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How to Define Your Personal Style in 8 Steps

How to Define Your Personal Style in 8 Steps

People underestimate the power of fashion.  And they usually do it because they’ve dug themselves into such a style rut that it’s easier to chalk it up to fashion being frivolous, or just not having the time.

But defining your style and developing a uniquely you look is one of the most effective communication tools.  It’s an expression of creativity, an impactful first impression, and a voice that speaks without words.  

If you haven’t started to develop a personal style, or don’t even know where to begin- then this is the place to start.  

What is personal style?

woman in trench coat with watch and black handbag, fashion details help express your personal fashion style

Your personal style should be reflective of your likes, creativity, and lifestyle.  When you develop a personal style you are curating a unique image and wardrobe that helps you to express yourself and embody the person you want to be. 
Not only can it vastly impact peoples’ impressions and judgments of you, but it can also be a tool to advance you in the world and help you find your people. 
Your personal style is a unique combination of fashion categories (like classic, trendy, boho, etc) that encapsulates what you do, who you are, and what you like. 
While your style may have influences from many fashion categories, you will have one dominant fashion category. 

Personal Style Quiz  

First, take this free personal style quiz to help hone your major fashion preferences.  (no email address required for results!)

what is your personal style? take the quiz now- background images of fashion

How To Develop Your Personal Style in 8 Easy Steps 

1. Find Your Style Inspiration 

girl thinking with a thought bubble with a bunch of fashion inspiration images inside bubble,

Your true style inspiration will not be one person. Most likely it will be a mix of style influences from a few different people.  So hop on over to Pinterest and start perusing celebrities, models, style icons, and anyone else you’d like to get some style inspiration from.

It is super important that you keep in mind what style you like/admire versus what style you actually want to be like. 

For instance, I admire Lady Gaga’s and Diane Keaton’s styles, but that doesn’t mean I want to wear leather bras, lame shorts, or moody full dresses. Nor, would these two styles combine easily. 

So before you jump into haphazardly searching styles you like, take the personal style quiz here (it’s free and doesn’t require any signs up to anything). This will give you a broad fashion style preference and from there you can dive into picking some style icons. 

For instance, if you end up with a trendy fashion style you might be looking at model street style references from Bella Hadid or Emily Ratajkowski.   And from there you might search celebrity style icons like Zendaya or Lucy Bolton.  

But, pay attention to your search results and decide if it is a style you actually want to wear or just a style you like on other people. 

If you’re confused or hit a snag, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have any of the pieces she/he is wearing in my closet already? (if yes, that’s a good sign)
  2. Would I style myself like this? 
  3.  Does this fit into my primary fashion style?
  4.   Why am I drawn to this look?  It could be because you find the subject attractive, or they might have a quality you like, and that is shading your opinion of the outfit 

2.  Defining your style further 

So now you should have some images and style icons in mind, in addition to your dominant fashion style that you found through the personal style quiz. 

Next, evaluate what other influences are present in addition to your fashion category and create a uniquely you recipe for your style. 

For instance- my style category is trendy with minimalist jewelry and retro influences.  This means I love to try new trends, but I gravitate towards simple accessories and love vintage pieces to mix into my outfits.  This is a unique, personal style.  

what is my personal style? dominant fashion category (image of trendy fashion style) plus accessory style (minimalist jewelry example) plus secondary fashion influence (gabrielle arruda wearing vintage blouse) vintage influence. my personal style is trendy with minimalist jewelry and vintage influences

In order to figure out your unique personal style is you should  fill in the blanks:

My dominant fashion category is _________

For jewelry I like __________.

For shoes I like ____________

Other accessories I wear would fall into __________ category 

A secondary style category I like in small doses is _________

So your personal style recipe becomes (tweak as needed)

My fashion style is __ dominant category__, I like __favorite fashion jewelry/shoes/accessory___ to be ___style___, and I like to integrate in some __secondary style category___. 

This should also give you an idea of how dominant your main fashion style is. You could end up with classic style for all of those answers, therefore your style becomes very defined.  Or you might end up like mine which speaks to a combination of styles with trendiness being the glue that holds it together. 

3. Check your Closet 

Your wardrobe is the foundation of your personal style.  And if you don’t feel like your wardrobe works with your style aspirations, check  out: 

craft the closet of your dreams playbook

Start going through your closet and seeing what pieces work for your lifestyle (work, family, fun, etc) AND that also work for your style inspiration. 

If you need some help cleaning out your closet, read this. 

4. Put it into practice 

So now you have an idea of the styles you like, and a wardrobe that supports your unique style preferences. You need to start trying your own versions of these outfit ideas. 

You should not be directly copying the outfits, but rather taking items from your style inspiration and making them your own.  This could involve keeping the main outfit pieces the same, but adding different layering pieces, or switching the proportions of the look to better fit your body shape.

related: how to dress for your body shape 

5.  Snap the winners 

take pictures of your winning outfits, how to develop your personal style, gabrielle arruda mirror self with vintage blouse and jeans

Find an outfit you love, take a quick pic of it so that you can refer back to it later.  You will be essentially creating a style inspiration folder of your own winning outfits. 

This can be used as a reference when you feel you have nothing to wear, or for inspiration to further push your style boundaries. 

Create spin-off outfits from there.  For instance, you might find you love a vintage blouse outfit with jeans, but that it can look equally good and more evening appropriate with leather pants.  

6.  Find a signature piece 

The more you develop your personal style folder, and the more outfits you successfully try- some trends will most likely start to develop. 

You will find yourself reaching for one or two items with pretty much every outfit.  It could be you always wear trench coats, or you always have a pair of gold hoops on, and eventually, you will find your signature piece. 

Having a signature piece helps tie your style together and helps define yourself to the world.  It doesn’t have to be something quirky or out-there, just something that defines you.

Jackie O had her sunglasses, Eddie Sedgwick had her statement earrings, what do you have? 

For me, it’s that I love to integrate menswear pieces into my outfits

7.  Put your best assets forward 

woman in fashionable outfit wearing high waist trousers to show off long legs, develop personal style by highlighting your best features

What is the one thing people always compliment you on?  

Once you have your style slowly defined you can start to really highlight your best features.  Maybe people are always telling you what long legs you have, so you start investing in some great skirts to highlight that vertical line.  Or perhaps everyone compliments your hourglass frame, so you should start adding some belts and fitted tops to highlight that shape. 

When we play to our strengths, our confidence will shine.  This will help you use your style as a superpower. 

8.  Don’t forget the details

statement earrings and sunglasses on fashionable girl- how to develop your personal style by adding accessories
don't forget the details step in how to develop a personal style- example of ways to do that through nail polish. multi colored nails to express personality
woman in trench coat with watch and black handbag, fashion details help express your personal fashion style

Just like a birthday cake isn’t a birthday cake without the frosting and decorations, your outfit isn’t complete without the details.

Pay attention to your hairstyle, your beauty look, nail color, and accessories as well.  

No matter which fashion category you fall into, those details will remain key to achieving true personal style. 

Each of those details is a way to make your look unique and personal.  This is also a great way to integrate your signature piece and/or develop a signature beauty look or hairstyle.  Like how Alexa Chung is known for her tousled hair and bang fringe, or Cara Delvigne is known for strong eyebrows. 

If you’re still feeling a bit lost, check out 10 steps to improve your style, here.

Your fashion should be an asset that bolsters your confidence, makes you memorable and tells the world exactly who you are. 

That may seem like a lot to ask of your clothes, but if you start taking control of your personal style you will start to see the magic that comes from it. 

Now, go find strength through style.  

And if you have any style questions, feel free to join my Facebook group and ask there.  It’s an easy way to get feedback on a look or get opinions from me and other group members. 

Pin the below image so you can always reference these style-developing steps!

how to find your personal style, images of different fashion styles- classic, boho, trendy, etc with a few fashion inspiration images