Finding your style 3 : exploring your own style

Do you feel ‘right’ in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel confident ?

How do you go about exploring which style is best for you ?
This may not be a quick and simple process.

Always attend to your inner voice. There are clothes you react to with love, clothes you react to with horror. But for many of us there’s a large range of possibilities where the effect is less clear-cut, so you have to ‘listen’ more carefully to whether you smile or cringe. Many advisors suggest you only buy clothes which score at least 8/10.

Sometimes when you ‘have nothing to wear’, are in a hurry, and don’t have easy access to good stores, this is not possible. But surely you don’t need to go lower than 5/10 ! This is a situation where it’s good to have done some wardrobe planning for your lifestyle. So you’re unlikely to be caught out by rare unexpected events, and have something wearable waiting in your closet for when they do occur.

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Exploring style options and finding your own likes

In my experience, finding the clothes that are best for you is not a quick process. It needs some effort, but there are many things you can try.
At each step – notice how you feel about the clothes – do you want to wear them ? do they make you feel good ? or do they make you feel lesser ?

Imogen Lamport at Inside-Out blog :

You want to love your clothes, and have them love you back.

April Grow at Stunning Style :

If you’re trying to talk yourself into anything you don’t genuinely love to wear, just put it away.

There are many possible ‘exercises’, for both clothes and accessories.
Start with the activities you think you will enjoy :

– pick one of the free or cheap systems for choosing your style category and work through the exercises (see previous post for some links).

The next methods don’t need you to have any idea what your ‘style category’ is, or which style words describe you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel ‘this is me’ with any of those stylists’ ideas. If you do fit a category, good, that saves much work as they’ve sorted out clothes you probably like. But if you don’t fit in with any particular stylist, that doesn’t mean you haven’t got a style 😀 It just means you have to do the searching for yourself, and be very aware of your feelings as you look at clothes or try them on (and have a good cry or rage if need be).

Explore Ready-To-Wear

– go through fashion magazines and catalogues and pick out pictures of clothes and accessories you feel good about.

– look at the designer collections during Fashion Weeks (vogue.com) (hmm, there are 100s of designers, that could be rather a big commitment). Different designers attract different types of customer, and most don’t design ‘everyday’ clothes, so don’t expect to like them all. Are there any that really appeal ? What are the elements of their designs that you respond to ?

– look at the site of a big department store which carries fashion lines from many companies, and pick out the ones you feel at home with.

– enter a style word at pinterest and make boards of items and outfits you like the look of.

– pick an inspiring image at pinterest, and explore the pinterest ‘More Ideas’ and the other sources they link to.

– Facebook may have many problems (I only visit private groups so avoid most) but I have found some excellent sources by following up links there.

– if you live somewhere where this is possible, go on ‘playshops’ : leave money/cards behind and go to a mall or big department store where there are many different styles and just try on clothes and notice how you feel about them.

Explore pattern lines

Butterick, Kwik Sew, McCall’s, and Vogue pattern lines all belong to the same company and aim to appeal to different customers. Do you like one of them more than the others ? Or do you prefer Burda which has more ‘European’ style ? The Burda pdf patterns site is much easier to use.

– find an on-line store which has a good selection of indie patterns, such as :
US : Pattern Review,
UK : Dragonfly Fabrics, Minerva Crafts (scroll down left menu), Sewbox.
– and find companies which have good options for you.
There are 100s of indie pattern companies, they come and go daily, but it can be good to find ones you like.

– if you like the idea of wearing vintage style :
There are several companies which sell new versions of vintage patterns (Butterick Retro, Simplicity Vintage, and small specialist companies).
Or you could buy the original patterns.
Try searching something like ‘vintage sewing pattern company’ for many sources.

It would make life easier to be able to use only patterns from one company. I have tried that approach but it doesn’t work for me. I now have a pinterest board of my favourite patterns, and nearly every one is from a different company !

Personal evidence

– do a wardrobe sort and remove all clothes you don’t feel good about. They do rather attract your attention when you look in your closet, which is not a happy effect ! If the clothes were expensive and you feel guilty, at least put them somewhere where you don’t have to keep looking at them.

It’s a heavy-duty task to clear out all non-ideal clothes. But if possible move the best to the front, so they’re the ones you choose from. Perhaps keep the others for a few months in case you find you want to go back to them. If you haven’t worn something for a year (unless it’s one of your ‘unlikely occasion’ outfits) and you try to persuade yourself to wear it but without any enthusiasm, perhaps it’s time to help it move on to a new life through a re-seller or charity shop !

– remember outfits you have worn which made you feel good, right back to childhood.
The first outfit I was awed by was when my 12-year-old self was wearing a velvet dress with lace on the collar. As I was wearing blue jeans and fleece when I did this memories exercise, that was a good and surprising ‘message’ for me.

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I love clothes, so I can pick out many pictures of clothes which are not actually right for me to wear myself. And I’m a pattern nerd – with a similar effect ! So checking in with ‘would I be happy if I was wearing this ?’ feelings is important.

In our searches it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Go through your collection of ideas frequently and keep only your ‘top’ choices. Use the pinterest ‘delete’ button !

Start from the clothes you have found which really help you feel good. Pick out the style elements which are important for you, and combine them in your own way.

Make your explorations into fun sessions. Allow yourself to notice when your heart leaps, to celebrate or laugh about the styles you find. After all, none of this is real yet 😀

I have a good visual imagination, so I can imagine myself in a garment, both at home and out and about. The results have often surprised me.

But imagination is not essential. The next step is – moving all this into the real world by actually trying on some clothes.
Ideas on doing that in the next post.

Good Luck with going through this 😀

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There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
1. using style categories.
2. on-line style advisors.
4. trying on clothes.

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Links available August 2019

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