Everyone has their own unique style – you just might not be aware what yours is yet. Style is not something we can buy. Our style is how we think and move, our creativity, our unique way of expressing our inner being to the world. It is the first impression we give to everyone as we move through life. Whether you are a professional career woman or a stay at home mum your style tells the world a little about who you are.
Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.
Why Create Your Personal Style Guide?
Defining my style over the past five years has allowed me to simplify shopping, getting dressed and my wardrobe. Don’t underestimate this secret weapon – it has given me the confidence to feel my best and the focus to buy less but choose well.
My main goal when I first set out on this journey was to stop wasting money on bad clothing choices. It was only when I went through this process in detail that I realised why certain items didn’t make me feel great.
I might have set out to purchase a basic – a simple black and white striped tee for example, but at that point I didn’t understand that the neckline, sleeve length, fabric, fit and hem shape would all affect how it made me feel when wearing it. Instead of purchasing a versatile wardrobe essential that would give me years of wear I would purchase a garment that didn’t make me feel great and would gather dust, hanging virtually unworn for years to come.
Now I understand what clothes make me feel great, I feel content with less and positive about every new addition to my wardrobe. So, let’s make sure that when you dress, it’s in clothing that makes you feel your best every time.
How to Create Your Personal Style Guide?
Defining your personal style can be confusing. There’s a lot of different information out there and for a long time, I couldn’t see where I fitted in. I thought I had a ‘classic’ style but also considered this to be boring. It didn’t feel like it reflected my creative, fun side – it was all too serious! I would look into my wardrobe full of items that had caught my eye but in no way complimented each other and would wonder what to wear.
Now my wardrobe has structure and consistency. It suits my personality, my body shape, my skin tone and my lifestyle. Challenge yourself to understand the different parts that make up who you are. Why are you drawn to certain things? When clothes make you feel good, ask why. When they don’t, ask again.
Here are 3 steps to help you define your style, love your wardrobe, and feel confident in your clothes! To finish off you’ll create a one-page Personal Style Guide that you can refer to and modify as you grow and explore. This is a project, so take your time. It’s meant to be a fun journey. Get inspired but remember to be yourself. Hopefully, when it’s complete you will have a whole lot of clarity so, let’s get to it. Download your free Style Workbook below and read on so that you understand how to complete it.
(If your’re feeling stumped, download my Completed Style Workbook. Use this as inspiration to complete your own workbook.)
DREAM IT + PLAN IT + DO IT
STEP 1 I DREAM IT
Let’s start by thinking about what we want to achieve! What you want to get out of this experience in creating your Personal Style Guide?
1.1 YOUR GOALS
Do you simply want to feel better in your clothes? Perhaps, you feel like your wardrobe is inconsistent and all over the place? Do you want to simplify your wardrobe – buying less, but shopping well? Are you drawn to clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle (another cocktail dress you’ll rarely wear)? Do you want to stop buying things that are ‘near enough’ and only buy quality items you really love? Perhaps your wardrobe is bursting at the seams, but you feel like you have nothing to wear? I know some of these have rung true for me.
Complete the two questions under step 1 of the personal style workbook to clarify your dream and goals.
1.2 GET INSPIRED
As a designer, I was taught to take inspiration from the world around me and then to create something new and unique out of it. You won’t identify with any one style icon, but you can take elements you love from someone else’s style and combine them with your own quirks, to make them your own.
Getting inspiration from others can confuse things, if you don’t have a strong understanding of your fundamentals first. No one else has your unique personality, preferences, background, lifestyle or location. We aren’t creating your Personal Style Guide so that you can swan around in a fantasy life looking like you belong in a styled photo shoot. This all needs to be very real and about you. You are dressing for an audience of one – yourself.
So, create your Personal Style Guide first, and once you’ve got the fundamentals in place, then you can look to others for further inspiration.
Don’t be into trends. Don’t let fashion own you. Decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.
STEP 2 I PLAN IT
Now let’s take a look at your preferences, your lifestyle and personality. Let’s get real!
2.1 UNDERSTAND YOUR BODY SHAPE
Understanding what looks great on your body is essential to ensure that your wardrobe makes you feel your best. It doesn’t mean that you have to stick with those ‘body enhancing silhouettes’, but you’ll know that you can always fall back on them.
You can refer to my BODY SHAPE guidelines for inspiration to dress (& love) your body shape!
The FREE Body Workbook will help you embrace your body shape and create harmony between your personality, your body and your clothes. This is critical to making positive clothing purchases that will feel amazing on you and get worn year after year. It will provide you with some guidelines for dressing to accentuate, balance or conceal your body shape. Once you’ve completed the Body Workbook you can then come back and complete section 2.1 of the Style Workbook.
2.2 IDENTIFY YOUR COLOUR PALETTE
Building a cohesive, versatile wardrobe is much simpler with a complimentary colour palette that allows you to mix and match, flatters your skin tone and suits your personality. Understanding what colours look great on you simplifies everything else.
You can refer to my COLOUR post here to create your own Signature Wardrobe Colour Palette. Once you’ve completed the Colour Workbook you can then come back and complete section 2.2 of the Style Workbook.
2.3 EXAMINE YOUR LIFESTYLE
Next you will examine your lifestyle. We’ll determine what activities you tend to carry out most in a typical week. We will also look at the influence that your lifestyle, climate and mode of transport have on your clothing choices. This will ensure that your style is practical and appropriate to your lifestyle.
My lifestyle analysis revealed that my wardrobe should consist of predominantly smart casual pieces if it is going to work for me. But I am like a magpie drawn to the shiny, sparkly statement items, so this is something for me to keep in mind :).
2.4 REVIEW YOUR WARDROBE PREFERENCES
In section 2.4 of your Style Workbook it is time for you to literally step into your wardrobe (or open the doors) and take a good hard look at the contents. Keep an eye out for items you’ve never worn, as well as your most loved pieces and favourite outfits.
The most important question will be – why? Why do you wear some items a lot more than others? Why do you feel fantastic in one piece and frumpy in another? We will narrow your wardrobe preferences down and determine why you wear the pieces you do. This process will not only give you a clear understanding of what you do and do not like, it allow you to determine your Personal Style Definition (or summarise your style in 3-5 words).
2.5 UNDERSTAND YOUR STYLE PERSONALITY
Your choice of clothing gives others an insight into your personality, your moods, your aspirations and your attention to detail. Although, I don’t like labels, I found it very useful to have a guide to refer to with regards to my style personality. It was only when I understood typical style personalities and their definitions that my unique style started making sense. I was able to visualise how to incorporate diverse elements from different style personalities into my own unique ‘look’.
I believe that most of us have a core style personality that we really relate too. You can build on this over time and incorporate other ideas, moods and personalities when they feel right. But you can always return to the core style that makes you happiest and feels like you. As well as this core style, many people will resonate with several other style personalities (or style twists) to a lesser degree or you may relate to two equally. Below, I have defined seven style personalities that I believe are fairly typical and cover most bases.
On the other hand, you may think that you have a different style personality? Perhaps you would define yourself as a rocker, punk or artist. These would fit into my definition for a ‘trendsetter’ or ‘dramatic’ personality depending on how far you like to take your look. A tomboy or girl next door could fall into the ‘sporty’ category. Preppy may fall into the ‘playful’ category. Try not to focus on the label so much as the definition.
MY 7 STYLE PERSONALITIES
|A||CLASSIC||TIMELESS I POLISHED I MINIMAL I CHIC I SIMPLE|
|B||BOHEMIAN||UNCONVENTIONAL I FREE-SPIRITED I CAREFREE I EXOTIC I RELAXED|
|C||DRAMATIC||CONFIDENT I GLAMOROUS I ALLURING I CREATIVE I EDGEY|
|D||ROMANTIC||FEMININE I PRETTY I WHIMSICAL I PLAYFUL I SOFT|
|E||SPORTY||CASUAL I COMFORTABLE I LOW MAINTENANCE I NATURAL I FRIENDLY|
|F||PLAYFUL||GIRLY I CUTE I FUN I BOLD I ECLECTIC|
|G||TRENDSETTER||BRAVE I UNIQUE I EXPERIMENTAL I INDIVIDUAL I UNORTHODOX|
I most closely relate to style A (classic), but have a splash of C (dramatic), E (sporty) and D (romantic) that also resonate with different aspects of my personality to a lesser extent. These are the personality twists that make my main style (classic) interesting and completely unique to me.
If all I wore was classic style clothing, I would feel too constrained and serious. I have a more daring, creative and playful side and that is how I make my classic style interesting and unique to me. Most of my clothing is timeless and versatile, but I use the twists to create excitement and interest and reveal more of my personality.
- The dramatic twist comes out in confident use of sparkle, detail and statement pieces I wear. These are usually timeless or understated, but rather than classic, a little flamboyant or alluring. These pieces allow me to add a touch of creativity to my ‘look’.
- My sporty twist brings the necessary practicality for my lifestyle – I mix up my classic style with comfortable sneakers for walking or sporty pants with heels to provide contrast and give a more relaxed and effortless vibe.
- My romantic twist reflects my gentle, kind nature. It is apparent in my love of lace and in the gentle waves I style in my hair. This softens my style. I like my feminine hairstyle, but also realise that frills, busy florals and feminine silhouettes don’t suit my overall personality or flatter my body shape.
To clarify, it’s a matter of combining your style twists with your main personality style in a way that will bring balance. If my clothes are more dramatic, I make my shoes and accessories more classic or simplify the overall look with sleekly styled hair, natural makeup and minimal jewellery. Remember, that nothing is off limits in any style. They key is the general feel or vibe that you create from the majority of what you wear.
The most interesting ‘looks’ are often those that combine two opposing styles and create contrast rather than having everything ‘match’. This contrast creates a ‘tension’ that is exciting and reveals more character or personality. Think of a romantic dress with black ankle boots, classic neutrals with playful neon, a feminine top with boyfriend jeans, a biker jacket with a preppy plaid skirt, a vintage tee with a timeless blazer, denim with heels, soft knits with edgy leather … you get the idea.
Complete section 2.5 of your Personal Style Guide Workbook to uncover your style personality and twists.
STEP 3: DO IT – CREATE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE GUIDE
Now that you’ve dreamt up your perfect wardrobe, and brought it back down to earth, it’s time to find confidence in the style that is all yours. By now you will start to see some patterns in the words that represent your preferences. Your body type, colour palette, lifestyle considerations, wardrobe preferences and style personalities will all point to the look you want to create.
Once you have a style that feels completely you, there’s nothing that can stop you! Lean towards items you naturally gravitate too. Let your confidence build each time you realise that the way you dress is exclusive to you, and not like anyone else. We’re so often lost in a sea of uniformity, so free yourself to be uniquely you!
The last step in cultivating your personal style is to get creative. We are going to put together a one-page Personal Style Guide that will clearly define your unique style. It will help you shop smart and give you the tools to always feel your best. Don’t forget there’s room for experimentation.
Your personal style will evolve over time as you grow, but it will remain the same at its core – your style is an extension of you.
In understanding your style, I hope you come to appreciate yourself more deeply and discover a little more of who you are. Above all, I hope you can feel wonderful in your clothes and even better in your skin, loving what you wear and who you are – and having fun, experimenting and playing with clothes as part of this journey.
Fashion fades, only style remains the same.
I’d love to hear your feedback and how you found the process of developing your Personal Style Guide. Don’t be shy! Your Tea With A Tigress girlfriends are a warm and friendly bunch, and sharing your story may help someone else.