How to Develop and Refine a Personal Style – Part I

Lately some of my friends and I have all been interested in developing or refining our personal styles, and since I have a lot of steps I do when I work on refining or developing my own personal style. This post will serve as both a guide for others, and a reminder for myself, because I can be unfortunately rather forgetful.

This post is going to be broken down into two parts, as I feel that putting all this information into just one post would be overwhelming. So part I of this post will focus on external influences on our personal styles, and part II will be internal influences and fleshing out your style.

With that out of the way, let’s begin!

Get an idea of what your closet currently contains + what your style is

Before you can go on a journey, you need to understand where you’re starting from. So an important and often overlooked step in developing a personal style is knowing what you already have and do in regards to clothing, accessories, makeup, and hair. This will allow you to properly work off of what you already have, and can also prevent some mistakes further down the line.

What do you have already that you like wearing?

It’s important to know which clothes and accessories you like to wear. These should be pieces that are comfortable to wear and also that make you feel good about your appearance. In my opinion, a good style is a balance between what’s comfortable to wear and what looks good to wear, and that comfort level can be different for everyone.

As an example, even though sweatpants are physically comfortable to wear, for me they are mentally uncomfortable to wear. Same thing with pajamas. I can’t do stuff when I’m wearing sweatpants or pajamas; for some reason my brain just won’t let me. So despite them being physically comfortable to wear, I feel mentally uncomfortable wearing them, especially when people see me in them.

Make sure you do the same with makeup and hair as well. Go through your makeup products and find the ones that you enjoy applying and wearing. Go through your hair accessories or styles, and see what you like putting on and wearing.

What do you have already that you dislike wearing?

Just as it’s important to know what you like to wear, it’s also important to know what you have that you dislike wearing, but that you’ve been hanging onto anyways.

As a personal example, I don’t enjoy wearing hair clips, despite liking the way they look on other people. Same thing with bracelets, rings, and most necklaces. I get really fidgety with most jewelry pieces, but tend to end up accumulating them anyways, which brings me onto my next point.

What are your common shopping problems or mistakes?

It’s important to know which mistakes you commonly make, so that you can learn from them. As I mentioned before, a mistake that I used to make a lot is that I would see cute jewelry pieces in thrift stores and think about how pretty they look, not how comfortable they were for me to wear.

And then there’s shopping problems. These are things that make shopping uncomfortable for me, but aren’t my fault. For example, crowded stores make me feel a bit anxious, and so then I rush and end up with either stuff I don’t like, or I miss out on amazing finds.

A solution to both of these problems for me is looking at clothing online. This gives me the opportunity to spend as much time as I need browsing the products, allows me to filter out stuff I’m not looking for, and also helps me avoid the issue of crowded in person stores.

Find style inspiration

After you know what you’re working with, it’s time to get some style inspiration, so that you can begin to understand what you’re working towards.

Watch movies with costume design that you like

I know I’ve probably said this a hundred times before, but one of my favorites movies is The Devil Wears Prada. The styling of that movie is just *chef’s kiss*. I love it so so much, and watching that movie always makes me feel inspired. The montage after Andy’s makeover is one of my favorite movie scenes of all times, it always gives me a rush when I see it.

If you’re unsure where to start, there’s a great channel on YouTube called ModernGurlz that has videos of all the outfits a character wears in certain movies. They’re always fun compilations to watch, and it can give you a good starting place if you’re interested in watching some movies with good styling.

Find your favorite style icons

Another way to find style inspiration is to look at various style icons and figure out who are your favorites. It’s important to remember that a style icon is someone who has a very consistent, notable style. Sometimes going vintage with your style icon hunt can be great, because then you get a very distilled sense of what they wore.

A couple of famous style icons are Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Despite both actresses being quite famous in similar time frames, they both have a unique sense of style that is very easily distinguishable.

If you’re not sure where to start with this, try searching for ‘style icons’ on Google or Pinterest. From there you’ll be able to get an idea for different style icons

Look at art and architecture themes you enjoy

Often times our personal taste can be found in what we enjoy when it comes to art, decor, and architecture, as well as clothing, accessories, hair, and makeup.

As an example, if you really enjoy minimal interiors, with clean architecture made of simple geometric shapes then you might really enjoy having a minimal personal style, made up of lots of neutrals and clean, structural silhouettes.

Analyze your style inspiration

It’s all well and good to know what your style inspiration is, but you also need to understand what you like about it and why. Having a strong understanding of your inspiration will make it so that you get a strong style based on it.

What body types do your favorite style icons have?

It’s important to know what body types your favorite style icons have, because it’ll allow you to understand why certain elements suit them and how they use clothing to their advantage.

Some of my favorite style icons are Dita Von Teese, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn, but they all have different body types. Marilyn Monroe is a romantic, Audrey Hepburn is a flamboyant gamine, and Dita Von Teese looks like she could be a classic or dramatic classic, in my opinion.

So, all very different body types, and all of them different from mine, but what do they have in common? And do they have any features in common with me?

Answering these questions can give you an idea of what elements to pull from their styles, and it can help you understand how and why your favorite style icons accentuate the features that they do.

Are there any recurring themes, colors, or shapes in what you like?

There’s almost always a pattern of what we like, and finding these patterns are incredibly important.

For myself, I have a very strict pattern of colors that I love in interior decor, clothing, makeup, and accessories. These colors are:

  • Black
  • Dark grey
  • White
  • Cream
  • Navy blue
  • Red
  • Gold
  • Olive green
  • Blush or peach pink

It’s also important to figure out what your style icons have in common. As an example, both Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Monroe have iconic red lip makeup looks, and you can also find a few pictures of Audrey Hepburn wearing red lipstick too.

With that in mind, is it any surprise that red has been my favorite lipstick shade since I first learned what lipstick was?

Make sure you write down all the information about what you like. You’ll need it when working on part II of developing your own personal style.

Part II will come out in two weeks, on the 14th of August, so if you want to get an email notification when that post is published, then subscribe to my blog. It means so much to me.

4 thoughts on “How to Develop and Refine a Personal Style – Part I

  1. What a great post! I’ve been meaning to develop a personal style for a few months but because I’ve never really been interested in style before it seemed overwhelming. Looking forward to part two!

    Liked by 1 person

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