I mean it quite literally as in it should be personal to you. Only you should look like you, if you fade in to the mass it makes you forgettable and doesn’t communicate the things that personal style should, namely who you are. It communicates that you are not unique, you don’t have much to offer, basically that you are bland. I don’t think that’s what you are or want to communicate to others so let’s try and fix that.
Quite often style is mentioned by the by in literature talking about improving yourself, but rarely goes in depth as to how to form it and what it constitutes. As style is a very personal thing, I can’t give you tips on how you specifically should dress, but I can tell you what I do and why and some thoughts on how you can form your own style that communicates the right things about you.
There are lot of different directions to take, if you are very functional and keep a minimalistic lifestyle that will look a lot different than if you are a colorful and artistic personality. So how to choose which direction to take? Well let’s look at what makes you, you.
How to find your style?
I’d say there are 3 main things to look at. Personality (outgoing, reserved, extrovert, introvert etc.), in what line of work you are (socio-economic standing), what are your interests/hobbies outside work. Your style choices both in and outside work should reflect those things. If they do you are communicating who you are efficiently which means the kinds of people, whether it be in romantic or business context, who you want to get interested will get interested.
So let’s imagine the things you want to communicate and then work from that. Let’s say you are very artistic and outgoing you shouldn’t be wearing drab clothing because that doesn’t really give the correct image as to what’s inside that clothing. Try to picture the things you want to wear, what kind of hair style etc., you’d like to wear and especially what those things would communicate. Imagine if you saw a person like that what you’d think about them and keep working on it until it gives you the image of a person whose life resembles yours, preferably a little bolder version of you. It’s important to dream here and be brave with the new image of you. You can catch up to the image, but looking better/bolder than you are is never a bad thing. Basically you should dress in a way that’s bold, unique and makes it obvious who you are as a person.
Something that might help too is to think about what kind of people you personally notice and why? What are they wearing, how is their hair done etc. Since they catch your eye there is clearly something that attracts you in some way, maybe it’s just that they are bold and you’d like to be that bold, maybe their style speaks to you in some way. That might give you some indication about what kind of general style you should be going for. How can that general style that you notice be customized to your personal tastes and try to visualize what kind of wardrobe to build. Remember that accessories make the outfit so think about those too.
One additional thing that’s good to keep in mind is that you should be bold. I brushed past this with couple of comments, but I want to dedicate a paragraph to it. Now this might mean different things to different people, let’s say you are a minimalistic and introvert, then perhaps you like to wear a bit more earthy tones, maybe the boldness comes from a big stylish hat, shoes that stand out etc. If you are extroverted and you are interested in art and fashion for example, for you it might be a denim jacket with marker graffiti all over it like my friend occassionally wears As you can see from the picture below, he doesn't blend in to the mass, and that's great! For me personally it’s a unique hairstyle which I plan to dye blue and pink in the future, combined with simple and utilitarian clothing choices. They aren’t all that different, but I never see anyone looking like I do when I walk down the street, and that’s the key. If you wear jeans and a print t- shirt you look like everyone else walking down the street and it tells me nothing about you when it should be telling me a story and pull me in to want to know who you are.
Pulling it off
It’s important to pull off whatever you are wearing. For years I’ve kind of skirted around this concept, understanding what it means, but not really “getting it”. Fortunately I discussed this post with an acquaintance and she talked about how you carry yourself in your clothing which made me realize the point of it. You need to feel comfortable in your clothing, if you don’t it will show in how you carry yourself, how you move etc. and you won’t “pull it off”. So I suggest you start with an outfit or a couple and see how you see yourself in your new clothes. When you start finding your personal style you will make blunders and feel uncomfortable at the start, but that’s part of the process! Only by feeling uncomfortable you will change what you feel comfortable in and pushing those boundaries makes you into a more confident and bold person. If you are asking yourself if you should do this, about a particular piece of clothing, hairstyle etc. it’s always better to go too far than be too safe. If you go too far you can always reel it in, but you will really rarely need to, but if you never go far enough you won’t stand out and be bold enough. Personally all the choices that I’ve felt iffy about are the things that have gathered the most compliments, so be brave.
From words to action
After you have a rough vision of what you want you should head out into the shops. Now shops might mean an expensive designer boutique all the way to a thrift store and anything between depending on your budget and style you’re going for. Pick 3-5 shops that you think will have the kinds of things you are looking for and go through them. If you are finding the things you are looking for great! Now just keep adjusting until you are happy with how you look and keep trying on bolder choices until you find a good limit. Having a friend along usually makes these things more fun, for us guys I suggest a friend of the opposite sex, in general they last better through fittings etc. and know the stores if you don’t. That’s how I started, asking a friend for advice when I was unsure. Your friend’s style should at least somewhat mesh with what you’re going for otherwise they might not be all that helpful.
Now I’m not giving you much direction as to what you should wear what your style should be etc. Main reason for this is that if you want to improve yourself, and you clearly do since you are reading this, if I tell you to do this and you do that you haven’t actually learned anything. You will have no direction to continue to and will regress back into a safe baseline. That kind of advice doesn’t work so you won’t find it here. This is why you need to think about what you want to communicate and how to communicate that and keep thinking about it as you and your life changes over time. Keep taking steps towards a personal style and one day you will wake up with one.
I’m new to writing and have much to learn about it, if you have any questions or comments please let me know, I'm happy to hear from you! There are million things I would’ve liked to add, but for readability's sake I've omitted a few things which might make it into a separate post at some point, or might not. So ask away and I'll try to fill in the gaps there might be after reading this post.