3 Signs You're Stuck In a Style Rut and 5 Ways to Break Out of It
Nobody likes a style rut. Get your style back on track with a sense of clarity, the ability to self-reflect, and a willingness to experiment!
July 8, 2022
Personal style is so much more than your aesthetic—it’s part of your identity! So feeling unenthusiastic about your clothes does more than break your confidence, it makes you feel like you’re not yourself. If your wardrobe no longer serves you, you’re likely in a style rut.
Reclaiming your personal style can give you the energy you need to show up with confidence, feel great, and be the best version of yourself every day.
What is a style rut?
A style rut happens when you feel bored, uninspired, or stuck with your clothes. Your wardrobe just doesn’t feel like you anymore. It happens to everyone at some point or another!
Style ruts happen for one main reason: your life changed, but your wardrobe didn’t. It may be hard to pinpoint when the page turned on your personality or stylistic needs, but sometime or another you woke up uncomfortable in your old habits and in need of a change.
Your style has as much to do with your self-talk or retail mentality as it does with your actual clothes, which explains how a disconnect can sneak up on you.
Here are some examples of how your style can unravel:
- Your body changed, but you’re still buying the same size
- You’re living in a new climate and trying to make your old clothes work for the new weather
- You’ve switched to a more visible role in your job, but don't have the clothes for your new identity
Each of these scenarios will cause a disconnect, babes! And disconnect will undoubtedly lead to a style rut.
How can you tell if you’re stuck in a style rut?
The busier you are, the harder it is to realize you’re in a style rut. These signs are a sure way to tell if you’re stuck… which is key to getting back on track and feeling like yourself.
You’re feeling analysis paralysis all the time
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with choices on a daily basis, you’re probably in a style rut. Folks who have their style nailed down can typically make wardrobe decisions at the drop of a hat! Taking forever—feeling stuck—is an indicator that something’s amiss.
You might have an overflowing closet with tons of statement items. And you might be able to pick what you like off a rack. But you’re still struggling to piece things together in the morning.
The truth is, you don’t need as much variety as you’re telling yourself you do! Breaking out of a style rut will save you those precious minutes spent staring blankly into your closet and get you out the door faster, back to living your best life.
You feel like you don’t have enough choices
If you default to the same pieces over and over again, even though you would prefer to be wearing other things: style rut. This might be you if you’re a dedicated sales shopper and rarely allow yourself the opportunity to branch out. You don’t have enough options that feel authentically you—and you’re stuck in the style blahs.
Your habits might include avoiding mirrors and intentionally ignoring how your clothes fit and feel. You’re hiding in clothes that don’t call attention, or you’re buying things in bulk (five shades of the same shirt sound familiar?) even though you only truly like one version of the item.
Related: 6 Ways to Escape The Sale Madness
You keep reaching for clothes that don’t let you feel your best
A style rut can also emerge when you start sacrificing looks for functionality. You really just want your clothes to work for you, whether you're active, have kids, or juggle multiple activities every day. You may have given up on the clothes you really like because they don’t suit your current lifestyle…and you’re not sure how to fix it.
Seesawing between practicality and creativity is a bummer (not to mention a tremendous roadblock to discovering your personal style). If you’ve convinced yourself that you should only wear leggings or sweats because they’re functional, maybe now’s the time to reconsider.
Great personal style is so much more than the clothes you wear. Get the guide and discover twelve life-changing style habits you can start practicing now, so you can experience having great style, not just great outfits.
How to break yourself out of a style rut
Ready to repair whatever’s got you in a style rut? Here are five strategies to help you rediscover your style sense and help you feel better about yourself.
Figure out what your style currently is and what it says about you
First, you have to define what your style currently is (and let go of what it used to be). To gain some clarity on this, look at what you're really wearing and how you're really acting versus what you envision for yourself.
Close your eyes and picture yourself throughout the week… at work, at home, running errands, and so on. What are you wearing in your mind’s eye?
The ability to see yourself in an idealistic state is key to breaking out of a style rut! If you can envision yourself as confident, comfortable, and stylish, you’ll be able to channel that positive energy into your actual appearance.
Related: What is personal style and why is it so important?
Define your ideal style
Can you explain what you want your style to be? It helps to think about the best thing you’ve ever worn! Think back to your favorite items—the things you reach for straight out of the laundry. If you can collect those feel-good items in your mind, you’re well on your way to busting out of your style rut.
Simply collecting a handful of pieces that you already feel good in will help steer your style journey. Snag a free copy of my 12 Life-Changing Personal Style Habits guide to focus on your complete vision and reclaim your style identity.
Pro tip: expand or refine your game plan with minor tweaks! Need more color? Swap a top or a shoe. Need more pizazz? Add accessories. Like it, but wish your clothes fit better or looked nicer? Find high quality replacements.
Find the pieces in your closet that you wear and love
Optimize this strategy with a pen and paper! Instead of simply weeding through your wardrobe to pick out the things you love (and nixing the items you don’t), write down specific observations and patterns in your thinking.
You might write things like: not into ruffles and pastels or I love gothy all-black lace. The more details you can include, the better!
The observations you make about your personal style can help you piece together at least one outfit that helps you feel your best. From there, you can build more looks until you have the ultimate wardrobe (and no more style rut).
Incorporate your personality into clothes that fit your life’s needs
Your lifestyle shouldn’t be what’s stopping you from developing a personal style. Instead, use your daily activities to enhance your look (without dictating it) and help you break free of a style rut.
Consider how much time you spend doing different things each day. If you spend 60% of your time with your fam, 35% working from home, and 5% at the gym, you probably don’t need to dress in yoga pants from sunrise to sunset (unless athleisure is your definitive style choice, which is also totally fine!).
You can choose clothes that match your busy lifestyle (sturdy, flexible, or layered if need be) without sacrificing your personality. Try to identify what’s missing: color, texture, or a little bling? Challenge yourself to spice up your look in order to pinpoint what you like.
Push your boundaries and experiment
When all else fails, go out of your comfort zone. It’s one thing to identify some clothes that bring you joy and nail an outfit here and there, and another thing to turn that knowledge into an attitude.
Your daily style will ultimately depend on how sustainable it is (and not in terms of the environment). You can’t realistically wear the same one or two “perfect” outfits over and over again without falling into another style rut farther down the line. Push your limits to create more options and expand what you feel comfortable in!
Different accessories or color selections can help with this. Experiment with subtle differences and take note of what makes you feel “good edgy,” daring, or just a bit too far. By shaking things up a little each day, you’ll be able to ease out of your style rut and into a world of endless possibilities.
Repairing your relationship with your wardrobe (and more importantly your style identity) has to do with so much more than just the items in your possession. Everything from garment quality, to shopping habits, to color and mindset contribute to your style.
While a style rut can be a challenge to break out of, all you need is clarity, self-reflection, and a willingness to try something new. Check out The Unfolding, my signature personal style and self-development program, to learn how to show up as your authentic self through your wardrobe and get out of those style ruts much quicker.
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