The most iconic figures in the world aren’t just remembered for being themselves. They’re remembered for the way they always wore a flower in their buttonhole, or piled on the pearls, or cuffed their pants just so. It’s hard to imagine Marlene Dietrich without her menswear, Andy Warhol without his silver wig, or Karl Lagerfeld without his crisp white collar.
Having a signature style isn’t just sartorial indulgence. It’s a way to go through life that’s both cool and convenient: cool because it shows the public that you know yourself, that you cater to your own likes and dislikes, and that you’re comfortable in your own skin; convenient because it helps focus your buying habits, speed up your dressing process, and avoid disastrous impulse buys. Just remember to be patient; defining yourself is a process.
Here are some tips that will help you turn your wardrobe into something that feels like a textile extension of your soul:
Phase 1: Soul-Searching
Grab all the pieces in your closet that feel so you .Pile them on your bed and examine the resulting mess with a keen eye. Did you pull out a bunch of softly tailored separates? Are your favorite pieces all black? Does your bed look like a bohemian’s paradise? Jot down a few adjectives that spring to mind. This is the core of your signature style, and it’s already in your wardrobe. But you’re not ready to shop just yet…
Figure out how your taste intersects with your lifestyle.The ideal signature style hits two hotspots: it’s so you, and it also works seamlessly with your day-to-day routine. For example, if you adore party frocks but almost never go to fancy events, don’t stock your closet with Tracy Reese cocktail gowns. Instead, look for casual clothes that embody a party-girl spirit, like loose brocade pants that can be worn to the grocery store. Or, if you long to dress like a relaxed French girl but work in a stuffy American office, invest in a comfortable, classically French heel like the UKIES Paris pump in nude, which will help you earn that paycheck until you can actually buy a ticket across the Atlantic.
Pay attention to how you actually dress, not just who you want to look like. It’s easy to conflate “people you think look really cool” with “styles you actually enjoy and feel comfortable in.” If you find yourself drawn to New York City neutrals on Pinterest, but wear mostly bright colors in real life, you may have to do some soul-searching to find out which one is REALLY your signature style. Spoiler alert: Pinterest doesn’t actually know you.
Consider a capsule wardrobe. This popular method of paring down your closet is the hot new thing in internet minimalism—but it’s also really smart. If you do it right, you’ll be left with a wardrobe that comes pretty close to reflecting you as a person.
Phase 2: Go Forth and Shop
Write down what you want and hit the store to find it.This one is pretty obvious. If you’re convinced that your signature look is black jeans and a moto jacket, you’ll have to buy black jeans and a moto jacket eventually.
But only add 2- 4 pieces at a time. You don’t want to buy out the J. Crew clearance section only to find out that you’re not actually a mini Jenna Lyons. Start by picking up a couple of items that complement your existing signature pieces, and head back to the store in a week or two.
Look for similar proportions and colors to what you already own. What shapes are you drawn to? Cigarette pants with loafers? Shift dresses and heels? Think of words to describe the shapeof your ideal wardrobe, like “slouchy” or “tailored” or “sensual” or “architectural,” and shop with that in mind. Do the same with color. If your closet is all neutrals, don’t trick yourself into buying a neon yellow dress “for variety’s sake.”
Try out one super-signature look right now.Go ahead, wear orange lipstick for a week. Or buy enough versions of your favorite pencil skirt to last you every workday. Sure, you could hang around waiting for the moment when you realize, “I’m like Charlotte Gainsbourg, but with a dash of Blake Lively on season 2 of Gossip Girl” and thenstart working on your perfect look — or you could start having fun with style today.
Like our tips? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section how YOU created your signature style!
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* U.S. conversions are listed next to a country or region's nearest size equivalent. * Items may not be offered in all sizes. Measurements in Inches and CM refer to foot heel-to-toe length.