Conformity is a comfortable realm for most. We naturally long for a sense of fellowship, unity and similarity.
This is particularly evident in our personal style. Some are wary to dress different for fear of ridicule. In school, we were trained to look, act and think alike. Apart from the school uniform, black shoes, white ankle socks and black hair ties (no more, no less) were the rules. Most of us are probably guilty of having once stared and whispered about the girl who stood out with the odd hairdo and weird shoes.
I recall how my friends and I would religiously plan our weekend wear, so that we showed up for a party in almost identical jeans, sneakers and collared shirts. I remember cringing and feeling completely uncomfortable if I showed up in a long casual dress while the rest were in short dresses.
We would prefer uniformity to individuality. So it was only in the early adult years that we explored and experimented with countless fashion choices.
It takes time and practice to develop one’s style confidence and “clothing personality.” If you’ve made fashion boo-boos along the way, don’t panic! It’s not the end of the world. “What-was-I-thinking?” moments are part self-discovery.
Developing your clothing personality is important for developing self-confidence and a sense of comfort and satisfaction with yourself. It helps in crafting an image of yourself. The way you dress and project yourself is a way of communicating your personality, values and lifestyle to the world around you.
Get to know yourself
So how exactly do you discover your clothing personality? Tips to get you started:
1) Get to know yourself—An important aspect of dressing and style is self-awareness. The way you dress should reflect your tastes, interests, desires, aspirations and history. I’m fond of pieces with a hint of nostalgia and romance, such as vintage blouses and delicate jewelry. Understanding yourself is crucial to making style choices consistent with your lifestyle. You may just be misread because of the clothes you wear.
2) Look for some inspiration—Find a celebrity whose personality and lifestyle you can identify with. Observe the clothing choices and combinations she makes and try to incorporate them in your wardrobe. I was challenged during my first pregnancy, so I turned to Heidi Klum for some pregnant style inspiration! From the red carpet to daily life, I admired how she managed to highlight her baby bump while still looking young and stylish.
3) Give away items that are “not you”—Take an honest look at your closet. If you still haven’t worn that beautifully made avant-garde jacket, you probably never will. No matter how great a piece is, it may simply not suit your personality. You may never feel comfortable wearing it. Pass it on to someone who will enjoy it more.
4) Know your body—Dress in silhouettes and styles that flatter your figure. This way, you can make clothing choices that will enhance and complement your shape. The key is to highlight what you like most about yourself. This will help you know which part to focus on when shopping and putting together an outfit. If you have long slender legs, show them off with short skirts to draw attention away from a not-so-fit tummy area.
5) Shop solo—As much as shopping can be a wonderful girl bonding experience, sometimes it helps to fly solo. This will let you make independent choices toward the goal of dressing in a manner that reflects the image you want for yourself, not by the standards and expectations of others.
6) Find your signature piece or look—One should consider it a compliment when people see a piece and exclaim, “It’s so you!” This just proves that you have a signature style people remember you by. US Vogue editor Anna Wintour is known for her iconic bob and oversized sunglasses. Find something that works with your personality whether it be a strand of pearls, a stack of gold bangles, or a white button-down blouse.
7) Play dress up—When I was a teenager, one of my favorite activities on my bored nights at home was “playing dress up.” If you have time on your hands, spend a day by your closet creating various outfit options, down to accessories and shoes. Challenge yourself by putting together outfits you normally would not wear. Mix and match to see which combinations you feel most comfortable in. You may just surprise yourself and discover looks you never thought you could pull off!
No strict rules
Here are general style archetypes or clothing personality types. Many of us are a mix of various personalities. Remember that there are no strict rules in dressing up; what is most important is that you feel confident and comfortable, no matter the circumstance.
a. Classic—Dominated by wardrobe basics such as shift dresses, striped tops, ballet flats. Clean and straight lines, neutral colors such as black, gray and white. Style icons: Coco Chanel, Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie
b. Dramatic—Like to make a strong statement. Styles tend to be glamorous and intimidating. Use of bold jewelry and straight lines. Style icons: Anne Hathaway, Monica Bellucci
c. Romantic—A love for everything pretty and nice. Delicate jewelry. Ruffles, lace, pleats, soft fabrics. Style icons: Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansson
d. Sporty—Girl next door. Easy-to-wear clothes like casual tees and jeans. Style icons: Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz
e. Trendy—Conscious of the latest IT items. Style icons: Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton
f. Eclectic—Mixing different styles in one. Usually creative people. Likes to contrast various styles. Style icons: Diana Vreeland, Kate Moss, Chloe Sevigny
g. Bohemian—Leans toward exotic pieces and hippie vibe. Style icons: Nicole Richie, Rachel Zoe, Diane Von Furstenberg
h. Urban—Edgy and modern. Inspired by music and street. Staples include cargo pants, tank tops, sneakers, gold hoop earrings. Style Icons: Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Rihanna