Have you been struggling to fit in all your tastes in your outfits? Then, it is time to gain more clarity about your personal style. Finding your style can be overwhelming, but it is the most rewarding process in your fashion journey. Finding my style took years of experimenting, trial, and error, and putting great effort into my choices. This is why I want to make it easy for you to build a timeless style that blends your tastes into cohesive looks.
A lack of clarity with your style means that you make rash decisions in your fashion choices that can affect your confidence. These decisions can also lead to non-sustainable fashion practices, which harm the environment and people. But I am not trying to scare you; I mean, it’s just fashion, isn’t it? Wrong darling. Ignorance is not an excuse, and now that you know, why don’t you let me help you find your personal style so you can make 2024 your year of style?
First, let me tell you how I found my style
I had just gained admission into the university and was leaving my comfort zone. Naturally, I panicked. I bought way too many clothes and resumed school with three full boxes.
In that first year, while I was constantly confused about what outfits to wear, my wardrobe became a shopping section for some of my friends, and soon, I was left with only the pieces I liked. Step 1: involuntary declutter.
Over the next few years, I experimented with different outfit combinations, blending my love for oversized fits, African prints, and edgy pieces into one style. I was a size six, struggling to find flattering ways to wear what I liked. Then, I began my industrial training at a newspaper company and was posted to the Fashion Beat. One day, I stumbled on Style Pantry, Folake Huntoon’s blog. I immediately noticed that we had similar body features and skin tones, and I fell in love with her style. Step 2: inspiration found.
Folake’s style inspired my outfit choices. She also had a versatile taste and showcased her style in various aesthetics. I was fascinated by how she manoeuvred different cuts to create stylish outfits. Her style was relatable because I could easily recreate the outfits with pieces I already had. The initial problem was I thought I needed to stick to one aesthetic to be stylish. Folake made me realise that I needed to make better choices with the pieces in my wardrobe to ensure they were styled properly. Step 3: clarity.
With this clarity, before buying anything, I began to think about whether it matched my style, which is a mix of girly, androgynous, corporate, and street style. Now, the “Wumi ‘Tuase” style is timeless, casual, and spirited, with unconventional details and an occasional retro twist. I needed first to understand what having a personal style meant before starting the journey to finding mine. Step 4: personal style found.
What is personal style?
Your personal style is the image you create through your fashion choices that reflects your interests, creativity, passion, and all the things that make you unique. Everyone has a style, and it is very personal. It is a form of expression, how you interact with the world, and how these choices show the world who you are. What sets you apart from others is the intentionality and confidence your outfits represent.
Some people build their looks around street style, an urban fashion style that lets you get creative with edgy pieces. Think of your oversized varsity or denim jackets, graphic tees, shorts, sweatpants, sneakers, boots, etc. Others like the business casual look, and they play around with formal dresses, pants, blazers, and blouses to maintain a balance. Other people prefer a more ethnic style; these people mostly wear ethnic prints and designs, sometimes merged with contemporary pieces. There is also the girly style with ultra-feminine pieces that are delicate, whimsical, and lush in soft colours, mostly pastels. Another example of personal style is the androgynous look, which has gender-fluid pieces that merge feminine and masculine aesthetics.
You probably have a good idea of where you lean towards, but finding your style can be tedious, especially if you are the “anything works” type of person. However, in that “anything-ness”, you still have a unique identity that can be better with a little refinement. The task requires you to be confident in being your authentic self in a state of mind that translates into how you pull your outfits together.
Here are some tips to help you find your personal style:
Realise the need for clarity.
Like everything else, the first step is to accept the need to be more intentional about your style. This makes it easier to make other decisions. Take a style quiz to help you understand where your style is at the moment.
Research & create a mood board.
With the accessibility of social media, you will always find a visual representation of what you envisage your style to look like. Dive into Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration from people who wear outfits you like. Create a mood board with your findings, and you can begin to sort through from there. Take your time, and remember, finding multiple looks you like is okay.
Declutter your wardrobe sustainably.
It may seem like I preach this a lot, but it is because it works wonders for wardrobe clarity. Many of us are hoarders, which may not be a bad trait sometimes, but you need clarity in finding your style and adopting sustainability. Categorise your pieces into daily wear, occasion pieces & functional wear, then follow this declutter guide we have prepared for you.
Create a capsule wardrobe.
After decluttering the right way, the core pieces you have left should be used to create a capsule wardrobe. Build outfits around these pieces, and you will be surprised by the creativity focus brings. We talk about capsule wardrobe in this article and the best ways to create one based on your preferences.
Pick out statement pieces.
These are the items that will elevate your style when required. While creating your capsule wardrobe, it helps to hang these pieces separately because they come in handy when you need an effortless look at any event. They also complement your style, so you should keep only those whose importance you are confident in.
Highlight your best physical asset.
What feature in your body do you receive the most compliments on? While your preferences define your style, you should also make allowance for how people see you. After all, people sometimes see you more than you see yourself. They also notice details we forget to acknowledge because we’ve gotten used to them. If people compliment your legs, then consider playing into that by incorporating more skirts and shorts into your style. Receiving these compliments boosts our confidence, which in turn shines through in the way we select our style.
Curate a wishlist.
Create a list of items to refresh your wardrobe and achieve your desired look. These pieces should be versatile to flow with the variety of looks you create. To avoid unnecessary purchases, match your wishlist against what you already have & what style you want to project. If you see the need, you can purchase it, but only buy a little at a time. Your style journey will be easier if you don’t overwhelm yourself with many new pieces.
Window shop for a while.
Window shopping can be challenging for people like us. Some days I really wanted to buy things right away, but I learned to wait to find my style. Make a list of the things you like. If you’re shopping online, save the images and match them with your own pieces. I use the PhotoGrid app for lazy days and Canva when I’m serious about styling my pieces visually. This helps you see the value before spending your money on impulse purchases.
Experiment with your style.
I always encourage this because nobody knows you more than yourself. Take the extra step to record how each outfit affects your mood. Set aside traditional fashion norms and venture beyond your usual style, allowing your creativity to flourish with these new pieces. Mix and match colours, cuts, and textures to create what visually appeals to you. By the end of this experiment, you will have a good idea of your personal style. It might still need some tweaking but there will be a good foundation to build on.
Extend the effort to other areas.
Your style isn’t limited to the clothes you wear but also your beauty choices, from your hair to makeup and accessories. These details all work together to create a style that shows your personality. It also helps you while curating your looks. For example, I prefer to keep my jewellery minimal and maximal. This means you’ll find me with a pair of statement earrings matched with a simple necklace or a statement necklace with understated earrings. This helps me when I put outfits together for any event as they make it easier to develop a unique look.
These tips are from personal experience; my clients have also found them helpful while figuring out their personal style. If you didn’t know that your favourite fashion editor moonlights as a stylist, personal shopper, and fashion entrepreneur, you need to read my editor’s letter.
Now, back to you. If you made it this far, you deserve these bonus tried and tested tips from a fashion expert on finding your style.
Expert tips for finding your personal style
MaryAnne Alabi, popularly known as MayReeJay, is an international fashion consultant, stylist, and accessory connoisseur with years of features in various media publications and an impressive client list that includes Waje, and Folu Storms, amongst others. As an experienced stylist, MJ believes accessories are crucial to developing a unique style. She excitedly shares five practical tips on how to find your style.
Know Your Vibe
In finding your style, you have to discover ways to elevate and style the pieces you like in comfortable and stylish ways. Identifying your fashion preference is essential in finding your style.
Figure out your body shape
Be objective and realistic while figuring out body shape. Loving your body is a great way to find your style, as it gives you self-confidence, which is the most significant style trend you can adopt.
Invest in the right pieces
Timeless and versatile pieces in neutral and earth-tone colours are essential because of their styling range. Consider using colours like white, black, grey, and nudes as basic colour palettes as they are easy to wear with others and will help you build a classic style.
Accessories play a crucial role in finding your style. Consider trying new accessories as you begin to experiment with your clothes. Bags, shoes, scarves, and hair accessories are excellent additions that help bring your outfits to life. The ultimate goal is to have fun with them.
Draw inspiration from stylish people with the same body shape as yours or in the same age bracket. Find something you like about their style, mimic it, and don’t be discouraged when you have some misses. The journey to finding your style is an adventure that should be enjoyed.
Finding one’s style is a personal journey, and the fashion choices you make often reflect your standpoints in life. It is also a concept that spreads into other areas of your existence, and because of how personal it is, you need to take your time to figure it out. My mum always says, “There are no latecomers in life”, so trust that you’ll find your style when it finds you. All you need to do is balance your needs, wants, and realities regarding your fashion choices.
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