How to define your personal style

And start curating your wardrobe

Have you ever dreamed of having a perfectly curated wardrobe, where everything match with each other and where there are no “why did I buy that” items? Then read on.

In my previous post I gave tips on how to make your wardrobe more sustainable (read here). This post will give tips on how to define your personal style, which is crucial if you want to have a curated wardrobe (or capsule wardrobe).

You have probably heard the word Capsule Wardrobe before, maybe some years back. The idea behind having a capsule wardrobe is, explained shortly, to curate your wardrobe down to the smallest detail and limit the amount of new items you add, by making sure everything new you buy fit with what you already have in your closet. A curated wardrobe equals fewer internal wars about what to wear (at least in theory), fewer  impulse buys and lastly, you will start to understand what your style is.  

Here I have gathered 4 in-depth points, in no specific order, that will get you closer to understanding your personal style, so you can start building your capsule wardrobe.

1. Do you like to stand out or would you rather blend in? Do you have a preferred color palette?

Do you find yourself drawn to patterns and popping colors? Or are you drawn to it, but would never wear it? Accept that. It’s perfectly fine to like something on the hanger, but to know that you will never wear it. In general, I have observed two ‘extremes’: Those who are comfortable wearing something in an strong color but with a simple design, or those who are comfortable wearing something with an unusual design (think ultra-oversized, strong shoulders, longer cuffs or puffed sleeves) but with a calm color. Then there are the ones who are comfortable combining both a strong color with a strong silhouette, and lastly those who prefer both a simple design and a calm color. Nothing is better than the other, but knowing your experimental level (how much you like to stand out) might be a good start.

2. Find out what suits your body type, but forget about limiting rules

Do you remember tv-programs like “Trinny and Susannah” and “What Not To Wear”? Those were tv-shows where the stylists had a gigantic focus on what fitted the body best (goal: to make the women as feminine as possible), and the basis of their styling advice consisted of a clearly defined rulebook of what you can do, and what you can’t. There used to be a time in fashion where there were more ‘don’ts’ than ‘do’s’. Luckily, fashion has evolved on many levels since I was a teenager, and it has become more including now, I think for mainly two reasons: the increasing focus on sustainability and the consequences of fast fashion, and the fact that the fashion world is finally starting to value more diversity.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take notes on what suits your body of course, because you definitely should. Most women are very aware of their ‘flaws’ and they do everything they can to hide them. Sometimes hiding makes sense, but many times I find that women are way too harsh in their self-assessment. If you are short with a petite frame for instance, you might want to avoid anything super oversized, but again – sometimes rules are meant to be broken, and you only know if you spend some time figuring out how far you can go yourself to still feel comfortable. Another example is ultra-plunging necklines that women with small breast can relatively easily get away with without being too sexy, but where women with bigger breasts will give an entirely different impression. But: remember to dress for yourself and not for others!

3. Define what makes you feel well-dressed and comfortable altogether

For me that often includes a pair of jeans. I’m a total denim girl, I think because I think the roughness of the denim creates a nice contrast to something more feminine, and then I just find denim to be very comfortable. In general I love contrasts, and I think a good balance between masculine and feminine is always the most interesting when it comes to style. If I wear something really feminine, like a fitted skirt for example, I almost always contrast it with a blazer in a masculine cut, a loose fit t-shirt or maybe a pair of sneakers. But there are no rules! It’s all about what makes you feel comfortable and most like yourself. Style is subjective for a reason.

Sometimes we have an idea that we have to dress ‘feminine’ for a certain event for example, but if you are a true ‘jeans and a t-shirt kinda girl’ and convinces yourself to wear a pink bodycon dress with sky high heels, you have the recipe for a disaster. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll be uncomfortable the whole night. There are many ways to be feminine, and in my opinion it’s more about attitude and posture than about wearing something stereotypically feminine. That being said, jewelry is an amazing way to highlight the feminine, especially necklaces, bracelets and discrete anklets in the summer months. Lastly, feel the quality of the fabric of a new item, and pay attention to how it fits your body. Stand, sit and walk around in your new clothes before making a decision. Many things can be altered, but some things can't, like a fit that feels too snug for example.

4. Do you seem to gravitate towards specific items? Those will help you define your personal style

I sometimes hear the phrase, about a blouse for instance: “I like it, but I already have 8 that looks just like it”. That signalizes two things: First, you should maybe stop buying so many look-a-like tops ;) Second, there is probably a reason you ended up buying 8 similar tops. Find out what it is that makes you so drawn to this kind of item. Is it something about the fit that’s particularly flattering on you? The color? How comfortable it is? Something else? Use this knowledge to get one step closer to what your personal style is.

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