Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Style Personality [KNOW YOURSELF]

Have you ever purchased an article of clothing that you love - the color, the cut, the quality, it's all there - but have never worn? You may even frequently put it on, but then something stops you and you can't leave the house wearing it... I think we all have at least one or two of those in our closet (and possibly many more if you are in the beginning phase of finding your best look). How we dress is a unique synergy of our personal tastes, body type, and coloring. It only takes one of these elements askew to make us feel unattractive or vaguely "off."  If the color and fit are flattering, then the problem probably lies in the fact that it just doesn't correspond to your style personality. Though it's true that we are free to choose what we want, I think we each tend toward a certain aesthetic with sub-concious regularity. The different possible "aesthetics", so to speak,  have been distilled down into four  broad categories called style personalities.

Though the names may vary slightly, and they may be subdivided into more categories, the four basics are Casual (also referred to as Relaxed), Classic, Romantic, and Dramatic (also referred to as Expressive or Trendy). There are descriptions and examples of each category all over the internet (like here and here). There are also quizzes to help you determine which category you tend toward. Some of the quizzes are more "scientific" than others; one includes a question regarding your favorite cocktail (is it more than coincidence that I love martinis and I am a classic with minimalist tendencies?). Unless you have a personal stylist to help you uncover and distill your own fashion personality, I recommend two things. First, take this quiz, just to get an idea which direction you are leaning. Ok, also because its fun. Second, create your personal fashion mood board.

What is a mood board, you say? A mood board is a compilation of images and other elements. These compilations are used in various fields to convey a vision. Interior, graphic, and fashion designers use them to express to clients a "look" or emotion or ambiance that they are hoping to achieve. I propose that you make one with a sort of reverse purpose, that is, with the intent of discovering your look in the board after the fact. So here is how it goes. Ideally, you have a collection of fashion magazines and catalogues that you don't mind cutting up. Grab a bulletin board, some pins, and a pair of scissors (I know you are thinking, "I can do this on Pinterest!" Sure you can, but having a tactile, physical board makes it more real, and put in a prominent place, more easily referenced). Cut out the images that appeal to you. Don't over think it. Be instinctual. Pin the bigger images first and fill in with the smaller images. If you are by yourself, set the board aside until tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, return to it for interpretation. If you are with a friend, ask her to take a look for the initial interpretation (she already has some "distance" because she isn't dealing with herself).


What is the first impression that the board conveys? Do you see the elements of one of the categories emerging? Are there certain styles that appear over and over in various interpretations? For example, I discovered that I really have a thing for man tailored items: button down shirts, blazers, trousers, etc. Also, I found that I do NOT have a "Romantic" bone in my body (so to speak) - there was nary a bit of floral, lace, or ruffle to be found. This method can give you a better idea of what look you love (and therefore chase, consciously or not), especially if you don't exactly fit one of the categories defined above.

I have found that putting a name, however generic, to my personal style, helps me to maintain clarity when I go shopping. I am not as easily sucked in by beautiful marketing and/or beautiful products that just aren't me. I can maintain my balance in a sea of trends, and keep a handle on my style identity through major life changes (i.e. having a baby). I heartily agree with the great Pindar, "Learn what you are, and be such."


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Seza! I'm glad you liked it!

  2. awesome...I agree...having a clear idea of what your own style is helps you to shop smart and save money!

    you're doing such good posts, mary!

    1. Thanks, Camille! I never know if other people are going to want to read stuff like this...


Please leave me a comment. If you don't blog, you may not realize that comments to a blogger are like sunshine to the whole of the photosynthesizing world. What I'm saying is, each comment means a lot! P.S. If you have an email connected to your profile, I'll most likely respond there.