10 Steps to Discover Your Personal Style

Do you have a person in your life that just has it so together when it comes to style? Where you see them and you’re like – how do you look so polished, like you just went shopping yesterday – but EVERY DAY?

I have a couple of people. Girls at work who I wish were celebrities so I could pin their outfits and have them as style icons… and my bff who is just as obsessive as me about clothes, but has cracked some code lately that I haven’t.

She did the whole Kon Mari thing and purged her closet when the book first came out, and discovered that minimalism is her JAM. Not only when it comes to her house, but her style too. She now has this chic-ass closet with all neutral colors, soft knits, flawless dresses – so grown up, so sexy – and so her. She throws whatever on and it’s always amazing. And she feels amazing about her closet and loves everything in it.

So, I did the whole purging and reorganizing thing, and got pretty good at it. I can get pretty scrappy when it comes to being minimal and getting rid of things I don’t need. But I still feel a little…at sea. I look at other people’s wardrobes and it’s so clear and identifiable – that’s they’re style. You could go shopping for them and know what they would like in an instant. And they seem so comfortable in what they’re in all the time.

So I did some research, brainstormed, and came up with some tips and tricks that I hope will help you as much as they helped me if you’re looking to narrow down your personal style. After completing all these steps, I’m starting to see more and more clearly what my style is and what makes me feel the best, plus discover some realizations I never thought about before.

 

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1. Start brainstorming with style icons, Pinterest boards, and your closet MVPs

Start by simply looking for what you like. Make a Pinterest board of outfits you like, or update one you already have. What is catching your eye? What is making you say ooh and aah?

Who are your style icons? Search for pins of musicians, models, and bloggers that you would pretty much date – and add your favorite outfits of theirs to your board. You can also think of style icons who aren’t celebrities – coworkers, friends, imaginary personas in your head… what would they wear? Pin that stuff.

Tip: I found it helpful to look for style icons outside of the typical cast of white and very thin celebrities that usually come to mind. Even if you completely relate to their body type, branch out – I found that it makes me feel so much more confident about being different and dressing however I want, despite the status quo.

Use your own closet for inspiration as well. Put everything you absolutely love without question at one end of your closet, all together. Now browse through those pieces and see what they all might have in common, or the story they’re telling. Use that to influence your Pinterest board, too.

Tip: I have a thousand Pinterest boards, which might not be your thing – but consider using multiple boards for style inspiration if you’re trying to narrow down what you like (you can always make them secret if you don’t want the world seeing it). I have a winter style board, a summer style board, and a My Style board. Super original, I know. But I find it really helpful to just throw whatever speaks to me on the summer/winter boards, and be much more picky with the My Style board. My problem in the past was getting distracted by things I thought were cool, but then losing sight of what I wanted to wear in real life. So maybe going into this exercise, create a new board where you can start fresh, if you’ve been a style pinner in the past.

 

2. Kon Mari the shit out of that board

This was Em’s idea (the bff). Like I mentioned, my boards can get distracting sometimes – I’ll put a pic of a runway model on there because the color combination inspired me, but I would never wear the outfit. Use this board, your “This Is My Style and I Figured It Out and It’s Awesome” board, to only pin things that you would LOVE to wear.

To help with this, ask yourself these questions as you pin or scroll through and clean up the board:

  • Do I love this? Like, really love this?
  • Would I put this outfit on and feel good in it?
  • Would I buy this?

Come back to this board as you go through the rest of the steps and keep tweaking it based on the answers and realizations you might come to.

 

3. Find your wardrobe color palette

I found this step super helpful. It might sound kind of random at first, but it really helps! Look at your current closet, including shoes, bags, and accessories. What colors keep popping up? What colors are rare? If you took my advice and put everything you love at one end of your closet, which colors are there? Which colors are at the other end – with things that you might really like, but maybe you hardly wear them?

Here’s an example of what I came up with for my wardrobe:

  • Main colors: navy, pink (peach, blush, salmon), cognac, grey, black
  • Neutral colors: black, cognac, grey
  • Accent colors: jewel tones – purple, red, green

This is helpful for future shopping trips for anything – makeup, clothes, jewelry, bags – because you can look at your palette and say, “Will this piece go with my main colors?” If the answer is yes, THAT SHIT WILL MATCH EVERYTHING. We are on our way to giving you a closet where everything works together, and putting together outfits is easy.

 

4. Define your key pieces

What do you wear all the time? Are there some weeks where you feel like you have a uniform? Mine is jeans, brown ankle boots, top, scarf, cardigan. When I’m not feeling creative, I rely on these pieces to make me feel cute anyway.

Here are my key pieces:

  • cognac ankle boots
  • cropped dark grey moto jacket
  • ripped skinny jeans
  • scarves
  • patterned tops
  • loose-fitting neutral tee
  • casual dresses
  • brown leather heels
  • Henley tops

Use this list as a wishlist for items you might want to consider splurging on when you have the chance – investing in these pieces will make you feel much more put together. Then you can try out other trends at cheaper prices, while your staples will last you forever.

 

5. Find the key words that define your style

Who do you want to be? Don’t think about who you should be. Do you want to be a bohemian goddess? Do you want to be a bad ass CEO? Do you want to be a rock star? What do you want your style to say about you?

This may seem kind of silly, but it’s so helpful – you need to have a persona in your mind to move toward. One of mine is very weird, but it puts a clear image of a persona in my head (for whatever reason) – “The Cool Girl”. I know. But when I look at a top and think, “Is this what The Cool Girl would wear?” it becomes clear instantly. The style that comes to mind is torn jeans, casual tees, chic ankle boots, interesting tops, simple jewelry, dresses that are simple but make a statement – sexy but laid back. The Modcloth Girl, or The Coachella Girl, or The Professional Classy Chick, would have a totally different style.

So here are my key words:  “cool girl”/edgy, bohemian, girly, casual, simple

 

6. Think about your lifestyle

Do you work from home, but have a ton of heels and pencil skirts? No wonder you have nothing to wear. Start with being realistic about where you are in your life right now. You need a closet full of clothes that make sense for your life. Not Beyonce’s, or Elizabeth Warren’s, or Serena Williams’. Look at the proportion of time you typically spend in certain categories and try and get your closet to match that. If you never go to the Grammy’s, then you probably don’t need 5 ballgowns. If you teach yoga for a living, invest in awesome and cute active wear, and stop loading up your closet with blazers and blouses you’ll never wear.

Here’s mine:

Lifestyle: work, casual weekend, working out, going out

Most is work, but it’s very casual – every so often I want cute work out gear and a killer let’s-go-dancing outfit, but I don’t need to invest a lot in that category.

Tip: Use your key pieces that you outlined in number 4 to help with this one, plus the favorite things in your closet that you keep reaching for again and again.

 

7. Now you’re ready to really polish that Pinterest board

After thinking about your dream style and closet, and matching that to your real life, you’re ready to go back to that Pinterest board and create a final curated and crafted mood board of your personal style. Hopefully things are starting to come into focus a little bit – but remember, it’s a process!

Weed out anything that doesn’t fit with the work you did above, and take a scroll through – this is what you’re going for.

 

8. Take action

Alright. Let’s take a look at that other side of your closet. Now, some stuff may be things you love, but wear more sparingly – these could be tops or dresses in one of your accent colors that are great for one of your lifestyle categories. But look through what you have and make some tough choices. Would you pin that sweater to your board? Is what you’re seeing lining up with your key words? Would your style icons borrow clothes from this closet and pretend to forget to give it back?

 

9. Use your new shopping weapon

Use your new style board as your guide when you go shopping from now on. Take a scroll through before you head out on a spree, or use it when you are on the fence about something in the dressing room (“but it’s only seven dollars….”).

I use Pinterest for shopping all the time. I have my trusty “My Style” board now, plus I like to have a separate board as a shopping list so I won’t forget to look for wish list items (I know, I’m a Pinterest board hoarder). I did a post a loooooong time ago about how I use Pinterest as my closet’s bff – you can check it out here.

Remember, less is more – we’re not going for a TON of pieces that scream your style, but slowly collecting a curated closet that has just enough – and makes you smile when you see it.

 

10. Rinse and repeat

Come back to your style board every so often and reevaluate – especially after life changes like getting a new job, weight gain/loss, having kids, after the latest Kon Mari binge, etc.

 

I hope some of this was helpful! I also created this fun worksheet that combines a lot of these steps into one page that you can use to brainstorm, hang in your closet, or just kill time at work. :) (Here is a similar one from Unfancy that I love!)

 

Download My Style Worksheet

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Life Lessons from Laguna Beach

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It started when I was about 16, watching Laguna Beach and noticing how Kristin Cavallari seemed to be about 20 years older than everyone else. Sure, everyone pretty much hated her. But I think it was because she was on to something – and no one knew what it was.

While on one of our frequent phone dates, my sister (who was in college at the time), cracked the code for me. Kristin didn’t care what everyone else thought – at least not nearly as much as a 17 year old typically does.

Here’s what she does that we found so revolutionary:

  • She leaves the room/party/conversation when she’s not having a good time anymore
  • She is honest about what she wants and doesn’t want and doesn’t apologize for it
  • She is confident – in how she looks (cuz duh, but still), and that she will still find friends, or another boyfriend, or someone who will want to spend time with her if everyone else hates her
  • She takes as fact that her idea of a good time and opinions of other people are totally valid

…and everyone hates her. She’s the mean girl. She’s the bitch. She’s self involved and selfish. And okay, she is a popular white blonde 17 year old who is rich AF so I get it. You can hate her. But she doesn’t care. And that’s kind of – why you hate her.

Why doesn’t she care? Why isn’t she freaking out about what everyone is going to think if she leaves this party early because it’s lame and people are being idiots and she would rather be home alone watching TV? How can she just leave and not feel bad?

What we’re all thinking is – I would never be able to leave and not stress over it.

Maybe you never watched Laguna Beach circa 2005 (I’m sorry that happened to you) and maybe you leave parties and don’t give a shit and that’s awesome. But the majority of the people I know didn’t know what this sorcery was, especially at 16 – and some still don’t leave parties even if they are basically in hell at age 30 because they don’t want to risk making a couple of acquaintances feel bad.

And let me get something out of the way real quick before we move on – Kristin Cavallari was acting like a bunch of dudes act all the time. Everyone had a passionate hatred for her on that show because she’s a woman who doesn’t care what you think. That just goes against everything everyone has ever been taught in our society from day 1. If you’re a woman, you DEFINITELY care what everyone thinks, to the point of literally harming yourself in all sorts of ways. Men experience societal pressure too – but I would argue that women are particularly hated when they decide to say fuck off to their set of guidelines. I just read Shrill by Lindy West and in that book you will find a ton of evidence to this point – being a woman who is loud, contrary, and I unapologetic will result in mankind’s worst behavior coming at you from the underbelly of everything shitty. (I recommend the book, by the way – it wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be, but she is a feminist bad ass and makes you think of things you may not have before).

The point is – Kristin and Lindy are hated. But they are also revolutionary and we want what they have. Or at least a lot of people I know do, and I do, too. I want a life completely based on my terms – doing what I want to do and surrounding myself with people I enjoy.

So my goal is to continually move toward this. I have been moving toward it since I watched Laguna Beach. Some switch flipped when I figured out that I wanted what Kristin had. I dumped a group of friends (in the only way my teenage self knew how – I would probably do things differently now – but then again, high school is SO WEIRD so who knows if I could have actually done that in a better way). I was tired of feeling like a doormat and basically telling people in a variety of ways to treat me like one. So I cut out things in my life that made me feel shitty, at the expense of things I was supposed to care about above all else – like looking cool with a group at lunch (I’d rather go home and eat with my mom), or not attracting too much attention at the risk of it being negative (I started dressing the way I wanted to instead of how I thought I should).

I stopped putting other people’s feelings about what I did above my own feelings about what I did. I mattered more.

How I feel everyday matters more than how other people feel about me everyday. If something makes me happy and that causes someone to think of me in a bad light, that sucks I guess but it’s more important that I feel happy.

I’m mostly talking about acquaintances and social circles here, so of course take it with that in mind – sitting for 2 hours talking to my boyfriend about my feelings and being super vulnerable is not my idea of fun, but I am prioritizing myself in that moment, and of course him as well. So you get what I’m sayin.

This new book I’m reading (I Need Your Love – Is That True? – terrible title) basically asks you to imagine what your life would be like if you stopped caring so much about what people thought about you. What if you only got dressed for yourself? What if you looked at your social calendar and schedule for the week and only saw things you wanted to do? (We talked about this idea a while back, actually.)

I’m trying to slide into my 30s with this mentality as a goal – life is too short to care about what peripheral people think. If I spent the time I took worrying about acquaintances and how they viewed me and applied it to my important relationships, how might my life improve?  I want to hit 30 with some experience with this under my belt so I can hit that decade running. I want to be a Kristin – who, by the way, was always very sweet to her close friends, from what I can remember (it’s been a while). I want to have FUN and give my time and effort to the people that really count – not this weird studio audience category of people that so many take so much time trying to impress.

We need to ask ourselves – how important is this person? Then give them a proportional amount of time, brain space, and effort.

 

What do you think? To be honest, I haven’t watched Laguna Beach in a loooong time so let me know if I have selective memory and if any of ya’ll remember it differently! And I found this fun piece if you want to take a stroll down memory lane…

Do you have any goals to give less f@#ks lately? :)

 

 

 

What if

 

It’s a new year. Things have been shifting for a while now, and I have been focusing on minimalism lately – not like, I only own one chair and 3 shirts, but making my life full of only things that are important to me. Because why not?

I also get tripped up by second-guessing myself. It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time – trusting my instincts, trusting my feelings, trusting myself in general – that I can do this, that I mean well, that I am not wrong, that what I feel is right.

So for 2017 I want to work on these muscles – letting things go. Trusting myself.

I wrote the below back in October, but it seemed like good timing to post it now – I don’t have any new years resolutions this year, but this kind of sums up the general vibe I am going for in 2017 – I want to be brave, be myself, and live the life I want to live.

 

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What if

What if I stopped caring what I said or how it may have sounded last night?
What if I lose a friend, or make someone feel uncomfortable, by saying how I feel?
What if I didn’t care about being the “cool” girlfriend?
What if I didn’t care if I killed the mood at the bar when someone says something sexist?
What if I don’t answer that text, show up to that party, or have this conversation, because I don’t want to?
What if someone thinks I’m flaky?
What if someone hates how much I post on Facebook about politics?
What if I devoted all my time and energy only to the people and things that truly matter to me?
What if I stopped doing things I don’t enjoy?
What if I stopped giving myself such a hard time about things that aren’t a big deal?
What if people think I’m loud, too opinionated, annoying, or that I talk too much?
What if people don’t like me?
What if I stopped caring so much and lived my life everyday doing exactly what I want to do?

 

~

 

What are your new years resolutions/vibes? I’ve heard some good ones from friends and want to hear from you! My favorite one that I have heard today: “It’s ok to try EASY sometimes.”

<3

 

 

 

Wait, why again?

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Mélange à trois is a series where we discuss life’s burning questions about life, love, and style. Have a question you just can’t find the answer to? Email me at missmelangeblog@gmail.com and we’ll talk about it!

 

I have this group of girlfriends that I see pretty often. I’ve known them for forever, and they are fun to hang out with – but lately I feel like we don’t have much in common, and even though I have fun, I leave feeling weird. I find myself giving more than I’m getting – initiating things with them, asking them how they are and not talking about myself at all… And I’m starting to wonder why I put in the effort. But I’ve known these girls for forever, and I would feel bad about turning down invites (even though they don’t come to my get togethers)… What can I do to not rock the boat, but to stop feeling bleh about the whole thing?

 

Okay. Let’s break this down:

  • These friends don’t have anything in common with you
  • They aren’t giving anything in your friendship
  • You feel shitty after hanging out with them
  • They don’t come to your stuff, but you go to theirs

The only things keeping you from changing it up are:

  • You’ve known them for forever
  • You feel bad turning them down

Let’s start with the two reasons that would prevent you from changing the current state of things.

It doesn’t matter that you have known them for a long time if you aren’t getting anything out of these friendships. It’s not like you’re banning them from your life, and if you end up having things in common later and life and they bring value as friends, then great, you can always pick things back up. But right now, your life is being weighed down by unnecessary shit, and this is something you need to cut out. We’ll get to why later.

But you also feel bad turning them down. Here’s the thing – what would you rather feel: irrational guilt for turning down an invite from them when they turn down yours, or that frustrated feeling you get when you realize you got off your couch and did your hair, all for a couple of hours that you wish you could get back to do something you care about?

Then there’s the bigger picture. It’s not just about your Friday night, or who has accepted the most invitations – it’s about your whole life. Which sounds dramatic, but hear me out.

When you look at your social calendar, how much of it are you genuinely looking forward to? 50%? 80%? I think it should be 100%. Sure, some things you can’t get out of, and some things are investments or necessary evils (for example, maybe your in-laws aren’t at the top of your fun list, but you know it’s important and it’s worth it). But when it comes to your people who you choose to spend your SPARE time with, why the hell is that something you’re dreading? Makes no sense!

This is something I am JUST figuring out, thanks to my wise sister. We have been talking about how important our time is and how it makes us feel. Think about it – you’re looking at your week like, “Okay Monday I have happy hour with this girl from work who I don’t even like that much and it’s going to be awkward, but she asked me so I had to go… then Wednesday I have my friend’s party where no one I know will be there, but I should go because I didn’t go to her last leggings/oils/crystals/makeup party…then Thursday I have dinner with the boyfriend’s family friends who I’ve never met… then Friday and Saturday I said I would leave for the weekend with friends that I have realized lately I don’t click with at all….” SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT WEEK. I’m already exhausted.

But we’ve all been there, right? (If you haven’t, props to you and please comment with tips!) With that kind of pattern, I would start to feel kinda depressed about my life – where is all the fun stuff I want to do??

So we need to start saying no. With no guilt. Even if someone did nothing wrong, but you’re just not into it, say no. Even if you LOVE this person but you don’t love their bowling club, say no. And once your schedule is 90% shit you love, showing up for someone you love to do something you’re not that thrilled about will be a million times easier.

It’s about your life as a whole, and viewing your time as a precious (and scarce) resource. If I say no to this party these girls invited me to, I will have more energy to say yes to other invites that are way more important to me. And I will have more energy to do other things that make me happy, like exercise or cook for myself or read that book. Suddenly, you have time to do the things you WANT to do.

And even if you’re SO BORED, and the only thing to do this Friday night is hang out with those girls, still say no – because you know you won’t have a good time. And with that freed up time and space, you make room for new friends, new hobbies, new habits – and you will only let those in that you think sound fun. It might take some time, but then you’re looking at a bad-ass calendar.

Think of it as a wardrobe capsule for your life. Less=more, quality > quantity.

Sounds pretty dope, no? So start embracing “no”. We’ll do it together.

 

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