Fashion is a means of communicating without having to say a word. Whether you are interested in fashion or not, your choice of clothes says so much about you. Your outfits reflect your personality and can often reflect your mood.
A lot of my clients have the foundations of a fabulous wardrobe, but have not accumulated the pieces in a coherent way to create an overall, consistent image or style that they are comfortable and confident with. They accumulate a mish-mash of beautiful pieces, but have no way of drawing them together to embody a coherent style that represents how they want to convey their personality.
As a personal stylist, I work with my clients in depth to identify the style that reflects them and their lifestyle, as well and ensuring they are choosing items that work best for their body type and colouring.
Not everyone can invest in a personal stylist, but there are some things you can do yourself to find your style, and give you some structure to your shopping each season.
Step 1: Create an Inspiration Board
This is the most effective first step to defining what your style is (or is going to be). Use any media to collect images of outfits and looks that appeal to you.
This is so easy to do now that there are so many digital platforms to use to create your own style inspiration board. It could be on Pinterest, saving images on Instagram, using digital collation apps, or old school cutting images out of magazines.
Whatever your medium, the first step is to cast your net far and wide and collect all images that speak to you on some level. Don’t analyse why or what it is you’re looking for just yet (that comes later). Just add anything that strikes a chord for you. Definitely include high-fashion editorial images as they will often capture a mood, a colour palette or a silhouette that will eventually form part of your style. But just make sure there is a majority of images of outfits and looks that you would actually wear.
Step 2: Edit Your Inspiration Board
Once you’ve created your initial inspiration board, go through all the images with a fresh eye, and remove any that have become redundant or which no longer appeal now that you’ve finished the initial collection.
Then, group the images together according to similarities you identify in them. This could be by colour, by theme (e.g. there may be a strong boho theme running through many of the pictures), print or silhouette.
After organising them in a coherent way, remove any that you find to be no longer relevant or interesting.
Step 3: Analysis
Step back and take a helicopter view of your inspiration board. What colours, textures, silhouettes, pieces are common to your images? Can you describe the theme or the overall vibe? Minimal? Boho? Urban western? Seventies inspired? Preppy? Vintage? Sophisticated glam? Does it somehow combine two different themes?
Keep this in mind, and then write down what will become your roadmap:
- What pieces are used to make up the various looks? For example, it might be maxi dresses with maximalist jewellery. Or it could be that a common theme is wide legged trousers with fitted tops and flat shoes.
- How are the outfits styled? Look at the accessories used, how the accessories are used, how individual items are tucked or cinched, how they are layered or combined.
- What colour palette and colour combinations are used? Light? Brights? Dark or muted? High contrasts or blended?
- What fabrics and textures occur in out look?
- How are prints used? Clashing combinations? No prints at all? Minimal/strategic use of prints?
Step 4: Identify You Style
Using the roadmap you’ve created, get super focused. What are the most important pieces that make up the signature look? What is the key silhouette that repeatedly appears? What are the most important colour and colour combinations? What fabric is used in all (or most) of the looks?
Step 5: Test
You’ll now have a very focused list of the pieces you need to re-create the style you want.
First stop should be your wardrobe to see what you already have that fits the description. From this, you can identify what you need to complement them.
But before you buy anything, you’ll need to go on a testing spree. I know it will be tempting to buy items there and then, but while you’re defining a new style, it is important to test out what is going to work for you and what will not. Many of my clients need help in this area. Some tones may not necessarily work for their colouring. And cetain styles may not be flattering for their body shape. It’s a matter of adapting each piece accordingly.
If you’re doing this without the help of a stylist, then the testing phase is key. Try each of the key pieces, colours and fabrics you identified. Take photos of yourself as you try each piece on so you can assess them more objectively later.
Step 6: Assess
Go back over your photos from your try-ons and be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t. If necessary, enlist the help of a friend who you trust to be completely honest with you.
If something just doesn’t look quite right, narrow in and get focused about precisely what it is that isn’t working. Is it the print? The fabric – does it pucker? Is the fit just not quite right around your shoulders? Does the style make your chest look too big?
Once you identify what it is, come up with a plan. It might be that the piece just doesn’t work with your body type. It might be that a small tweak could make all the difference – would a V-neck work better than a crew neck, for example? Or it might just be that a better made item in the same style will work wonders.
Are there elements that you just didn’t feel comfortable in, for example, it was too conservative, or too loud, or too try-hard? Could you introduce them in a more subtle or a different way? For example, maybe you wanted a western inspired urban look but you couldn’t get comfortable with cowboy boots. Would a western style belt achieve the look you’re after?
Did certain colours not suit you? You might need to find them in a warmer or cooler temperature to suit your colouring (this can be hard without the help of a stylist, but generally your instinct on colours should be a good enough guide).
Step 7: Shop
This is where you put all your prep work into use. You’ve identified what pieces work for you, and how to wear them. Now hit the shops and introduce your pieces to your newly styled wardrobe.
If you are inspired by this, but want more technical help, more information about my styling services can be found here.