How to craft your personal style

A few years ago, an essay titled “Why I Wear The Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day” went viral. Written by an art director named Matilda Kahl, it detailed how Kahl had spent three years wearing a weekday uniform of black trousers and white silk blouses with a neat black leather bow tied around her neck.

The story was picked up everywhere: Kahl later told Business Insider that, in the days after it was published, she was doing two TV segments, four radio interviews, and responding to dozens of newspaper inquiries a day. I was working as a fashion editor at a digital publication at the time, and I understood immediately why the idea struck a chord: Getting dressed for work is a nearly universal challenge, made doubly difficult if you’re a woman. Still, to me, the approach seemed a little extreme.

Called ”uniform dressing,” it’s an attempt to simplify this daily task by eliminating the element of choice, thereby saving the wearer the time and trouble of having to put together a new outfit every morning. It is, in Silicon Valley parlance, a means of reducing friction — a concept that has practically become gospel in recent years.

While Kahl clearly has a sense of style — that leather bow? Inspired. — the logical end of optimization in fashion isn’t a world in which everyone chooses an idiosyncratic everyday look, but rather one in which personal style ceases to exist. The idea that the perfect wardrobe is one that does away with “decision fatigue” in order to bring us one step closer to finding our inner Mark Zuckerbergs is less convincing when you consider that tech’s obsession with efficiency is also responsible for such joyless innovations as Soylent.

Still, that isn’t stopping corporations from trying to automate the messy art of self-expression: Amazon’s new styling service, Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, promises to deliver clothing recommendations “curated just for you” through data gleaned from an online quiz. Like Stitch Fix, the popular online personal styling service launched in 2011, it employs both artificial intelligence and human stylists.

Elsewhere, data seems to have already won: Algorithms have so thoroughly buffed away individualism that something called an “Instagram face” exists (and you probably know without clicking what it looks like). Cities have become uncanny valleys of ads for millennial lifestyle startups, each virtually indistinguishable from the next. Everything looks nice and fine and perfectly aspirational, particularly when viewed through a screen; it also, to me, makes the idea of “uniform dressing” feel like giving in.

In the context of this pervasive sameness, personal style can be a way of pushing back, of asserting an identity beyond your productive output or the data points Facebook has collected about you.

Plus, let’s be honest — aspiring to the Steve Jobs school of getting dressed is a bit of a red flag, post-Theranos.

”I’m a strong advocate for personal style because it’s a way that you can strengthen your relationship with yourself,” says Mecca James-Williams, a stylist and contributing editor for The Zoe Report, who has dressed stars including Solange Knowles, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and Orange Is The New Black’s Samira Wiley. “Outside of just looking good, it’s another avenue in which you can practice self care, self love.”

Getting there isn’t always easy: Shopping can be overwhelming, proportions are often perplexing, and all of us have days where we stand in front of our closets feeling confounded by what’s inside. But a little effort now can mean way more confidence (and compliments) down the road.

Here are some tips for finding a style that works for you:

Start with basics you can build on

Peter Nguyen, a New York City-based private personal stylist for men in tech, and the founder of The Essential Man, says that even clients who aren’t especially interested in fashion usually come to him not with empty closets, but with closets full of clothes they never wear. “What I find a lot of these guys will say is, ‘You know, I thought my wardrobe was kind of boring, so I stopped by Zara or J.Crew or something, and I saw this crazy sweater and so I bought it, really hyped up, and then I got home and I had no idea how to wear it.’”

Nguyen likes to first identify the pieces they’re missing. “The way I describe it to them is: It’s like cooking, right? You want to learn the classic recipes first before you go and add your own spin and personality to it. So where I usually start with them is really building a foundation wardrobe: really timeless, versatile pieces, a lot of neutral colors, basic denim, chinos, dress shirts.”

James-Williams recommends mapping it out day by day: “I would take the process slow and think about it in terms of, ‘Okay, I wear one outfit each day. What do I need?’ Sometimes I like pants. Sometimes I like skirts. So I find four to five pieces in the pants category and the skirt category that I know I will like, and then build that up to tops.”

Personal style can be a way of pushing back, of asserting an identity beyond your productive output or the data points Facebook has collected about you.

While “basics” will look different for everyone depending on factors like your personal preferences, profession, and gender presentation, some foolproof places to start are a great fitting pair of jeans; an everyday jacket (try a blazer, bomber, or motorcycle); non-denim trousers (think about what you like in jeans, such as a tapered leg or a slightly cropped inseam, and try pants with similar elements); and a selection of T-shirts and dressier tops that pair easily with the bottoms in your wardrobe. Even introducing one of those categories can be revelatory if you’ve been missing it.

If you’re a rookie in the fashion department, it helps to work with someone who understands fit, whether that’s a sales associate, a trusted friend, or a personal stylist. They can steer you toward pants that won’t gap when you sit and suit jackets that won’t swallow you whole. They can tell you what can easily be fixed by a tailor — a service certain retailers, including Nordstrom and Levi’s, offer for free — and what may not be worth the extra cost.

Getting a second opinion can also help you break bad habits: If you’re used to wearing your shirts two sizes too big, that’s probably what you’re going to grab from the rack. Having someone push you to at least try something new can help you see yourself in a new light. (This is basically the entire premise of Queer Eye.) Once you have the essentials down, it’s much easier to try a trend or experiment with something new when the opportunity arises.

Get rid of the dead weight in your wardrobe

The average American buys 65 new pieces of clothing per year, according to the research firm Kantar, but we spend a far smaller share of our income on the category than we used to. Because clothes have gotten so cheap, we’re encouraged to buy in greater and greater volumes — a habit that makes the experience less satisfying with every subsequent purchase, according to one theory recently posited by a Morgan Stanley analyst (and probably backed up by the pile of forgotten shirts languishing in the back of your closet). In economics, the law of diminishing marginal utility states that as consumption of a good or service increases, the marginal utility (or satisfaction) consumers derive from each additional unit declines. Or, in shopping terms: the tenth shirt we buy inevitably brings less happiness than the first.

All of this excess can make it hard to see — let alone put together — the pieces you actually want to wear.

”Sometimes you think you have all these pieces, but then when you really sit down and look, you’ll find there’s a hole, or this button doesn’t really button over your cleavage well,” says James-Williams.

A closet cleanout forces you to evaluate what actually works for you. Start by taking everything out at once, so you don’t forget about pieces lurking out of view. Then, eliminate pieces that only fit an imagined future self, are stained beyond repair, and/or are too uncomfortable to wear. Keep the workhorses of your closet — your everyday essentials — as well as anything you genuinely love to wear. And don’t, under any circumstances, put anything back in that needs to go to the dry cleaner or tailor — do that now! Or it might sit there for months. (I say this from plenty of personal experience.)

These days, depending on the quality of your unwanted items, they could even net you some extra dollars to put toward your next, more thoughtful purchase. Resale sites such as Poshmark, The RealReal, and thredUP; local consignment shops; and marketplaces like eBay all offer the chance to turn castoffs into cash. If you donate rather than going the resale route, do your research on local and national organizations (including recycling facilities) to ensure your stuff doesn’t end up among the 10.5 billion tonnes of textiles added to landfills every year.

Look for inspiration everywhere

If you have a smartphone or laptop, you have access to a world of outfit ideas. Make liberal use of Pins, saves, and bookmarks on apps like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Reddit; browse through magazines and books (old and new); and collect screencaps of stylish characters from movies and TV (Shiv Roy, anyone?). Look up from your screen, too: Take note of what stylish friends, coworkers, and strangers are wearing; visit stores you otherwise wouldn’t; walk around a new neighborhood or city and people watch.

The key, says Beth Jones, the stylist, blogger, and YouTube creator behind B. Jones Style, is “not just seeing it as something that somebody else can do, but actually thinking, ‘How can I interpret that for myself?’ Or, ‘What could I take from that and bring into my everyday life?’” It doesn’t have to be a head-to-toe outfit — it could even be an unexpected color pairing or a new-to-you silhouette.

Eliminate pieces that only fit an imagined future self, are stained beyond repair, and/or are too uncomfortable to wear

Remember, too, that there’s a world of inspiration on Instagram beyond jet-setting influencers and celebrities — take advantage of it and follow people with different budgets, backgrounds, and body types. That way, you’re less likely to get stuck thinking that style is something only certain people can achieve.

Subreddits like r/malefashionadvice and r/femalefashionadvice have millions of members, many of whom have probably asked some of the same questions you’re wondering about. And Jones has cultivated a diverse community around her hashtag-cum-mantra #alwaysplaydressup, and says she’ll sometimes scroll through their photos when she wants to get out of a rut. Check out the tagged posts for brands you like — not just the professional photos on their feeds — and, if there’s someone on the app whose style you’re into, see if they’re following any other cool accounts you haven’t discovered yet.

Push yourself to put in a little effort

Just because you live a normal life full of Monday morning meetings, carpool pickups, and commutes doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to an equally mundane wardrobe.

”I think a lot of it comes back to the way that we get stuck in our heads about things,” says Jones. “Like, ‘Do I have the confidence for this?’ Or, ‘I don’t have anywhere to wear this.’ Or, ‘I’m a mom with little kids. What will people think?’”

As a mom of two boys, Jones says she’s usually getting dressed for softball games or Target runs, which means putting together outfits that are comfortable but still “bring some joy and a spark to the day.” For her, that might mean colorful track pants and a fanny pack rather than Lululemon leggings and a T-shirt — anything that feels more playful and creative than the default option.

If you work in an office, a common challenge these days is striking a balance between looking professional and keeping up with the more relaxed dress codes many companies (even Goldman Sachs!) are adopting.

”I always recommend being slightly overdressed rather than underdressed,” says Nguyen. “Because you can always pull it back a little bit and wear jeans and a nice sweater — you don’t have to roll in a T-shirt and shorts even if your boss does. It’s all about where do you want to go with your career and how seriously do you want to be taken?”

”Boring office clothes” may allow one to look “professional, not special,” as The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan argued in a recent essay defending the much-maligned retail chain Ann Taylor. But they can also make a dull day even less inspiring — and they’re hardly the only option, given the proliferation of subscription rental services that allow members to try new pieces without the commitment.

Find your niche

Spend some time discovering what you’re naturally drawn to and nurture that interest. Maybe you’re a burgeoning sneakerhead, or perhaps you want to live that #cloglife. Maybe you’re into jumpsuits, zany socks, or Hawaiian shirts. This doesn’t have to be the garment or style you’ve been told “highlights” your best “assets,” and it certainly doesn’t have to be trendy. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be something you wear out of the house (case in point: caftans).

For Jones, it’s blazers: The style, she says, has the power to transform just about any outfit, whether it’s a mannish tweed version paired with a turtleneck and trousers, or one in purple leather atop an animal print skirt. “I always say, ‘Make it better with a blazer,’” says Jones. “A great, cool, classic blazer — that can be from a thrift store so easily. You can find one for, like, $5.”

Nguyen recalls working with a client in his late 30s who was into sneakers. “He owns his own business, so he’s doing a lot of investor meetings, and we built a wardrobe for him that was pretty classic — a lot of blazers and chinos and things like that. But adding those streetwear elements to that classic wardrobe makes sense for him because he’s a collector.”

Think of this as a way to get better in touch with your tastes — an approachable gateway into cultivating a style that feels uniquely “you.”

Hilary George-Parkin is a writer based in New York City. She covers fashion and consumer culture for publications including Vox, Glamour, Fashionista, and CNN. She last wrote about a shoe that’s taken over urban streets for The Highlight.

How Do I Decide On the Right Clothing Style?

Finding your clothing style can be confusing largely because the magazines suggest combinations from the latest fad fashion to mix and match creatively but they are not always practical for work or wearable for play. In the image business we make it simple. It takes knowing your style preferences and how to build a “style story”. Knowing your fashion personality can help you build a wardrobe that makes it easy to shop, plan and organize. Plus, a well-defined signature style will help you make a memorable impression every time. Knowing the fabric, cut, styles, accessories, hairstyles and makeup for each fashion personality are useful short cuts to build the style you want effortlessly, when you want it, for the appropriate situation. The knowledge will save you the time and money wasted on clothing you buy but never wear.

Know Your Preferences

Interestingly, people’s preferences all over the world fall into about 7-8 main personality styles. Typically, you lean towards one dominant style and perhaps one or two secondary styles. More than that and you give the impression you are not sure who you are. Choose one signature style for work for example and vary the look with color and accessories.

Here are seven different styles which are universal and timeless. As each style projects a strong message you are able to project the message you want without uttering a word: a useful strategy for first impressions, networking, interviews, meetings and first dates. However, there is also a pitfall to each one if overdone. Find the balance, maintain your personality but adjust the extreme version of the look and your fashion personality will speak volumes.


The creative woman values her individuality and puts together her own style story. Every item has a past history. In fact, you often shop in vintage boutiques inspired by the past, making your outfit quirky with a modern twist. Today’s most popular vintage looks come from the 1920s through the 1970s. Some of the classic styles from the 1960’s Mad Men and the 1950s full skirts have made a comeback in the past few years. Unusual accessories, boots, socks and stockings, belts, head gear and hats are favored to complete the creative look.

The “Boho” style is a creative look that relies on wild patterns, extravagant textures, and artsy accessories. Think hippie or gypsy looks, updated. The Olsen twins are known for their Bohemian style. The style can make a statement, but it can also give you an air of mystery. The pitfall of this look if overdone is that it can look like costume and may be misunderstood by many people! The trick is to dress more conservatively at work for example but add creative accessories, prints and patterns when the look requires a more professional approach.

Classic Elegant

The elegant woman values excellence and well-tailored stylish clothes that always look chic and updated. You are detailed oriented and favor unusual designer fabrics, (without the haute couture price tag), well-cut garments and exquisite finished details such as an unusual lining and buttons. The colors can be understated but never boring because your monochromatic choices, (or one- shade outfits), are varied through textures and statement pieces like costume jewelry, a silk scarf, elegant shoes or bag in the best quality. Your makeup is polished and your hair precision-cut so that it always looks good. Don’t be afraid of showing that your personality is fun and human because this look can give you an air of over perfectionism.


The style is for the woman who values the body beautiful. It can also be sexy as it shows off your assets. You might choose tight-fitting tops with plunging necklines and thigh-high mini-skirts that show off your legs. You work on your shape and wear form-fitting dresses that let you stand out in the crowd. A great look for clubbing and evenings out. However, you can still be alluring and tasteful in a garment fitted to glide over the body, not a skin-tight bandage dress that tugs and strains. For day wear, don’t reveal too much skin all at once and opt for showing either legs or cleavage but not both. For example, choose low but not revealing necklines and skirts above the knee but not pelmets. The trick is to keep the look classy without giving the wrong impression.


You value comfort above anything else! You give the impression you are easy going and keep your wardrobe simple, favoring a looser fit over form-fitting or constricting styles. You like an unconstructed look, nothing fussy or detailed. You are loving the new, looser overtops and wider trousers which are fashionable and you probably enjoy wearing a comfortable pair of denim jeans with a cotton t-shirt or light weight sweater. Your shoes are focused on comfort, rather than being outrageously fashionable. You might choose a long scarf wound round the neck for warmth, minimal makeup and a tousled cut hair needing low maintenance. Watch that your look doesn’t get so messy and the fit so loose it gives the impression you are sloppy and uncaring with no attention to detail in other areas. Pay attention to the details and the fit so that the clothing complements your shape not engulfs you.

Classic Traditional

The classic woman values quality and timeless styles, such as a Chanel little black dress or a classic skirt with a silk blouse or well-cut shirt. You give the impression that you can be counted on at all costs and your work with be well executed. You probably prefer tailored cuts following the body shape with refined or fine jewelry such as real metals and stones, chains, pearls and a quality watch that stands the test of time. You may include an accessory that feels trendy such as the new bow blouse, but most of your closet contains items that will look great for years, defying fashion. You love blazers, trench coats, good wool coats, shirtwaist dresses, twinset knitwear, quality leather bags, belts and trouser shoes, smaller prints and a bob or short hairstyle. The only pitfall to watch is that your look can appear outdated and boring, giving the impression that your ideas and outlook are too conservative and entrenched. Always update your hairstyle, eyebrows, glasses and makeup.


The romantic style woman values her femininity and gives the impression that she will be supportive, soft and affectionate. You are a girl at heart even at work and prefer curved lines, soft silhouettes and rounded collars rather than more masculine straight lines and constructed or tailored construction. You love soft, flowing skirts and dresses, translucent fabrics, lightweight bolero and waterfall cardigans, soft pleats. Your fabrics are pretty such as lace, velvet, silks and satins; patterns are rounded, lacy, floral or leaf shaped. Your clothing will show off your waist, shoulders, neck and your details will be bows, ruffles, jabots, flounces and gathers. You may prefer fuller skirts with movement that fall below your knee and ballet flats, lace pumps, strappy sandals, adorned with rosettes, bows and ribbons. No geometrics, checks or stripes for you. The pitfall of this look is that it can lack credibility when needed and in a man’s world people might take advantage of your girlish nature. When the situation demands, keep your lines curved and your fabrics soft but cut down on too many bows, fowers, long curly hair, frilly blouses and pastel shades. Wear more tailored styles and tie your hair back or put it up to enhance your authority when needed.

High Fashion/Dramatic

You are a daring individual who loves new trends and flouting convention. You value being noticed and enjoy standing out in the crowd. You give the impression that you can take risks yet still fall on your feet. To make a statement you choose well-thought-out styles that are large scale or brightly colored or both. You love mixing and matching unlikely combinations of styles, fabrics, patterns and colors. Your accessories such as glasses, bags, boots, shoes and jewelry or adornments are exaggerated, memorable and fun. You will experiment with dramatic hair styles and colors such as green and pink or multi colored hair. The pitfall to this look is that it could be considered “all about you”. That you are a maverick not a team player. In the instances when you have to fit in, modify the accessories; adjust the scale and try zingy and unusual color combinations, keeping your basic garments more neutral such as black, white and red, navy and coral, dark green and yellow. Understanding the connection between colors and emotions is key.

Don’t Be Afraid to Leave Your Comfort Zone

If you find a piece of clothing that you love that doesn’t fit into your normal pattern, go ahead and try it out. Go with a splash of color that makes you happy. Invest in a blouse that makes you confident or try a new fashion color out in a scarf or camisole. You will be surprised by the complements.

Don’t Forget the Winners!

One way to really get a handle on your style is to take pictures of your daily outfits and make notes of what gets noticed and how you feel. Having a picture of your clothes can also help you remember what you put together to look good. Next time you go shopping, you can search for similar items that will fit into your wardrobe for more great looks.

Final Thoughts on Finding Your Clothing Style

Discovering your own fashion sense and clothing style should be a fun process. As you get more confident and comfortable, choosing new items for your wardrobe will be easy. Just remember to build a style story from top to toe with different accessories, fabric, cuts and hairstyle that give you one signature style like a picture.

Want to learn more about style, image, and fashion? If so, click to contact London Image Institute today and discover how a career in image consulting may be the right path for you!

How To Choose The Best Clothing For Your Style?

The way we dress can say a lot about our personality and style, so it is important to choose clothing that reflects who we are. Whether your personal style leans toward modern minimalism or you prefer something more eclectic and daring, there are many options available for any fashion enthusiast. Knowing how to select the best clothing for your individual style can be a daunting task, especially considering the immense variety of items available in stores today.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to choose clothing for your style. Here, we’ll cover everything from considering what looks good on you to shopping ethically.

Identify Your Style:

Style is a personal expression of yourself. It can be defined by using your clothing as a form of self-expression and to show off who you are and how you want to be perceived. Knowing your style is the key to finding what looks best on you, so understanding your own style will help you choose the right clothes for any occasion.

Start by analyzing what type of clothing speaks to you the most. Make a list of items that feel most like “you” when shopping or browsing online stores, such as certain colors, textures, or silhouettes that stand out more than others. Once you have identified these elements in your style, it will become easier for you to pick out clothing pieces that fit within these parameters.

Budget Wisely:

When it comes to shopping for clothing, budgeting wisely is key. With the right planning and some research, you can easily find stylish pieces at an affordable price that suit your individual style.

For starters, know your style and what you like before setting a clothing budget. Research which brands offer trendy items within your spending limit and look for discounts or coupon codes online to save even more money on great clothes. Additionally, consider buying second-hand designer items or vintage pieces; they often cost much less than their brand-new counterparts while also offering a unique style that won’t be seen everywhere else. Finally, purchase quality basics such as denim jeans or white t-shirts in bulk when they go on sale—these timeless staples will last you a long time if cared for properly.

Take Time Trying On Outfits:

When it comes to finding the right clothing for your style, taking your time is important. Trying on a variety of outfits can help you determine which pieces best flatter your body type and fit with the vibe you are going for. The best way to ensure that you end up with an outfit that makes you feel confident and reflects your personality is to give yourself plenty of time to try on different pieces.

The key is not settling for the first outfit that looks okay; instead, take some extra time and really evaluate each piece separately as well as how they work together. Take notes about what works for you and what doesn’t so that when it comes time to shop again, you know exactly what kind of styles will look best on you. Additionally, be sure to take into consideration any fashion trends or current styles in order to find something both fashionable and comfortable.

Try New Trends:

If you’re looking to spruce up your wardrobe, why not try some of the latest trends from It can be a great way to mix up your style and make sure you look your best. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right clothing for your style.

First, take a look at what’s in fashion now. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy everything in sight or even keep up with every new trend out there-it just means that it’s good to be aware of what other people are wearing so you can pick and choose which ones work for you. Look through magazines and websites, search online, or talk to friends about what they’re wearing these days.

Second, pay attention to colors and patterns. Make sure whatever you buy is flattering on both your body type and skin tone.

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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