Feeling lost when it comes to expressing yourself through your outfits? Not anymore.
Your 20s are some of the most transitional years of your life. You develop a career, solidify friendships, and for some, start a family; all these aspects contribute to developing your identity. Your sense of style can be one of the biggest ways to execute your identity, but that can be hard when you aren’t sure what your style is/what style best fits you and your identity. Here’s how to develop your style in the best way possible.
STEP 1: Understand Fashion vs. Style vs. Taste
This step is the key first step in developing your own style. Understanding that these 3 are not synonyms and all define different aspects of the fashion world is something that everyone who has a good style understands and has learned. In a few words, fashion is collective and timely, style is individual and eternal, and taste is subjective.
Fashion refers to the collective at that point in time. The current trends, the current it girls, celebrity styles, fast fashion, etc. all. However, fashion can be much larger as well. If you have good style, you are fashionable.
Style is individual and eternal. Your sense of style is something you have forever, but every individual does not have the same sense of style if at all. For example, my sense of style tends to lean more toward streetwear and darker colors. However, another person’s sense of style might lean more towards a coastal style with lighter colors. These are our individual styles, and we may experiment with incorporating other styles into our own, but eternally we have a sense of style based on our base of style.
Taste is the most subjective part of fashion. People either have taste or they don’t. There's no in between. However, not everyone has the same taste or agrees. For example- The picture on the left shows a girl wearing an outfit that I would probably not wear because it is not my style, but the picture on the right is my style. However, that does not mean one of us has bad/better taste.
(Image left: Shein.com, Image right: HaileyBieber Instagram)
STEP 2: Ignore everyone else. Build your base.
Fashion fades; style is forever. This phrase perfectly captures what the biggest step is to figure out your own personal style. If you have no idea how to figure out your style, the last area to touch is trends, and the first is base. Microtrends come and go so fast that if you don’t have a solid foundation for your style first, you will constantly be purchasing and discarding clothes in order to keep up. To avoid falling into this fast fashion trap, build your wardrobe with timeless pieces that you can style multiple ways throughout multiple time periods of fashion. Determining what is timeless vs. trendy may be difficult if you’re new to the fashion world. Timeless pieces are exactly what it sounds like. They are pieces that will never go out of style because of how versatile they are. For example, I often splurge on basics like a nice fitting black top or a good quality pair of jeans because there will never be a time that someone says, black tops and blue jeans are out. Kate Moss is a celebrity who does not use a stylist due to her value of timelessness in fashion instead of trends. Vogue's article on "Kate Moss's Timless Looks" goes more into depth. Now we know that timeless pieces are basics, good quality, and will survive every micro trend, but how do you know what type of base you should go for? In order to find your own base, you need to figure out what factors you lean more towards, and in turn, you will develop a starting point for your style.
This may be the easiest step to building your base. Of course, everyone should have a plain white tee, and a little black dress, but when it comes to describing your style, the colors you lean most towards will have a large role. Find your color palette, start with your favorite color, or go shopping and find a clothing item that comes in multiple colors, then see which one stands out to you most and build on that. There are many color palettes like darks, brights, neutrals, warm tones, cool tones, mixed tones, etc. Some may lean most toward neutrals because all of their features are dark, but I lean more toward cool tones because all of my features are warm. This factor is completely individual to your own preference.
In a survey given to 10 college students, seven said that the fit of their clothing makes them feel most confident in their outfits. There are many different types of fits for each piece of clothes, this can feel overwhelming, but the best way to know what suits you is just trying a bunch of them on and knowing how to dress for your body. For example, I have long legs and a short torso, so I opt more for shorter lengths when shopping for dresses. Similarly, when shopping for pants/jeans, I opt most for high waisted because my short torso causes my waist to appear very high. Knowing how to dress for your body is extremely important because you could love the way a piece of clothing looks off of you, but when you put it on, and it doesn’t look how you thought, it will throw your whole outfit and confidence off.
Examples of fits:
(Image left: Bella Hadid in low waist, Image right: Kendall Jenner in high waist)
STEP 3: Find your inspiration
Now that you have your base, it’s time to explore who/what interests you the most. Throughout developing your own style, it is important to wear what you feel most confident in instead of what you think you should wear, i.e., what everyone else is wearing. In the world of social media, this could seem difficult. However, you have to dig a little deeper. It may seem counterintuitive, but finding a fashion inspiration is one of the easiest ways to grow your personal style. However, Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner might be taking over your FYP or explorer feeds, but you may not relate to their style, so don’t worry. There’s more style inspiration beneath them. Sophia Richie, Emma Chamberlain, and Bella Hadid may all sound like they’re the same, but many people idolize these It girls’ styles for different reasons. Sophia Richie’s style can be described as modest, chic, or business casual, which is completely different from Bella Hadid’s style, which is very unconventional and immodest. That being said, if a certain idol/inspirational person speaks to you the most when finding your style, it is easiest to go on Pinterest, plug their name in, followed by the word style, and go down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest boards. Or, if no It girl speaks to you; going on Pinterest and simply searching in your base factors might lead you to a category your style will fit into.
For example, if I were to do this, I would search, neutral colored, baggy fitting outfits. From this search, I may come across a few outfits that grab my attention. These outfits may be followed by the phrase “street style.” I would then search for this phrase and come to the conclusion that street style describes my style best.
STEP 4: Experiment
The time has finally come, the time to experiment. Now that you have a base and inspiration, you probably know how you would describe your individual style or your individual style goal. Now you can experiment with a variety of things throughout the rest of your life. Experiment with textures, fabrics, fits, and other styles, as well as…trends. Contrary to how it sounded earlier in this guide, trends are not all bad. They keep fashion fresh, and trends can actually be a great way to transition your style as you grow or at the very least, keep you interested in it. The most important thing is knowing how to incorporate trends into your style without straying from your personal style and comfort. The way to do this is to start small and build. For example, recently, Hailey Bieber brought back Samba’s (an Adidas shoe that went out of style years ago). This started a trend of flat shoes, which shook up many closest that spent years adding platform shoes into their day to day. Some people who may have never developed their own personal style might throw out all of their platform shoes and stock up on Adidas Sambas, Gazelles, Superstar, etc. However, platform shoes might not be out, and all those flat shoes might not be in, nor may they suit everyone. This is where you start out small, and maybe you buy one pair of Samba’s to try out. You base some outfits around the shoe to see if you like the look it gives you, and you compare your confidence in outfits like that to what you were wearing before.
Overall, it is extremely important to prioritize building your personal style to express your identity and set you apart from everyone else. Many factors can lead back to personal style, such as confidence, personality, effort, cleanliness, creativity, and more.
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