Posts Tagged ‘personal style series’

Defining Your Personal Style: Dress Codes

Oh, the bane of all creative fashion loving individuals: dress codes. For those of us working at home/for ourselves, or in a particularly creative field, this isn’t a problem at all. For those who’ve been given the dreaded “business casual” to work with, it can be awful. When I worked in a business casual environment, I usually ended up throwing on a nice shirt with black pants and whatever pair of nice shoes that was closest. I felt stifled by the dress code and thus didn’t even make an attempt to express myself through my outfits, which got old fast. Nobody wants to feel like that! To help out with this dilemma, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for ways to retain your personal style, while fitting in to dress code.

Side note: The last time I worked in a business casual setting, the dress code was pants, capris if at or under the knee, skirts if at or under the knee, collared shirts and no sneakers or open-toed shoes allowed. So these are the parameters I’m working with for the examples. But the methods and ideas I’ll throw out can be easily applied to school uniforms or other dress codes, as well. Obviously, they won’t work in situations like a server, where black pants/white shirt is the uniform – but even then, you can express yourself with accessories as long as they aren’t too loud.

  • Details, details, details. When shopping for your work wardrobe, look for items that fit dress code but have whimsical (or edgy, or bold – whatever your style!) little details. Case in point: the bow on this skirt’s waistband. Details combined with a few accessories can bring an outfit from drab to fab. (Did I just say that? Oh, yes, I did.) Other details to look for: ruffles, pops of color, pleating, an unexpected print.
  • Accessories. Nothing groundbreaking, I’ll give you that, but that’s because it works. This outfit isn’t very inspiring color wise, with a gray/silver and black scheme, but the accessories give it an almost neo-Victorian feel. There’s the running rose theme, the amazing ankle boots, and the ruffle detailing on the skirt. A good choice of accessories and an interesting choice in shoes will take your outfit a long way. Don’t forget hair accessories, which are often overlooked!
  • Color. It would be tough to get away with wearing a neon ensemble in most business-casual workplaces, but a colorful top and accessories will go a long way to making you feel better about what you’re wearing, and as a bonus liven up your workplace a bit! A nice medium pink is a safe bet, with accents here in the ring and hair bow as well. Note the accessories – belts are another oft-overlooked area, and the statement necklace here adds a nice touch.
  • Another tip to remember: plan your outfit the night before! I know, I know, you don’t want to, when you get home you just want to kick back and watch Project Runway without having to think about work at all. Unfortunately though, your most stylish moments will not be when you’ve already hit the snooze button twice and are trying to get dressed and eat cereal at the same time. An ounce of prevention and all that jazz.

Do you have to work around a dress code or uniform? How do you express your personal style while staying within it?

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Defining Your Personal Style: Finding Your Focus

(a little photo from my new sewing room/work area…I set all of my shoes up on display!)

Everyone has favorites. It’s only natural to like one thing the most out of a group! So here’s where you ask yourself: what’s my favorite part of getting dressed in the morning?

Seems like a silly question, I know. But it actually pays off to think about it. Do you like putting on your makeup the post? Or maybe picking out your shoes?

Whatever your favorite part is, whatever you love to do with a little bit of a flourish, let that become your focus. This doesn’t mean neglecting all other aspects of your look! On the contrary, it can look a little odd when someone walks down the street who obviously put a lot of time and effort into their outfit, but their hair is a total mess. The point here is to recognize what you enjoy the most about your look, and then spend the most time, effort, and money on that.

Example: I, obviously, am a shoes person. Accessories come in a close second. To me, shoes and accessories make the outfit – you can spice up even the most boring outfit ever with the right pair of shoes and some funky jewelry. So I devote most of my wardrobe money (and more importantly, my time/energy spent shopping) into finding really good deals on shoes or accessories that I love. Clothing, on the other hand, I tend to be really cheap when it comes to, because I know I can usually make something similar if I really like it.

Possible focus areas include:

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  • Hair: I was never much of a hair person; I tend to wear the same style almost every day aside from easy-to-put-in accessories. If you’re a hair person you might be someone with long hair who enjoys styling it a different way every day (one reason I have short hair – FAR too lazy for that nonsense!), or someone who spends a while straightening it every morning. Places to invest are styling products, hair cut and color, hair accessories, etc.

(Photo is from Doe Deere Blogazine, photography by Grenouille)

  • Makeup: You might be a makeup person if you love to spend hours testing out new color combinations, finding the perfect one for your skintone and start planning a makeup scheme for every outfit you wear as soon as you put it on. Place to splurge: makeup and brushes/other utensils, obviously.

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  • Shoes! If you’re a shoes person, you probably know. No explanation needed!

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  • Accessories: If you love to own beautiful jewelry, build your outfit around certain accessories, or delight in finding just the right accents to make the rest of the outfit pop, then you’re probably an accessories person. Things to focus on: a good mani/pedi, jewellery (which doesn’t have to mean expensive jewelry, scouring thrift stores or vintage shops for one of a kind pieces is always fun), socks, belts, hats, etc.

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  • Clothing: If none of the other options excite you terribly but you’re constantly lusting after one clothing item or another, then you’re probably a clothing maven! Obviously, feel free to spend the majority of your time and effort scouting out good clothing deals or splurgeworthy items.

Of course, there will be some overlap. Bargain shoppers (like me) will always be trying to find a good deal when it comes to anything, but if I find a shoe or brand I love, I’ll scout all over (or, you know, just look on Amazon…) to find the best deal on it. And of course, there’s a good chance that everyone reading this will love clothing to some degree – this IS a style blog, after all! The goal is to just find your one or two favorite areas. If you try to have impeccable hair AND makeup AND clothing AND shoes…it can get really tough and it’s a lot easier to just say “fuck it” and stay in your PJs than make any effort at all! By all means, take care of yourself, but don’t try to do it all perfectly all the time!

The best way to go about shopping, in my opinion, is to find the best deals on your favorite things (i.e. high quality items, on sale, or lightly used), and then fill in the gaps with DIY’d items, thrift store finds, new but deeply discounted items, etc. This gives you the focus you need, which will help you develop and maintain a unique personal style and take on things.

So – what’s your focus and how do you express that in your style/outfits?

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Defining Your Personal Style: Having “Go-To” Outfits

This is more of a project for after you have a good grasp on your personal style, but it is definitely something to think about if you have the time! When I asked other Twitterers (is Tweeters the correct term? hm…another useless thing to ponder) what topics they’d like to see me cover, one of the suggestions was what to do when running low on time, sick, or lazy. Having “go-to” outfits solves this problem very easily!

The requirements for a go-to outfit:

  • Simple and easy to put together! Something that suits your style but is maybe pared down a little bit.
  • As few pieces as possible.
  • COMFORTABLE.

With those in mind, look at your closet and see what fits the bill. I highly suggest something one-piece, like a dress or a romper, that’s not too fancy and made out of a nice basic material (cotton, jersey, etc.). Pick out a base, then go dig through your jewelry or accessories and find one or two that accent it. I have a designated pair of flats to wear in situations like this, since I hate flip-flops (they make me feel dirty!); I highly suggest finding a pair of reasonably priced, go-with-everything, comfortable flats that can be dressed up or dressed down.

What scenario might you need a go-to outfit in, you ask?

  • You’re home sick and miserable, it’s 2 PM and you  haven’t showered yet. In the midst of lounging on your couch and watching Buffy on DVD while eating soup, you realize that you’re out of kitty litter/milk/something equally important. This means you need to brave the outside world, unfortunately!

This is the most desperate of situations and thus requires the quickest, most basic fix. Dress, flats, something to cover your hair (hat or scarf), and sunglasses to cover any eye-circles. I wouldn’t even bother with makeup, just make sure you don’t have soup speckles on your face! This is pretty similar to Gala’s incognito outfit.

  • You have the day off and have been lounging about happily all day, when you get a call from your sweetie asking if you want to go out. He or she will be there in 45 minutes.

This is slightly less dire. Since you’re not sick, I’m going to assume basic hygiene has been observed here, and that your hair looks okay – if it doesn’t, time to pull out the cute hat again. I’m telling you, an adorable hat is a totally worthwhile investment. Put on the dress, match your accessories to your shoes, put on hat if applicable, do your most basic makeup routine (which for me is concealer, loose powder foundation, blush, and mascara). Not uber fancy, but you will look pulled together and going-out-worthy.

Similar situation: your bff calls and wants to go shopping, you can wear the same outfit although of course make sure the shoes are comfy enough to shop in!

These are just two scenarios using the same dress; it helps to have another outfit in mind if say, a potential employer calls and wants you to be at a job interview in an hour. A professional outfit, a bare-bones basics outfit, an embellished version of the basic outfit – these three should get you through just about any situation. My go-to outfit would probably be my black exposed zipper Target dress (which, apparently, they aren’t selling online any more, so no link for you!) and some very, very battered Hot Topic flats with a turqoise and black rose pattern on them. It’s about time for them to pass the torch to another pair of flats and I’ve been searching for some likely candidates. Anyways, this outfit can be easily accessories with silver jewelry, is comfy enough for lounging, and looks good. What’s YOUR go-to outfit?

(might I add, that now I really want that dress? So cute!)

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Defining Your Personal Style, Part Three: Using Your Inspiration

So! Now that we’ve discussed how to get a rough concept and figuring out what your wardrobe essentials are, we’re going to discuss what is the logical next step (to me, anyways!): using your inspiration. You should have had some time now to build up an inspiration folder or think about movies that inspire you. The block that I run into after this step is that sometimes it’s hard to translate a movie or photographic experience into an outfit. Case in point: Moulin Rouge. SUPER inspiring to me, visually, but not easy to translate into everyday wear. Most of us can’t walk around in corsets, garters + thigh highs all of the time, much as we’d like to! (or, well, I would like to anyways…) Training the eye to pick out details, bits and pieces, and put it together into an outfit that expresses that inspiration without merely copying it detail for detail – THAT is a valuable skill to have, yessiree. I’m going to try to show you how to do that with this post.

It seems pertinent here, so, a side note about looking “costumey” – I see warnings against this all the time. I say, costumey schmostumey! If it’s what you want to wear, WEAR IT, regardless of how over-the-top it is. That doesn’t mean copy a costume from a movie, because that usually doesn’t allow for any personal expression and that’s the reason we’re doing all this thinking and such in the first place, right? Right. On with the show!

First off – working from a photo. I think this is a little easier than a film, since you don’t have quite as much to draw from, so it’s not so incredibly overwhelming at first. Audi of Fashion for Nerds recently ran a contest based around creating an outfit from a photo; the results are definitely worth looking at to get an idea of how to do it!

Second – working from a film. I think this is a lot more challenging, because you have at least an hour’s worth of costuming, sets, makeup, and atmosphere to draw from; and the atmosphere is a HUGE part of it – which can be really hard to put in to outfit form.

In summary, you’re looking for a few things in particular:

  • Colors. One of the easiest things to notice is the palette of the film and this is a great place to start that won’t make your brain hurt. Notice what the main colors are, and the accents.
  • Actual costuming. The most obvious place to start by far – the problem is that you can end up looking like an extra on a film, instead of incorporating your personal style in to it. Still worth looking at, just be careful.
  • Textures – pretty self explanatory. Look for any standout textures – metallics, shine, matte, gloss, etc.
  • Atmosphere. Easily the hardest thing to get across with an outfit! A lot of this is because of the colors used in the film, so again, pay very close attention to that.
  • Any little details that catch your eye. It’s hard to say anything more detailed than that – you just know when you see it, some little tiny glimpse of an object in the background or a pair of shoes only on screen for 30 seconds (I spent a good six months being obsessed with the boots that River wears in Serenity, which are only on screen for maybe 45 seconds throughout the entire movie. Never did find a similar pair!).

On to the examples!

I picked two movies that I love which have amazing visuals – Coraline and Pan’s Labyrinth. I rewatched Pan’s Labyrinth to make sure I’d have a really good feel for it, but unfortunately can’t re-watch Coraline yet, since it doesn’t come out until JULY! Sigh. So I worked from memory (which should be pretty good, since I saw it three times in theatres!) and looking at stills/trailers online. Here’s what I came up with:

Pan’s Labyrinth

I’m going to start with the more challenging of the two. Pan’s Labyrinth was really hard for me to nail down, probably because the movie is a fairy tale but very dark; and most of the character’s wardrobes aren’t something that really sticks with you. The really breathtaking visuals are in the backgrounds and the more fantastical creatures, not so easy to convey in clothing. If you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth, here’s the trailer:

Stills are kind of thin on the ground, but you can see a few and the promotional art at IMDB. And here’s what I came up with:

Alright. Let’s start with the accessories – I have no hard reasoning behind the pearl-esque wire-wrapped necklace, it just seems like it would fit with the visuals of the movie and I like it. The fairy necklace is pretty obvious, and the book is inspired by the book the faun gives her. Throughout the movie Ophelia is seen wearing a hair-bow more than once. The boots are a visual reference to the faun’s hoofed feet (and now I desperately want a lookalike pair, since there’s no way I can afford the original!). The coat is also in a similar style to Opelia’s, worn throughout the movie. Purple is the color of royalty, and the skirt is pinafore-esque without being overly so (and the color is close to the beaded necklace, anchoring it). I think this is pretty good; not a total success but close!
Coraline

This was much easier for me – I’m not sure why. Maybe because Coraline is more stylised, being an animated film? Anyways. Here’s the trailer for Coraline:
The website is here (in case you missed it in my slightly obsessed ramblings a few months ago!), and you can see several stills here. Go ahead. Play around on the website a while. I’ll wait.
Okay. Now here’s the outfit I got:
The overall palette is pretty close to the Other World in Coraline – lots of jewel tones, with occasional pops of really bright colors (yellow, in this case), and lots of different textures to look at and be mesmerized by. Buttons play a big part in Coraline (all of the people in the Other World have buttons for eyes), and it’s always night there (the star earrings). The bracelet reminded me of the garden in the Other World. Coraline, of course, has blue hair! (okay – the wig might be going a bit too far if replicating this outfit in real life, but I couldn’t resist!) She also wears a yellow raincoat throughout most of the movie, and at one point has blue ankle boots on (I’ve also read suggestions before of matching hair to shoe color, so this is a doubly functioning item!). The Other Mother wears a lot of retro-inspired clothing, including a polka-dot skirt and top set at once point. I really love this set, although it might just be because I would wear it 100% as-is and love every minute of it. The yellow jacket and skirt are now on my wishlist, in fact.
If you HAVEN’T started a list of things that inspire you, I asked some of the people on my Twitter list what movies they found most inspiring and here are the results! (note: if there was more than one tweet, it is condensed into one, for reading ease)
_apricottea@declinedesigns check out my latest post, love. might answer that question. :] http://bit.ly/cRBIz most of my favs. are in the post but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is also good. Cloverfield has amazing cinematography
bonsoirbella@declinedesigns The Fall, The Cell, Moulin Rouge, Velvet Goldmine, Ma Vie En Rose, Legend, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, Dune (Lynch version), The Fifth Element, Captain Whatever and the Sky blah blah. Zombie films! (seriously), old classics
ashemischief@DeclineDesigns @BonsoirBella Definitely Moulin Rouge, Labyrinth. I’d add Mirrormask, anything by Ingmar Bergamn (my dead lover), Amelie. You’ve totally opened a can of worms. Marie Antoinette, The Royal Tenebaums, The Prestige, Pan’s Labyrinth, Secretary… the New World, Vanity Fair, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 300, Across the Universe, the Spirit, 28 Days Later, CQ. Oh! The City of Lost Children. ANYTHING by Guillermo del Toro. He’s like my living film lover. the Orphanage, Hell Boy I & II are GORGEOUS.
PeachMcGee@declinedesigns Favourite modern film for costuming and general lifestyle envy is Gosford Park. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is gorgeous.
Lucalexa@declinedesigns My list: Contempt, Let the right one in, Mon oncle, Pan’s Labyrinth, Delicatessen
wicked_halo@declinedesigns you have to watch the fall, it’s like your eyes bulge out of their eyeballs of all the visual yummyness!

So! There is QUITE the list to start with (and believe you me, there were several movies mentioned that I haven’t seen, and they are now on my list!). It also goes without mentioning, but all of those gals? Fabulous + you should check ‘em out! :)

What do you think, dear readers? Anything I missed? If you have any film or photo inspired outfits, be sure to share them, because I would LOVE to see!!

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Defining Your Personal Style, Part Two: The Essentials

So, every book on fashion ever written has a chapter or section on essentials. I, personally, find these really useless. Example? The “essential” crisp white button up shirt is a total throwaway to me. They make me think of servers, finding button up shirts that fit at bust and waist is a nigh-impossibility for me, and hellooooooo stains! Admittedly, I am a wee bit klutzy when it comes to food and that might be a large part of my bias towards this supposed wardrobe essential (+ most anything white). But, psst, if you’re curious about creative ways to work it in to your style, check out Sal’s post on the subject.

Really, everyone’s essentials are going to be different – the most you can say is that people with similar styles might have similar essentials. But depending on a person’s favorite/most flattering colors, figure, or nuances in their taste, even that might not be the same. Why am I doing an “essentials” post then? Well, if there’s someone with a similar style to mine – which I’m going to very roughly define as a love of bright colors mixed with retro influence and a healthy dose of whimsy + a love for dark fairy tales and 70’s punks (I said very roughly, didn’t I?!) – my list might be a good starting point. But mostly, I’m hoping that by showing you my thought process in choosing them, it will make you realize your own. What are your basics? See anything that’s on my list? Why are they so essential and versatile in outfits? What do you love about them, and, if anything, what do you dislike?

Ok. Now that you’re thinking about that, here’s my list:

  • Black patent Mary Jane heels – I bought the Sofft shoes back in, I think, November. I have worn them COUNTLESS times since. They can make a look more polished, they work fantastically with retro-inspired outfits, and they can ground a really “out there” look. Some people find patent tacky, but I love it.
  • High waisted pencil skirt. I love high waisted skirts, I really do. I very rarely wear it with the tops tucked in (although that does make legs look a mile long, especially when paired with a heel/wedge that doesn’t have any straps – creates an unbroken line), but girls – a high waisted skirt will suck you in like you would not believe, without being uncomfortable!, and just having the fabric between your top and your tummy tends to make the top lie smoother.
  • Peep-toe slingbacks in a neutral color – Mine are black. I’m putting these on the list even though I haven’t had them long (I’m speaking of my Pekoe Fluevog slingbacks), because I’ve had them two weeks and worn them probably 5-10 times already! They’ve gotten rid of my old aversion to open-toed shoes singlehandedly. They’re cute, fun, and flirty – this pair has a little extra going on with the knotted leather, but a p lain pair would be just as versatile, I’m sure. Slingbacks are so great for me because I seem to have a problem with heels slipping – a strap across the foot or a slingback seems to really help with this problem.
  • A-line skirt, or, conversely, a circle skirt. I know these are NOT the same thing, but I consider them essentials for similar reasons – they look cute with almost anything (given that the colors don’t clash terribly, of course) and add a little retro flair. My only real beef with circle skirts is that, usually, you have to tuck the shirt or top you’re wearing in, or it’s not very flattering. This problem might not exist without wearing a petticoat underneath it, I’m not 100% sure. That’s not usually a problem with a-line skirts, though.
  • Black boots. If you’ve been paying attention, you know I love me some boots. I wear them year round and scoff at those who say boots are winter wear only! A good pair of black boots can go just about anywhere and with anything. I own several variations on this (Dansko ankle boots, Nine West lace-ups with buckle accents, slouchy Bronx boots, and the Fluevog engineer boots), and if I don’t already have a pair of shoes planned for an outfit I usually turn to one of those pairs.
  • Big costume jewelry rings. I love them, ’nuff said. They are sparkly and awesome and borderline tacky, everything I love in a piece of jewelry!
  • Feathery and/or otherwise over the top hair accessories. They make me feel glamorous and amazing, and really, that’s enough of a reason to be an essential, don’t you think?

Another exercise is to look at one of the dreaded “every closet MUST HAVE THIS!” lists. To start getting an idea of basic wardrobe building blocks, take each individual item on the list and think about why they suggested it (aside from that a lot of essential lists are simply rehashes of every other one every written *cough*), and then think of something that has your own little twist that fulfills the same function. Example: the white t-shirt. I’ve seen some lists that say you should have three of this item in your wardrobe. No matter what. But me – aside from the aforementioned food hazards, I very rarely wear white and not by my face if I can at all help it, because it washes me out. Since I am, you know, very nearly that color myself! So what takes the place of a white t-shirt (i.e. a piece that is a blank canvas and can be accessorized or layered at will – why most lists seem to love the white shirt) in my case, would be a black puff-sleeve shirt – black because it goes with everything I own, puff sleeves add that little bit of whimsy I love. This method is how I realized that I need a shirt as described in my wardrobe, and so I’m planning on purchasing one soon!

Now, I’m going to ask you again – what items do you find yourself turning to again and again? Wearing over and over? It really helps to make a list of these, or at least really think about it. If the current versions of these items are getting worn out and/or are uncomfortable (doubly so if they’re uncomfortable and you keep wearing them – you trooper you!), you might look in to investing in another version of them. To me, the smartest way to build a wardrobe is to get the highest quality you can (which does not mean spending oodles!) on the things you’ll wear constantly, and get more budget-friendly versions of the rest. Then again, my high waisted pencil skirt is a Converse one from Target that’s lasted great so far, so whatever works for you is, again, the rule of thumb!

Whew. Now that THAT process is over, what are your newly discovered style essentials? Have you realized that there’s something you’re missing? And let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see covered!

Coming up next: how to put together an outfit based on a photo or film.

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Defining Your Personal Style, Part One: The Concept

Defining personal style can be an intensely difficult thing to do. For some people it comes very easily, for others, not so much. If you’ve spent every day for the last several years just throwing on whatever is comfortable in the morning, it can be pretty challenging to start actually thinking about your clothing choices. There isn’t anything wrong with that, by the way. I don’t think anyone has any obligation to dress stylishly. As was posted at A Dress A Day, in a post I’ve linked to before, “Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.” In fact, that quote from Chanel – “I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness.” – really annoys me, and if someone said that to me I would probably tell them to eff off, which is probably one reason nobody is going to be quoting me in fifty years. Anyways! If you choose to do so, viewing your clothing and the way you wear it as a creative endeavor can be extremely rewarding and a whole ton of fun!

But how do you get started? The process is probably going to be different for every person, so I can’t give you a step by step guide. I can tell you what I did, in hopes that it will help you.

  • Think about the kind of films you like, the kinds of books you read, your favorite websites. What do these say about you, and how can you incorporate that into your personal style? Are there recurring themes? Do all of the movies you like have a film noir feel, a gothic feel, or are they all classics from the 50’s? What do the characters wear? You might want to take notes next time you watch it, as geeky as that sounds. Or, another approach is to just watch films with a strong aesthetic to get a feel for what you’re drawn to. My approach to this was to write down (or print out) films that won Academy Awards in the costume and art direction areas. It’s a good place to start, at least!
  • Look everywhere for inspiration, to start getting a feel for what you like visually, and what you don’t. Here’s some suggestions: Flickr (just search random phrases – some neat stuff comes up!), which as most everyone knows, is a photo hosting site/community. Wardrobe Remix is a group on Flickr and is also a great place to look for inspiration. Street fashion blogs are great for this – Hel Looks is a good place to start, Japanese Streets is also pretty cool. Model Mayhem is just awesome for inspiration, as you may have gathered. You can find an infinite amount by googling “street fashion blog”. I have an inspiration folder on my computer where I save any photos, whether of outfits or costumes or whatever, and being able to flip through all of the images is great.
  • Speaking of your inspiration file folder – download Picasa and start making inspiration or idea boards with the images! Find yourself downloading a lot of fairly tale themed photo shoots? Make a board based around the idea of the modern fairy tale! Or, try and narrow down where your influences come from (i.e. certain movies, vintage fashion, subcultures, etc.) and then make a collage exploring all of your influences. Here’s my attempt at this from a while ago.
  • Or – another good exercise is to make a magazine clippings inspiration board! Tutorial here.
  • Polyvore is also an incredibly useful tool. Put the Polyvore bookmarklet on your browser, and whenever you come across something you like, clip it! Start constructing outfits with all of the things you like. You’ll be surprised what goes together! Don’t worry about the prices of the items right now – just getting the creative juices flowing is what’s important. We can always find more budget friendly items later, non?
  • Look through your inspiration folder and Polyvore items. Take note of recurring colors and patterns. I, for example, noticed I seem to love the colors of pink, turquoise, and black. When I buy anything now, I ask myself if it will go with these, or at least clash in a way that I like. If the answer is “no”, I reconsider buying the item. This is a useful strategy to employ because it keeps you from having those items that you can only wear with one certain outfit – a waste of a great garment, to be sure! For more on this, see Ashe’s series on developing your wardrobe palette.
  • Come up with a style statement. It can be vague and you can refine it later, or hell, it can even just be a list of words that you’d like to reflect in your style. I.e., colorful retro glamour, etc. I find that easier myself, I feel kind of pretentious pretentious coming up with an actual statement, honestly. There’s an entire book called Style Statement dedicated to this – I’m about halfway through it as of this post and it’s pretty good reading so far, so it might be worth looking in to!

The really important thing is to not get discouraged – this is a process that WILL take a while. I started seriously thinking about this right around the time I started this blog (October of 2008); I had had the same style for years, whether out of comfort or habit I’m not sure. Sometimes I still buy things that fit the Michelle of three years ago much better than they fit the Michelle of now, and only in the last two months or so am I getting to a point where I feel comfortable even TRYING to define my style. If you mess up a couple of times, that’s fine! Don’t stress about it, it’s all just part of the process.

Related things to read and love:

Top Five Ways to Define Your Personal Style

The Definition of Real Style (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love iCiNG) both articles by Gala Darling

Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan

Any more suggested reading? Leave it in a comment – I love reading things about this topic :)

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