How to Find Your Style: Defining Your Personal Best Fashion

oscar de la renta diamond coat, balir eadie personal style, fall style
carolina herrera gown, atlantic-pacific style
la vie style house caftan, lele sadoughi headband

Whenever I post a Q&A sticker on Instagram, two of the most frequently asked questions I receive are how to find your style and how to do a sleek bun. Since I’ve already addressed the latter, I figured it was time I share my thoughts on defining one’s personal style. This is such an interesting topic because it is, well, so personal! After years of experimenting (and frankly, growing up), I feel like I have finally found the colors, cuts, and combinations that work best for me.

Today I am going to break down some tips and tricks that may help you define your own fashion aesthetic. Keep in mind, dressing is art. So while this is a loose guide, there really isn’t a scientific formula to magically uncover your own personal style.

How to Find Your Style: My Journey

Figuring out how to find your style certainly doesn’t happen overnight. For me, this took years of trial and error. I had to truly start paying attention to what made me look and feel my best. However, now that I finally feel much more self-assured in this area, it is so liberating! I am more confident in my purchases, unafraid to experiment, make fewer impulse purchases, and chase far less trends than I did in my 20s.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there will still be adjustments to my fashion identity in the future. While I feel like I have found the cornerstone of personal style, I am aware that this will continue to shift and evolve as I grow older. However, I do believe my personal fashion foundations will stay fairly steady.

Tips on How to Find Your Style

leopard cape coat, pistola denim, how to style denim

Okay, now on to the fun part…some tips and tricks on this frequently asked question. Figuring out how to find your style is something I’m passionate about, and I’ve really honed in on over the years. I think this is important to do, especially before you consider editing your wardrobe or buying new items. Here are some of my top tips for defining your personal fashion sense.

1. Use Visual Cues

I am an extremely visual person, so I pay close attention to what is visually appealing to me. This helps me determine what I’m being drawn to at the moment. These visual cues often include Instagram posts I am saving, images I am pinning, and clothing items lingering in my virtual shopping cart. While looking over these, I ask myself, “What is it about each of these things that I am particularly loving?”

Create a Mood Board

One great way to do this is to create a visual mood board of the outfits, styles, and clothing pieces you love. Next, identify what the common threads are. Use those threads as a roadmap as you navigate how to find your style.

For example, do all of the items and images on your mood board feature really tailored pieces? If so, that should be one of the keywords you use when editing your wardrobe and shopping for new clothing. Do many of the images also have a feminine undertone? Again, use this keyword when making any fashion decisions. Narrow down and write out concrete adjectives to describe your style, based on the strong visual sense of what appeals to you. This will help you make smarter decisions down the road!

2. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

Determining how to find your style takes time, a significant amount of time. A great individual style is like a personalized beauty routine, you simply won’t nail it the first time! In order to discover a better sense of self, you first have to experiment quite a bit.

Experiment in Your Closet

I recommend starting by experimenting in your own closet, with the pieces you already own. Keep in mind the visual cues and adjectives that describe your aesthetic. Based on these, play around with ways you can re-style, tailor, or repurpose the pieces you already have. Only after you’ve explored your own closet would I suggest shopping for additional pieces. You might be surprised at how many great basics you already own!

Add New Pieces

After you’ve played around with the clothes you already own, take note of the holes in your closet. When you’re ready to add new pieces, be sure that you are not only filling these gaps, but also that they line up with the styles and looks that you’re visually gravitating towards.

Adding new pieces can undoubtedly be expensive. So, when I am shopping for something new, I like to buy multiple options, brands, and sizes all at once. I try them all on, in order to find the best one for me. I’m searching for the piece that is the best quality for the price (not necessarily the most expensive), fits me the best, and works the best with the items already in my closet.

Build Your Wardrobe

As you build out your wardrobe, continue to mix and match pieces in new ways and constantly experiment. You will then start to figure out which pieces and pairings work best for you. The goal is to have a wardrobe that makes you feel good and shows the most authentic version of yourself. The process of determining how to find your style takes a lot of trial and error, but it is totally worth it!

3. Don’t Listen to Outdated Rules

This may be a bit controversial, but I think finding your personal style is about what makes YOU feel good, not what society tells you looks good. I would try to avoid falling into the traps of “dressing for your body type”, becoming addicted to the trend cycle, or listening to what is “outdated”. 

What it is Not

Personal style is about creating a unique look that encapsulates who you are as a person. I think many people confuse trying to craft their own personal style with dressing on trend or “updating their wardrobe”. These two things are very, very different.

Defining your individual fashion is also VERY different from creating a capsule wardrobe. If your personal aesthetic is timeless, neutral, and straightforward, then yes, these two things might overlap. However, this isn’t always the case. If someone describes buying timeless pieces in neutral colors as the answer to how to find your style, then they clearly have not seen my personal style :). 

What It Is

A friend of mine wrote this article, which I loved, remembering the late Kate Spade and her personal style. To me, this article, especially the last paragraph, captures the truth about personal style. It is a signature that is yours alone. It is not defined by brands or trends or how much you spend. But rather, it is all of the adjectives that you dress in.

How to Find Your Style: Questions to Ask Before Buying

tuckernuck feather dress, lele sadoughi earrings, gucci sunglasses

Even after you think you’ve successfully defined your individual fashion aesthetic, you will still make styling and purchasing errors. It happens! Learning how to find your style is an ongoing process. Below are a few questions that I ask myself before purchasing new pieces. Keeping these in mind helps me make better buying decisions, and to also stay on track with the cornerstone adjectives that describe my style.

1. Do I really need this?

LOL, this is an obvious one! Fashion and styling are my job, so I do add more things to my closet than the average consumer. However, I still try to ask myself this question before clicking purchase.

Let’s say I come across a pair of wide-leg jeans that I love, but I already own three other pairs. I ask myself – Do I need this pair? Does it really do anything different from the other pairs I own? If I love this one so much MORE than the other three, would I be willing to get rid of two pairs of wide-leg jeans to make room for this one?

2. Am I blinded by the label?

This question is really important to keep in mind, especially when buying from “big name” labels. Ask yourself – Do I like this simply because of the brand or label? If it was a nameless, label-less dress on a vintage rack, would I feel the same way?

3. Have I gotten too caught up in a trend?

While I like to add trendy pieces to my wardrobe here and there, I try to be very cognizant of the length of time I truly see myself wearing the item. For example, would I wear these platform sandals for at least two to three years? Or will they only be worn for a short moment in time? If so, I don’t need them.

4. Do I love it for me, or do I just love it?

This is an interesting one for me. As a lover of fashion, I can appreciate lots of different styles, silhouettes, and trends. One important aspect of my personal style journey has been deciphering what I love for myself and what pieces and visual imagery is beautiful and wonderful, but not for me. This is one of the trickier questions related to how to find your style, it certainly takes some thought!

5. Am I simply wooed by the price tag?

This question applies to items on super sale and fast fashion items. Think to yourself – Am I only buying this because I feel like I am getting a deal? Would I buy it for double the price? If the answer is no, then I don’t buy it. For me, most items I buy on sale are ones that I have tracked all season long or that I have been hunting for on the RealReal. I am typically waiting for the price to drop so that I can justify the purchase.

How to Find Your Style: A Fashion Journey

alexander mcqueen green top, alexander mcqueen blue skirt, blue and green color combo
ninon earrings, purple and yellow outfit

Once you find your personal style, keep in mind that while this will be your fashion foundation, your preferences can and will shift slightly over the years. Sometimes we go through huge life changes, such as changing jobs, having children, or moving to different cities and climates. All of these events may call for a fashion shift. When it comes to the question “how to find your style”, it’s important to be open, be flexible, and always reserve the right to change your mind! I never say never when it comes to wearing or not wearing an item, because I know 15 years from now I may see it totally differently!