5 Easy Steps to Develop Your Personal Style

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STYLECASTER | How to Develop Personal Style
Photo: Getty Images

To me, shopping and dressing directly from store mannequins signifies the death of personal style. Yes, these outfits are convenient, artfully put together from talented people at J. Crew or whatever store you’re at—but they’re not a reflection of your personal style: it’s the brand’s projected style for the current season. So, how do you develop your own personal style rather than just slapping on whatever trend you’re seeing on social media? Ahead, we give five easy steps that will help you discover your personal style.

I would best describe my personal style as your grandmother’s vintage floral couch meets a rock concert. It’s a little feminine, even more edgy, and there’s a hint of vintage throughout my wardrobe. I love floral dresses and lace, I wear oversized rings on every finger—including a skull, lion and spike—and I thrive in 80s suits and dresses with shoulder pads, sequins, and pleats.

Fashion is an industry, but personal style is what you do with the clothing, the trends, and your own creativity to make it into something for yourself. While fast fashion stores do a great job churning out popular trend pieces, they don’t always help the shopper develop their own look. We know everyone’s personal style is more than just “trendy,” “girly,” or “modern”—so what defines you as a dresser?

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What Makes You Feel Happy

First and foremost—what makes you feel happy? What stands out to you at a store, what colors pop, or pieces look cool? What items in your closet do you wear the most? This should be the easiest step because it’s all about what you really like the most.

MORE: 30 Things Every Woman Should Own by Age 30

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What Makes Your Feel Good About Yourself

You know that dress that perfectly hugs your curves and makes your feel like a model? Or those jeans you literally cannot live without? What are the pieces you consider your safety net when you don’t know what to wear or the clothes that make you feel and look like a rock star?

For me, oddly enough, I feel sexiest in a graphic tee. That’s right—an oversized, shapeless Harley Davidson or ACDC tee that I thrifted for a few bucks. It’s my go-to for work, date night and anything and everything in between. I also have a handful of pieces that make me feel great, if not fantastic, about myself. These are in my “main clique” of my wardrobe. They’re the pieces I wear the most and constantly have on rotation. It’s a mix of vintage finds, graphic tees, dresses, cool outerwear, and statement shoes.

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What Don’t You Like

This one should also be somewhat easy. For me, I know I am not a preppy person, I am not a minimalist, I don’t wear dainty jewelry, I don’t like super tight fitting clothes, etc. Not that any of these things are bad, but I’ve decided that they don’t fit into my personal style and have moved on.

MORE: How to Figure out (and Fix) Your Fashion Blind Spots

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Define Your Signature

Think of Iris Apfel, the queen of accessories, whose signature involves oversized, round glasses and an armful of bangles. Or Kim Kardashian with body-con dresses and neutral tones; Ariana Grande with the half-up, half-down ponytail; or Diane Von Furstenberg with her famous wrap dresses. All of these ladies have one thing in common—they have a signature item. It could be an accessory, a color palette, or a theme that stands out enough that people associate it with the person who wears it.

My personal style features a few signatures: Rings, leather jackets and graphic tees. You can try making one color your signature color, or pick a nail color, lipstick color, etc. Having a signature piece can help you tie your look together and help you feel more put together—but if you can’t pick one, don’t force it.

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Don’t Follow Trends—Integrate Them into Your Personal Style

Trends can actually really hurt your personal style. If you’re constantly trying to chase trends each season and only wearing the “hot” pieces on social media (a.k.a. OTK boots, baker boy hats, and fur coats), is that really your tried-and-true personal style for the next two, five, or 15 years? Instead of looking like a walking trend report for the previous runway season, integrate trend components into your personal style. If you really don’t like the trend, skip it. It’ll be gone before you know it, and you can always wait 15 to 20 years for it to circle back around… seriously.

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