9 Steps to Finding Your Personal Style—and Sticking to It
"Signature style" is one of those fashion phrases that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? The idea of discovering your own personal style is often too heavily weighted on celebrity style icons. While clicking through hundreds of pictures of the Olsen twins, Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo has its own merits, cultivating a look that will work for years instead of wanting to dress exactly like somebody else will always be the happier option.
Whether you're looking for a total style overhaul or to try something a little new this year, there are some simple steps that can make you like what you see when you open your wardrobe each morning. First, you need to understand your body shape and how to dress for it; then you can start to identify what makes you feel confident. Scroll below for the nine steps to finding your own personal style, and what we should all think about when developing our own wardrobes.
1. Understand your body shape
The most important thing is to understand your body shape and know the silhouettes that are always flattering on you. Our clever body shape calculator is a great place to start. We also advise you work with honest friends or family and find the hero items in your wardrobe. Taking pictures as well as looking in the mirror will help spot the silhouettes that you should rely on. If you pay close attention to celebrities with similar shapes to you, then you'll be able to spot the silhouettes that always work for them.
2. Find your signature pieces
Most of our ultimate style icons have signatures that you can spot a mile off. This can be an accessory, a colour or a print, or even a beauty trick. Caroline Issa has her unmovable red lipstick, Olivia Palermo and Kate Middleton have their glossy blow-dries, Anna Wintour has her sunglasses and the Olsen twins have their dramatic silhouettes (and Starbucks cups, of course).
3. Invest in items you know you'll rewear
A successful signature style is one you will love for years and years, and so your focus should be on wearing the things you truly adore. One of our favourite wardrobe-editing tricks is to have a separate rail and for one month place everything you wear on this rail—you will quickly realise the items that are the building blocks of your wardrobe. If jeans are your thing, go with it—Vogue's Sarah Harris famously has 80 pairs and wears them on rotation almost every single day.
4. Create a mood board
An editor's trick for working out your signature style is to create a detailed mood board with all of the looks you love. Before you head for the glue and scissors, it's best to create your mood boards on Pinterest, or even to use the bookmark tag on Instagram so you can constantly add new outfits you'd like to copy. Our Brit Style board is a particularly good place to start pinning.
5. Recognise the things you never like
When editing your wardrobe, it's just as important to pay attention to the items that don't make you feel good. It goes without saying that just because every blogger you can think of is wearing a Gucci T-shirt doesn't mean you should too, if tees just don't make your heart sing.
6. find the colours that suit you
7. Make your own style icons
Look past the usual celebrity style icons, and find inspiration everywhere, whether it's your stylish boss or a new blogger you haven't heard of. Hannah Almassi, editorial director here at Who What Wear UK, looks to her mum for her main style inspiration, while our own Nell Block says Michèle Lamy is her ultimate fashion icon.
8. Do an audit of your wardrobe
The key to nailing personal style is all about having an efficient, organised wardrobe. According to one expert, when creating a capsule wardrobe, you should aim for less than 50 pieces or less. No idea where to begin? See our comprehensive guide to decluttering and deciding what to keep and toss.
9. Don't rule out a uniform
The word "uniform" might sound terribly boring, but many of the most stylish women we know have one, whether that's for weekends, work or every single day. At fashion week, Anna Wintour sticks to tweed twinsets and Marni florals; Lucy Williams often wears jeans, a white T-shirt and ankle boots; and Céline's Phoebe Philo is usually spotted in a cashmere roll-neck, cropped trousers and Stan Smiths. And just because you have a formula that you know you can always rely on doesn't mean that it always has to look the same, as you can play with variations, unlikely accessories or just use this as an outfit to fall back on when you have "nothing to wear."
For more, see our guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that will last a lifetime.
Opening image: Shot From the Street