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5 Tips to Help You Develop Your Own Personal Style

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White booties with floral tights
(Photo Credit)

Here at CF, we talk a lot about the latest… everything. From clothing trends to hot hairstyles to popular nail polish colors, we always keep our collective finger on the fashion pulse. But while it’s fun to keep up with all things new and fresh, fashion isn’t about blindly following trends – it’s about expressing yourself with your clothing. At the end of the day, a strong sense of personal style is the foundation of every standout look.

In order to really delve in and have fun with fashion, you need to first understand your own sense of style. Once you know what’s “you” and what’s not, you can begin to cultivate a collection of pieces that flatter you, express your personality, and that you’ll love for years to come. That’s what true style is about.

To help you on the way, I’ve utilized the CF archives to compile five useful tips to help you develop your personal style. I hope you guys find them inspiring!

1. Determine Your Colors

I know this tip may remind you of women in the ’70s asking each other, “I’m an autumn, what are you?”, but I’ve noticed that having a personal color scheme is a hallmark of all truly stylish women.

To determine your colors, you need to assess your hair, skin and eye color as well as what colors you feel you look the best in. Determining your “season” can introduce you to a whole new palette of colors! The point of doing this is to use these colors as a guide while shopping so that you can select the pieces that will look best on you. I’m a summer, what are you?

Colorful crayons
(Photo Credit)

2. Choose a Style Trademark

A style trademark is something that you either wear every day (like Blair Waldorf‘s “B” necklace) or simply an aesthetic that you are known for. It’s that piece that your friend texts you about and says, “I was wearing _____ today and I felt just like you!”

Usually, a signature item or style chooses you, because it’s just something that you love so much you have to wear it all the time. But it helps to think about what you value, what you find aesthetically pleasing, and what you love to wear most. Personally, my signatures are bold nautical stripes and Sperry Topsiders. What’s your signature?

3. Embrace Your Shape

Although we’re big proponents of wearing what you want regardless of your body shape, learning to dress for your body type can be a good jumping off point when developing your style. Knowing how to highlight your best features can save you time and take your look from average to amazing.

The most important thing you can do when studying your shape is to stay positive. Dressing well is all about having an underlying layer of confidence, and if you are overly critical of your body, you undermine that. Don’t tell yourself that you have a pudgy stomach – instead, remind yourself that you have a tiny waist, or beautiful legs, or a shapely chest, or amazing arms – you get the idea. Highlight your assets and embrace your body as it is!

For more on this subject, one of the best style books I’ve read on dressing your shape is “The Science of Sexy” by Bradley Bayou. I’ve checked this book out multiple times from my local library and I love it so much that I finally bought my own copy!

4. Create a Personal “Look Book” or Inspiration Folder

A great aid for honing in your style, and also a really fun project, is creating a personal look book of your favorite past outfits. By documenting your style on a daily basis, whether by starting a style blog or just saving photos on your computer, you start to get a sense for which outfits you like best, and which pieces look best on you. It’s a fantastic way to document your look as it evolves.

Another idea is to start an inspiration folder or inspiration binder to keep track of your fashion inspiration. I created my own book by grabbing a sturdy notebook and collaging photos that I like. I’d cut pictures from magazines, print from Pinterest, or even steal photos from my well-dressed friends on Facebook! Before I go shopping, I take review my book to remind myself what I like, what I’m looking for, and how I want to dress. Sometimes I’ll even take it shopping with me!

Fashion inspiration
(Photo Credit)

5. Mix it Up: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

Dressing like a mannequin from Abercrombie & Fitch is so high school! To personalize your wardrobe and move away from cookie-cutter clothing, try mixing up your wardrobe with vintage items or pieces that have been passed down from your mom or grandma (something old), add in some well thought-out designer pieces and trends (something new), and finish with thrifted pieces or even borrow from your friend’s wardrobe (something borrowed). Finding a balance between these three things can make your look uniquely yours!

Thoughts?

What do you do to home in your personal style? What is your signature piece? What do you do to make your style uniquely yours? Leave a comment! 

Posted on on July 30, 2011 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , ,

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56 Responses to “5 Tips to Help You Develop Your Own Personal Style”

  1. 1
    July 30th, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I definitely have my own trademark: sequins!! My friends joke around and say that when they open up my closet, they have to squint to see my clothes, haha even my running shoes have glitter on them! I love it when I’m shopping with a friend and she points to something sparkly and says, “that shirt is so you!” It definitely makes it easier for them to shop for me for Christmas :D

  2. 2
    July 30th, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    This came at the perfect time since I’m trying to revamp my personal style. This article is getting bookmarked!

  3. 3
    July 30th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I totally love this!! I especially like creating your own lookbook. I started doing that over the summer and its really helped me to figure out what kind of looks I like and don’t like and what kinds of looks and trends work on my body type. I discovered what I’m REALLY looking for in fashion and in my own wardrobe. LOVE these tips!

  4. 4
    July 30th, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Great post, Lakin! I’ve got my inspiration folder saved as a PowerPoint presentation on my computer so I can reference it when I shop online.

  5. 5
    July 30th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Great post and just in time for the new school year!

  6. 6
    July 30th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I love this post! I have a sapphire and diamond ring that I always wear and it’s become my signature piece. A lot of people even identify me with it!

  7. 7
    July 30th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve never been able to pin down my personal style, even with tips like these. I do have an inspiration folder in evernote, though. maybe someday! :P

  8. 8
    July 30th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I’m going through a personal style crisis right now!!! My signature thing is scarfs and two diamond rings from my grandmother and my mom they when they were my age. But other than that I’m lost!! I love sequins. I have a sequin jacket and sequin shirts…but I also love wearing plain shirts tucked into cute skirts with flats and tights. And jeans skinny jeans with booties and heels. I love the grungy look, the cute girl look, a party look and the plain look thats jazzed up by my thousands of vintage statement jewlery! Its crazy!!! I don’t know what my style is and I’d like to figure it out before school starts in the fall! But thanks this article was CRAZY helpful!!!!!

  9. 9
    July 30th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Awesome post! I came across a site called Polyvore and totally recommend it; I just started creating outfits from pieces I already own and tried mixing it up with pieces I was wanting t buy. It helped me a lot in figuring out my signature pieces, my style, my colors, etc. :)

  10. 10
    July 30th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    This is a really good article…very thorough, but I think that fashion kinda loses a bit of fun when you put labels and make it so cut and dry. I don’t think it’s necessary to determine exactly what your personal style is. As long as you buy clothes that you love, it kinda speaks for itself. I love describing my style in a ton of different words, because it’s not always the same. Some days I am boho, some says girly, some days completely edgy, but most days it’s a mix of everything.

  11. 11
    July 30th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I really need help with my colors. :( I can’t tell what color my skin is at all – whenever I wear something with blue undertones it looks warm and whenever I wear something with yellow undertones it looks cool. I put warm and cool makeup on either wrist the other day and compared the color of my veins – the veins in the wrist with cool makeup appeared greenish while the veins in the wrist with warm makeup looked blueish.
    I have hazel (green/brown) eyes which I think are warm and my hair is blonde with red tones. I was almost certain my skin was cool, but that doesn’t seem to mesh with my warm eyes and hair.

  12. 12
    July 30th, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    My mom had her colors done for her many years ago and she still carries the color fan with her.

    My signature is head scarves. I LOVE THEM, and I sometimes feel like my outfit isn’t complete without something on my head. I often have to tell myself, “No, you wore one yesterday” so I don’t get stuck with the same old thing!

  13. 13
    July 31st, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I love this idea.
    The colors thing doesn’t work for me too well because my skin tone is olive (I’m Italian) so it kind of goes with most anything luckily.

    I think there should be more posts on here with denim and laid-back styles, no dresses. While I absolutely adore the dresses I have nowhere to wear them to and no money to try it out. :[

  14. 14
    July 31st, 2011 at 2:38 am

    When it comes to colors, I say just wear what you want! If the color is really unflattering on you, it’ll make the whole garment look “meh” on you in the dressing room so you probably won’t want to buy it anyway.

    I don’t really know what season I am (I don’t quite fit the described categories) but I can tell when a color looks nice on me in the dressing room!

    Love the tip about signature items and espically about letting it happen rather than trying to pick out something!

  15. 15
    July 31st, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Cool post! My friends sometimes would come across a piece of clothing and made a remark that it’s just like my kind of thing. I wonder sometimes, however, is my style getting boring and predictable? Will be great to read a post on how to stay creative while sticking to our personal style :)

  16. 16
    July 31st, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Great post! My style is all over the place- some days I’m chic, some days its the boho babe look, occasionally I rock the sexy and well polished librarian, and I’ve been known to the dress like a goth punk lolita :] I wear what makes me happy and comfortable that day. Regardless of my outfit I always wear my silver watch my Grandma bought me. Not sure if people identify it with me though.

  17. 17
    July 31st, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I think my style is girly boho/preppy because i’m always mixing up loose tops with some more polished shoes like oxfords and moc loafers. i really love neutrals with colourful tops! i think my signature is always the arm-load of bracelets i pile on…it might be thread, bead or skull bracelets, but i always have a lot of them!

  18. 18
    July 31st, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    @ liz… maybe your skin is neutral toned.

    i like this article too. i think it’s important to develop a personal style, even if you don’t go so far as to compose a lookbook (i think you could end up limiting yourself that way by giving youself rules to follow). i like reading style blogs for inspiration, especially from girls who thrift.

    i would say that a big part of my personal style is overdressing just a bit for whatever i’m doing. i like to look like i could be heading to an interview at someplace stylish. i do this especially at the grocery store (weird, right?) the grocery store is a great way to test out outfits. you can see how long you can walk in those shoes (ha) or try out something a little adventurous outfit-wise, since the only people who are going to see you are the strangers in the grocery store.
    on that subject, i say, never run errands looking like a college student! (that is, sweats and a t-shirt) you never know who you’ll meet while you’re out. i met my current boyfriend at the grocery store :)

  19. 19
    July 31st, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Wow! I’m deff gonna try the notebook/collage thing! That would really help me, I think. ;) Thank you so much!

  20. 20
    July 31st, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I have a cute little vintage gold bracelet from the 80′s that my mom handed down to me. It’s very inconspicuous but my friends know I wear it. :)

    Other than that, my birthday suit!

  21. 21
    August 3rd, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I love the idea of having your own style or trademark to work with, I just don’t know if its for me… I’ve done a lot of shopping lately and noticed that I have accumulated a variety of v-necks. They aren’t the only top I buy/own but they are definitely the most dominant. Like the tips have shown us, pick something that you love and is comfortable, which is very true of these casual but nice shirts! I just don’t want it to look boring or repetitive if I choose this as my signature piece of clothing. Any thoughts, anyone? Thanks!!

  22. 22
    August 11th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I wear mostly dark/ light wash jeans, a shirt and flats. I also find that I get compliments even if I wear colors that range from fall, winter and summer colors, but I find myself shying away from summer colors. I have pale- olive looking skin, dark brown hair and light brown eyes. The only signatures I’ve been able to find are small silver accessories, a navy blue overcoat and black flats. Everything else I just grab what’s in my closet and go. I would like to find a way to shake up my wardrobe but I now have an idea how to do so thanks to this article but I would like to know more about this without breaking the bank or getting fed up and grabbing what i can and going to my next class/ meeting. More help and ideas…. Would be nice.

  23. 23
    August 14th, 2011 at 12:37 am

    i always wear black, white, and red, and my trade mark i think is my shoes and Flannels shirts that match with my shoes!! i love the idea of the inspiration folder i think I’m going to start one and throw some new things in my style!!!! Thanx for the tips :)!!!

  24. 24
    August 16th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I love this article because it is exactly what I do! But for the “look book,” what I do is keep a folder on my computer entitled “Outfit Inspirations” and save all the pictures online that reflect my style in it. Having it on the computer allows you to save more and you can print them out if you want. :)

  25. 25
    August 17th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I want to know where I can buy those booties and those tights! and what to wear with it! I really want those shoes

  26. 26
    August 18th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    http://www.aldoshoes.com/us/women/boots/wedge-boots/82080541-colyar/32

    for anyone looking for the booties in the picture, here you go!
    great article :)

  27. 27
    August 19th, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Awesome! That great post. You reminds me when I am shopping with my mom use to say: “you are crazy you have style”

  28. 28
    August 19th, 2011 at 1:52 am

    I am going to mail , all these tips to my mom and my sister also.

  29. 29
    August 19th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Haha, this article reminds me of one time I visited home last semester–my mom actually almost started crying because I was actually stylish (when I was younger, I was the girl who would just throw on anything, and normally those clothes were boys’. In highshool I only upgraded to wearing jeans and fitted shirts instead of boardshorts and baggy tee’s.). Uni had provided to much free time for me to just experiment with style xD

    I’d have to say my signiture is never wearing pants–I’ve always got tights under shorts or a skirt. Haven’t worn a pair of pants for months, actually :3 Actually, my wedge sandals are probs my signature right now because they’re all I wear when it’s warm enough.

  30. 30
    August 24th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Omg Renna, wedge sandals are my signature right now, too! One of my pairs of them are so beat up from wearing them all the time it’s not funny. I also never wear pants, and went through a period of wearing only boys’ clothes, and had a similar sort of fashionista thing going on because of uni. :D Well, I had gained an interest in fashion late in high school because I was learning ot sew, but I never really felt the need to get all pretty for it on a daily basis. We’d totally get along if we were to ever meet, haha~

    On topic: I honestly think that “choosing” a style, or a label for your style, can be restricting, as it might keep you from trying things that you wouldn’t normally wear. I know that the article said more to let the style choose you, but it’s something to think about when it comes to putting a label on yours–after all, you could end up telling yourself, “Well, this is [x] because…” even though it’s really not (just because it could be doesn’t mean it inherently is). This happens a lot particularly with the Japanese lolita style, but I’ve seen it happen with many others who have identified their style with something more mainstream.

    That being said, my style’s all over the place so I don’t try to label it. Most of the time it’s cute, sometimes it’s more sexy, and sometimes it’s elegant, but I try to never think of it in terms that are any more specific than those, even if it’s easy to label the style I’m thinking of wearing in my head. The odd time I’ll wear lolita, but that’s the only style that I wear that I’ll ever pin a label to (it’s pretty critical to follow the basic guidelines for it, unless you really know what you’re doing).

  31. 31
    August 26th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Hmmm, colours don’t do anything for me, Hair modeling means hair cut/colour is always changing. My skin is fairly neutral so I can get away with the rainbow. I have things from hard core girly to military punk and nearly everything between so that doesn’t do anything for me… Hehe I borrow things a lot, mostly from my mother. She has awesome stuff <3

    I do have a signature piece though, a purse I've had for over five years. Its a tokidoki knock off bag (simular pattern but quite the same and hells cheap) I had a friend who I had not seen in years spot me on the street in the city I live because of the bag.

  32. 32
    October 3rd, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    i love this! my signature item is my huge gold hoops. (:

  33. 33
    January 3rd, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    That mannequin highschool dressing point is the truth!

  34. 34
    January 24th, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Love this article. It’s really helpful. I really love the Look Book idea, I’ve been recently thinking about starting one and I’m definitely going to follow through with it.

  35. 35
    September 6th, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Hi! :)
    My signature is a sort of 3d jewish star necklace and earrings. I enjoyed the post, and while it’s the aproach I’ve already been taking, I plan to continue!

  36. 36
    September 12th, 2012 at 9:27 am

    My style is classy yet edgy. My clothes are this odd mix of “smart” and rocker. I love full skirts, high waisted shorts, blouses, and leather. I also enjoy pairing neons with prints. I would say my signature look is skulls. Skull print clothing, skull jewelry, shoes with skulls… In fact, when I am choosing a book to read I always look for one with a skull on the cover because I am guaranteed to like that book. It always works. Weird, right?

  37. 37
    October 12th, 2012 at 10:32 am

    i feel like im pretty at sertain times but the thing is i dont have the type of clthoes to look good in like ever body else

  38. 38
    January 2nd, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I dont know how to find my style i just tired help me i m living in mongolia my contry is very cold in winter almost -30 thats why i just confused. I dont like my clotes but they are very Warm. Im not tall only 168cm 70kg pls help me

  39. 39
    May 4th, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I am trying to figure out if there is a name for my current style. My favorite pieces are: my long black loose-knit sweater (which I wear with a black cami underneath,) medium to dark skinny jeans, white tie-front shirt with Audrey Hepburn, black and white striped (horizontal) tshirt, long charcoal tshirt (sometimes I cinch it with a wide black belt, and sometimes I let it be) with a black lace shirt underneath, black ballet flats, grey calf-length boots, moss green jacket, grey and white striped (horizontal) sweater (sometimes I double the jacket and the sweater.)

    I prefer to keep earrings simple. My “signature” at the moment are my black rose stud earrings. I don’t wear them everyday — sometimes I wear faux pearl studs instead — but, I wear the roses most days.

    I love an eye-catching necklace. My favorites are a diamante musical note, a thin disc with the first third of Psalm 23 engraved on it (I was recently baptized, and it was a gift from my baptismal sponsor — it is very special to me for that reason,) a silver angel, a blue cameo with the profile of a woman on it (I often wear that one with the black loose-knit sweater.)

    Is there a name for my style?

    I don’t wear much makeup. Usually I wear only a berry lipstick or gloss, to give a pop of color.

  40. 40
    August 11th, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Whenever I’m in a style rut I always come back to this article. I like the idea of developing my style to fit into some sort of category, or even a mix of two categories (flirty, edgy-flirty, classic, edgy-classic, along those lines). I know the article says not to limit yourself with your style, but I at least have to limit myself with my shopping, and having a sense of my style (or at least my favorite style) would be incredibly helpful! Time to go through my closet and figure myself out!

  41. 41
    August 29th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    thanks for the advice useful to me because for some time I think of changing his style.

  42. 42
    December 26th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Perfect timing! Have been trying to create my own fashion line, this helped me out so much, so I’m starting all over and see how it goes from there thank you so much! btw my trend mark is infinity scarfs, I have to stop myself from wearing them so much!

  43. 43
    December 26th, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    * trademark

  44. 44
    February 5th, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Try going on some fashion community sites to help you find your style. Some great sites include lookbook.nu, sassique.com, polyvore.com, and tumblr has some great sites as well. Check out fashion blogs as well… lots of these sites have bloggers on there frequently.

  45. 45
    March 7th, 2014 at 5:51 am

    How do you politely tell another woman to basically not copy your personal style?

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