“A personal style is like handwriting – it happens as the byproduct of our way of seeing things, enriched by the experiences of everything around us.” -Mossimo Vignelli
You most likely know a few people who have their own unique, consciously chosen “signature style” that they confidently express to the world without saying a world about it unless they are complimented. And so after much contemplation, I came to the realization that creating a signature style, which can be done and expressed in so many different ways, is a mandatory ingredient if you are to create the life you desire to live. After all, a signature style requires you to know who you are so that you can not only express yourself honestly, but also create the life that fits most comfortably with your authentic self.
The first step in creating a wardrobe that is quintessentially you is to understand the various elements of your signature style. Creating it is a very personal thing. By definition, no two signature styles are alike. Where you live, your body type, your eye color, your bone structure, your personality – these and many more factors come into play as each woman sets out to distinguish her very own style.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is this: Embody a style that is true to who you are and what you believe, and that penetrates beyond the surface. After all, the clothes you wear are meant to accessorize and complement the life you wish to live, not dominate or become the only focal point.
So today, I’m going to dive deeper into how each us can cultivate our very own signature style. After all, the sales are aplenty this time of year and so long as we know what is in alignment with our signature style, we can find some amazing deals that we will be thrilled to have in our closets for years to come.
1. Find a Muse
Pinterest makes it easier than ever to collect images of actors, models and celebrities, even style bloggers that dress in such a way that catches our eye. Selectively compile a board with your Pinterest account or cut out images for a journal of outfits, styles, color combination, anything that you are drawn to as this will serve as a map as you begin to create your signature style.
Once you have a handful of images, you most likely will begin to see a theme. Then become very honest with yourself: what is your body type, what are your physical assets as areas you wish not to spotlight? Begin to choose muses that have similar body structure, skin tone and lifestyle. Much like bringing an image of a hair style to your salon, these images will help you visualize how to pull your signature style together.
2. Choose 3 Descriptors
Casual, chic, classic. These are three descriptors or adjectives that I would to describe my style. Once you’ve done your homework in #1, determine how you would define your style. Perhaps refined, natural, bohemian, retro, romantic. Any adjective or adverb that conveys how you want to present yourself as well as feel each time you get dressed and begin your day.
3. Ignore Trends
In a recent Wall Street Journal article “How to Dress Like a Fashion Insider“, stylists, fashion editors and journalists revealed that they must navigate the trends for the pages of their publications and make sense of them for the readers, they themselves adhere quite strictly to a specific uniform that is typically void of trends. Why? It’s unnecessary, expensive and difficult. However, in the recently published book “How to Become a Parisian Wherever You Are“, it is advised that if you are going to spend on a trend, “find the right pieces that you can carry with you through the years.”
After all the definition of a trend is that it is fleeting and changes each season, but if you discover a trend that your body type, personality and lifestyle can meld beautifully into your signature style, go for it.
4. Incorporate High & Low Items
As discussed in episode #3, the 10 essential wardrobe items are going to be investment pieces. But the accessories or additional pieces that bring everything together need not be designer or expensive. Knowing how to pull high and low items together – designer jeans and t-shirt from the GAP is part of creating your signature style. After all, it is not about labels or showing off a designer bag purely for the namesake, it is about your style – you after all are what the clothes and accessories are spotlighting.
“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.” -Anne Klein
“The key to making a signature look work year after year is to be consistent but not fall entirely into a rut.” -stylist Kate Young
Initially as you begin to build your signature style, you will have to put in quite a bit of effort, but the good news is, from there on out, you will only have to maintain what you have in your closet. But you will have to maintain – in other words, update, refresh and renew what it is that you wear each day.
The wisdom however, that you already have as to what works with your lifestyle, body type and skin tone will make it much easier to know what items you need when they become available. Take for example, a classic white button-up collar shirt. If you see a new version of this staple available from a designer you respect, invest, go for it and rest-assured, it is worth your money and will last for years.
6. Choose a Signature Scent
Much like the clothes you wear, a signature scent leaves your mark. So choose one you love, one that is of good quality and remain loyal to it. You may prefer to choose a different one for each season (spring vs. fall), or a different one for day and evening, but remain consistent.
Have patience choosing your scent. Feel free to try samples at your local beauty counter, take one or two home and live with it for a while to see if it is what you expected. But when you find the one that speaks to you, invest.
Click here or here for examples of perfumes that align with each category.
Sub-groups of the primary scents:
- Floral (Floral + Fresh Notes). Main notes include fresh-cut flowers.
- Soft Floral (Floral Notes). Main notes include aldehydes and powdery notes.
- Floral Oriental (Floral + Oriental Notes). Main notes include orange blossom and sweet spices.
- Soft Oriental (Oriental + Floral Notes). Main notes include incense and amber.
- Oriental (Oriental Notes). Main notes include oriental resins and vanilla.
- Woody Oriental (Oriental + Woody Notes). Main notes include sandalwood and patchouli.
- Woods Main notes include aromatic woods and vetiver.
- Mossy Woods (Woody + Oriental Notes). Main notes include oakmoss and amber.
- Dry Woods (Woody Notes). Main notes include dry woods and leather.
- Aromatic Fougère (Fresh Notes). Main notes include lavender and aromatic herbs. This universal fragrance family includes elements from different families: the freshness of from the Citrus family, floral notes of lavender, the spicy-sweetness of a Floral Oriental, the ambery depth of an Oriental and the Mossy Woods warmth of sandalwood and oakmoss.
- Citrus (Woody + Fresh Notes). Main notes include bergamot and other citrus oils.
- Water (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include marine and aquatic notes, generally from the chemical calone.
- Green (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include galbanum and green notes.
- Fruity (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include berries and other non-citrus fruits.
Shopping for Perfume, the French Way via My French Life
7. Be Mindful of Body Language
First impressions are a very funny thing. The trick is to accept that they exist and embrace them. And since you now have your signature style, presenting yourself with confidence will come far easier. Here are a few things to be aware of:
Stand up tall; walk confidently; sit with good posture and be aware of your body; face each person you are speaking to; extend a welcoming hand or kiss on the cheek; be warm, but be aware of your personal space bubble; set your boundaries (everyone’s will be different); refrain from tugging at your clothing in public or touching your hair or face too often (such gestures hint at insecurity); and when you smile, do so with sincerity.
As I mentioned above, the clothes we choose don’t define or determine our success, but they do play a role in propelling us in the right direction. Be mindful of this, own it and then with a simple uniform that fits your lifestyle, relax and just be yourself.
~The Book: Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Style Inspiration posts and images via Pinterest, here and here
~Why Not . . . Create Your Own Signature Style?
~10 Wardrobe Essentials (Podcast #3)
~Why Not . . . Discover the Power of Style?
~Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (DVD) (Instant Video)
4 thoughts on “15: 7 Components of Building a Signature Style”
CAN YOU TELL ME THE MAKER OF THE BLACK DRESS AND SILVER BANGLE SHOWN TODAY—GREAT STYLE!!!
Beautiful quality details, I agree. The best way to find out is to follow he link at the bottom of the post.
I get the principle behind your advice in Component 1: find what works for people with your assets or aesthetic tastes and draw lessons from them. That said, I reject the notion that you have to match “style muses” to your “body structure” or “skin tone.” With some understanding, you can apply themes and elements to your wardrobe in ways that work for you.
For example, I love the simple sophistication of “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope, costuming that’s at once feminine and commanding, and I try to incorporate those qualities into my own workwear. I don’t have Kerry Washington’s beautiful brown skin (or her costumer’s budget, but that’s another topic!) and the soft greys and ivories her character wears on the show don’t suit my complexion; knowing that, I choose pieces in hues that do flatter me, like the rich blues and greens
Encouraging women to confine their inspiration to muses similar builds is still more limiting. There are a lot of very, very stylish women whose bodies look nothing like the norm to which we’re treated online and still less like the fashion illustrations on this site, and they got that way in part because they reinterpreted for themselves the styles they’d never seen on bodies like theirs. They were creative and brave.