Not a lot of people could say that they have very distinct personal style when any person who can ‘feel’ clothes can look at an item and say “It’s [not] her/his style!”, most of people who carry the burden of first world problems just have a lot of clothes. And one of the most common complains from women when we speak about clothes is “I have nothing to wear (and I need more space in the closet, it’s more than full)”.
Another version of this, popular between women who are difficult to fit, is to buy clothes just because they are a little bit more fitted than a tent and don’t make them look like a zombie (and sometimes even despite that!).
I never really had the first problem, because when I was young I was on a tight budget, so I was thinking really hard about what I was buying (and as a rule if there wasn’t at least 5 items I already owned which could go with a new item I didn’t buy it). I have a good eye on colors and proportions, that also helped. So my wardrobe back then was a little bit boring and not always very flattering (see the part about fitting a little bit better that a tent). it had nothing to do with my personality, but very functional, I had clothes for any situation and it was color coordinated since I was 17, so I never had a reason for aforementioned rant. But as time passed by I began to want more from my clothes. There was a good portion of trial and error, when my choices were perfectly color coordinated, but stylistically all over the place and my wardrobe began to grow above my comfort level. So I returned to old habit: thinking and gathering information. One of my lucky findings was a very harmonious system of style personalities. This system is used by BFAS image consultants.
So it goes like this: there are 6 major types of style personalities: Natural, Town&Country, Classic, Romantic, Dramatic and Delicate. Most people are the mix of two. Some people are pure (one type), but harmonious composition of three is next to impossible. Being two types doesn’t mean that you should buy clothes from two types, you should rather look for items which have characteristics of both, which are most close to you, because you are not just a juxtaposition, but a unique mix.
is full of frills, lace and semi-transparent fabrics, satin, soft drapes, silk and cashmere, mink coats, it’s all about being dolled up and lovely. It often uses vintage or their outfits inspired by it. Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Zeta-Jones (yep, Romantic could be dark colored, but look at her, she is so glamorous!)
is bold and extravagant, it could be sexy and aggressive, it’s chic and it’s edgy. Leather, especially patent leather, silk, furs. Colors are black. white and brights. Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga
is youthful, sometimes freakish, nice and naive, funny, it uses whatever is available, but combinations always original and somewhat unfinished, gravitates to lot of accessories, ethnic stuff, boho, subcultural stuff. Helena Bonham Carter, Björk and Iris Apfel
But these descriptions concentrate on how it could be presented by pure types in extremes, which isn’t very helpful. because it’s very hard to translate these pure essences to a wardrobe for day to day life. But there is more important part of style analyses, inner part, which could help to find a way.
Process of finding who you are is rather intuitive and it more depends on traits of your character, on what do you want from life, you vibe, your “essence”, on your personality than on shape of your hips or length of your nose. It’s all about identifying your true self and being faithful to yourself.
So here is my brief descriptions of the vibes. I’m giving here not only positives, but also negatives, because people who are not compatible with the particular vibe are more prone to distinguish negatives. Also when other people are giving us their opinions they also tend to be more precise about negatives.
Natural – positives: youthful, fresh, full of life, energetic, funny, bright, sporty, outdoorsy; negatives: unreliable, careless, rude.
Town&Country – positives: traditional, conservative, warm and comfy, reliable, practical, simple, outdoorsy, solid and sound; negatives: outdated, stubborn, frumpy and narrow-minded.
Classic – positives: elegant, polished, practical, sophisticated, balanced, harmonious; negatives: bureaucratic, boring, unapproachable, snobbish.
Romantic – positives: emotional, sensitive and sensual, glamorous, soft and warm; negatives: emotional (no, this is not a mistake! emotional is both, because different people see it differently), passive, silly, illogical, vain.
Dramatic – positives: striking, outstanding, sophisticated, original, creative, edgy, extravagant. ironic; negatives: bitchy, slutty, strange, vulgar, vain.
Delicate – positives: creative, original, funny, youthful, playful, innocent, fresh; negatives: messy, unreliable, strange, laughable, infantile.
Of cause you can find your characteristics in more than two pure types and some types have something in common (Natural and Delicate have youthful, but when Natural has forever 17, most popular kid in the class vibe in it, Delicate is more about something childish and something about being creative and naive in a good way, something about to be open).
Delicate and Dramatic both seek for original, but in first case it is “more is more and less is bore” original, primitive art original, and in the second case it is very artful and sophisticated, one-of-a-kind and hiring the best professionals original.
Romantic and Town&Country are both warm, but Romantic woman is warm like a loving woman and in Town&Country woman it’s more of a mother warmth.
And type or their combination or I think it’s silly and I’m no type )), the key to the style which is truly forever is to know yourself and to express yourself through your clothes. Aforementioned style personalities are just some blocks which could be combined to give a starting point. What’s very useful is that if you identified your style personality you can google a lot of clothes choices connected with it and choose not from the whole continuum, but from 1/36, which is significantly easier task to do (for an example you can go here and here). And you can also go with associations: when you a looking on an item, think which memories, which feelings it calls, is it cold and sharp or warm and comfy? is it fashion forward or traditional? Is it boring? Is it exciting? Could you imaging your celebrity style twin wearing it? It’s totally ok that you don’t like any item you googled. it could be wrong color or wrong shape for your body type, associations and meaning of items are different not only from country to country, or social strata to social strata, but from person to person (i. g. certain type of kerchiefs is strongly associated with granny for me and for many Russians, but I bet that for most you, who has no Russian origin, these are just colorful and exotic without any granny vibe, oversized smoke-colored glasses are forever associated with my elementary school teacher for me, but I seriously doubt that many people share this association). And national specific or personal specific associations can make an item doesn’t feel right.
It’s also quite important to distinguish style and dress code. Casual is not a style even if it sometimes called so. It’s a dress code for a wide set of occasions. It’s no less dress code than business formal (if you doubt that try to imagine people reaction if you come to a barbecue in your best formal outfit). So each style personality can (and will) create a different outfits for the same dress-code. Sometimes it could be more challenging (business formal for Romantic or casual for Drama), sometimes it comes naturally (business formal for Classic or casual for Town&Country), but it’s still the same person in any occasion and it could be expressed with details and nuances to create harmony.