Define Your Style
This is part of our series on Building a Capsule Wardrobe. In this first post, we'll be talking about defining (or refining) your style.
Whether you spend a lot of time on your style, or you're a total newbie, it's helpful to clearly define your personal style so that you can create a cohesive wardrobe. It's easy to buy clothes because you like something about them, but it in the end it really wasn't you. Without a vision of what you want your wardrobe to be, your closet can quickly end up as a mishmash of styles.
This exercise will help you identify your style and create direction so that you can build a wardrobe you love.
STEP 1: GET INSPIRED
Set aside an hour on your calendar. Make a cup of tea, put on some music that makes you feel happy and inspired, and dive in!
The first step is to create a pinterest board labeled 'Style Inspiration' (hint: you can make it secret). Next, pin tons of outfit inspiration photos that you like, don't hold back. Just make sure that you don’t get swayed by pretty pictures, but that you like the style of the clothes themselves and not just the model or location.
I did this years ago by cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them in a notebook (before Pinterest existed...I'm feeling old), but thankfully we have Pinterest now!
Here are some tips to find inspiration to add to your board:
1. Repin from our Pinterest inspiration boards below that are organized by style. Although most people won't be purely "minimal" or "bohemian," many people will be some combination of these, and you can use them as a jumping off point!
2. Think about the items in your wardrobe that you wear a lot, or that you really love, and search Pinterest for those words (ie striped top or long vest). You'll find outfits that include that item, and can pin the ones you like.
3. If you have a brand that you like, you can go to their website and pin outfit images, or search for brands on Pinterest itself.
4. If there is a celebrity or blogger whose style you resonate with, you can search for their name on Pinterest and see the various outfits they wear.
5. Once you click on the pin of an outfit you like, you can see the person who pinned the item below and go to their account (they may have similar taste). You can also keep scrolling to see "related pins," which may have other similar images!
STEP 2: IDENTIFY PATTERNS
Take a look at your inspiration board and see if you notice any patterns. Look for recurring themes in these categories:
For me, once I completed my inspiration board, I noticed that I picked out a lot of the same things: lace tops, floral dresses, neutral colors (especially black and white), and outfits that were masculine and feminine at the same time (like a lace dress with a leather jacket). It was over 10 years ago that I first did my inspiration board in my notebook, and it's interesting to see how I still love a lot of the same things - but my style has matured. Doing this exercise every few years helps you keep in touch with your style as you grow up and go through different life stages.
STEP 3: NAME YOUR STYLE
The next step is to give your style a name or a short description (ie “french-inspired classic” or “relaxed minimalist”). Once you see the patterns from step 2, ask yourself "What story are all these pieces telling?" Did you pick out a ton of bright colors and stripes and collared shirts? Maybe your style could be called "bright menswear-inspired prep." Did you select a bunch of feminine pieces but with simple clean lines? Maybe your style is “refined romantic.” Sometimes it's hard to narrow it down to just a few words, and you don't have to. I recommend letting the words flow and writing down everything that resonates with you. Then try and narrow it down to a short phrase or sentence, so you can have something clear in mind when you go to shop.
Here are some descriptive style words to get your creative juices flowing:
STEP 4: CREATE YOUR STYLE GUIDE
Next, make a new Pinterest board and name it "Wardrobe Style Guide." This board is going to be more specific, now that you've narrowed in on your style focus, and will have actual "outfit recipes" that you can use. Again, you can make it secret so there's no pressure. In the board description, write in your style phrase, so that you can reference it. Now, go back through the "Style Inspiration" board you just made, and repin images to the "Wardrobe Style Guide" board if you can answer yes to the following questions:
Does this represent my style?
Would I feel cute in this? Would it make me feel stylish/like myself/confident?
Would I be comfortable in this outfit?
Repin only the things you would actually wear. You can also go back and search for new pins using the some of the words you identified in step 3. Search for one of your words + "style" or "outfits." For example, "feminine style" or "feminine outfits."
When you're pinning, edit the caption of each pin so it describes the outfit "recipe" (ie skinny jeans + black tshirt + white sneakers). Describe what it is you like about the outfit, not just what you see. So, if you like dresses with sleeves, don't just put "dress + sandals," put "dress with sleeves + simple sandals." You can also make notes to yourself, such as "love the length of this dress, but would want to have sleeves."
Then, go through the board and see if anything sticks out. Is everything pretty bohemian and eclectic, but then there's this one really plain outfit and it doesn't resonate with you? Delete it. Go through one more time. By the end, you should have a better grip on what your style is, and you can keep that in mind when you shop. You can also reference your "Wardrobe Style Guide" Pinterest board when you're getting dressed and feel stuck, and have instant outfit inspiration!
This is part of our series on Building a Capsule Wardrobe. Here is the full list of posts in this series:
9 - Shop thoughtfully
PS - We'd love for you to keep reading, and download our free worksheet below to follow along. It’s a great asset to print out and keep handy as you're building your wardrobe!
PPS - If you've found this helpful, or have any feedback, we'd love for you to comment below!