Refining Your Style: 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Developing and refining a style are two separate things, at least in the way that I see things. Anyone who wears clothing has a style, however it may not be their own style that they’ve intentionally developed. They may be teenagers who have always gone along with the clothing that their parents suggest/buy for them, they may be adults who just go along with whatever the current trend is, or they may be people who have just never taken the time yet to consider what kind of image they want to project and instead wear whatever is comfortable.

If any of those examples sound like you, then this post isn’t for you. Instead, I recommend checking out my posts on developing and refining a personal style (it comes in two parts). It has steps that are great for beginners who want to start making conscientious decisions about their personal style, or for anyone who wants to do a style overhaul.

This post is aimed at those who have already developed their personal style, but find that they need to refine it somewhat. I’m in that situation right now, as I love my personal style, but have noticed a few areas that are lacking, which is why I’ve come up with 5 questions that you should ask yourself when refining your personal style.

Do you need/want anything specific?

Maybe you have a great closet currently, that caters to almost all of your needs, but you’re missing just a couple of key items. If that’s the case, be specific about what you want, as much as possible. You may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, but you’ll probably be able to find something pretty close, and having a very specific goal in mind will help keep you on track.

As an example, right now the very specific piece that I want is a cardigan that:

  • is a solid red color
  • has no button or zipper closure
  • has at least one decently sized pocket (preferably two)
  • the length of which hits between my hip bone and above the knee (long, but not super long)
  • doesn’t have an open weave knit or is very loose in fit

You don’t have to go as specific as that, I just happen to be very very particular when it comes to clothing, but in general the more specific you are about the exact pieces you know you want, the better.

More basics or more statements?

Another question you need to ask yourself, and this is one that I tend to overlook when refining my own personal style, is whether your current closet is lacking basic pieces or statement pieces. And then you need to ask yourself the followup question of “what do I consider a basic or statement piece?”

Your basics are your staples. If you have a more extravagant, colorful, or eccentric style, then your definition of a ‘basic’ is going to be different from someone who has a more practical, neutral, or conservative style. Likewise, the definition of a ‘statement piece’ will be different as well.

Personally, I don’t have a very eccentric or extravagant sense of style. I prefer simple, classic pieces, with some late 50s and 60s influence, and in generally muted or neutral colors. This means that for me, my statement pieces are going to draw some inspiration from the mod look in terms of silhouette, or will be in the only bright color I wear: red.

My current two statement pieces in my closet is a half red/half peach asymmetric button up, and a leopard print mini dress (with a high neckline – remember the mod inspiration).

So consider whether you need more basic pieces or more statement pieces, but also keep in mind what your own definition of a basic/statement is, and don’t be afraid to get really specific about it!

What are some of your ‘avoids’?

If you’ve already spent time developing your personal style, then you should already have some ideas of how to answer this question, but if you’re not sure yet, then I suggest taking the time to go through your current closet and noting what you don’t actually wear.

While it’s great to focus on what you do want in the refinement of your personal style, it’s also important to understand what isn’t currently working in your closet. Not only for the removal of those pieces, but also to know what mistakes to avoid when purchasing clothing or accessories in the future.

As an example, an avoid for me is the color green. I pretty much only wear neutrals and warm colors (with the exception of exactly two blue shirts), and even though I like warm greens in theory, in practice I don’t actually end up wearing them.

So, what are some of your avoids?

And now, time for some less practical, more personal questions to consider.

Do you actually like it, or do you just like how someone else wears it?

Sometimes when we’re scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, or watching a TV show, we come across a new style or clothing piece or accessory that we love. But when this happens, you need to consider would you actually love wearing it, or are you just in love with the idea of wearing it?

Not every color, not every shape, not every silhouette will work on everyone, and that’s okay. You don’t have to wear something to appreciate the way it looks on someone else.

Are you willing to change your style habits?

Lastly, you should seriously consider whether you’re actually willing to change your style habits. If your current style habit is leggings and an oversized hoodie, and you’re trying to refine that into pantsuits then you’re probably going to have to do a complete style overhaul. Whereas a gentler and easier change would be to switch to leggings and an oversized button up as your daily uniform.

It’s okay if you’re not up to changing your style habits, or only making minimal changes. But it’s important to be honest with yourself about that, so that you don’t end up buying clothing or accessories that you never end up wearing.

Now, if you are willing to change your style habits, or adapt them, then you may want to have an idea of how you’re going to be doing that.

As an example, I have what I consider to be comfy outfits. These are the outfits that I love to wear when I’m feeling lazy, sick, or just don’t want to put a lot of thought into my outfit for the day and just want something comfortable. I developed these comfy outfits as an alternative to wearing sweatpants or leggings with an oversized hoodie, which was my lazy day outfit pattern from about 4 years ago.

The bonus to adopting this outfit habit? On a few occasions during which I’ve had to leave the house while wearing my comfy outfits, I’ve gotten compliments on them! Because I had done some planning on comfortable (so comfortable), yet coordinated looks, people don’t realize that they’re my lazy day outfits.

So if you are willing to change your style habits and refine your style, then I wish you luck on this phase in your personal style journey! And remember that this is a journey, not a destination.

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