What do you call it when you know – and love – your body, wear only what you’re totally comfortable in, accentuate your best features, and leave the house every day feeling like a million bucks? We call it signature style!
Finding your signature style can make life so much easier. You’ll know what you’re looking for when you shop, and you’ll know exactly what to put on every day. A signature look is the holy grail of personal style. It is the icing on a refined, well-curated wardrobe.
Check out below, my 4 top tips to Find & Define Your Signature Style
Identify what’s working
You probably have a handful of go-to pieces you instinctively reach for when you want to look put together. Now imagine having a rack full of them. The first step toward achieving that goal is figuring out what makes those favourites so, well, favoured. Pull out the five things you would wear every day if no one was keeping track. Choose something in each clothing category: tops, pants, dresses, and skirts. Then ask yourself a few questions about each piece. Jot down your answers so you can use them as a shopping guide later.
- How would you describe the item? Crisp and tailored? Soft and ruffly?
- What image does it project? Smart and professional? Edgy and fashionable?
- What colour is it? Does the shade brighten your complexion?
- What fabric is it made of?
- What is the silhouette like? Nipped at the waist? Flowing and hip-grazing?
- What parts of your body does it accentuate?
- What parts of your body does it de-emphasize? Is it comfortable?
Analyse your mistakes
Take out five things you wish you hadn’t bought and ask yourself the questions in step one, plus the questions below. Then let go of those items, plus anything else that’s not pulling its weight – even if it still has its tags or it will be perfect once you lose 10 kgs or you have friends who throw fancy parties. Your wardrobe should reflect who you are now, don’t hang on to images of what worked for you 10 or 20 years ago.
- Do you have anywhere to wear this?
- Is it high maintenance?
- Does it make you feel old and frumpy? Or young and silly?
- Is it poor quality?
- Did you buy it for the thrill of the bargain?
- Did you buy it only because it was trendy?
- Was it a panic purchase for a big event?
- Does the colour make you look pale? Yellow? Ruddy?
Identify the missing pieces in your wardrobe
Separate your clothes by type. Ideally, you want to have three times as many tops as bottoms – the same ratio you see in stores. No one remembers your pants, we associate with people from the waist up. I suggest a 60-40 balance of staples (timeless, solid-colour pieces) to novelty items (prints, funky details). To refine what you need, write down your responses to these questions, then check off what’s lacking from your closet.
- What items would make the pieces you own more versatile? (For instance, a polka-dot blouse to perk up a pencil skirt or pointy-toe flats to make cropped pants look less casual.)
- Do you spend most days in a corporate environment but have a closet full of cheery sundresses? (It might lift your spirits more if you invested in a new suit that makes you feel great.)
- Have there been occasions (maybe a dressy dinner, a job interview, or a funeral) when you were at a loss about what to wear?
- Do you need to update any go-to items that you’ve reached for one too many times (say, a pair of overly dry-cleaned black pants, a wool suit with shine marks, or a ring-around-the-collar white blouse)?
Take your lists of likes, dislikes, and needs and head to the mall. But before opening your wallet, run through this checklist to determine whether a piece will last the long haul. This may seem tedious, but if it prevents pricey mistakes, it’s worth the effort, right? After a while, you’ll automatically ask yourself these questions.
Will it work with your lifestyle?
- The more an item costs, the more seriously you want to consider these factors.
- Where will you wear it? Ideally, this is a place you go every week or month.
- Does it coordinate with at least three other pieces in your wardrobe?
- Can you wear them year-round? Imagine it with tights, a sweater, or open-toe shoes.
- Can you picture yourself wearing it next season? Next year? In five years?
- Will the effort of handwashing or dry-cleaning prevent you from wearing it regularly?
Is it good quality?
This quick inspection is the fashion equivalent of kicking the tires.
Buttons: Give them a tug to see if they’re well anchored, and look for the frayed thread.
Embellishments: Steer clear of stretched seams and excess glue around beading.
Fabric: Test if the material is a lint magnet by rubbing it with a fluffy white knit.
Lining: Make sure it lies flat, without bubbling or poking out from underneath.
Pattern: Eyeball plaids and stripes; should line up perfectly at the seams.
Seams: Check that the stitches are small and straight – no loose or jumbled threads.
Does it fit and flatter?
At home, try on your purchase with items from your closet and in natural light to be sure it’s truly a good match. Because in the end, the payoff of finding the right fit is worth more than any bargain.
Whether you want to overhaul your entire wardrobe, make a few small changes or if you feel genuinely lost, finding your signature style can go a long way. The impact of your own personal style goes way beyond making a good first impression, it’s about the ability to feel confident and beautiful all day, every day in what we are wearing. Knowing what style you love and suits you most can make a huge difference in that department.
I’m a great believer in less is more – don’t buy clothes for the sake of it, buy them because you love them, and more importantly they LOVE you back.
Clothes LOVE you if . . .
- The colour lifts your features and enhances your complexion
- The fit makes the best of your best assets
- The style fits with your personality
- The clothes compliment, fit and flow with existing items in your wardrobe like t-shirts, joggers, loungewear etc. (which have become my staples since Covid!)
Our personal style is always evolving and will change over time depending on various factors relating to our lifestyle. However, being clear on who you want to present to the world is unlikely to be drastically different no matter what stage of life you’re at. It’s important to remember that though we can love a certain style, we can still appreciate a number of others.