What is personal style and why is it so important?
What is personal style? It’s when what you wear, how you feel, and what you buy reflects your inner personality! And unlocking it improves your life.
April 27, 2022
Do you ever feel like there’s something that just doesn’t feel right when it comes to your style? Maybe shopping feels overwhelming, or maybe, you shop all the time and still feel like you have nothing to wear. You might feel like your clothes just don’t reflect who you are, or you’re not confident dressing for your body, personality, and in a way that feels stylish. Are you finding yourself asking the question “what is personal style”—and dreaming of actually discovering yours?
Style is something you learn. Nobody is born stylish (no matter how it seems on Instagram and Pinterest!) and is something you discover, practice, and integrate into your life every single day. You can be stylish - and believing that is the key to unlocking your personal style.
Whether you're commuting to work (no matter if that’s across town or across the hallway), heading to the gym, or attending an old friend’s wedding, the clothes you wear should be a reflection of you. They should bring you joy (and confidence)—not make you feel frantic, overwhelmed, or frustrated!
Most importantly, I believe you can have great personal style no matter your body size, shape, or your style. Personal style can feel good in spite of diet culture, fast fashion, and even the judgements of other people. If you’re curious to know more about why your personal fashion identity is important, you’ve come to the right place.
What even is personal style?
Personal style is about more than just clothes! It includes how you represent yourself and your religion, culture, and community. We want our personal style to actually feel personal, so it’s no wonder that you might struggle to define it.
The style you gravitate towards has as much to do with your personality and inner values as your appearance. It’s your chosen armor and a celebration of the unique human being you are!
Still not sure what I mean? Here are a few more things to think about when pondering “what is personal style?”
Personal style is…
- How you dress every day — not an imaginary fantasy wardrobe on Pinterest or only your “fancy” clothes
- How you feel in (and about) your clothes.
- Feeling at home in your clothes
- Your mindset about clothes, including how you feel about the fashion industry, money, and self-expression
- It’s even your habits: shopping habits, laundry habits, morning routines
There are a lot of reason you might feel like you can’t have style, but it’s more than possible to get there! For instance, take notice of your mental self-talk, your shopping habits, and your morning routine.
Do you care about sustainability, finances, or over-consumption? What clothes do you feel most like yourself in? What do you wish you could wear? All of these play a role in your personal style.
What is personal style not?
Personal style is not just about finding what's "flattering" (aka looking thin) or being on top of constantly cycling trends. It has nothing to do with your age, color, or pronouns. And it doesn’t matter at all whether or not strangers look at you and go, “oh, that’s so stylish!” (or “wow, that’s not stylish.”)
Friends, the media, and social-emotional norms surrounding clothing are total bullshit! No matter what you’ve heard in the past, your personal style is none of these things:
- Copying outfits you see on influencers
- Shopping constantly
- Knowing your “color season” or body type
- A result you can get from a quiz like “boho” or “classic”
- Something some people are born with (and others are not)
If you’ve thought any of those were true before, you’re not alone—but forget all that! Let the reimagining of your personal style begin.
What happens when you know your personal style?
Once you have a new vision of your answer to the question “what is personal style?” it’s time to dive into the benefits of discovering yours. A few things happen when you fully understand which clothes feel good on your body. I call this Style Clarity.
Style clarity is the foundation of what it means to “have” personal style. Style clarity is ALL of the things that help us “know” our current style: preferences, proportions, colors, style aesthetic. Without this we will always be striving, copying looks we see on others, and feeling like we’re missing something, simply because we don’t have a style home base.
For starters, you’ll stop worrying about what other people think about your wardrobe. The compliments (and insults) that come your way will no longer be of any real consequence to you. That’s not to say kind words aren’t nice to hear once in a while (or rude comments won’t annoy you), but they won’t send you into a tizzy trying to get your outfits right in the days that follow.
The self-assurance you develop through your personal style makes shopping for clothes easier (and maybe even fun). Picture having the confidence to show up to a party dressed in a way that feels authentic to you, rather than trying to match what others are wearing.
Knowing what to wear each day saves you countless hours (and dollars) worrying about what people will think of you!
Bear in mind, style authenticity is not to be confused with the temporary “green light” that goes off in your head when you wear a trendy, straight-out-of-a-magazine look! It’s observing and respecting your own likes and dislikes, regardless of how the rest of the world is dressing.
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.
Why is it important to know your personal style?
Understanding your personal style will positively impact your life in more ways than one! It’s not just about clothes. Here are five ways that knowing your personal style can transform your life.
It makes shopping SO much easier
Even if you theoretically enjoy shopping, it can still be an exhausting experience.
You splurge at designer stores on name-brand pieces, only to realize the following month that your clothes are (once again) out of “style.” You go on a “sustainable fashion” aesthetic binge, only to realize that beige just makes you feel bland, not chic. You obsess over finding the exact perfect French Girl Style Essentials, but they never feel French and perfect on you.
Knowing your unique wants and needs changes all that!
Once you know the difference between your personal style and the ever-changing (and ever-manipulative) fashion industry, you’ll shop with a greater sense of discernment. You’ll be able to choose the clothes that suit your style with far greater accuracy. And with each shopping trip, you’ll learn and grow from your past experiences.
If the story you're telling yourself about your last purchase goes something like, "once I finally get that, I'll feel more stylish," that purchase was motivated less by the item of clothing itself, and more by the desire for a feeling.
The real road to good feelings is through making style truly personal.
You’ll save money on clothes
Not only does shopping become easier when you discover your personal style, but it also becomes less frequent. Even if the items that fit your unique needs end up being a bit more expensive, you’ll save money in the long term because they will last. You won’t be in a hurry to swap things out for the next big trend after just a few months.
This might be hard to imagine if you're a hobbyist shopper. You may even be in the routine of emptying your closet and donating entire bags of clothes each year because you don’t love them anymore (did you ever love them?) — but all you’re doing is freeing up space for the next disappointing haul.
(This was me, at the beginning of my style journey. I was going to the mall constantly, afraid to look at my credit card statement, compelled by the sale rack… and still never happy with anything I wore. There’s another, better way!)
You’ll save tons of money on wardrobe expenses when you learn how to discern your look—and know that your style never goes out of style.
The money you stop spending on clothes can be put towards more meaningful, memorable things! One of my clients is saving for her dream honeymoon! (I mean: are you really working 40 hours a week to buy clothes you don’t even like? Spend that cash on experiences you love.)
When you feel good, you look good (and when you look good, you feel good)
Your clothes can affect your mood, how you feel about yourself, and how others perceive you. But it’s not about wearing the right brands, or the “perfect” colors or trends. It’s about your energy when you show up as your authentic self.
The confidence you derive from clothing should help you feel more authentically yourself. It has nothing to do with “pulling off” the latest trends or wearing the “appropriate” clothes.
Imagine this: you’re headed to your friend’s wedding. Panicked for what to wear, you went and picked up the latest and greatest dress (from the “it” brand of the moment). People will notice and will surely say some nice things. But you don’t feel quite yourself—you’re more worried about “pulling it off” than enjoying the party. It’s impossible to feel present when you’re fussing with those fiddly cut-outs and straps and tugging the dress down in-between dance moves.
On the other hand, wearing something that you know makes you feel like a million bucks regardless of what’s “in”) creates a new, more real and authentic confidence. Rather than showcasing your clothes, your clothes will showcase you.
In the end, getting dressed should feel like putting on another layer of yourself.
You’ll be more present in your life
Before uncovering the answers to “what is personal style?” I bet you’re distracted by the clothes you already own! Instead of thinking about how you feel in your clothes, you’re obsessing over the actual clothes. Mornings are a struggle trying to get ready and most evenings are filled with regret or anxiety about whether or not you nailed it that day.
But realizing your personal style relieves those pressures! You’ll be able to focus on other, more important things.
Imagine going through each day fully engaged in conversations, able to move however you need without having to adjust your clothing or consider how it’s falling on you. You can bend over, run, kneel, or frolic around without second-guessing your attire. Your personal style means embracing your body and all its glorious angles.
It can help you let go of societal pressures and beauty standards
Defining your personal style on your own terms actually helps us reject social beauty “standards.” It’s empowering to worry less about diet culture and societal expectations and instead show up authentically.
We’re all constantly bombarded with conflicting messages about our bodies and our clothes.
We’re told to not be vain or shallow, but that we ought to care about how we look. Magazine articles say that spending too much money is wasteful, but wearing the same outfit twice is frowned upon, too. Society tells us we shouldn’t show off our bodies, but then turns around and says we shouldn’t hide them, either!
There's a really good chance you grew up hearing or reading, "here's how to look thin," more often than, "here's how to feel like yourself in your clothes." Tune in to your identity and values by tuning out all the external influences and conditioning you’ve been dealing with your entire life.
So, what is personal style? It’s when what you wear, how you feel in your clothes, and how you shop reflects your personality and values. Unlocking your personal style not only improves your confidence, but it also refocuses your energy.
Are you ready to create your authentic personal style? Discover The Unfolding, my signature personal style and self-development lab. Inside The Unfolding, you will define your singular personal style, learn to shop strategically, and begin to show up as your authentic self through your style. We take on a new purpose for ourselves with our personal style—and that’s not superficial at all.
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