How to define your personal style: The good

This is an ongoing series on how to define your personal style. Part 1: "Shopper, know thyself" is here.


We've talked about the first step in defining your personal style -- collecting images that are attractive to you, no matter how unrealistic or whether they're related to clothing. Now that you've figured out what it is you aspire to in general, it's time to get specific.

What's your reality? It's right behind your closet doors. Let's dig in!

First, pick 5-10 things that you love

Pick 5-10 pieces (not outfits) out of your wardrobe that you really love to wear. I'm talking MAD love. This includes tops, pants, dresses, skirts -- whatever. If you hate all your clothes, pick the things you wear over and over again (look in your laundry basket!). Don't over think it. Just pick the clothes you love -- and if you can't find a particular item that's appropriate for a part of your life, don't stress. We'll get to that in a minute.

Lay those pieces out so you can see them all at once, smile (because, how nice is it to have all your favorite clothes together?) and ask yourself a few questions.

--What material are these clothes made of?

--Are they soft? Ruffly? Crisp?

--Are they prints or solids? Both?

--How do they fit your body -- are they fitted? Do they have a 50s silhouette (fitted at the waist. full at the bottom)? Are they loose and flowing?

--How many of the pieces are separates vs. dresses or one-piece (i.e. dresses)?

--What parts of your body do these pieces show off? What do they hide?

Your answers will tell you a lot about what works for you. Let's say you picked 3 black dresses and two pairs of dark wash jeans -- you probably like the way you look in classic pieces. Maybe you're into solids, or (surprise!) you like to show off your legs. There is no right answer, but be honest with yourself and you will see a pattern emerge.

Remember: This is what works for you, but it doesn't mean you are doomed to only buying the pieces that work for you. Instead, think of how you can replicate what works when you go shopping for the categories where you are lacking pieces you love. Winter dressing is my achilles heel -- I never have enough cold-weather clothes, so I'm looking at what I love in the summer --dresses! solids! fun details! -- and looking for winter clothes that have the same feel.

Next, we will look at the dark, mistake-filled recesses of your closet. (It'll be OK. I promise.)