The Maker’s Guide to Defining Your Personal Style
Does personal style play a key part in your decisions on what to make? It should do.
In fact, discovering your personal style should be even more important to makers than anyone else. Creating your own clothing, whether it’s by sewing or knitting, involves a considerable investment of time and money. These are precious resources that shouldn’t be wasted on a whim.
In order to curate a wardrobe of clothing that feels really good to wear, it is crucial that you have a good handle on your personal style. By doing this, you can ensure that all of your handmade garments are super wearable.
Why Personal Style Matters
Personal style is something that has interested me more and more over the last few years. Gone are the days when I was buying magazines and pouring over fashion blogs every day. Instead, I find myself focussed on discovering and defining my own personal style.
My boyfriend, Ulysses, is a perfect example of someone who has a clearly defined sense of personal style.
Every day, he receives compliments from friends and strangers alike, admiring the way he dresses. Uly’s style is not complicated. In many ways, it’s a uniform. You often find him wearing loose fit jeans with either a t-shirt and sweater or a vest and shirt. It’s so simple, yet it is a look that really suits him.
Ulysses made me realise that personal style doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just a matter of figuring out what clothing makes you feel good. He knows what he likes and he sticks to it. Easy.
How to Figure Out Your Personal Style
For some people, figuring out your personal style can feel a little daunting. I know I used to feel that way! When your wardrobe is huge and full of several different styles, it can be really tricky to figure out what the theme is (If this is you, you might find a capsule wardrobe helpful.)
In this blog post, I will show you a few of the methods that I have used to define my personal style over the last couple of years. Some will appeal to you more than others, so start with them first.
Start with Your Own Wardrobe
The best place to start is with the clothes that you already own. First of all, take note of all the clothing that you wear on a regular basis. If you’re not really sure, a good way to find out is by using the “hanger trick”.
At the start of the month, turn all of the hangers in your wardrobe so that the hook is facing the wrong way around. Then, whenever you take a piece of clothing out of your wardrobe to wear, put the hanger back in the wardrobe the right way around. At the end of the month, you will easily be able to see what clothing you have worn the most.
Which of those garments do you absolutely love? Which garment makes you feel really confident when you wear it? Stand in front of the mirror and make notes on what you particularly love about that garment - those details are key indicators of your personal style.
Once you have discovered those tried and true, treasured items items in your wardrobe, it is variations upon those items that you should invest in, in the future. For example, I love loose, drapey dresses that reach just above the knee. I know that I will get a lot of wear out of this style of dress, so it’s worth investing in high-quality pieces like that.
Do you have a signature uniform that you often find yourself wearing? I love slightly cropped tops, whether it’s tanks, t-shirts or sweaters, with high-waisted jeans and skirts. If ever in doubt, this is the “formula” I return to. Play on variations of that uniform to discover new looks that you love. That’s why I often find myself knitting slightly cropped sweaters!
Get Inspired by People you Admire
I often get stuck when someone asks me to name a celebrity whose style I admire. I have no idea! Those red carpet looks, whilst lovely, are not what I can see myself wearing. Instead, my style inspiration comes from more down-to-earth sources, whether it’s friends and family or people I follow on Instagram.
I also love using Pinterest to make personal style moodboards. Be careful though: it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply pinning things because I like the vibe of the photo, as opposed to the outfit itself. When pinning to your moodboard, be strict - consider whether you would actually wear the outfit. If you wouldn’t, it’s not allowed on the moodboard.
Once you have a few images on your board, take a look at the overall aesthetic. What kind of silhouettes do you typically like? Is there a colour theme? What kind of fabrics, textures and patterns are you drawn to? If you’d like to see my own personal style moodboard on Pinterest, you can find it here.
Using the outfit inspiration you have gathered, you can start trying out some of your own versions to see how they look on you. Some, you will probably hate, but there will be others that look even better on you than you thought.
Find What Flatters You
There are two factors that affect whether a piece of clothing is flattering on you: colour and silhouette.
Some silhouettes tend to suit certain body types more than others. That’s why a stylish outfit that you saw in a magazine can look like a sack of potatoes on you. The lesson here is that there is nothing wrong with your body. Some silhouettes simply don’t suit you.
There are plenty of guides on the internet that will tell you more about which silhouettes suit your body shape, such as this one on Who What Wear. I tend to take these guidelines with a pinch of salt though. In my opinion, it’s more important for you to take a look at your own body and see what makes you feel good.
The same can be said for colour. There is plenty of advice on what colours are most flattering on you, however, only you know what makes you feel amazing. Wear the colours that you love and experiment with the ones that might suit you.
Does this Style Suit my Lifestyle?
Sometimes, we can end up buying or making a bunch of clothing that we love, but has no place in our lifestyle. If you work as a dog-walker, there is no point in having a wardrobe made up of delicate, hand-washable fabrics and dainty sandals. It’s just not practical.
Consider what you do, day-to-day, and make sure that your personal style accommodates those activities. I spend most of my life in either super casual clothing or casuals that can be dressed up. There is no need for a selection of fancy dresses in my wardrobe - one or two is enough to cover me for any weddings I attend. That’s why I never make myself clothing like that.
Define Your Style
So now that you’ve gone through a few of the exercises in this post, I’d love for you to comment below, describing your style in three words.
My style is: relaxed, simple and classic.
What is yours?