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Personal Style and How To Cultivate Your Own

Personal style is not determined solely by what a woman wears, but more in how she wears it. It’s confidence, it’s purposeful, it’s in her demeanor and it’s part of who she is as an individual. There is no exact algorithm or recipe for what specifically makes a woman or a person stylish or even beautiful for that matter, and if you asked a woman who possesses these qualities, chances are she would have no grand or finite answer for you.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell putting signatures in cement at Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Calif., 1953

Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell putting signatures in cement at Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, Calif., 1953 | Wikimedia Commons

From her hair style to the way it falls around her face, from the way her eyes move around a room, down to the color and shape of her nails and the way she holds a glass… from her eyebrows to her shoes, it’s everything in between. Her style, her beauty, her “self” is accumulated over time, through her attention to detail, and not just material details, it’s watching stylish people to learn. Watching how they carry themselves, how they stand and behave in their social circles or even how they move when they’re alone simply walking down the street. It’s the choices they make in any given situation that create their persona allowing them to stand out or to blend in. And I would bet that the stylish women of today have been watching women’s mannerisms, especially women with style of whom they longed to emulate one day, since they were very young girls. I know I have.

The number one and most important ingredient to personal style is that it belongs to you. It’s all your own. Never imitate someone else’s style, for it will always appear contrived. The key is to take it all in and interpret it with your own individual and creative spin, giving life to something completely new and completely you.

Personal style, more than anything, is knowing and accepting who you are as well as the body you live in. But the choice to change your style is yours as well! Just as an artist inherently knows when a certain brushstroke completes his or her painting, a stylish woman, in the same way, knows exactly when she has finished creating her look and is ready to face the world.

Jacqueline Kennedy from the White House | Photographer: Mark Shaw | Wikimedia Commons

Jacqueline Kennedy from the White House | Photographer: Mark Shaw | Wikimedia Commons

Stylish women seem to effortlessly and inherently know what colors look the best on them, what prints are timeless and classic and exactly the right amount of accessories to complete their look without overdoing it. But what they know most importantly, is their body shape and what silhouettes fit it well and work best to flatter it. Then they buy clothes that fit perfectly, and if they do not fit perfectly, they take them to the tailor… or if they don’t mind a little hard work, they do it themselves. Using accessories to nip and tuck and disguise and distract is part of the style equation as well.

Finding your own personal style doesn’t happen over night. It can take years, it can take a lifetime, but it can also be extremely fun! Fashion is creative and artistic and style is a way to express ourselves visually. It’s the fairytale we grew up thinking our lives would turn out to be. It’s the illusion of an exotic lifestyle, or perhaps, it IS an exotic lifestyle. It’s a way to form exciting identities and live out fantasies in this less-than-fantastical and otherwise boring reality we call life, and to do so with very little risk!

There is a stylish woman inside each and every one of us, but to those for whom it is a priority, effort is subjective and reflective of the finished product. All you have to do is choose.

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn from the trailer for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's | Wikimedia Commons

Screenshot of Audrey Hepburn from the trailer for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s | Wikimedia Commons

While copying someone else’s style is never advised, finding a muse, however, is quite helpful in determining your own personal style and fashion voice. If you’re not sure where to begin, watching what celebrities are wearing, or rather, what their stylists are preparing for them, is an easy place to start. Creating inspiration boards from magazine tear-outs, in reality or online via Pinterest, and including everything from clothes, shoes, and accessories to makeup and hair styles, women whose styles you prefer and even locations and destinations that offer the feeling or mood you’d like to portray.

10 Tips to Help you Cultivate Your Own Personal Style

 

1. Just like actors in movies and TV shows, the clothes you wear help to define your personality or character to those around you. Knowing the “character” you’re trying to portray is a great first step in identifying your signature style.

2. You don’t need to follow every new trend to be fashionable. Find the ones that work with your style, body, age, and for your personality.

3. Be consistent in your style choices, but always be fresh and modern.

4. Your hairstyle is just as much a part of your signature style as your clothes. Learn to work with it rather than against it and it will be one of your greatest assets.

5. Style is not just in what you wear, it’s in your posture and how you walk, and it’s in the music you listen to and the fragrances you choose.  It’s an overall “life style” that you portray.

6. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Just because something didn’t work on you in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t look great on you now. Fabrics and cuts of garments are consistently changing. The way you wear it has changed and yes, your body has even changed.

7. Look for clothes that you don’t have to worry about, fuss with, pull up all the time, or twist back to position. This fidgeting with your outfit strips your confidence and your attempt to be effortlessly chic.

8. If you find something that works great on your body shape and makes you feel confident, stock up on that item and allow it to be your go-to piece when in a hurry.

9. Dress for your body shape. Always find a way to flaunt your assets and disguise your flaws. No matter how much style you have, if you’re not dressing your body correctly for your shape, all your hard work and creativity will be lost.

10. Most importantly, wear what makes you happy and leave the house confident and ready to take on the world!

YSL quote

Suggested Books on Personal Style and Finding Your Own…

* Brooks, Amanda. I Love Your Style: How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style NY: It Books, 2009
* Cohen, Ari Seth. Advanced Style New York: powerHouse Books, 2012
* Dior, Christian. The Little Dictionary of Fashion New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2007
* Farr, Kendall. The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look New York: Gotham, 2004
* Levin, Jenny Harper’s Bazaar Great Style: Best Ways to Update Your Look Hearst; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
* Zee, Joe and Bullock, Maggie. The ELLEments of Personal Style: 25 Modern Fashion Icons on How to Dress, Shop, and Live New York: Gotham, 2010
* Zoe, Rachel and Apodaca, Rose. Style A to Zoe: the Art of Fashion, Beauty, and Everything Glamour New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008

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