How to find your unique style in 3 easy steps
Having spoken to many clients and friends over the years , it seems that looking and feeling really great every day on a consistent basis is a struggle that you all face at some point. Quite often, if I ask what one wardrobe dilemma they would like addressing, women say, ‘How to dress for me and know what my unique style is’.
Many of my clients, and you may be the same, think that they have have nothing to wear, or dislike everything that they see when they open their wardrobe each morning.
Most commonly they think that they don’t have enough clothes. Or don’t have what everyone else has. Or it’s because they are overweight. Or underweight. Or that they don’t have enough time to shop. Or that they don’t know what to buy when they do shop. But it’s none of those….
It’s not that you’ve got nothing to wear, it’s that you don’t know what to wear for your unique style
But I can tell you this is probably not the reason. From my career of over 20 years making clothes for many different types of women, the reasons why you think you have nothing to wear are rarely because there is nothing in your wardrobe. Through talking to my clients about their needs and their wardrobes there are common themes which we all find challenging at one time or another.
While blaming your weight, or the lack of time, or your job, or your family might seem like the reason you don’t have the right clothes to wear, (by which I mean clothes which you love wearing) the real reason is often more simple than that.
You don’t know what to wear. And why.
You don’t know what to wear.
Because you don’t know what you want to wear.
Somewhere along the timeline of your life you stopped intentionally choosing what you want to wear.
And just pulled out clothes each day and put them on.
Then one day you went to your wardrobe and looked at your clothes as if they were not your own.
How did they all get in there?
We live in a time where we have fewer dress codes.
They still exist.
But in general you can get up and wear whatever you want.
The freedom brings choice.
And that choice brings responsibility.
Because if you can wear whatever you want, you get to decide.
We don’t necessarily prioritise clothes decisions though.
We prioritise children, family, mortgages and career.
And rightly so.
But there is still time available to prioritise you.
Prioritise your unique style
What do you want to wear?
What would you like to wear that make you uniquely you?
We are all unique.
Just somewhere along the path we sometimes forget that,
or, we want a change but don’t know how to get there.
I know that feeling. I’ve spent the last ten years in dresses, cardigans, jeans, trainers and boots. I’ve been bringing up a family. But now I feel a change coming. I want a sleeker look, a slightly sexier look maybe. But I haven’t made a definite decision towards it. I’ve prioritised, work and family over myself. So I have this vague feeling that I’d quite like to wear sleeveless poloneck tops, cigarette cut trousers, hoop earrings and grow my hair. But I haven’t actually moved towards that image of myself. Which is a shame because that there is my future self. Waiting for me. It’s a subtle shift because outwardly everything is the same, but inwardly I feel very different.
Getting to your unique style
To get to your unique style you need to run towards it.
Let me show you how.
Expectation, preparation and planning are going to help you get to your unique style.
Let’s make a start with expectation.
Your unique you tip #1: Expectation
Confident women with their own unique style have a certain level of expectation of their appearance. When you set a certain level of expectation for yourself and achieve it your confidence soars and you look great. If you are struggling to find your unique style, you need to set some new expectations for yourself.
This might be the hardest of the 3 to get started with.
I want you to sit for 30 minutes, more if you need, and think about what you really want to wear each day.
You can do this in any way you want.
- Sit and draw
- Tear images out of magazines
- Create a Pinterest board
- Sit and write a list
- Browse shopping sites and book mark items that you really love:clothes; jewellery; shoes
After 30 minutes or so, I want you to stop everything that you are doing. Shut the computer.
Thinking about your ideal outfit
Then I want you to write down the answer to this question,
“If I get up tomorrow and can wear my ideal outfit it would be…………………………..”
Don’t edit yourself.
Don’t say to yourself “I can’t wear that”, or “That’s ridiculous, I’ve never worn that in my life”.
You need to go with it.
Work out what is going on in your brain.
Get it out.
And then go to work.
Expectation realised is progress. Expectation without action results in frustration and lack of confidence because no result is forthcoming.
Your expectation should be that each day you wake up and can wear an outfit that you absolutely love and that’s totally fine.
I used to feel guilty about the privilege of having huge choice in what I wear
I used to feel really guilty about that.
I thought about all the people in the world who don’t have that choice, who live in poverty, who don’t have the resources that we have in the West.
Now I realise that it’s a real gift and a blessing to be able to wear what we want. It’s a privilege. and I’m not going to throw that away.
Back to your list.
I’d like you to have written about what colours you want to wear. What kind of clothes. What shoes. What jewellery.
If you think you need to change your make up or your hair style or colour then please include that.
An example of what my unique me list looks like
This is an example of how my list would look now:
Dresses: I’d like to wear dresses that have more style details, fabric that is pleated, folded, draped.
I’d definitely like to dress like Donna/Jessica in Suits.
I want to wear jeans less.
I want to wear wide legged trousers, fitted to the waist more.
I’d LOVE a new handbag – (I didn’t realise that until I started thinking about what to wear) something structured in a beige/caramel leather, or a beautiful leather rucksack with a tassle on the drawstring.
I’d like to wear new colours: beige, caramel, bronze, navy as base colours.
I would like to look sleek, sophisticated and little bit sexy and a lot chic.
When I thought a little bit longer I realised that I’d love to wear cigarette-style trousers but didn’t know whether my body shape would suit them. However at this stage we are not leaving anything out. So they are now on the list.
Tops with interesting design details.
I need to throw away a lot of exercise gear that I wear because it’s like a comfort blanket. And I need to invest in some exercise wear that doesn’t have paint on, doesn’t have holes in and actually coordinates.
Wardrobe Styling tip #2: Preparing for the new you
When you have done tip #1 it’s time get ready for the new you.
Let’s firstly aim to have one whole, complete outfit in the style of your new you. By the time this post is finished.
So, taking the list that you have created, attach it to all the pictures you have collected. If you collected pictures online then print them out.
This is your baby style guide. It’s going to grow over time. But this here is the start of it.
First create your new outfit
So let’s create your first, new outfit.
Choose what it’s going to be from your list.
Go to your wardrobe and see what you have got that would fit your new list.
Some of you will have plenty of items. It’s just that you need to put them together in a new way. Your list will help you.
Others of you, like me, will struggle to find anything in your wardrobe that fits your new list criteria.
Secondly start to remove items that are not on your list
The second action you need to take is to remove from your wardrobe those items that you don’t want to wear. At this stage I wouldn’t recommend that you send them to your favourite charity shop or ebay them. Wash them and store them away for the time being.
So, what I will be storing away are the majority of my jeans (gasp!), dresses that I’ve been wearing because they were prototypes of designs I have been working on and clothes that people have given me that I don’t really want to wear.
nb – when you have stored your items away, put 2 dates on the box. You write today’s date, and what the date will be in 6 months time. Then make a note in your diary to think about that box in 6 months. If you haven’t actively missed wearing something in that box during that 6 month period, then you can feel confident that those clothes can now be released to new lives via the charity shop, or sold online.
If you have put an outfit together, congratulations!
If like me, it’s going to take a little longer, no worries. Create a link outfit. A link outfit fills the gap between now and the time in the not too distant future when you are going to be wearing your ideal outfit. A link outfit will partly fulfil the criteria on your list.
Link outfit: main items
For example, I want to wear dresses that have more design elements to them: more pleating; draping; folding. At the moment I don’t have those dresses in my wardrobe. But I do have plain and simple dresses that I can make sure that I actively accessories in a different way, say with different jewellery, or with a scarf. In that way I am actively acting towards my new desired unique style, even though I am not there yet.
Link outfit: accessories
I can concentrate on shoes I’d like to wear, how I want to wear my hair, whether I want to apply my makeup differently. All those details will contribute towards my new unique look and be part of the future me.
And remember, the link outfit is just for the time being, it’s not for the long term. It’s a way of helping your brain get to the new unique you, when not everything is in place yet.
Wardrobe Styling tip #3: Planning
The final stage in this process is the planning stage.
You may have been able to find items in your wardrobe that you can put together to create your new look. Or, you may be like me and you don’t currently have those items in your closet.
This is where planning comes in.
You now plan for the items that you want to wear.
Everytime you are online, or in a shop (which hopefully, post-Covid, we will be able to do soon) you are shopping for those items.
And those items alone.
Go back and revisit your list now.
What else would you put on there? Shoes? socks? tights? Coat?
Additional items on my list are: kitten heel sling back shoes, a smart summer coat (not a dog walking one).
Intentionality trumps panic buying. Every time.
From now on, when you shop, you are going to shop intentionally. For those clothes. The ones you want to wear.
In order to move from where you are now,
not being uniquely you,
To get to where you want to be,
You have to be intentional.
Keep your list with you. Maybe make a copy. If you shop without intentionality I can almost guarantee you will buy what you were wearing before.
Your aim is to move into your unique you and develop new ways of wearing clothes that suit you right now.
Don’t go back. Keep your list with you. Keep adding to it. When you see pictures that inspire you, or look like how you want to look, add them to your style file. Or to your Pinterest boards. Are there other women whose style is similar to how you want to look? Marion Cotillard fits the bill for me. (Aside from Jessica and Donna!)
How long will this take?
Aim to have your first outfit immediately. If you nearly have an outfit but there is one item outstanding, then try and locate that item.
Then plan the next one.
Don’t feel rushed. You are on your way. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the search.
Your shopping is now much more intentional. You know what you are looking for. It might take time but you will find it.
In a few weeks or months time, or days even, you will be there.
You will be in the future, with your unique you, your unique style.
Who knew it would be so easy?
Have a great day,
originally published 10 August 2018
updated on 10 June 2020