How to Find Your Personal Style

Last week, I talked about putting together my fall/winter capsule wardrobe and touched on some topics that I'll revisit in this post. It's like we're taking a few steps back. It's hard to put together a good capsule wardrobe if you're not really aware of your own personal style. 

Personal style is a tricky thing and can take some time to figure out. It evolves, moving backward and forward and sometimes in circles. I know that my style today is quite different than it was in, say, high school but there are actually some surprising similarities, too! 

At twenty-five, I think I've settled into my personal style finally and will be able to build upon it for the rest of my life. Here's a few tips that helped me do it and can help you as well.

Mood Board
Start a new, preferably private Pinterest board for the strict purpose of determining what you like. I say make it private so that you don't feel some subconscious pressure to pin outfits you don't necessarily love for yourself. Start pinning looks that speak to you. It could be street style, runway looks, celebrity outfits, bloggers, even artwork or movie stills. Don't feel obligated to do this all in one day because the aesthetic will come together more organically if you simply pin what you like when you see it on your feed. 

Eventually, this board will become a mood board for your personal style aesthetic. You will likely be able to put together patterns and trends in the images you pin.

Style Spirit Guides
Try to think of up to five people whose style you absolutely love. For me, that's Jeanne Damas, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Kate Foley, Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam, Amy Jackson of Fashion Jackson, and Paola Alberdi of Blank Itinerary. Think about why you like their style. What specific looks are you drawn to and why? Not only will this help you get to the root of what you're drawn to but you'll also have five names on hand when you're in need of outfit inspiration.

Experimentation
A great way to find your personal style is to simply experiment! Even if you're not ready to make a purchase, go out to Zara or Topshop and try on many different silhouettes. This will help you find the right fit for your body and give you a better idea of what feels right visually. Of course, you can experiment with styling online with websites like Polyvore, but it really helps to try on those looks in person to see if it's right for you.

Define it
This has been one of the most helpful things for me to find my personal style. Fashion is primarily visual, so putting things into words can give you a new perspective. I like to pick three or four descriptive words to describe my personal style: Parisian, timeless, off-kilter, feminine. As you can see, the words can be contradictory. When I'm shopping and an item jumps out at me, I ask myself if it falls under two or more of my descriptive words before buying it. 

Lifestyle
Think about the things you do on a daily basis because these are the things that ultimately define your life and thus, can help to define your style. This doesn't mean you should put yourself in a box and limit your style, but it's also impractical for your personal style to be beachy bohemian with palm prints, kimonos, and denim cutoffs if you live in Seattle. It doesn't make sense for an elementary school teacher to have a personal style that involves Vetements sweatshirts and flatforms . But in the end, feel free to totally break this rule because sometimes total impracticality is what makes a fashion icon.

Staple Piece
Steve Jobs' black Issey Miyake turtlenecks. Emmannuelle Alt's chic blazers. Carolina Herrera's A-line skirts. You don't necessarily have to stick to a uniform, but a simple way to define your personal style is to find the perfect piece---one that fits perfectly, makes you feel confident, and makes sense with your personal taste---and wear it to death. Let's say it's an oversized blazer. Buy it different colors and prints from brands high and low. Use it as an anchor for the majority of your outfits and after a bit of time, people will start to associate blazers with you. Voilà, personal style.