How to Find Your Personal Style Hidden in Your Closet
How to Find Your Personal Style Hidden in Your Closet
As I’m embarking on this journey of living a more intentional life, one area I have been focusing on is my clothing. If you’re anything like me, you want to find your personal style. This is a cornerstone to feeling confident in your own skin and I’ve discovered that as I cleaned out my closet, I was able to hone in on my signature style more.
I have been listening to a ton of podcasts and audiobooks lately (audible is my favorite way to listen to books). It’s one of my favorite things to do on public transportation and living without a car right now provides me plenty of opportunities.
A recent podcast, from The Simple Sophisticate, featured stylist Scarlet Chamberlin. On the episode Scarlet talked about how she helps people, women mostly, find their personal style, complete a closet detox, and start loving their wardrobes. I found the whole episode pretty enlightening so if you’re interested in this topic I recommend you give it a listen.
Let’s take a look at 5 Steps to Find Your Personal Style
1. Take stock in what you own
This means you really need to look at EVERYTHING that you own. I mean everything. I find it easiest to do this with a closet detox. The process includes putting all of your clothing on your bed (or in one pile) and sorting through it.
If you need help with the process, you can check out this post on completing a closet detox in a weekend and another on how to clean and organize using the 5-box method. Both will help you zero in on which of your belongings you love most and bring you the most happiness with are essential to finding your signature style.
2. Look for patterns
The second step to find your personal style is to look for patterns. Examine the items you love the most and see if there is a common thread. Is there a certain color you love most? Are your clothes mostly neutral? This will help you find the clothes and style that you gravitate toward the most.
Next look in your toss, donate, and sell piles. These are the clothes that you liked enough to buy, but do not resinate with you any longer. Perhaps they are from a different time in your life – like a more or less professional job, school, or different environment. These are the clothes that you want to avoid shopping for in the future as they are not part of your personal style.
The last step is to look at the clothes you are having a hard time parting with. These are usually the ones that end up in your Maybe pile. There may be an emotional attachment to these clothes or perhaps they do not fit well and need to go to the tailor. Take a good look at this pile to see if there is a pattern emerging from this pile. If so, you may need to find a way to honor this part of your life. (I’ll come back to this in step 5)
3. Map out your current life
So many of us have this fantasy view of what our personal style should be, but we rarely take a minute to match this to our current lifestyle. I know that I’ve been guilty of this past. I may love the bohemian look or high heel shoes, but neither of these looks really fit my current lifestyle of a work at home mom living in Munich, Germany.
The best thing I have discovered when marrying your lifestyle with your personal fashion is to map out how you spend your days and the types of outfits you need for each. From there you can decide how many outfits you need and then the number and types of clothing for those outfits.
Figure out how much time you devote to the following activities. Each day of the week will need a new outfit. I talk more about mapping out your lifestyle in this Closet Detox post, but you can also access the Google Spreadsheet (click the image below to download) to help you.
4. Create Outfits from Your Love Pile
The fourth step in fining your personal style is one of my favorites. You need to create a look book and find which articles of clothing you like best and make your favorite outfits. To do this, I create capsule wardrobe modules as an easy way to organize my closet.
Pick one top layer, 3 shirts, and 3 bottoms to mix and match. These 6 pieces will create 12 outfits. Your current lifestyle outfit needs from step 3 above, will determine how many capsule wardrobe modules you need.
The secret here is that if you have two modules that mix and match perfectly, you can create 72 outfits. That means you will only need 2 top layers, 6 shirts, and 4 bottoms and you will not have to wear the same thing for over 2 months.
5. Find a way to honor this past
Sometimes when we’re cleaning out our closet and trying to discover our personal style, we come face to face with a big emotional attachment. This can make it difficult to complete a closet clean out and leave you paralyzed when trying to create a capsule wardrobe. This emotional attachment can hold you back.
In the podcast episode I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the stylist, Scarlet mentioned a story of one of her clients. She was helping this woman who had lived in San Francisco in her 20’s. Back then she had her first good job, traveled a lot, and enjoyed being single in the city. When they looked in her closet, a big chunk of it was taken up with bohemian dresses even though she had moved from the city long ago, no longer held that job, and was now married with children. Although she never wore these dresses anymore, she was having a difficult time parting with them and they were making it difficult for her to hone in on her current personal style.
The solution Scarlet suggested was to take her favorite dress, put it in a shadow box, and hang it in her closet. This was all the woman needed to be able to let go of the other dresses and live fully in her new style.
Would this type of solution work for you? Think about how you can honor some clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle, but you’re not quite ready to get rid of.
We do not have to give up our past or hide it away like it never happened. Our past is part of what made us who we are today. Whether it was beautiful or bumpy, we can honor that part of ourselves and either enjoy the memory of it or let it go. Our clothes are often a physical reminder of our lives in the past. By taking stock of them, bringing these pieces into the light, and giving them the recognition they deserve we can most beyond our past and fully embrace who we are and where we are.
The secret you need to find your personal style is hidden in your closet. You don’t need to go chasing fads or the latest style trends. Instead, you need to take a close look at the clothes you already own. These are the pieces you chose to let into your home. You parted with money to own them. That’s why they are the best place to start when searching for your signature style. You have put value on these things.
By examining the clothes you own, looking for patterns within your wardrobe, mapping out your current (real) lifestyle, creating module capsule wardrobes, and honoring those pieces that you have a strong emotional to, you will be well on your way to find your personal style. This will give you more confidence in shopping in the future and make it easier to live with less.
Don’t forget to check out this closet detox post if you need more help with step number one.
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