“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.”
~ Lauren Hutton
Have you ever tried to define your style?
Style is a form of expression. Your style is an expression of your personality. Sometimes the style you choose on a given day is an expression of your mood – other times you may dress to modify a mood.
How are you expressing yourself through your very individual style? What part does how you dress play in your confidence and in how you relate to the world? How much fun are you having with your clothes?
We all have a style personality. Knowing your style personality can be helpful when it comes to dressing for specific occasions or just everyday life, for shopping effectively and spending your money on things that will have lower cost per wear, and for styling outfits that support you.
Try a Style Personality Test
A style personality test can be helpful. (Yes, it’s a thing! Google it and see how many come up.) There are many to be found.
Why would you want to take a style personality test anyway? Maybe you already have a pretty good sense of your style personality and feel very comfortable with it. In that case, it’s kind of fun to check yourself and see if the test results match your style identity. You may be unsure of how your style personality might be defined. You may want to refine or modify your style. In these cases, it might be helpful to have a better sense of your style personality so when you shop for clothes you have a better sense of direction. Maybe you just think it would be fun (it kind of is!).
If you are interested in taking a style personality test, here’s a simple one that’s pretty quick. This test comes from It’s So You Fashion.
In this test, style personalities fall into one of these categories: Relaxed, Classic, Romantic, and Expressive. You may feel that you fit into two or more of these categories; I do. You may even incorporate each one of these types into your looks, either in combination or on different days. However, it is likely that you find yourself fitting mostly into one of these types.
Here’s another that I liked: Style Bee’s Define Your Style in 5 Simple Steps.
This one asks you to answer questions that are more open-ended and gives you the opportunity to use descriptive words about how you feel when wearing certain things and also asks lifestyle questions. There is a downloadable workbook that you can use.
So What’s In Your Closet?
So now that you’ve defined your style personality, it’s time to take a look at what’s hanging in your closet and how your current wardrobe represents and supports your style.
First, look at each piece, starting with tops, then pants, skirts, and dresses. Do you love each item that you pull out? Does it match the style personality with which you identify? No? Then it’s something to which you should bid farewell.
Some things will be easy to give away, but you may feel unsure about others. For these items, move them out of your closet and after a while you’ll have a better sense of whether you want to keep them or not. I find it really helpful to use the KonMari method of holding each item and asking yourself if it sparks joy. (I’m serious – it works.)
After you’ve analyzed what you have and culled the things that you love to help you express yourself authentically and positively, it’s time to make a list. Jot down what you need to add to your wardrobe to fill in any holes that were created from getting rid of things that don’t feel like you (or that don’t make you feel great when you wear them) or gaps that you have been wanting to fill.
I don’t recommend going on a shopping spree. If you take your time adding things to fill the gaps, being sure that you are buying what you really need and what you love, you’ll more likely end up with things that you will wear often.
Styling Your Looks
It can be a lot of fun styling your outfits. If you aren’t in the habit of planning your outfits to express you, here are a couple of ways it you can do it.
Clothing Rack Method
I kind of made this up, but I’m feeling positive about it so far. It’s pretty simple – which is why I like it. I purchased a really nice looking clothing rack that now lives in my “dressing room.” (This is the former kid bedroom that I have turned into my dressing room – if you have an extra room, I recommend making it yours.) I can easily pull out of my closet pieces of clothing and use the rack to hold the pieces while I see how an outfit looks when all the components are put together (pants, top, shoes, jacket, purse, scarf, even jewelry). If I decide to create a catalog of looks, once I decide I like a combo, I can snap a quick photo and save it on my phone or computer in a folder for quick access when my creativity and inspiration are waning.
If you’d like to add a clothing rack as an outfit planning tool, here’s a link for the bamboo clothing rack I have, as well as a couple of other options here, here, and here. You can also use if for air drying clothes and to help you plan what to pack when traveling. I’m pretty excited about mine. It did need to be assembled, but I had no problem doing it all on my own.
I love this app – in theory. It allows you to photograph individual items of clothing and save the photos in categories in the app’s “Closet.” Then you can select items and create “Looks” or outfits from the pieces you actually own. It’s fun and builds a catalog of sorts of day, work, evening, formal, etc., looks. I really like the concept and began the process of photographing my clothes when I first downloaded the app to my phone. But it takes a little time and I guess I lost interest a bit before I was finished taking photos of everything. I’d still like to finish, but so far I haven’t set aside a few hours to do it. Read my review of the Stylebook app here.
Polyvore is a website that gives people the opportunity to create looks from their huge inventory of clothing items (also home décor). It is also a great resource for style inspiration as probably thousands of users create and post looks of all kinds. I use Polyvore myself when I want to create an outfit collage. It’s really fun and a great way to use others’ fashion inspiration for ideas on how to style your own outfits. You can also specifically search for a particular item if you have something and aren’t sure what you can wear it with.
To do this, type the item that you want to find in the search bar. Then to the left click on the tiny triangle/arrow and from the dropdown list choose “sets.” The search result will include many “sets” or collages of outfits other people have created. For example, I have a green utility jacket and want to have some new ideas about how to use it in my outfits. I type green utility jacket into the search bar, choose “sets” from the dropdown list, and in seconds I have an almost endless number of sets that people have created with utility jackets as one of the components.
Another way to use Polyvore is to copy items from your own closet and create your own sets as a way to catalog different looks you can create with your clothes. The Polyvore clothing items won’t be the exact same thing you have, but you can find something pretty close. I did this to show an example using a plaid shirt that’s similar to one I have paired with a pair of dark denim skinny jeans like a pair I have, and a few different shoe options. In the case of the shoes I styled with the shirt and jeans, I used shoes that are very close to some I own as well as a pair of red flats that I don’t have but am thinking about purchasing. Here’s my Polyvore set with similar things and then my actual clothes hanging on my new rack:
If you want to create your own sets, it’s really simple, fun, and can be a creative outlet. Here’s an example I created for an utility jacket look. Here are the different sets I’ve created so far on Polyvore. My sets have been for use in Dez & Dot posts, but I might try styling some looks for friends who ask for suggestions.
If you’d like to try it, I’ve included a “how to” below.
Go to to polyvore.com and click on "Create" and then click "Set".
On the next screen, you are ready to start creating your set. Click on the clothing category you want
In this example, I clicked on "Outerwear" to look for utility jackets.
When you find the item you like, drag it to the blank area "Create Collage".
Continue with other clothing items you want to add until your look is complete.
Have some fun with your set! You can resize items and rotate them if you’d like. Each time you add a new item, or click on an existing item in your set, a toolbar appears at the top of the set. Also, under the tool bar on the right side of the set is a way to edit the background of each item. When your set is complete, you can add text or effects under the “Embellishments” category.
If you want to save your set, like I have, you’ll have to create an account. Once you’ve created an account you can save your set by selecting “Publish” on the left.
Since I’ve talked about closet organization in a couple of different posts (here and here), I won’t go into great detail again. But I do want to emphasize what a difference an organized closet makes in helping you style your looks and in keeping track of what you have and what you need.
This was really highlighted for me a couple of weeks ago when I was helping a friend bring some order to her closet in her new home. After grouping her clothes by type (tops, pants, skirts, dresses) and by color, we replaced the mismatched hangers with matched hangers (even I was surprised at what a big difference that made in the closet looking organized and in her feeling better about getting dressed each day). Then we focused on shoes and added a couple of shoe shelves to consolidate her shoes into a smaller space. Don’t discount the effect of an organized closet on your ability to style outfits that work for you and make you feel great!