Finding, understanding and celebrating your personal style is a journey, not a destination. It can change direction, hit road blocks, run out of fuel, be fast and furious and fun and adventurous. It’s not just about understanding but actually working with your personal style. As a fashion stylist, when I work with clients, my first step is understanding their personal style through their interpretation.
Just looking at what someone’s wearing will not give you a clear vision of their personal style. This is often because even the client themselves may be unsure of their style direction. Maybe you’re stuck in a style rut, feel that as a person you’ve changed or you’re simply too afraid to wear the things you actually really like for fear of sticking out or looking stupid.
What if I told you there’s a way for you to wear whatever you want (within reason) and make it work to your personal tastes. Although I briefly touched on this in how to style a longline denim jacket, I wanted to expand and clarify the best ways to understand and work with your personal style.
IT’S OK TO LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE
It’s ok to not like loud prints and it’s ok if neon clothing makes you uncomfortable. Understanding the colours that best suit your skin tone and personality will make you feel beautiful and confident. It will not only make fashion fun for you but it will also make shopping less stressful.
People often ask me why I wear a lot of black. My answer is I love it! Black is a powerful colour, striking yet versatile. As a fashion stylist, I enjoy it because it challenges me to play around with textures and fabrics. This also gives many appearances to one colour palette.
It’s not bad to love a particular colour as long as you are still making an effort with your style. You also should not be sticking to one colour out of fear or laziness. You should feel comfortable to try new things if they tickle your fancy.
I once knew a lady who only wore pink, her hair, her clothes, her home, her kids buggies… everything. No matter the looks or comments she got, she always walked with confidence because that’s what the colour pink did for her. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you only stick to one colour palette for your wardrobe. I’m merely saying don’t be afraid to love what you love if it makes you love yourself just a little more.
BEING SIMPLE DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE BASIC
When Kim Kardashian (roll with me here) stepped into Kanye’s style land, we saw her style go from leopard print and panelled mini dresses to monochrome ensembles and simple earth tone outfit galore. Now her style may have been simple but it was anything but basic. My point is you don’t think loud prints and bright colours are the only way to make a statement. A simple sophisticated put together look can have even more of an impact when worn with confidence.
Although Michelle Obama’s style has recently become more daring since leaving the White House and embarking on her book tour, her days as First Lady saw sophisticated elegant often understated looks. Megan Markle also likes to dabble in print and colour now and again but can more often than not be found in a simple one colour dress with matching heels.
MASK YOU FLAWS IF NEED TO
Accepting your flaws and flaunting them are two different things. Just because you understand and accept the way you are, doesn’t mean you have to have it on show to prove it. So wear that A-line skirt if want to create a more shapely figure. Wear those 3/4 sleeve tops if they cover your “bingo wings”. Rock that fringe or hat if it reduces your “5-head”. Wear that peplum top if makes you feel better about your stomach area. Wear that bra if it… well you get the point.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY
Generally I’m not the biggest fan of short skirts or dresses, and not for any particular reason, in fact I quite like my legs. I’m just not particularly keen on having them on show and the same goes for cleavage. Does that mean that every mini skirt or low cut top that enters my world must immediately exit stage left? No because there are some instances where I love the style of the piece so much it’s worth me finding a way to wear it. This is what I’ve shown in this outfit. Styling the tweed mini dress with tights and the white shirt underneath meant the dress then worked perfectly for me.
Of course I could try and find a longer dress with a higher neckline but it wouldn’t look the same and it wouldn’t be that dress! This tweed dress also had a silk bow stitched to the front of the V necklace, which I removed. Adding a waist belt suited my personal style a lot better and I prefer the outcome.
UNDERSTAND YOU’LL MAKE MISTAKES
Just like life, your personal style is a learning experience. Along the years your style will change, evolve and fluctuate. Go with it. Yes you may look back in 5 years or even 5 months and cringe thinking what was I wearing? But you can laugh and move on, it’s never the end of the world. I assure you even Anna Wintour’s had her fashion police moments.
TRUST YOUR GUT
Most people I work with in personal styling usually start off by saying they don’t know what their personal style is. But as soon as I start showing them a rail of clothing and they’ll be quick to start eliminating pieces. Because ultimately we intrinsically know what we like and don’t like. Although we’re just not always sure on how to go about putting it together. Saying that, I still encourage my clients to be open minded because they often end up loving items they first rejected but I insisted they ‘just’ try on.
NEVER LIMIT YOURSELF
Just as in life, I don’t believe in limiting your self in style. Yes certain pieces work ‘better’ on particular body shapes but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you. Firstly personal style is understanding your body shape but that is so you can work with pieces that best fit and flatter you, not to immediately rule out options.
Fashion is supposed to be fun and style is supposed to be personal. In the end there are really no rules, just self imposed guidelines. Yes, getting your understanding of your personal style right can make all the difference between a great day and ‘what-day-is-it’ but it’s never the end of the world. A faux-pas should be a lesson and a fashion hit should be a celebration. So just do you the best way you know how until you know better.
[Photography: Abi Oshodi]
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