Let’s play a game. Describe what these people are wearing when you think about them?
Chances are you defined them something similar to these images. It is because they have a very distinctive aesthetic and signature outfit that is also strategically used in the media. It is in itself tells a whole story of a personality and attitudes.
However it’s not only celebrities who can benefit from a uniform or a signature look. While many would start a personal style development by understanding your body type I think it is more effective to create a uniform first. There are a ton of information that can be learned during the process and a uniform is a great base to start building a greener and more functioning wardrobe.
Here are 7 exercises that you can do to develop it:
Ask your friends
As a starting point similar to the small exercise above you could ask your closest friends or family members to describe what you are wearing when they think about you? This is a good feedback of a proportion, formula, colours, cuts etc that you sport. It describes the current situation. You may be happy with it or you may not. Is it in line with what you would like to present about yourself to the world or is it not?
It is also beneficial if you start collecting inspiration of what you like. For this exercise I would use Pinterest. This can be a quick browse but I think since your style evolves and changes it is most useful to keep it as a “working document” You may start by looking for images of a celebrity or fictional character whose style you like, or a material, a specific item (like: maxi skirt outfits). But don’t get too caught up on only pinning only clothes. If you like an image of an interior or and architecture, a texture etc those might come handy too. Besides Pinterest you can also cut out from magazines, take pictures on the street, or even in stores. This is not the time to be self-conscious about your age, weight or lifestyle. Collect everything you like and you will see a theme developing.
Find common themes
After you have pinned about 100-200+ images (the more the merrier) examine your board and come up with common themes. Regarding my board I would come up with these:
Personal styles to copy: Anine Bing, Emanuelle Alt, Carolina Herrera
Overall style: minimalist, functional, classic and edgy
Items: jeans blue/black/white/grey, sweater, T-shirt, heels, ballet flats, brogues, biker jacket, army jacket, structured blazer, wrap dress,
Outfit formulas: jeans+shirt+ sneakers, jeans + T-shirt + heels, white T-shirt and moto jacket, tunic+leggings
Colours: black-white-grey -navy -gold -olive -pink
Prints: animal print, small floral print, Breton stripes
Textures: cozy, soft, light, comfortable
Cuts: V-neck, loose halter dress, wrap dress, loose shirts, hip-lenght blazers, skinny jeans and boyfriend cuts, kimono,
Brands: Zadig et Voltaire, Diesel, J Crew,
Other: pop of colour like red, white on top dark in the bottom, contasts: sporty and sexy, loose + fitted, outer layer is important, more jeans than skirt, comfort above all else.
Match our dream wardrobe with reality. Try to assess your lifestyle. How much of your time is spent in workwear (What qualifies as workwear for you? Do you work in a strict dress code office environment or are you a pre-school teacher? Do you have to stand or move around a lot during your work or do you sit? How much time to you spend at home in lounge wear or work-out clothes? How often do you go for formal events? How often do you go to enjoy the outdoors or to party? You get the idea…Most of these questions are common sense but we tend to buy clothes for our dream lifestyle more than for reality. Which creates access and hence unneccesary cost for the environment and for ourselves.
An example: In my case my lifestyle requires pretty casual wear. I do go to an office every day but it doesn’t have a strict dress code. I walk to work with my dog every day so I need shoes that I can walk in for 60 minutes each day. Often I meet friends after work but the work-clothes are fit for an after-work catch up as well. I don’t attend formal events very often but I do go to hiking and to summer festivals. I’m on and off with regular exercise but my goal is to build a stable routine therefore I’ll need a couple of items for that too. Where I live we have 4 seasons, so I need clothes for both warm and cold weather as well as transition ones and layering pieces. I would say my lifestyle can be described as such: 65% casual work wear, 15% lounge, 10% active, outdoor, 5% formal work wear, 5% special occasion. As for shoes: 80% flats 20% heels.
Check the recomendations for your body type
Side note, although I think it is useful if we are aware of our body types it shouldn’t be used as a burden rather as some tips to make the most of what you got. Each body is different and each item can be styled so may different ways. Experiment and see what you like and feel good in. The main body shapes are: pear, apple, inverted triangle, tall, petite. (Right now I won’t get into any further details. I’m dedicating a separate blog post for measuring and collecting the main guideline for each type so stay tuned.)
Check your colour palette
It’s not only your body type but also the tone and undertone of your skin that influences what looks good on you and what not. I’m sure you have noticed that in come clothes you radiate and get compliments all day, and some of them just washes you out. This is most likely a colour issue. (Again, colour is a grand topic on its own so will get into the details in a separate post)
List all your preferences
Now gather all the info that you collected during the process and come up with an adjusted list of preferences.
My adjusted list is the following: loose fitting shirt (white, olive, black) + dark wash skinnies + flats + optional outer layer as my signature outfit.
Have you found a uniform that you can wear almost any time any day? If not, try to create a couple different ones that you gravitate towards and adjust over time. Your personal style is ever-changing and evolving, therefore the development is a continuous process as well. But with time and attention you will be able to create a more and more functional wardrobe that presents yourself better and better. At the same time reduces clutter and limits overconsumption to create a greener closet.