Spend Your Fashion Dollars Wisely – Create a Signature Style

October 14, 2010

The desire to look good does not fluctuate with the economy.  Through good times and bad it is human nature to want to feel good about how you look.  Resources might change but desire does not (in fact it might even get stronger when times are tough!).

No matter what your circumstances, it is also a good thing to periodically take an honest look at your wardrobe to determine if it’s working for you.
•    Are you overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothes you own?
•    Do you wear everything you have?
•    Does everything fit properly (are you even sure what proper fit looks like)?
•    Do you feel like you have a mish-mash of styles, most of which don’t speak to your heart?

Before you add another item to your wardrobe, let’s talk about creating a signature style – a style that expresses your personality, that makes you smile every time you get dressed, that gives the world a clue as to who you are.  Understanding your style will make you a savvier shopper and a smarter dresser.

This is not a quick fix.  It is a lifelong exploration, and with a few key tools you can make it a fun adventure!  These 5 steps will get you moving in the right direction:

1.  Know ‘Who’ You Are Dressing

Truer words were never spoken.  Many women have a wardrobe that they are either bored with or that looks more like everyone but them (best friend, sister, mother, sales person at their favorite store, celebrity idol…).  We’ve all been there, done that.

Exploring different styles helps us determine what we like and what we don’t, so don’t berate yourself if this is what your closet looks like now.  What often happens, however, is that if we are at all uncertain we assume others know better.  It is now time to take back control of your own style!

Before you go any further, take a few minutes to think of 3 or 4 positive words to describe yourself? Think big!  Use a dictionary or thesaurus for inspiration.  For example, are you gentle, bubbly, gutsy, wise, spirited, elegant or unconventional? Ask friends to help—just be sure the words resonate with you (not just your friend).  Whatever your words, you want these traits to be reflected in your wardrobe.  If, for example, one of your defining words is sparkling and you dress all in neutral colors, perhaps it’s time to add some pizzazz!

2.  Know What You Have

Take a peek in your closet and pull out 3 or 4 of your favorite outfits.  What do they have in common?  Look for themes:

  • color (do you love to wear color or are you a black and white or neutral person?  If you wear color, are there particular ones you favor?),
  • fabric (do you like fabrics with body and structure or do you prefer soft and airy or flowing and drapey?),
  • fit (do you like fitted, loose, flowing, or softly tailored?),
  • solids vs. prints?  Which do you like to wear most?

What do you feel is missing in your current wardrobe that you wish it had (e.g., pizzazz, elegance, beauty, drama, femininity, spunkiness, etc.)?

What about accessories?  Do you always or never wear jewelry?  Are shoes your passion?  What about handbags, eyeglasses and even your hair?  What makes them distinctive?

What do you dislike wearing?  Perhaps you cannot imagine wearing ruffles, anything embroidered, turtlenecks, polo shirts, etc.  What you don’t like can tell you as much about your style as what you do enjoy wearing.

Take notes.  All of these insights are valuable the next time you shop.

3.  Stock Up On Beauty Tools

I am not talking about your favorite moisturizer or fashion magazine.  I’m talking about personalized, concrete tools that can help you pare down your options when shopping.  It’s a jungle out there, and if your closet looks like one, too, then it’s time to make some changes.  Beauty tools consist of things like:

  • a personalized color palette that tells you exactly what colors are your best,
  • a style analysis that gives you insight into your body’s proportions and what works best to balance your look,
  • a great hairstylist or colorist – nothing can undermine a great look quicker than a bad (or just uninspired) haircut or color,
  • two or three favorite stores – no one needs to shop everywhere!  Choose a few stores (large or small) that you love and work them!  It doesn’t mean you cannot shop other places, but if you get to know the sales people at your favorites, they’ll keep you posted on new inventory that you’d like, sales, etc.

4.  Make It an Adventure

Despite what you see on the makeover TV shows, this is not a one-time thing, and there is certainly no magic bullet.  It’s a lifelong project so make it fun!  The more you learn about yourself, the more self-discipline you have (it becomes easy to leave a $29.99 (originally $400) jacket at the store unless it fits all your criteria – color, cut, fit, fabric, interesting details, and part of a complete outfit).  The more you see your wardrobe taking shape, the more fun the process is!

5.  Love At first Sight

If you are really unsure as to where to start, begin here:  Buy it (and wear it) only if you love it and you can make a complete outfit with it.  No more settling for functional or feeling like it will get by.  If you don’t love it, don’t buy it!  There are no exceptions to this rule.

Final Words of Advice….

Pay attention to detail.  Be sure your look is consistent. You’ll get discouraged if you do it half-heartedly.  For instance, if you have a fabulous elegant look and throw on your old running shoes with it, you are going to feel frustrated when it doesn’t feel right to you.

Remember, a signature look is a look that people associate with you because it is consistent and memorable. You want to be sure you are giving them the right message.  You’ll know you are on target if you feel great in what you are wearing.)

Lastly, don’t let others talk you into something you don’t like. Sometimes those close to us have a hard time seeing us change.  If you need to take something home to determine if it really works, do that.  Just be sure it return it if it doesn’t fit into your new signature style plan.

As new and wonderful things come into your life, you will feel more comfortable letting go of more of what is cluttering your closet now.  And, you will also find that your wardrobe is smaller than you expected.  Surprisingly, it will not feel smaller, however, because you will wear everything.  That’s when you know you’re right on target!

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