How to: Define and Personalize Your Style

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When fashion bloggers and digital stylists’ videos or blogs go viral, it’s so easy to realize that everyone is getting their inspiration from the same source and your style is just so original. A walk around any tourist attraction in LA, food or music festivals will render you speechless at how many girls are sporting the same chiffon, fringe kimonos, that same crop top from Hollister or Abercrombie, or denim shorties that appear all too similar.

There’s always that one woman in a room that stands out and our eyes naturally shift to her direction, whether it’s because she accessorized in a way that we didn’t see was possible or she simply knew what to pick for her body that flattered her figure. It takes time to find a style that suits both our lifestyle (frugal, minimalistic, hipster, or glam) personality (sweet, badass, or professional) and one that makes us feel confident, but it’s not not impossible.

I’m not saying I’ve perfectly pin downed my style (in fact I’m always evolving bit by bit), but I’ve always been taking it one step further, if not deeper. These stray thoughts that came through my mind sparked my motivation to take a look at some of the ways we can personalize and define our style so we don’t look like walking mannequins from a retail store. The methods below are either what I have done or I’ve seen people do that works like a charm.

#1 Accessorize with a name necklace.

I don’t know why it took so long for me to get my own name necklace when it’s only $30 to get it in sterling silver or gold, but the matter is it’s been an automatic conversation starter lately and my most favorite accessory piece in the longest time. It’s quite funny when strangers ask for my name and only when I tell them do they notice the name necklace and like, “Oh right.” #pricelessreactions, I wear my identity on my chest.

I definitely have a preference for short pendant necklaces that I can keep on all the time. To make your accessorizing game even stronger, layer on another longer necklace to keep things interesting.

Check out Onecklace to choose your own name necklace.

#2 Wear something traditional the non-traditional way.

Instead of wearing a flannel shirt, tie it to your waist even though that move is nothing original. Instead of wearing a classic purse, consider a backpack or even a fanny pack. Coachella is more than a festival, it’s a lifestyle. Instead of layering on necklaces, wrap a black tie loosely around you. Of course, only pursue these endeavors if it matches your overall style. Don’t do it just for the sake of it.

#3 Support and shop at small boutiques, lesser known retailers.

This can be anywhere from supporting independent owners on Etsy, thrifting at Goodwill or Buffalo Exchange, to checking out a boutique in your neighborhood. I heard that you’re more likely to score some big branded steals if you shop at thrift stores in more expensive neighborhoods. This can also be a money-saving strategy.

#4 Know your proportions and sizing from the stores you shop at most.

Sizing isn’t one size fits all for everyone and personalizing your style means you know your sizing at various stores. For example, I’m usually a size XS, small or anywhere from size 0-2 in bottoms, but when it comes to H&M’s sizing, I’m usually a 6 or 8. Since I’ve experienced shrinkage with their clothes, I usually size up both for comfort and insurance. Also, because I like to wear my basic T-shirts slightly oversized, instead of going for my usual sizing, I go for a medium or large. Know what look and effect you are trying to pull off before making the purchase.

If you are petite, there is already a separate article on shopping tips waiting for you here.

#5 Find your color palette and coordinate.

In 2015, I was definitely a neutrals person because I wanted to spend as little time as possible coordinating my outfits as possible to compensate for a long commute. Thus, neutral colors like black, white, cream, beige, gray, and navy made up my everyday colors. Lately, besides my neutrals, I’ve committed to a few other colors: light, muted, dusty pinks and shades of blue.

There will be a few things that may determine your color palette including, your favorite colors, the colors that complements your skin tones (e.g., I learned that printed red rompers look better on me when I have a tan than when I’m pale.), and the colors that are most practical and easy to pair with (e.g., neutrals). Try not to let trendy colors of the moment (e.g., for 2016 the Pantone colors are serenity and quartz) dictate your wardrobe too much unless they really fit in with the grand scheme of things.

Find your color palette that coordinates well and the colors should blend in seamlessly. It may be neutrals, brights, or pastel colors that floats your boat. It can also be neutrals with a mix of pastels or brights. This usually includes 3-4 or even 5-6 colors depending on how big your closet is. This will make mixing and matching and picking out your morning outfits way faster! #morninghacks

#6 Discover which silhouettes and styles flatter you most (both for handy basics and trendy pieces).

For those days where you simply don’t care or need something low-maintenance to wear from your closet, pop on whatever tee and pair of jeans suits you best. We all have and need those basics to fall back on.

For jeans, decide if you are a skinny, kick flared jeans, or cropped jeans woman. Try not to be a leggings person unless you must because those are hard to dress up and even with dresses, they aren’t very sexy anymore. For basic tees, decide whether you are crew neck or V-neck person. For shoes, decide whether you are a sneaker (not running shoes), boots, or traditional heels type. For accessories, decide whether you are a fedora or beanie person, single pendant necklace or layering-it-all-on type.

For an everyday bag, decide whether you need to lug around a tote or only a small crossbody or does your tomboy and practical mentality makes you a small leather backpack woman.

I learned which styles suits my tiny petite body most through trial and error and with some reflections. When you are starting out, you don’t need a lot of stuff. It’s less about hoarding what others or following trends, but more about feeling confident and comfortable in what you wear.

#7 What style, vibe, and stereotype do you fall under most of the time.

I really dislike stereotypes or stereotyping and like to think that everyone is unique, but it’s a fast and easier way to define your style based on what’s out there in the retail market.

The most mainstream terms for styles lately includes feminine, Bohemian, indie, electric, grunge, punk, free spirited, vintage, and minimalist.

By not falling under one single style (not that there is anything wrong with doing that) you stay unique — define your own style by starting off with one style that defines you the most and add small elements of the other styles that you may be in the mood for. For example, I associate with the minimalist style the most and add boho and punk elements here and there because I love florals and studs alike.

#8 Work more seasonal, trendy pieces into your color palette. For trendy pieces, it’s not about the trend, but how you work the trend into your style.

For the stylish working woman, it’s only natural that you incorporate some fun elements in your closet every now and then. Twice a year is a good start. For trendy pieces, if they are a top or a bottom, check and visualize if you can easily pair them with what you have at home. When you find a trendy piece you like, make sure it adheres to the color palette you chose, whatever you decide on.

Sometimes I skip the color palette altogether if I’m buying a one piece like a jumpsuit, romper, or dress. This not only allows for some surprises, but there are times when we simply like a piece because it’s alluring. As long as you keep your shoes and handbag neutral, the eye will be on just this one piece.

#9 Building a stylish wardrobe that people know you by is almost like having people remember you for your jokes, sarcasm or accomplishments. It’s part of whatever brand you set for yourself.

Everything that we talked up to now should make up your brand, including the color palette your chose, the trends you incorporate, the styles and silhouettes that best flatter your figure, where you shop, where you don’t shop to avoid looking too cookie-cutter, how much you accessorize, and how you switch things up over time. When you start having a cohesive style, people will begin to see something “so you” or “so not you.” Besides feeling confident, I always like to feel that my style fits my personality and who I am. After all, I’m spending both time and money on a hobby I love and what I throw on should really speak and express itself. *flips hair

What do you think?

Defining and narrowing down your style takes time and I would only believe that with time, mine might change again, hopefully not massively, but usually in smaller ways as I get older. I use to wear a lot of bright pinks, but have transferred over to light and dusty pinks that better cohere with the boho side of my more pinpointed style. Like everything else in life, you don’t want your style to stagnate, but it’s also not cost-effective nor smart to throw out everything you already have and start again from scratch.

What are some ways you personalize your style already?

Still can’t need more inspiration on picking your daily outfits and overall style, read this.