“We live in a world of self-defined brands”—Kenneth Cole
Being stylish and being fashionable are very different things. Fashion is a universal thing. Style is an individual thing. Anyone can be fashionable if they know the current trends and where to shop, but not everyone can be stylish. For example, tight skirts with crop tops may be in fashion, but by wearing them you may not look very stylish. Style is more about what you look good in, feel good in, fits your personal tastes, and fits your character. In my humble opinion, having style is much more important than being fashionable because style tells the world a story—the story of you. Our first perceptions of anyone are based on how they look because, unless you are blind, only meet people online/on the telephone, or are a hermit, sight is the first sense we use when meeting a person. It is important then to give an accurate representation of yourself in that first moment. It would be awful for someone to assume that you are an uptight business woman when in fact you are a natural, bohemian type simply because you chose to wear a pant suit. Sure pantsuits may seem appropriate for a fancy occasion, but if you aren’t a businesswoman working in a tall building who drinks black coffee for breakfast you are essentially lying to the whole world by wearing one. This is just one example. I have countless, but hopefully you get the point. While it is sad, because we aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover and all that, the truth is that everyone does it any way. While I don’t want to generalize, I think it is safe to say that pretty much everyone makes snap judgments of others based on what they are wearing. So since people are going to make decisions on who you are before they even talk to you, you might as well represent yourself correctly.
Developing your style can be a long, hard process requiring a lot of internal reflection and consideration of life choices. Kind of like going through rehab. Defining your style is like creating a brand for yourself. You go through the same steps as a designer does when creating his or her latest line. This is not something that can happen over night. It takes time, most people spend a lifetime defining and refining their style and most don’t even realize what they are doing. But if you want to be conscious about it, here are few simple steps:
Figure out what it is that inspires you. You probably know what your likes and dislikes are and whether or not you are aware of it, these things inspire you in a multitude of ways, including what you wear. Whether it is books, movies, time periods, flowers, food, architecture, other people, etc., what inspires you will shape what your “self-defined brand” looks like. Example:
You then decide on your color palette–what colors you like and look good on you. If you had an honest mother or sister or friend, or stranger, you have probably had the experience of being told that a particular color makes you look ill. If not, either you are blessed with magical skin and hair that looks good with everything, or you have never been in an honest relationship with anyone and I am sorry for you. Most people have their “go to color”. A color that looks fabulous on them and that they just adore. For my sister it is grey, for me it is pink (that basically sums up the difference in our characters).
The next step is to figure out what kinds of clothes are good for you. As I have said countless times and will most likely reiterate over and over again, not everyone looks good in the same thing! I like dresses, skirts, flowy blouses, cardigans, high-waisted trousers, and high heels. My best friend would never be seen in any of those things—preferring jeans, t-shirts, baggy sweaters, boots, and leggings. That doesn’t mean that one of us is more stylish than the other. This step includes determining what silhouette looks good on you, what you find comfortable, and what fabrics you like.
I think that if a designer made a line that was a representation of me, it would look a lot like this:
|This is part of my midterm for fashion business. FUN right?? Well it has a color palette, clothing examples, and fabric swatches|
After that you can figure out what stores and brands work for you. Urban Outfitters does not work for me, but Kate Spade does (too bad I have no money and can’t actually buy anything from her…I can dream though). Then you can stock up your wardrobe and walk around advertising yourself correctly.
The most important thing to remember is to stay true to who you are. Not only will buying a biker jacket when you are a quiet librarian give the whole world the wrong idea of your character, it will probably be a waste of money. If it doesn’t fit who you are, you will probably never wear it, so why buy it? I have to remind myself of that every time I am tempted to buy a pair of leather pants.