Personal Style questions

The words used to describe personal styles change over the years (classic, romantic, casual, dramatic, vintage. . . cool, boho, urban, edgy, retro . . . ) but some basic aspects of personal style stay constant.
It’s good to have a couple of key words for a style, as an easy way to keep it in mind.
But actually personal styles can vary in a huge number of details.

After a lot of reading about wardrobe planning, I have a list of style questions I find helpful.

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- are you a pants or a skirt person ?
- if you prefer skirts, are you a dresses or a separates person ?
- which types of top do you like most ? shirts, blouses, tees, tunics ?
- which types of layering top do you most like to wear ? jacket, sweater, cardigan, tunic, vest, shawl, big shirt, sleeveless jumper-style dress ?

- are you happier in knits or woven fabrucs ?
- do you like plain fabrics, or hand dyeds, prints, plaids, stripes, textures or patterned weaves, velvet or corduroy, shiny, embellished ?
- stiffer materials like leather, or softer more drapey ones?
- if you like prints, are they floral, geometric, animal, hard edged, fuzzy. . .?
- lots of big contrasts, or only subtle differences ?
- do you like added beads, or braids, piping, cord, studs and eyelets, ornamental zips, fringe, tassels, lace, embroidery, topstitching, fabric textures such as tucks, gathers, flounces, 3-D flowers, applique, patchwork, quilting. . .?

- do you need more professional looking, or more dirt tolerant, clothes ?
- do you go to some ’dressy/ formal’ occasions ?
- does the climate you live in affect whether you need warm or protective layers ? longer or shorter pants, skirts or sleeves ? special accessories ?

- what are the darker and lighter neutral colours that are most flattering for you ? (that make you look good even without make up or hair colouring ?)
- what is your favourite and most flattering ‘accent’ colour ?
- do you look best in light or dark colours ? clear or muted/ greyed shades ? colours with a yellowish or with a blueish tinge ?
- do you look your best when wearing white ? in black ? in denim blue ? in none of these ?

- what is your basic body silhouette ? rectangle, round, triangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, a combination ?
- if you’re bigger above the waist, have you got wide or large shoulders, or a generous cup size, or both ?
- what shapes and lengths of tops, tunics, jackets, skirts, pants, are most flattering for you ? (essential to check the view from the back too ! and just get a general idea – the best lengths in detail often depend on particular shapes and combinations of garments and shoes.)
- do you look best with tops tucked in or out ?
- what shapes, ease, lengths do you feel most comfortable in, or feel most like yourself when you wear them ?
- what heel height is most flattering to your legs when wearing a skirt ?

- what is your face shape ? and what is the most flattering hair style for you ?
- what is the most flattering shape and depth of neckline for you ? also the best collars ?
- what are your best features, that you want your clothes and accessories to draw attention to ? face, legs, waist, shoulders, bosom, hands, eyes, skin, feet, hair. . .?

- what is your favourite accessory ? bags, belts, necklaces, brooches/ pins, bracelets, earrings, rings, scarves, hats, gloves, shoes, boots, sunglasses ?
- what are your favourite styles for jewellery and accessories : quiet or bling ? large or small ? best materials ? simple or detailed ? modern or antique ? a mixture ?
- what is your favourite size of bag (purse) ?
- what are your favourite materials for your bag ? fabric, leather, straw ?

- are you happiest in fitted or loose clothes ? structured/ tailored, or floaty ? simple or detailed ?
- is the weight of clothes important for you ? do you feel more comfortable in light weight clothes ? in heavy weight clothes ?
- what about the weight of accessories ? the weight of bags? shoes? necklaces?
- do you like or dislike wearing high heels? flats? low necklines? high necklines? ankle length skirts? thigh length skirts?

- what is the clothing style that you feel most yourself in ? quiet or striking ? casual or tailored ? pretty or hard-edged ? chic or mini-care ? crafter or modernist ? minimalist or bling ? classic, quirky, romantic, high fashion, sporty, artistic, elegant, cool, edgy, urban, vintage, boho, sexy, something else, a combination ?
- have you got a ‘signature’ ? is there a colour, or a type of print or fabric, or a type or shape of garment, or a type of accessory or trim, or something else, that you alway wear or would like to wear ?

- and apply (most of !) these questions to undies and nightwear too.
- what bra and panties styles and sizes can you wear without getting underwear lines ?

- remember a time when you felt at your happiest and best. Would the clothes you are thinking of making or buying help you to feel like this ?

- do you need to adapt your clothes a little away from your personal preferences, to suit the climate or lifestyle where you live or work ? if so, what is the most important feature for you to maintain, so you feel you keep your own style ? (Our local smartly uniformed junior supermarket manager goes home in black leather and chains. He gets to keep his beard and pony tail during the day.)

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Your personal style may well be different from mine, so notice especially when you disagree with these questions, or think there is something important left out !

These sorts of questions don’t point to specific best designs, but for me they do greatly cut down on the mass of alternatives.

P.S. Looking at this 3 years later – I’ve realised the patterns I choose have most interest and variety around the neck area, with very similar sleeves. So I would add some questions here about which style elements you like to vary. See my post on Where do you like your outfit variety ?

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Links available September 2009

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Explore posts in the same categories: personal style

6 Comments on “Personal Style questions”

  1. Barbara Says:

    This is a wonderful thoughtful blog – keep writing. I have enjoyed your posts so much.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Great blog, Lisanne, I agree keep writing. Also, sew!

  3. Vildy Says:

    Wonderful questions. I can’t believe that after having read dozens of style books and hundreds of articles I never before took time to consider whether I preferred skirts or pants. I love a graceful skirt but it’s pants! I’m only most comfortable in pants and no matter if other people respond well to my skirted outfits, I always feel I have “put it on” [over my personality].

    And when I consider outfits in the past that I felt the very best and happiest! in, I think of 2 pantsuits I had. Well, I still have the kind of raspberry hot pink shantung one that alllllmost fits. I keep it as a kind of talisman but had never considered the full significance.

  4. Cathy Says:

    Thank you for this blog! I’ve been struggling with personal style lately – What? Jeans and t-shirts aren’t a personal style in themselves? :)

    I’ve spent hours on your site and find it extremely useful. Thanks for the time you’ve spent putting it together!

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Cathy
      I think of tees and jeans as Classic Casual, see my take on current personal styles round here in the UK. Though I think your new pattern choices look more “Soft Layered” (pick your own name :D)

      Glad you find all this helpful, I enjoy doing it !

      And I like your post on free patterns for a capsule – an excellent idea, I promise to resist copying you :D


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