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.
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
- 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.
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