What does your wardrobe say about you? Is it a perfect reflection of your personality down to the customized nameplate necklace and funky skirt you got during study abroad in Spain? Or does it simply say “I got all of this stuff at Target?”
If your wardrobe is more like the latter, there are lots of things you can do to put more of your personality into your fashion sense. You don’t have to break the bank to do it, and it truly is simple.
Here are my top 7 tips to personalize your wardrobe and make it scream YOU!
1. Develop your personal brand.
If someone were to look at an outfit you’d wear on a typical day, would they immediately recognize it as yours? Is that outfit “very you,” or could it belong to anyone?
Branding is important in marketing and business, but it’s just as important in fashion to know who you are and have your own personal brand that sets you apart from everyone else. Strong brands are magnetic — you can’t help but pay attention to them. Channel some of that magnetism with your style.
How to develop your brand? Start by making a list of adjectives that describe your style, like “fun, eclectic, exciting, unique”, or “polished, chic, timeless, sophisticated.” If you aren’t sure what your style is, describe a style you’d like to have or the personal style of someone you admire. Even better, just describe your personality.
Keep the list you created and test the clothes in your wardrobe against it. If they don’t fit with your brand, consider donating them. There’s no point in wearing something that’s just not you.
2. Have things tailored.
A good tailor is every fashionista’s best friend. She can transform a wardrobe full of so-so clothes from discount stores into a closet full of amazing pieces that look custom made.
A tailor can take in your jeans so they fit perfectly, repair small rips in your favorite clothes, hem pants so they work with your favorite pair of shoes, and so much more. If you don’t have one in your contacts list, find one and get familiar. (My tailor is just my dry cleaner — they do a great job!)
Your tailor can also help you personalize your clothes. Say you find a fabulous cardigan at H&M but don’t want to have the exact same one as everyone else. You could find some cool vintage buttons and have your tailor switch them out. It would only cost a few dollars and would give you a completely unique sweater that no one else would have. There are so many possibilities like this, so don’t be afraid to get creative and ask!
3. Raid your mother’s or grandmother’s closet.
I love the idea of conveying a little bit of your personal history through clothing. What better way to do it than borrowing some vintage clothes or accessories from your mom or grandmother? You’ll find unique pieces you probably can’t buy any more, and they have the added character of being in your family.
If you have access to your mother’s, grandmother’s, or fabulous aunt’s closet, I definitely recommend borrowing something if you can.
4. Add character with your accessories.
Accessories are one of the best ways to show off little pieces of your personality without looking costumey. They can convey so much about you, and they’re often inexpensive so you can stock up.
For example, say you’re a Disney fan who doesn’t want to dress like Cinderella every day. Instead, you can accessorize an everyday outfit with a Danielle Nicole Disney bag. Or say you’re a Kubrick fan… Lolita sunglasses anyone? A set of quote pins would be perfect for the budding journalist, and obviously I don’t have to explain about the magic of band tees for music fans…
There are literally millions of choices out there — so what will you make your accessories say about you?
5. Find your signature colors.
Signature colors can be another tool to make your look scream “you!”
For example, in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods was always in pink, while Cruella Deville for example is recognizable by her black and white ensembles. Even influencers have signature colors, for example Julia Engel is known for her sweet pastels and pinks, while Alice Olivia is known for her neutrals.
So what are your signature colors?
If you need help deciding, start by finding out which colors look best on you. Then pick one or a few of your favorites from those choices. Think about which colors make you feel good when you look at them, as well as which ones resonate with your personality.
Once you have your signature colors, try wearing some combo of them in your outfits on a regular basis – whether it’s one or a few. Find handbags, shoes, and scarves in those colors and mix them in to your current wardrobe.
You don’t have to wear your signature colors every day, but wearing them often will help brand them as yours.
6. Channel your inspirations.
If there’s a certain person whose style you idolize, cop a little bit of their look and incorporate it into your own. My style idols include Rihanna, Victoria Beckham, Kate Lanphear, and Kim Kardashian West … what about you?
The people you idolize say a lot about you, and by emulating some part of their look, you tell the world a little bit about yourself. Who do you want to align yourself with?
For more on fashion inspiration and style idols, check out the following articles: Fashion Inspiration: How to Find Your Celebrity Fashion Muse, and Fashion Idols: The Pros and Cons.
7. Be true to yourself!
I say this all the time but it’s worth repeating — if you like it, wear it and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks!
We all have clothing or accessories we love that other people don’t – it’s called personal taste, and it’s a good thing! Why dress the same as everyone else? Whether you’re into neon fanny packs, sky-high heels, or hippie-chic head scarves, don’t be scared to wear them if you love ’em!
Embrace your different-ness and dress to impress yourself. Originality – that’s the best personal style tip of all.
How do you create your own unique style trademark?
Do you show off your personality with your fashion choices? If so, how? I want to hear your tips, so be sure to leave a comment.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2009; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 with new photos and information.