Since I have a fashion background, Saleema asked me how I’ve developed my personal style, and what exactly defines ones personal style. The conversation got me thinking and I wanted to share my insights with you.
1. How do I define my personal style and am I happy with it?
I truly believe that my personal style began developing itself at a very young age. I was one of those girls that loved to create unique outfits, play dress up with my friends (boys and girls) and rummaged through my mom’s closet (which I still do to this day). I was voted best dressed in high school and majored in fashion in college–fashion was and is in my blood.
Way back when, I identified elements of fashion that spoke to me, made me feel pretty, comfortable and stylish. Those same elements define my style today and give me that same sense of self-confidence and personal identity it did when I was 5.
- Classic with an artistic flair–I follow fashion trends very closely but know that classic styles, silhouettes and details work best for me. I love combining a pair of jeans with a stylish blazer or long sweater coat. Or, dressing up a pair of black pants with a bright cardigan or menswear inspired shirt.
- Jewelry–My outfit does not feel complete without jewelry. For me, jewelry is the icing on the cake and is the way that I bring a look together. I use jewelry to make a statement and gravitate towards classic silver pieces, big earrings, bold necklaces and diamonds (it’s my birthstone after all). If you see me without any jewelry on, chances are I’m not feeling well.
- Handbags–A girl can never have too many. As with jewelry, a handbag to me completes an outfit. While handbags are functional, I don’t look at them that way. To me, a handbag it a true style statement and should compliment an outfit first and be a storage vehicle second. On those occasions when I am wearing black or neutrals, I carry a handbag with color or shimmer to convey my personality.
2. What are the components of great personal style?
- To me, great personal style is all about knowing yourself.
- Knowing who you are–knowing what you like and don’t like is key to defining your personal style. It’s not about trying to look like someone else, but about creating your own style, one that allows you to look your best, always.
* Knowing and loving your body–Whenever I’m at the mall I see loads of people wearing things that just aren’t right for them. Wearing clothes that don’t fit or flatter your body is the quickest way to downgrade your personal style. Take a day at the mall and try on lots of clothes. Recognize what cuts and styles enhance your body and make you feel good. These are the elements that will help you create your personal style.
- Knowing how to play up your best attributes–It’s true, shorter people (me) really should not wear cropped pants, and those of us with a well endowed chest should gravitate towards scoop necks and v-necks because they are more flattering on our neckline. As you try on clothes, recognize which styles make you look taller, enhance your arms or legs and camouflage the areas you don’t like. Clothes that look good on you, do make you feel good.
- Creating a signature look–Audrey, Michelle, Hillary, Jackie and my design idol Sarah Richardson all have signature looks. It could be a classic white shirt, a pattern or a brand that helps you define your personal style. Pick and item or two, and make it apart of fashion identity.
3. How does one go about creating a personal style for themselves?
- Find a role model–Look around… TV, magazines, friends and identify people whose fashion style you admire. Your goal is not to copy them, but be inspired by their personal style.
- Shop and Try on–If you ever watch What Not To Wear on tv, Clinton and Staci spend countless hours with the client trying things on. This really is the best way to find and understand what fashions look best on you. If you’re afraid of going it alone, most of the major department stores have a personal shopper department where someone will work with you, to create your wardrobe.
- Invest in basics–Just about every fashion personality out there has a list of wardrobe basics every girl needs. My list of basics includes the following:
- Personalize with accessories–Think of accessories as the ribbon on the package. If you love gold jewelry, then make it apart of every outfit you wear. If you love scarves, then build a great collection of scarves. If shoes are your thing, then wear a killer pair every time your step out.
- Become Known for something-One of my old sales reps loved patterned ballet flats. Every time you’d see her, your eyes would gravitate towards the floor to check out her shoes. Find a fashion element that you can become known for and make it apart of your signature style.
- Tailor Your Clothing–I don’t like spending money on tailoring, but it really is the best way to get the best fit from your clothes. And, at 5″2 I really don’t have a choice!
- Create a Look Book–Fashion stylist Lloyd Boston is known for creating look books for his clients. Once he creates a wardrobe for someone, he takes photos of the pieces and outfit combinations and puts them in a book. The book becomes a reference tool when you find yourself saying “I have nothing to wear”. Try making a look book for yourself, not only a styling tool, but also as a guide to help you shop and build your wardrobe.
- Organize and prettify your closet–Nothing is more daunting than walking into a unorganized and not-so pretty closet. I have all my shoes in bins with photos on the outside and I recently switched all my clear plastic hangers to those slimline black hangers. They made my closet look better and gave me more room. Spend an afternoon getting your closet together, making it someplace you enjoy to visit.