Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How To Develop a Signature Style

Since I have a fashion background, Saleema asked me how I’ve developed my personal style, and what exactly defines ones personal style. The conversation got me thinking and I wanted to share my insights with you.

1. How do I define my personal style and am I happy with it?

I truly believe that my personal style began developing itself at a very young age. I was one of those girls that loved to create unique outfits, play dress up with my friends (boys and girls) and rummaged through my mom’s closet (which I still do to this day). I was voted best dressed in high school and majored in fashion in college–fashion was and is in my blood.
Way back when, I identified elements of fashion that spoke to me, made me feel pretty, comfortable and stylish. Those same elements define my style today and give me that same sense of self-confidence and personal identity it did when I was 5.
  • Classic with an artistic flair–I follow fashion trends very closely but know that classic styles, silhouettes and details work best for me. I love combining a pair of jeans with a stylish blazer or long sweater coat. Or, dressing up a pair of black pants with a bright cardigan or menswear inspired shirt.

  • Color–Bright, bold colors are one of my signature touches. I know that color, versus neutrals look good on me and more importantly bold colors make me feel good, which is reflected in how I carry myself and interact with other. A great way to identify a fashion statement that works for you is to listen to what other have to say. It never fails that when I wear red, coral, kelly green or canary yellow, I get compliments from others.

    • Jewelry–My outfit does not feel complete without jewelry. For me, jewelry is the icing on the cake and is the way that I bring a look together. I use jewelry to make a statement and gravitate towards classic silver pieces, big earrings, bold necklaces and diamonds (it’s my birthstone after all). If you see me without any jewelry on, chances are I’m not feeling well.
    • Handbags–A girl can never have too many. As with jewelry, a handbag to me completes an outfit. While handbags are functional, I don’t look at them that way. To me, a handbag it a true style statement and should compliment an outfit first and be a storage vehicle second. On those occasions when I am wearing black or neutrals, I carry a handbag with color or shimmer to convey my personality.

    2. What are the components of great personal style?

      To me, great personal style is all about knowing yourself.
    • Knowing who you are–knowing what you like and don’t like is key to defining your personal style. It’s not about trying to look like someone else, but about creating your own style, one that allows you to look your best, always.

    * Knowing and loving your body–Whenever I’m at the mall I see loads of people wearing things that just aren’t right for them. Wearing clothes that don’t fit or flatter your body is the quickest way to downgrade your personal style. Take a day at the mall and try on lots of clothes. Recognize what cuts and styles enhance your body and make you feel good. These are the elements that will help you create your personal style.
    • Knowing how to play up your best attributes–It’s true, shorter people (me) really should not wear cropped pants, and those of us with a well endowed chest should gravitate towards scoop necks and v-necks because they are more flattering on our neckline. As you try on clothes, recognize which styles make you look taller, enhance your arms or legs and camouflage the areas you don’t like. Clothes that look good on you, do make you feel good.

    • Creating a signature look–Audrey, Michelle, Hillary, Jackie and my design idol Sarah Richardson all have signature looks. It could be a classic white shirt, a pattern or a brand that helps you define your personal style. Pick and item or two, and make it apart of fashion identity.

    3. How does one go about creating a personal style for themselves?

    • Find a role model–Look around… TV, magazines, friends and identify people whose fashion style you admire. Your goal is not to copy them, but be inspired by their personal style.
    • Shop and Try on–If you ever watch What Not To Wear on tv, Clinton and Staci spend countless hours with the client trying things on. This really is the best way to find and understand what fashions look best on you. If you’re afraid of going it alone, most of the major department stores have a personal shopper department where someone will work with you, to create your wardrobe.

  • Mix high-end with low-end–When it comes to shopping, I am not a brand snob. I buy items because they work for me, not because of the label or the price. I love to invest in classic pieces and then round out my wardrobe with inexpensive stylish finds. Some of my favorite pieces have come from Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Koh’s and the Nordstrom sale rack. Your really dont’ have to invest a lot of money to create a great wardrobe.

    • Invest in basics–Just about every fashion personality out there has a list of wardrobe basics every girl needs. My list of basics includes the following:
    Black Pants–When I find a great fitting pair of black pants, I sometimes by two pair. I also try to have several silhouettes of pants: wider leg, slimmer fit.
    Cardigans–As an essential wardrobe element, cardigans are great because they can be worn year round, can be dressed up or down, and are figure flattering on just about everyone. Plus, I’m always cold.
    Jeans–Ok, I admit shopping for jeans is not fun, but when it comes to jeans, finding a great fit is critical. I vote for darker washes and straight legs. And, I think you should own a “tall” pair for heels, and a “short” pair for flats.
    Classic White Shirt–Nothing is more versatile than a white shirt. Try building a wardrobe with several different styles.
    Your Favorite Colors–Your wardrobe should definitely include pieces in the colors you love. Guaranteed to make you feel good.
    Black Pumps–Every girl needs a great pair of go-to black pumps–kitten heel and a higher heel. I have a very narrow foot and slip-on shoes rarely fit me, so I tend to go for a black shoe with a slingback.
    Black Pencil Skirt–While every girl needs a LBD in their closet, I think a black pencil skirts is another essential. It’s versatile, figure flattering and never goes out of style.
    • Personalize with accessories–Think of accessories as the ribbon on the package. If you love gold jewelry, then make it apart of every outfit you wear. If you love scarves, then build a great collection of scarves. If shoes are your thing, then wear a killer pair every time your step out.
    • Become Known for something-One of my old sales reps loved patterned ballet flats. Every time you’d see her, your eyes would gravitate towards the floor to check out her shoes. Find a fashion element that you can become known for and make it apart of your signature style.
    • Tailor Your Clothing–I don’t like spending money on tailoring, but it really is the best way to get the best fit from your clothes. And, at 5″2 I really don’t have a choice!
    • Create a Look Book–Fashion stylist Lloyd Boston is known for creating look books for his clients. Once he creates a wardrobe for someone, he takes photos of the pieces and outfit combinations and puts them in a book. The book becomes a reference tool when you find yourself saying “I have nothing to wear”. Try making a look book for yourself, not only a styling tool, but also as a guide to help you shop and build your wardrobe.
    • Organize and prettify your closet–Nothing is more daunting than walking into a unorganized and not-so pretty closet. I have all my shoes in bins with photos on the outside and I recently switched all my clear plastic hangers to those slimline black hangers. They made my closet look better and gave me more room. Spend an afternoon getting your closet together, making it someplace you enjoy to visit.

    So there you have it, my take on personal style… how to define it, how to create it and how to make it your own!

    Now, let’s go shopping!

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