Tips for Developing Your Personal Style

I know there are hundreds of posts floating around on the Internet about finding your personal style, but I thought I would put in my two cents on the topic anyway.

When I was a kid, I never dreamed I would ever be a fashionista. Ever. But somehow, when I started high school, all of that changed. Gone were my beloved basketball shirts and ratty white t-shirts. In their place were *gasp* dresses, skirts, blouses, blazers and skinny jeans. Navigating the fashion world was crazy at first, and I look back at many of my early purchases with what amounts to embarrassment, really.

As my interest in fashion grew, I began following people on YouTube and blogs. I began a daily ritual of checking these blogs and YouTube channels daily. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Jenn Im of Clothes Encounters

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2. Lua P. of Le Happy

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3. Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess

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4. Kieko Lynn

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5. Shamikah and Molly of Emotistyle

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6. Brittany Balyn

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7. The lovely humans of Refinery 29

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8. The also lovely humans of The Platform

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From watching all of their videos and scrolling through the pictures on their blogs, I became inspired to start my own blogs and upgrade my own style. The thing is, starting a blog is hard work. Taking pictures of outfits every day or even remembering to upload them everyday is incredibly time-consuming, and if you’re going to be taking pictures of your outfits every day, that means you have to look nice every day. Here is what my attempt at a style blog looked like:

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It wasn’t bad, but the work required made it unfeasible with my school schedule. The one thing that I did take away from blogging was to wear something relatively cute every day. Dressing up every day made me feel better about myself. I began to keep a folder full of images I had pulled from various blogs of looks that I wanted to copy. Soon, I also started a document where I would keep pictures to plan my outfits every day. I found that having a picture to guide me helped shrink the time required to get ready for school every morning. Also, I loved planning my outfits for the week. It became something that I would do to relax whenever I was stressed out.

So I had all of these fashion photos that I was going through every day to use as inspiration, and I realized that the photos themselves could be incredible content for a blog. For two years after I kept a Tumblr with pictures of every outfit inspiration from almost every day of my life.

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It was an incredible chronicle of the ways in which my style changed. However, I finally got to a point where I no longer wanted to merely copy other people’s looks. For the first time, I felt that my style had officially become my own. But that did not come without some wavering. For a while, I thought my style would be pure punk: t-shirts with cut-off sleeves, ripped denim, combat boots and the like. Then I decided I preferred a more feminine style: flowy and bohemian.

Finally, I decided I would make a conscious effort to find my personal style once and for all. (It probably won’t be once and for all, as my aesthetic tastes change often.) This was partially a matter of cost-effectiveness; changing my fashion sense every month was becoming a very expensive hobby, and I wanted to start purchasing clothing with more thought towards my wardrobe as a whole and less thought towards trends. Thus, I decided to start a Pinterest board. My only rule: only pin pictures of outfits that I absolutely love. My Pinterest board isn’t incredibly extensive, but it is undoubtedly me.

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Using this board as inspiration, I try to look less for outfits I like and more for aesthetic patterns throughout all of the photos. For example, nearly every photo I have pinned so far is black with very few other colors and absolutely no bright colors. When I think about the clothes in my closet that I gravitate to, they are nearly always black. I only really wear bright colors when I feel bad for neglecting some of my more reckless (see: colorful) purchases for too long.

No matter what anyone says about wearing bright colors, knowing my style means knowing what I like and sticking to it. That’s not to say I will never try a new trend ever agin, but just to say that I will be much more thoughtful in doing so. Will I ever wear this? and How can I wear this with what I already have? will be questions that I will ask myself much more frequently. Even in the past few weeks, asking myself these questions has convinced me not to make a few purchases that I’m sure I would have regretted later.

Ultimately, finding your personal style is about listening to your instincts and finding what speaks to you and what works best for your lifestyle. Keep on the look out for inspiration, and try new things. It might be uncomfortable at first, but once you find a style that speaks to you, you will be more comfortable in your own skin than ever.

I hope this helps a little, and if you have any thoughts or want to share your style story, leave a comment below!

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