The term "signature style" is fashion jargon that gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? The idea of discovering your own personal style is often too heavily weighted on celebrity style icons or the influencers you see on social media. While clicking through hundreds of pictures of the Olsen twins and Alexa Chung has its merits, and saving down your favourite looks on Instagram can be a valuable source of inspiration to refer back to, cultivating a look that will work for years instead of wanting to dress exactly like somebody else will always be the best option.
Whether you're looking for a total style overhaul or to try something a little new, 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 what you really, really love. Then you can start to identify what makes you feel confident.
Scroll for the 11 steps to finding your own personal style and what we should all think about when developing our own wardrobes.
The most important thing about dressing is understanding which silhouettes make you feel your best. It could be muu muu–style dresses or belted jackets. Whatever it is, find those pieces and stick to them. Taking pictures as well as looking in the mirror will help spot the pieces you should rely on.
Most of our ultimate style icons have signatures you can spot a mile off. This can be an accessory, a colour or a print or even a beauty trick. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has her Khaite knitted dress, the Princess of Wales has her glossy blow-dry, Anna Wintour has her sunglasses, and the Olsen twins have their dramatic silhouettes (and Starbucks cups, of course).
A successful signature style is one you'll love for years and years, 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 it. You will quickly realise the items that are the building blocks of your wardrobe. If jeans are your thing, go with it.
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.
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. Be it a shoe style, a jacket or even jewellery, working out the pieces you love wearing over and over will help you better understand which investments are wise for you to make.
This is, of course, completely subjective. Ignore the idea about which colours "suit" your skin tone, and go with what you love. Our thinking is that if you feel good wearing a certain shade, then you'll look great too.
Look past the usual celebrity style icons, and find inspiration everywhere—whether it's your stylish boss or a new influencer you haven't heard of. Hannah Almassi, Who What Wear UK's editor in chief looks to her mum for her main style inspiration, while associate editor Maxine Eggenberger says Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy is her ultimate fashion icon.
Take inspiration and give it your own twist by swapping a dress for trousers.
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 50 pieces or fewer. No idea where to begin? See our comprehensive guide to decluttering and deciding what to keep and toss.
The word "uniform" might sound terribly boring, but many of the most stylish people we know have one—whether that's for weekends, work or every single day. At fashion week, Anna Wintour sticks to tweed sets and Marni florals. Just because you have a formula you know you can rely on doesn't mean it always has to look the same. You can play with variations and unlikely accessories or just use this as an outfit to fall back on when you have "nothing to wear."
All the new trends, new brands, new styling tricks can sometimes seem a little overwhelming—but don't just look forward when forming your signature looks. Focus on classic wardrobe items that will last, shop in vintage stores or resale sites, and find style inspiration from any decade.
Once you find the brands that seem like they're made for you, stay loyal to them. Labels will often create similar versions of key pieces season after season, so it's worth reinvesting in the items that work for you.