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What Is Personal Style?
Style refers to a person’s particular way of expressing themselves—whether that’s through clothing, writing style, or a style of architecture. In the fashion world, “style” is usually shorthand for “personal style,” or the way an individual expresses themselves through aesthetic choices such as their clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and the way they put an outfit together.
Style is timeless. Someone who is stylish may or may not follow fashion trends, but they always stay true to their own aesthetic. Personal style is about developing a sense of self rather than simply absorbing trends.
How to Find Your Personal Style in 5 Steps
Finding your personal style isn't something you can do overnight. But there are strategies you can use to learn more about the clothing that works for you.
- Look to your own closet. Think about the clothes you have that make you happy. What are your favorite items in your closet? Pull these pieces out and think about why they make you feel good. Notice what they have in common.
- Find fashion inspiration. When looking for fashion inspiration, start with family and friends whose style you admire. Spend time on social media, and observe how friends and celebrities dress, from casual outfits like crop tops and leggings to work-ready blazers and turtlenecks. Blogs are full of fashion tips and inspiration, so find a few fashion bloggers whose style interests you and search through their archives for your favorite outfits. If there is a celebrity or an influencer whose style you like, try to find out who that celeb's stylist is, and look to them for inspiration. Fashion magazines are another great source. Learn about different style types, and identify the ones with which you most align.
- Create a fashion mood board. A mood board is a great way to work toward developing your personal style. Once you’ve gathered your fashion inspiration, compile the images into a mood board. Even if your inspiration feels all over the place, you might discover that a lot of your models are wearing denim jeans, a lot of them are wearing maxi dresses, a lot of them are wearing tops with ruffles—that's still an overarching vibe or mood that you're going for. Choose two or three images that exemplify the aesthetic of the group, and keep those images on your phone so that you can look at them when you’re out shopping.
- Create a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of basics that you can mix and match to create effortless looks. These are classic pieces in neutral colors that go with everything: a little black dress, a denim jacket, simple T-shirts, a leather tote. You might already have some of these in your closet: Keep the ones that make you feel great, and replace everything else with basics that really work for you. These items may be simple, but they’ll help you show off your unique style by providing a foundation for more exciting pieces.
- Experiment with unique style choices. Once you've built your capsule collection, it's time to add unique pieces to your wardrobe that show off your style personality. This might involve some experimentation, so remember that it's okay if you change your mind. Personal style is all about playing with fashion to discover which clothes make you feel your best. Start with bold accessories and pops of color and then work on mixing and matching prints and textures.
Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?
Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.