Discovering your Personal Style

There are so many blogs and vlogs about finding your own personal style, which is the stepping stone to building a manageable, personalized, authentic, and well thought out capsule wardrobe. All aspects of wardrobe selection factor into these tips: from trends to shopping vintage, from establishing your staple uniform to accessorizing meaningfully. All these are important steps, but I might have a thing or two to add to the conversation. I have moved intercontinentally several times, so capsule wardrobe (literally what I can fit in one suitcase) are second nature to me, and… let’s face it, although I LOVE clothes and want to look fabulous like the next gal, I also have enough perspective to realize that trends and tastes change over time and space, and must, therefore, fluctuate over a lifetime. Taking age and hijab considerations into account, is something that I have not seen addressed, and could be. So here’s my two cents.

Photo by Maria Orlova on

There are much more important things to think about than fashion, 100%. That being said, let’s also agree that fashion does add color and spunk to our daily lives, no matter how we live them. Looking your best helps you set the tone for your day, not only in the way you feel and therefore project yourself, but the way you are received and therefore treated by others. A lot can be said about this, and much research has gone into it. But just sticking to the anecdotal and personal, I have no doubt about this point. There are many other factors, such as demeanor, language, and body language, for sure, but the simplest, and most easily changeable is, of course, your wardrobe. So having set this issue straight, let’s get into a little more of what needs to happen for you to feel satisfied with your wardrobe.

Get a notebook for this job, and something to write with, keep them handy throughout this process.

  • Know what you own: You need to look at your clothes, all of them (the ones in your closet(s), drawers, suitcases, storage bins, and laundry. If you have time (and it is highly recommended by many seasoned professional stylists that you do not skip this), take stock… literally. Itemize. If you’re drowning in clothes, then perhaps start by sorting: start with this season’s clothes first, and move on. If you have items you wear year-round, and you actually do wear year-round, then put them back in your closet, these are keepers for sure! List these keepers in your notebook.
  • Sort: make 3 piles: a) Love it; b) Hate it; c) Not sure.
  • Deal with the Hate it pile first (it’s the easiest). Ask yourself 3 questions:
  • a) Why do I hate it?;
  • b) Do I know someone who would love it?;
  • c) Is it worth listing/selling? The answer to the first question is the first step in determining what your personal style is. Write your answers down. If you know someone who would love and fit this, give it to them, if not, consider either selling (if in good shape or new with tags, or a rare find), or donating (if you don’t have the time or patience to go through the reselling process).
  • Deal with the Love it pile next:
  • a) Loooooove this, fit it, doesn’t need fixing or cleaning, and I wear it often, this pile should go back into your closet with the year-round clothes and list it in your notebook;
  • b) Looooove this, don’t fit it/needs fixing/cleaning, would wear it once it has been dealt with. Set this pile aside for now, and tackle it little by little, but constantly, until it’s done. Once it’s done, add it to your notebook inventory.
  • c) Looooove this, but for some reason I never wear it (ask yourself why you don’t wear it: is it because you never have the occasion to wear it? Is it because it doesn’t fit just right? Is it because it makes you uncomfortable? Is it because it doesn’t match with anything in your wardrobe?). The answers to these questions are crucial, because they’ll determine another step in both your personal style, AND your capsule wardrobe. If they just need a tweak, then put them in the pile with the fix-ums to deal with, so you can actually start wearing them. If they clash with your personality, ask yourself why. Is it because they’re “too old” “too young” “too loud” or what? Determine if your love for them might be suggesting that you’ve gotten stuck in a rut, just falling back to the trusty old just ‘cuz you know them, and DARE to give these items a fighting chance. Try them on with your staple wardrobe, determine if they say more about who you want to be than you think. Sometimes we buy things for who we wish we were, but never dare to step into that role, give it a shot! Maybe it’s your first step to your fullest you! Or maybe it really isn’t you and they don’t reflect any real aspirations or goals of yours, and therefore can be released and either sold or donated, and you can release that dream into the ethers with the item, and start dreaming a different dream!
  • Now to the Not sure pile: take note of why you’re not sure. Is it because it doesn’t fit, needs cleaning or fixing? Then put it with the pile to deal with, and take care of it as soon as you get the chance. Is it because you don’t know if it clashes with the rest of your wardrobe, you have nothing to match it with, or you think it’s too far a deviation from what you’re used to? Ask yourself the same questions you asked yourself about the Love pile (section c). Jot down your answers, and follow the same steps.
  • Once you’ve sorted the keeps from the discards, and fixed the maybes, you are left with a wardrobe. Now it’s time to analyze:
  • a) color palette. Check my blog about Undertones, to get an idea of what suits you, and how to determine that once and for all (your color palette never changes, even if you dye your hair).
  • b) body shape and proportions. Read my blog on Kibbe Style, and work out which one you are. I wrote a blog for each one of them. If you still need help, just drop me a comment below.
  • c) lifestyle. For your color palette, check out my general post on style and undertones to determine what suits you and what doesn’t. For your body shape and proportions, go over my Kibbe Style blogs to determine what type you are. This is probably the most important element. Sometimes we’re drawn to things that we saw other people wear and who looked awesome in them, but they have the opposite effect on us. It doesn’t mean you can’t wear them! I’m not the fashion police! You can certainly wear something that doesn’t suit you. What these guidelines provide is an awareness of how you may be perceived from an aesthetic viewpoint. With such knowledge you can make an informed decision about what message you want to give through your wardrobe choices. As for your lifestyle, we all need to be realistic and practical. You might very well LOOOOVE your collection of silk decollete brightly colored gowns with sequins and embroidered pearls, but how many do you ACTUALLY need? Maybe your answer is six, maybe just one, or maybe none. Consider the number of times you have reached for these items, their emotional value, and their real value to someone who might actually be searching for something like it? Some people go to formal parties often, and cannot be seen wearing the same outfit twice, if you are one of these people, you might want to consider renting your next gown, and selling the ones you have. Some people have emotional attachments to clothes, if this is you, decide why you’re attached, and if saving this garment (even if you don’t wear it) has positive effects on your psyche and emotional well being, keep it safe and hand it down to future generations. If not, get rid of it! The sooner, the better. Some of us (hijabis in particular) have several different uniforms we wear depending on where we are and with whom (inside, outside, with family, with women, or not). Consider each of these as you build your wardrobe. In these cases, you might find that many of your items can serve double duty as at home/family/women and outdoor/work/leisure, with some simple additions. For example, a midi dress can turn into a tunic, a sleeveless top can be covered up with a cardigan or blazer, etc.. Layering makes styling easier. Knowing what you have, establishing your color palette, and your lifestyle are very important elements in determining the interchangeability, or versatility of your garments. The color palette in particular, will help you avoid purchasing items you won’t wear, and will help you develop your creativity while arranging your existing items in numerous ways (what vloggers call “shopping your closet”).
  • Let go of what’s not reflective of you. Once you’ve dealt with all your fix ‘ums, donated or posted your unwanteds for sale, and gone through your questions and answers, you are now in a position to determine your personal style. It’ll be based on items you love, wear, and believe in. They fit, they’re clean and they look great on you. You FEEL great in them. Take a close look at your wardrobe: what’s in it? By now, it should only be clothes you love, wear, fit and look great in. They should all conform to your color palette, and you should have a staple uniform (the clothes you reach for in a pinch for any occasion, except maybe formal). What do they have in common: Are they tailored? Are they soft and cozy? Are they full of patterns? What colors do you predilect? You probably have your staple basics in neutral colors, and a few accent pieces in colors that both suit you, your lifestyle, and coordinate well with your basics. With these tools in hand, you are in the privileged position to form a great number of possible combinations. Think of what you might be missing, did you get rid of anything that you loved but couldn’t fix, and now you miss it? Replace it (preferably ethical or second hand and in natural and sustainable fibers). Are you missing something? What is it? Why do you think you need it? Would it add exactly what you want to your wardrobe? Then put it on a wish list, and start searching for it. Don’t be in a rush to purchase new things though, you might find that you don’t actually need it or even want it after all, and taking a little bit of time searching might make this clear to you. You’ve just gone through a very cathartic, and purging process, if you want to maintain it and not loose your progress, keep your journal handy, and revisit it often, adding and commenting as you discover new things about your style. Fashion trends come and go, if you want to look on trend, you don’t have to overhaul your entire wardrobe. Instead, consider the major trends: which ones would suit you and your style? Pick one or two items that you think will stand the test of time and you’ll be able to proudly wear with your existing wardrobe, and voila! Your wardrobe has been brought up to date with a single accent piece. Many vloggers detail their journeys online, you can draw much inspiration from them.
  • Your style will change, don’t think this is a one shot deal. Your body will change, your circumstances will change, and your outlook on life will change. We ideally want our wardrobe (our outer selves) to reflect these changes. If you’re mindful of what you have, what you buy, and why, this will happen automatically, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time, money, and grief by avoiding impulse buys, needless clutter, and embarrassing outfit mishaps. Most of all, you can concentrate on being your best you, as your wardrobe has put your best foot forward.
  • Now you’re ready to seize the day, knowing you have conquered the jungle that was your closet and can take this new knowledge and these newly acquired tools to face the world!
Photo by Meru Bi on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.