I went on a fact-finding mission to locate my personal style

Over the past year, I have been extremely interested in finding, defining, and curating a style that felt uniquely “me” by vastly editing down my wardrobe. I’ve found that identifying my personal style has been especially helpful as I make the transition from college student to freshly graduated, entry-level professional, and it has given me a sense of control in what seems to be a time where everything is in a constant state of change. But even more than that, finding my personal style has been an outlet of creative self-expression, and it’s just plain fun.

Investing time (and just a little money) on finding my personal style has been worthwhile. Knowing what pieces I gravitate toward has made shopping easier, and I am able to enjoy fashion without feeling obligated to submit to every trend. In essence, finding my personal style has helped me find myself — or, at least, feel a little less lost (I am in my early 20s, after all). Here’s how I did it.

1. I explored personal style blogs, fashion magazines, Pinterest, and other inspiration sources.

Before I started becoming more interested in finding my own personal style, I avidly followed personal style blogs and fashion magazines to learn the latest trends. I didn’t have a solid understanding of what I actually liked, which pieces actually said something to me and to others about who I am or what I would want to express, or of how the actual trendy clothes I eventually would buy would make me feel.

What I didn’t understand at the time were that those same personal style blogs I followed gave good accounts of those respective bloggers’, well, personal styles. They worked current trends into their own already established fashion identities. Once I realized the power behind potentially finding my own personal style — this power that would come with knowing which pieces work with the aesthetic I wanted to capture, the expression I wanted to unleash onto the world via my wardrobe — I began to look at these sources of inspiration in a new light. I started to be more selective about which sources I read and took in, and I started to attempt to specifically target what I liked about any fashion photo I would come across.

2. I started to document what inspired me across multiple platforms.

Creating accounts on various social media websites — Pinterest and Tumblr are awesome! — also helped me keep track of what styles I gravitated toward. Tumblr provided a means to access a plethora of different fashion photos, while Pinterest also offered a way to organize the images I collected on different boards. Plus, both websites allowed me to create captions that corresponded with the images I collected, which I used to describe or pinpoint what it was about these images that I liked.

For example, when I realized how many pictures of monochrome outfits and denim-on-denim looks I posted, I started taking note that a minimalist aesthetic was what I was leaning towards. From there, I sought out certain celebrities or fashion icons who donned such looks and conducted searches just based on their names as keywords. Pinterest searches for “Alexa Chung street style” and “Jane Birkin casual ’70s” reigned, and they continue to strongly influence my style today.

3. I started to honestly edit my closet based on the photos and aesthetic I found inspiring, while also taking into account my lifestyle needs.

Once I started to notice certain trends in the photos I collected on my Pinterest and Tumblr, I took note of what I already had in my wardrobe, and what I could use to reimagine those looks in my own unique way. For example, multiple images I’d pinned of women in more casual, off-duty style featured them wearing broken-in overall shorts (short-alls? short-er-alls?), simple dresses with minimalistic jewelry, white sneakers, and striped T-shirts. I scanned what I already owned (the dresses, the white sneakers) and assessed which pieces I might want to eventually buy (the good quality striped tees, the glorious, glorious overalls). Everything else that I felt did not correspond with these images I found so inspiring, I cast aside. I donated some, I sold some via eBay and thredup.com (the latter being an amazing way to declutter, especially before the onset of any new season!), I gave some to my sister and friends.

Of course, in order to properly decide which items to keep and which to set free, I had to take into account all my lifestyle needs. In addition to off-duty style, I had to reconcile to the fact that I was no longer a college student and now a full-fledged, contributing, adult member of society who also needed workwear. Of my own pinned images, I noticed shift dresses and tailored blazers with bunched up sleeves dominated the “Work Style” board. From there, I decluttered accordingly — getting rid of anything that didn’t match this newfound sense of work style. 

4. I organized my newly-edited closet.

Upon decluttering my wardrobe of pieces that I felt no longer represented my idea of my personal style, I took to organizing the clothes I had left in addition to the newer pieces I bought. I separated my work wear from my off-duty clothes. Within these two separate collections, I organized the pieces by color and by style.

Organizing my wardrobe helped me easily see everyday what clothing I actually own instead of shifting through seemingly endless options. It made dressing fun and not overwhelming!

Right now, I feel more confident than ever about my personal style. The way I dress almost perfectly embodies my unique sense of self. Still, while my personal style feels more “me” than it ever has, I have to acknowledge that I wouldn’t have arrived at this point if it weren’t for trial and error. I do feel that personal style is something that is constantly moving and changing — it isn’t static, and it evolves as we as people change and grow.

(Image via Tritone Cinematografica)

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