Finding your style 2 : on-line style advisors

Do you feel special in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel confident ?

There are many sources of personal styling advice :
– national styling companies with local representatives who do face-to-face consultations,
– in-store shopping advisors,
– on-line advisors, some of whom do personal consultations locally or on-line using Skype or photos,
– books – there are shelf yards of books on choosing your best clothes according to your colouring, body shape, and personal style. Here’s my post on my favourite styling books (written in 2013 so now a bit out of date).

The first post in this group was about what style categories can do for you, and how to use them.

This is about some on-line sources of advice about ‘best clothes for you’. Only a small selection, or this post really would be huge.
It’s a long post with several main topics :
Stylists who advise about personal style, the clothes you are happiest wearing.
Stylists who advise about how you can best flatter your colouring and body shape.
Stylists who advise about planning a ‘capsule wardrobe’, a small group of co-ordinating clothes.

Of course most of these sites are set up to help people who don’t sew. But there are a few who give pattern advice, and I’ve noted them.

This ends with comments on what to do if you feel the stylists don’t cover your needs. There are no absolute rules about styling, so you won’t find all stylists suggest what works well for you. Try the ones who look as if they do, and if they don’t then move on. And not to worry if none of them do, there are many other ways of exploring your own style. See the next post for some ideas.

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Personal style

Doctor T Designs – Kibbe styles – see Sew your Kibbe under the Wardrobe Planning tab. There’s a wealth of Kibbe-related guidance on the web. This site is good for sewists because it has extensive suggestions of sewing patterns for each style : within each overall style – for casual, work, and special occasions.
No need to know your Kibbe style, just look through the patterns suggested for likely styles, and see if there’s a group you feel are ‘you’.
I like over-sized slouchy clothes, which here are categorised as ‘Flamboyant Natural’. I’m not the physical type that is supposed to like these styles, nor have I got a flamboyant personality. A good example of the styles being more important than the category name.

Inside Out Style from Imogen Lamport, for colour, body shape and personal style. She has a huge range of excellent free advice.
My favourite saying of hers :
“You want to love your clothes, and have them love you back.”
Her Style Manifesto might be a good starting point for your own explorations.
In the Evolve Your Style course there are daily challenges, a quick way of finding the limits to what you can happily wear – I refused the challenge on the days when she told me to wear bright red lipstick or high heels !
I enjoyed her ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, not free but rich with useful information on colouring and body shape.

Truth is Beauty and Fantastical Beauty can give you many ideas to try if your style is less mainstream.
Truth is Beauty is where I found my ‘Ingenue’ style word, though I certainly don’t dress like her ingenue examples.
I’ve never thought of myself as living in a fairy tale, but if you do then what fun 😀 . Fantastical Beauty could also help if you don’t know where to start with cosplay. This is an example of a site which gives advice only about a specialised group of style categories, she doesn’t attempt to cover the whole style range.

Here are a couple of other specialised advisors, at opposite ends of the style spectrum:
Stunning Style has good posts on five ‘classic style twists’ : minimal, edgy, sporty, cute, soft. Her detailed wardrobe guides are easiest to follow if you love classy classics and look good in ‘Winter’ colours.
While Stasia’s Style School encourages people who want to be boldly even wildly individual in their style.

You Look Fab has daily posts on style topics – fun to follow, but not the best place to start as a guide for your personal style search.

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Examples of personal style advice ‘fails’ for me

I’ve so far mentioned some on-line stylists I have learned from. But there are ones I find less useful (this isn’t all of them 😀 ).

For me, Dressing Your Truth is very limited, I can rarely fit people I know into it. But people who aren’t used to the idea of having a personal style, or who want to be told what to wear, often find it a helpful starting point. It divides us into 4 Types according to how we mainly use our energy, basically : fun lovers, sensitives, achievers, perfectionists. Everyone of the same Type is supposed to wear the same season of colours : Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and have the same facial features. (There have been 100s of research studies looking for a relation between physical characteristics and personality, and none have ever found anything.) The wealth of human nature means there are more than 4 types of people, and people who do fit the 4 DYT Types do not all look good in the same colours. (30somethingurbangirl also pairs style type and colour season, but in a different way – these things are not set in stone !) However there are many free videos on the DYT site, which may help with getting a quick idea of where your tastes lie, and what to look out for when assessing clothes. I’m not a ‘believer’ in DYT, but I confess I enjoy watching the make-over shows.

Imogen Lamport’s 16 Style Types course, on dressing according to your MBTI personality type, is expensive (but then so is a personal consultation with a top stylist). I tried the shorter ‘Discover your style type’ version. I’ve never, in years of reading about it and trying tests, found which MBTI Type I am. From the indicators given in this course I am, as usual, ‘6 of one and half a dozen of the other’ on 2 of the dimensions. I tried 2 of Imogen’s reports and find one of them is a better fit than the other, but there is much in it that is not ‘me’ at all. Matches some of my attitudes to clothes and shopping, but there’s very little about specific styles to wear. Some people find this approach opens up important insights for them. I got good value from Imogen’s ‘7 Steps to Style’ course, but not here.

My Private Stylist has a section called What’s your style personality which is a good example that some stylists may not be right for us at all. She has a questionnaire which claims to guide you to 1 of 50 categories. But the first 2 questions are about shoes and all the choices have high heels, which I never wear. Then the next 2 questions are about dresses – I haven’t worn a dress in decades, and all the choices have a fitted waist, which I didn’t wear when I did wear dresses. So I don’t think going through the rest of the questions would be likely to lead me on a path of self-discovery. Of course many people love the clothes illustrated, but that’s not where I belong.

We just need to accept this will happen with some stylists, and move on.

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In the same way that we may find we’re a mixture of personal style categories, we may also find we don’t fit neatly into any body shape or colouring categories. But it can still be helpful to see what we can learn from these systems about what may be most flattering for us.

Flatter your body shape

As far as I know Imogen Lamport’s Body Shape Bible is the most detailed information you can find on-line about how to flatter your body shape : your silhouette, your length proportions, and your other special features such as large bust or rear.

Make what use of it you can. As usual I’m mixed, clearly bottom heavy so a ‘pear’ or ‘A’ in Imogen’s system, but not ‘triangle’ as I have clearly defined waist, an 8 in Imogen’s system. So I’m mixed pear/hourglass. In Imogen’s system there are many of us who are ‘A over 8’.

And you may love styles which don’t flatter your body shape – well, not to worry, go for what you love. Here is Imogen’s post on why your personality is more important than your body shape in determining which clothes you look and feel best in.

Flatter your personal colouring

There are many on-line colour analysis services. Most of them do not mention grey hair, and if they do they often insist if you have grey hair you must have cool skin – so not for me.

Many people find this page from Cardigan Empire is a helpful starting point. For me, she’s just another person who doesn’t mention grey hair 😀

As screens, cameras and printers can alter colours, personal colour advice is not something that’s easy to do well on-line or from photos. I think courses which mail you physical comparison colour cards are better than courses using only virtual colours. 2 examples :
– the DIY Color Style Kit (mainly colour wheel colours), finds your colour type on the 3 dimensions warm-cool, bright-soft, light-medium-deep, using mailed reference cards, and assigns you to a category. Follow with her next level course, Discover your color style, which doesn’t use categories and works better for my mixed colouring. Includes detailed advice for grey hair and/or dark skin.
– the colour section of Imogen Lamport’s ‘7 Steps to style’ course – Inside Out Style, see top tabs – also mails colour cards. More subtle colours – sadly almost impossible to find in clothes or fabrics.
Both these have more sophisticated colour systems than a ‘season’ analysis.
Nancy Nix-Rice adds level of contrast and size of pattern to those 3 colour dimensions, and for many of us they are important.

Some colours are greatly affected by lighting. I have a khaki hoodie and boots which both look brown in some lights, green in others. And a greige poncho which looks grey in direct sunlight, beige otherwise. This might be important for you, for example if you test colours at home in natural light, but spend your working day in fluorescent light.

So the first colour issue is what colours flatter you – which colours make your skin look healthy and your eyes shine. I look like a living-dead-witch in black, not a good look for a special occasion. But the second important colour question is which colours you feel happy wearing. Here’s a post by Imogen Lamport on your colour personality.

Like my points in the first post, about style categories – the aim of colour categories is to support us in finding colours that we look and feel good in, not to force ourselves to fit into some colour category scheme ! I’ve spent time in my life trying to be a Summer, a Spring, an Autumn – the only season I’ve clearly never been is a Winter. Now with my cool grey hair, warm tan skin, cool pink lips, and warm brown eyes, I’m part warm part cool, part bright part soft, part light part medium. There are no simple rules for what colours are best for me, but I do try colour advice to see what is helpful. And actually with my ‘colour personality’ I mainly wear neutrals anyway. But not all neutrals – I look dreadful in black and in denim blue, and it’s surprising how many fabric stores sell only cool colours. . .

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Wardrobe planning

A ‘capsule’ wardrobe is small group of co-ordinating clothes that can be mixed and matched to make different outfits. If you only have a small number of clothes, you want to be sure they fit the needs of your lifestyle. And that they’re all items you love to reach for in the morning – they suit your personality and make you look and feel good. Hence the whole area of ‘wardrobe planning’.

There are 100s of people on-line telling you how to plan a capsule wardrobe. Stunning Style above is one. These are some of the others :
The Vivienne Files is a site bursting with methods for planning a capsule wardrobe, but most of the clothes shown are ‘normcore’ in style. There’s a big focus on colour co-ordination, but little on finding your most flattering colours. Excellent if planning or revamping your wardrobe are what you want to optimise, but little help with alternative styles.
Classy yet Trendy also suggests specific capsules, in 6 nearly-normcore styles : teacher, essential, workwear, athleisure, stay at home mom, French minimalist. The first 3 differ mainly in how formal the clothes are : all casual, some casual/some dressy, all dressy. ‘Athleisure’ is a little more sporty, ‘stay at home’ clothes have a little more softness, and the ‘French’ clothes are a little ‘edgy’.

Those sites have links to specific RTW items in the capsule.
Usually they recommend standard styles and there are many patterns which could be used to copy them. But the sites support shoppers not sewists.

The next capsule sites are for sewists and include pattern advice :
Nancy Nix-Rice has a book and DVD. And a Craftsy video class which should return in the autumn. She also has blog posts suggesting sewing patterns.
Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns has a Mindful Wardrobe course which combines : personal style/ colouring/ fit, devising a capsule wardrobe, the deeper issues of clothing and sewing as self care.
The Wardrobe Architect posts from Colette patterns are an interesting series of exercises on all aspects of choosing your clothes.
Seamwork on-line magazine with patterns has a Design your Wardrobe 3-week video class. Also from Colette patterns, you have to be a Seamwork member for access.

These next 2 classes have capsule and pattern suggestions, but don’t cover the wider issues of personal style, body shape, colouring :
Sandy Miller shows variations of Cutting Line patterns, at Taunton Workshops.
Sewing Workshop pattern’s Sew Confident series builds up a capsule wardrobe over the course of each year.

Most pattern books from indie pattern publishers don’t include wardrobe planning advice (lifestyle, personal style, colouring, body shape). This one does: Dressed from Deer & Doe patterns has 9 downloadable pdf patterns claimed to be makable in an afternoon.

Many stylists tell you how to build a capsule, but that may not be best way of organising your wardrobe for you. Imogen Lamport has an interesting piece on whether you prefer capsule, formula, or uniform for your clothing. Nancy Nix-Rice also has a post about using a fashion formula. Even more simply, you may be an ‘outfit’ wearer, if you don’t want to have to mix-and-match clothes, and you always wear each item with the same other items. Or you may be someone who doesn’t want any limits to your style choices (though such people are unlikely to be reading this !). I’m a Uniform person – but you may love just going with the mood of the day 😀

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If the main style categories are not ‘you’

You don’t actually need to know your style category. That doesn’t mean you have no style ! There are many other options for finding your own style, suggestions in the next post.

You might start with this list of style questions. If you have any preferences at all, you have a personal style 👍.

But if you do want to go further with getting advice from others, look at the suggestions from several stylists. For example, one person’s advice for ‘natural’ may not be the same as another stylist’s advice for ‘casual’. Stylists certainly don’t all agree. As an example, some stylists say that Casual and Chic are complete opposites, while others have a ‘Casual Chic’ category.

Style is a matter of judgement and opinion, not accurate measurement. This can be difficult for people like me, I prefer clear simple rules when I’m learning something for the first time (though I’m flexible later). That really is not possible with ‘style’. So look for stylists you feel you have something in common with, follow them as far as they can take you, but be prepared to move on.

April Grow at Stunning Style says there are only 3 rules : wear what suits your personality, wear what flatters your body, and don’t spend beyond your budget. The details of what works for us we have to explore. And some people might not agree even with those rules 😀

You may come across style words which you respond to, but which the general stylists do not give information about because the words only apply to a small percentage of people.
Search style words in google, pinterest, youtube.
Try : lagenlook, mori girl, folkloric, vintage, retro, prairie, pioneer, western, hip hop, grunge, punk, goth.
New style words emerge in each season and each sub-culture.
What is the style of your favourite movie or fantasy character ?
Would you like to look like Iris Apfel or the ladies with Advanced Style ?
Are any of the Folkwear patterns to your taste ?

Some people like to follow celebrity/influencer style. But those people have genes which mean they look good photographed from any angle, and my gifts lie elsewhere so I don’t feel I have much in common with them ! If you do like this idea, have a look at the celebrity outfits suggested by styleARC patterns.

Or start from images rather than words. Cherish and collect the images which do ‘speak’ to you.
Choose a pinterest image and see what pinterest suggests have something in common with it.

Also check for your own wardrobe needs. I wear mainly pullover layers and vests, and they’re rarely mentioned in wardrobe plans or by stylists.

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Notice how you respond to a stylist. I’m a quiet person, and some stylists have such powerful personalities I feel knocked sideways from myself. Or they emphasise all my inadequacies as a way of convincing me I need their course. Despite their big claims, some of them make me feel lesser – those I’m learning to avoid !

Getting closer to wearing your own style is a way of making you feel better about yourself, not worse !

Oddly there are several sites which claim to be all about ‘self expression’ in your clothing choices, which actually have quite strict rules on how you go about expressing yourself – what type of person you ‘ought’ to be expressing. As if there’s only one way of dressing to express yourself. I think you ought to feel free to be an extreme classic, or very unfashionable, if those styles make you feel good 😀

Also beware courses which offer a styling ‘rescue fantasy’, suggesting that all the decisions have been made for you, and all your styling problems will quickly be at an end. This may be a good place for styling and capsule planning beginners to start from, but ultimately to get your style right for you, you do need to respond to your own feelings about the suggestions made. See the next posts for some ideas on making your style more personal to you.

Go along with any stylist who helps you feel you know what style direction to go in, but only follow them as far as they do. Once you start to feel you don’t fit in, thank them for what you have learned from them, and move on to look for more insights elsewhere. And one day you’ll find yourself making your own decisions 😀

May you enjoy yourself and have Good Fortune on this quest 😀

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There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
1. using style categories.
3. exploring styles.
4. trying on clothes.

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Links available August 2019

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