How to create a personal style

There are certain things that no-one can take away from you…learning, self-respect, attitude…and style!

Forget about fads – knickerbockers, bubble gum jeans, puffball skirts, crop tops.  There’s something way cooler, sexier and possibly cheaper than conformity.   It’s personal style and no one can flaunt it like you!

Jackie O’Fee, owner of Auckland-based Signature Style sums up style versus fashion.

“The reality is that every trend doesn’t suit every body…and yes, I mean that to be two words. Your shape is your own and we’re all built differently. True style is knowing what works for you, and then selecting the trends that suit you rather than letting them dictate what to wear.”

At a recent business conference, a presenter commented that the interviewer makes their mind up about a person within the first three minutes of an interview, spending the remaining time seeking pathways that make them right.  With limited time to communicate who we are, how we present ourselves at that first meeting can create unconscious bias about who we are.

Great personal style reflects our uniqueness and highlights our strengths. With the proliferation of online stores and import brands, the opportunities for style statement are endless and accessible to most budgets.

Finding your personal style starts with choosing complimentary colours, considering the context of your lifestyle and the characteristics of your body shape, so you can shop with ease and confidence.

Complimentary colours

Know your colours and stick to them.

Jot down your favourite colours.  Which do you feel good in? To open up your choices, consider which colours go together or would work well with a different accent colour.  I love green and pink, lemon and brown, brown and dark pink/nude and black with brown.

Knowing what you look best in is so helpful when building a wardrobe.  At Signature Style, one of O’Fee’s services is a professional colour analysis. “The colours that never go out of style are the colours that look best on you! You’ll always be able to find something in your colours in the shops.”

For a little self-help in defining whether you’re ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ and how to start creating a colour palette, Hungry Wardrobe has a few tips.

Do certain colours stay in fashion?  According to O’Fee, there’s navy, taupe and, of course, black and it’s variants.  “We’ve had navy hanging around now for about five years (hooray!) and there’s usually a version of taupe out there too. You can always find black (but it’s a bit boring – seriously), grey and cream.”

Context of your lifestyle

Like your life, aspects of your personal style will change over time.  To help shape your personal style, you could start with reflecting on your key weekly activities and the percentage of time you spend on each.  For example, you may spend time at work, caring for young children, doing the school run (I like the ‘athleisure’ options), nights out with friends, corporate functions, BBQ’s, etc. Knowing the current percentage mix in your life will help to prioritise spending and choose style options to support you as you transition through these roles.

Physical characteristics

Consider your personal characteristics and physical strengths to help you make fabric and fit choices that draw the eye to your best features.

  • Many style experts agree to accentuate just one feature with your clothing. You may be tempted to go for more (lucky you), but one is the most striking.  Retain a little mystery…and mix it up!
  • Consider your body shape and both what you want to cover up and reveal in the styles you buy. Where do you want the hemline to fall?  As O’Fee says, “Ladies who are short-waisted and busty are likely to feel ‘all boobs’ in a leather biker jacket.  If there’s more weight around the hips and thighs with a bit of a tummy, a long-line boyfriend blazer isn’t the best choice.”  Focus on where you want the eye to fall and make clothing choices that draw attention to these areas.
  • Consider your personality. Do you love the vivaciousness of florals or feel more comfortable in muted patterns?  Are you sensual and love luxurious fabrics like chiffon or cashmere?  Perhaps you want a mix of patterns to reflect different moods or settings.  Having an overall theme that you enjoy will help guide your choices on patterns and textures and how much you spend on staple items.

Start shopping

Once you’ve reflected on colours, your lifestyle and characteristics of your body-shape, you’re ready to shop for ideas!  Online is an ideal place to start – check out Instagram, Pinterest and designers’ websites for ideas.

The Recycle Boutique, H&M and Dressmart are ideal for budget-conscious options, as is Louvisa for accessories.  Similarly, online fashion brand Birdsnest offers a wide range of clothing for different body shapes, with a free online style guide.

Personal style can be admired, but not imitated.  With a strong personal style, there’s no need to buy on lukewarm feelings.  Personal style ensures that a first impression reflects your strengths and uniqueness and supports you to perform at your best in your ever-evolving roles.