Want to define your personal style? Start by making a list of everything that's NOT your style!
First, a quick book update for everyone that's been asking: The cover of The Curated Closet is finally ready, yay! Check back early next week for the reveal! (If you want to receive updates about the book via email, you can sign up here.)
Now back to the main event: For today's post I want to share a quick and easy style-defining technique that I’ve been using a lot lately, to plan out my Spring/Summer closet and also to choose a home decor style for the new apartment my boyfriend and I just moved into.
The technique is as simple as it gets and you can get started straight away, even if this is your first time thinking about your style at all.
How it works
Defining your personal style is undoubtedly one of the trickiest steps during a wardrobe revamp. If you have no idea where to start, the NOT-MY-STYLE list is a great low-pressure way to hone in on your style, by process of elimination and also because it simply helps you to start thinking about all of the different elements (colours, fabrics and so on) that could possibly be a part of your style.
The idea is that instead of trying to work out how all of the different things you like could fit together, you approach the whole thing from the opposite end. Grab a pen and paper (or your phone) and write down everything you DON’T like.
Colours, specific pieces, cuts and fits, fabrics, patterns, whole outfits, accessories, make up looks, anything you can think of.
Here are some examples:
- medium-wash denim (make it light or dark, no inbetween)
- anything vaguely bohemian
- pearl earrings
- those weird poufy pants Lisa was wearing the other day
- floral or polka-dot patterns
- heels lower than 3"
- scoop necklines
- platform heels
- lace detailing
You can be as specific or general as you like, anything from "pink" to "warm-toned pastel salmon" goes! Here are some prompts you can use to fill up your NOT-MY-STYLE list:
- What types of clothes do you never wear, as a rule?
- What styles and pieces do you always pass straight by in stores, because you already know you won’t like them?
- What clothes do you appreciate on other people, but just don’t like on yourself?
- What elements (think specific details, materials or fits) are dealbreakers for you, i.e. will stop you from buying an otherwise lovely piece?
- What current (or past trends) are you skipping out on?
- What types of clothes that have you tried to warm up to or make work without success (check the back of your closet for this one)?
- What types of things would you never wear in a million years?
Start with the obvious, things you dislike in general (like “ruffles”, “denim hot pants" or “bright magenta"), but then dig a little deeper. What type of stuff do you like and can appreciate, just not on yourself? Are there any styles that many of your friends or colleagues are wearing right now that you aren’t a fan of? Oversized silhouettes, pastel shades or pencil skirts? Write it all down, until you can’t think of anything else.
Optional next step
Add a second column to your list, with the heading “I prefer…”. Then, starting from the top of your list, write down an alternative for each point that you do like and could see yourself wearing (or are already wearing) regularly.
Here’s an example:
NOT MY STYLE
- high-waisted pants
- sneakers or canvas shoes
- complicated up-dos and other high-maintenance hair styles
- denim cut-off shorts
- warm, saturated colours (oranges, greens...)
- chunky "glam" jewellery
- a medium or low waist
- simple sandals for summer
- un-done, tousled hair
- A-line mini skirts
- greys and cool pastel shades
- delicate pieces with a meaning
Defining your home decor style
Like I mentioned earlier, this technique works not only for defining your personal style when it comes to clothes, it’s also great for narrowing down on a decor theme for your living space.
My boyfriend and I just moved into a new place (still in Berlin) and we know we want it to look completely different than our last apartment (which still had a pretty student-y vibe with lots of hand-me-down furniture that we’ve had since college). And while we both have pretty strong ideas about what types of clothes we like, when it comes to interior design we are still newbies. Right now, in the early stages of this whole process, writing NOT-MY-STYLE lists was super helpful for articulating our individual ideas and finding a design direction that we both like.
If you are interested in that type of stuff, you can follow me on Instagram where I’ll definitely post updates of our space as we go along.