With the past weeks having most of us at home almost constantly, I could notice a few Social Media trends. Baking banana bread, DIY home decor projects, wardrobe purges, and Tik-Tok dance challenges.
And as fun as these all are to watch (and do!), I feel like there is an underlying current of this period, which I want to shine a light on today: the resurgence of personal style.
“Why, Silvia, personal style has always been a popular topic!” you might say. And I would agree with you- if it weren’t actually for fashion that has been hogging the limelight over the years, not necessarily style.
And while some tend to use them interchangeably, no, they are not one and the same!
So, I thought that today we could address some of the most often-asked personal style questions! And I will do my best to answer them through the lens of my own experience.
What is personal style?
Something that I hear very often is “What exactly is personal style?” And I’m pretty sure you’ve also already encountered a lot of different, convoluted or artificial definitions for it. Definitions which maybe left you even more confused.
So let me cut through the noise for you, with a very concise one:
Personal style is an amazing means of expressing your personality, your inner world, to the outside one.
It really is as simple as that!
And in this simplicity, you can glimpse that our style is a part of us that we show externally. One which seamlessly reflects (or should reflect) our internal attributes.
You can see that it is expressed creatively through elements of fashion and beauty. But that it goes far beyond them (more on this in a bit!)
And you can understand that it is something which evolves with us our whole life. Yet it holds a constant core that is distinctly ours.
This is a definition I’ve come to after learning more about style over the years. After many trials and errors on my own part, and after accumulating experience and knowledge from different sources.
A definition which also helps those of you who may have been wondering:
Why is finding my personal style important?
Since our style is an excellent channel for expressing our personality, taste, aesthetic- even our values and principles- it’s only natural to want to fully harness it!
Even more so, when you consider it’s a means of establishing your presence before you have the chance to say a word.
And not just through what you wear! But also through how you wear it.
How you pair your items, how you play with their different colours, patterns, cuts and fabrics. How you juggle various fashion styling ideas. How you choose to pile on the accessories, or forego them completely. How you opt for contrast or consistency in your clothing, make-up and hairstyle looks.
And ultimately, through the way you carry yourself, you smile, you shake someone’s hand or hold their gaze.
Oh yes- these are absolutely elements of your personal style!
As I mentioned earlier, your fashion choices and beauty picks are not the be-all and end-all of your stylistic expression.
Your posture, gestures and conduct contribute just as much to your external image.
Which should ideally match your internal presence.
Because I fully believe we should never judge a book by its covers…
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we learned to perfectly match our “covers” to the content inside?
Which is why you may now wonder…
How do I find my personal style?
Referring back to that simplicity of style, it is just it that gives your own style its authenticity. And it is also just it which can make pinpointing your individual style seem difficult, and even a bit overwhelming.
You want to look and feel beautiful, well-dressed, confident. So you read the magazines, and take the “Find Your Style” quizzes. You peruse the “Must-Have Lists” for this season and buy the “Closet Essentials” touted by fashion style experts.
You look in the mirror, hoping to see that impossibly stylish creature you built up in your mind staring back at you… Only to see yourself in an outfit that doesn’t represent who you are at all. An outfit which maybe looks great in a magazine, but doesn’t suit YOU.
Where did you go wrong?
Well, actually, you didn’t. You followed the steps to building a style perfectly! It just wasn’t your style.
Through my own experiments and trials with defining my personal style, I also went through this process. I learned that having the stylish wardrobe classics, or the trendy IT-items, or the best beauty products were not the key to my style.
I learned that while all these parts are great, the way I actually pieced them together to form my own puzzle was the key! So that when I looked in the mirror, I could see the person I envisioned, the one who was actually inside me, smiling back at me.
The person who loves matching delicate items with edgy ones, and who pairs romantic dresses with bedhead hair. The one who will always choose heels over sneakers, and cat eyeliner over intricate make-up looks.
And by the way, this is not the right way, or the wrong way… it’s just my way!
This allowed me to understand that creating my personal style had more to do with me getting to know myself better, than with simply learning about clothing and beauty. And it allowed me to understand that owning my personal style is an ongoing process.
It is also what allowed me to create You and Your Personal Style– a course geared towards women who want to more confidently express themselves through their personal style.
A course based on 5 easily applicable steps, which will help you bypass those years of frustrations and questions I tackled. And which will ultimately make your own personal style discovery journey easier and so much more fun!
How do I feel confident in my style?
Coming back to that dressing scenario I asked you to picture:
It perfectly illustrates the importance of your style, your taste and your personality working in tandem.
Because it’s just that harmony that allows you to feel confident in the external image you project.
You may be familiar with the impostor syndrome- you know, that niggly sensation you have when you feel out of place. Like you’ve been given a seat at the table , but you don’t quite deserve it.
And you may also have noticed how that feeling is 99.9% of the times just in our heads (don’t quote me on that statistic, I exaggerate to make a point 🙂 )
Well, the same is true for style!
If you keep doubting every choice, if you keep telling yourself “Who am I to dress like that?”, ” I can’t pull that off”, “What will my partner/colleagues/neighbours think?”, then you are effectively a victim of impostor syndrome.
And you are denying yourself the pleasure of wearing looks that would represent you perfectly, but don’t dare to- out of fear, or complexes. And instead, you wear things that let you feel safe, but that don’t let you sparkle. Because they don’t match YOU!
That’s the bad part.
The good part is you are also the one who can change this situation!
Granted, it’s not easy- and sometimes it requires external help from a trained professional.
But the matter of confidence in your style is actually a matter of getting to know yourself, and of gaining confidence in yourself.
The rest is just… having fun with pinpointing the style elements which reflect that newly gained confidence. And once you do, you will not only see that you deserve a seat at the table, you will preside at the table!
What is the difference between fashion and style?
Finally, another extremely popular question I hear all the time, and which I hinted at throughout this article.
While many people choose to equate these two terms with one another, I see them more as an overlapping Venn diagram:
To me, fashion and style do indeed have some common elements. Namely, those pieces that can both represent your own taste and vision of yourself, and match the designers’ view of what is currently fashionable.
There will probably be times when your personal style will not match any fashion trends. And that’s OK.
There will also be times when your style choices will be ahead of their time. So ahead, that you may be considered ludicrous!
A little personal story on this: when I was about 12, I wanted to cut my hair in an uneven Rihanna-like bob, but my dad convinced me it would look ridiculous. Imagine my outrage when a few years down the line, she Umbrella-ed that haircut into popularity!
It’s certainly hilarious to me now, but I also learned an important lesson from it:
If you want to try something out in your own look, just do it!
Did it work out? Great- keep replicating the formula!
Did it fail? Well, at least you’re not wondering “what if?”
Because hair grows back, outfits can be easily changed, make-up quickly erased, if you realize that your experiment turned out to be a bust!
There is a fine line between retro and outdated, between bold and faux-pas, or between whimsical and haphazard. These differences are usually vetted by experts in the field of fashion (personal stylists, fashion designers and such).
But more often, the success of “pulling them off” comes from how you manage to incorporate them in your own style! And turn the whole look from fashion victim to fashion maven. That’s something that makes your own style just a little bit magical 😉
I’m hoping that with this article, I’ve managed to answer some of the most burning style and fashion questions that you have! If there are more, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer you.
Thank you for reading, and until the next article, have a fabulous time (and stay safe!)
P.S.: To help you out further with expressing yourself through your personal style, make sure to sign up for The Style Club! Then you can receive my free printables as well as the most stylish updates directly in your Inbox.