Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Defining your Style

Find or Define your Personal Style - Part 3 of The 5 Keys to Dressing Well  

"Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly" - Epictetus, AD 55–135.   

Epictetus is one of my favorite philosophers. He was a Greek stoic, a "practical" philosopher, he viewed the role of philosophy as the guiding light for people to lead better lives. One of his teachings is that suffering occurs from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. Well indeed, that which was written thousands of years ago, is still relevant today. How we "adorn" ourselves, is totally within our control, then we should strive to do it as best as we can. But first, as he says, we should answer the question: "Who am I?" Let's see if I can help you answer that question when it comes to your Style personality.

Fashion can be bought, anybody can dress fashionably, and it is not a matter of economic power anymore. Nowadays you can buy fashion at very affordable prices. And that means fashion is accessible to almost everybody. Along with the concept of fast fashion, the globalization, the outsourcing of factories to third world countries, and we know how that is going...I will discuss this further on another post. But we cannot deny that fast fashion as fast food, can be detrimental to us all, on the long term. 

Fashion comes and goes mainly as Trends. Trends can be a new prints, new hem lines, new silhouettes, a new vibe, a hair color, a hair style, a color, a type of handbag, a type of shoe, a certain rule...etc, etc, etc, you just have to follow them and stick to the rules of the season, and you will be fashionably “uniformed”. But Style, comes from who you are, it is unique, it has no rules but yours, and no trends of the seasons.  You are expressing who you are all the time, to the outside world, so it is imperative that you can identify your own style, therefore you won’t be swept away by every trend and fad that comes along. 

Every time we get dressed we are asserting parts of our personality, we are asserting our identity. When we are aware of our own style, we dress putting our own selves first, we dress to tell others the story of who we are.  

In the previous post I asked you to think about any Style Icons, that you may have. What did you think about that question? Was it hard?
How many people could you think of? 
What do you admire in them? Do you identify some aspect of your personality with theirs? 

Usually what makes people style icons is how they portray their uniqueness, they are not afraid to show the rest of the world, who they are. And they are not afraid to NOT FOLLOW. In fact, they are Non-followers, they don’t abide by somebody else's rules! They have their own! They have learned from others who they admired what was important in defining their style. They have a great sense of taste and proportion. They have a very strong sense of self, they are self confident, because they know what makes them great and they are not afraid of showing it, in fact they have learned how to showcase successfully those parts of themselves they are most proud of to the rest of the world!

You don’t necessarily need to be in show-business to understand the relevance of taking care of your image. But it is true that there are certain “careers” in which people are more aware, and have a primordial need to learn about Image and to find the ways of communicating effectively their own unique Style. We are all the stars of our own lives, so no matter what your job is, or who your Style Icons are, you can and will learn to define your own unique Style.

Think also about the brands or stores where you usually buy your clothes and accessories, do you think they match your personality? Grab a lookbook from that store/s and see if you can picture yourself in it? I am not saying that you have to look like a model, maybe you do, maybe you don’t, it is irrelevant. Can you see yourself wearing the looks put together in the lookbook? If not, why are you shopping there? 
Now remember I asked you to find a brand or store you “ADORE”, find their lookbook, and see if you can picture yourself there? Do you get excited just thinking about it? Wouldn’t it be glorious if you had the chance to be on their lookbook? Wouldn’t you love to be dressed like that? If don’t feel that way then maybe you don’t adore that brand after all!

Do you think that sometimes you just like some items in a store, and you would never wear others? It happens, and if it is happening to you, that is a very good sign. I will tell you about that in the following posts. But for now, stick with me here and realize that we don’t have to “marry” a brand, we are just trying to define and find our own style. To do so successfully we need to understand why we are attracted to certain brands or style icons, or stores, and why we absolutely would never wear or dare to enter others.

That is our next step. 

Try to find some brands or stores, or Style Icons, that you absolutely DO NOT LIKE. Think about what it is about them that you don’t like? Do they remind you of something? Don’t you like the way they put looks together in their displays? Don’t you like that maybe they are too “androgynous” or masculine, and you are quite the feminine romantic? Maybe it is the color palette they always  use, is it too muted? Gloomy? And you are a Happy go Lucky kind of girl? Just think of what is it that doesn’t resonate with you, because usually it means we value the opposite characteristic.  Understanding what you don’t like at all, is a very good way to find out about your style, in case you get stuck, and can’t think of anything, this is a great tool!

I will give you another tool that will help you to realize what your style is:

Ask somebody you trust and  like, and that you admire for their own style. Usually we have a girl-friend who dresses uniquely, who has a very strong sense of self, and is confident enough to wear what makes her feel and look great!  You don’t necessarily have to love the way she dresses, most probably you would never dress like her, but she does so effortlessly, or so it seems, she must know a thing or two! Talk to her, and ask her, How does she perceive you, in terms of the way you dress? Can she point to you some ideas about how you dress, or characteristics of your personality that she really likes? Those can help you define your style. 

Remember we are all the time communicating who we are to others, so it is a great practice to ask somebody else: "How am I coming through?" Maybe she says that you have "kind of a grungy look"…and you actually view yourself as a feminine romantic who wished to come across as "girly and polished"… Then you might be doing something wrong! You are either not that much of a feminine romantic after all,  or you are not dressing according to your personality. So think about any incongruences you find along the way.

So by now, you should have a notebook or a mental note of lots of answers. Go through them, sort them out. Do a quick calculation, does any one idea or thing come up more times than others? Maybe you realized you always shop at The Gap for your clothes, and The Gap’s brand characteristics are simple and classic. Then you talked to your friend and she said according to her you are a "classic". That is definitely giving you a clue as to how you are dressing now. Think if that is really your own style. Are you communicating what you really want to communicate? Try to come with some conclusions as to what is your style.   

Are you very confused?
Do not worry, I am here to help, and let me remind you of something Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, and I always need to remind myself:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves”
Till tomorrow…keep posted, as more on Defining your Style is coming your way…

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