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. While clicking through hundreds of pictures of the Olsen twins, Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo has its merits, 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 your body shape and what flaunts it best; then you can start to identify what makes you feel confident. Scroll 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 about dressing is understanding your body shape and know what silhouettes show it off best. 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 you should rely on. If you pay close attention to celebrities with similar shapes to you, 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 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 Wear Forever
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—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 Dislike
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, Who What Wear UK's editorial director, looks to her mum for her main style inspiration, while our own Elinor 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 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 sets 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 you know you can rely on doesn't mean it always has to look the same. You can play with variations, unlikely accessories or just use this as an outfit to fall back on when you have "nothing to wear."
10. Don't Just Focus On Newness
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.
11. Stay Loyal to the Brands That Make You Feel Your Best
Once you find the brands that seem like they're made for your shape, 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.
Shop Wardrobe Basics That Will Work Whatever Your Style: