Personal Style and Presentation: How to Put Together a Wardrobe That Complements Your Brand

shutterstock_177847346

We're fashion bloggers, right? So it seems the personal style question should be an easy one to answer. But for me (and I imagine, for at least a few of you), it wasn't.  The issue was never about knowing what I liked. Instead, the problem was that I didn't know to dress for effect. In other words, my personal style and the brand I had for my blog were completely detached. That fundamental mismatch, between the brand I was trying to build and how I dressed (or didn't dress) to support that brand, caused a lot of tension during my first year of professional blogging. I knew I needed to do something different, but I didn't know how or what. As a result, people were often surprised – and not in the good way – when they met me in person. Trust me when I say your clothes absolutely have an effect on the kinds of opportunities you'll receive as a blogger.

While my situation was so dire that I eventually had to hire a personal stylist to jumpstart my style journey (Darcey Howard, who I don't think does that kind of work anymore), I've also picked up quite a few tips of my own in the last several years. If you feel like you've got your personal style locked down tight and that it is completely on-brand, then this post isn't for you. But if you're not sure or if you're just flailing around a bit (the way I was…no shame), then hopefully some of the tips I share here will be useful to you.

1) Decide how you want people to remember you.

This is the first and most important step. As an introvert, my natural tendency is to hang out in the background and avoid the spotlight. But as an entrepreneur and a representative for my business, I have to suppress that natural tendency and make myself stand out. As the embodiment of your fashion blog, you have to do the same. Come up with a few words that you want people to identify with you and your brand. Are you punk, edgy, goth, or hardcore? What about rockabilly, pinup, vintage, or burlesque? Classic, elegant, timeless, and sophisticated? Bohemian, hippie, ethereal, and artistic? I could go on and on. You could even come up with a list of qualities you want your personal style to have (as opposed to trends) like approachable, accessible, authentic, and attainable. The point is that you want to settle upon a core list of words that will describe your style and complement your brand. This is crucial because you'll come back to that core again and again.

2) Choose 2-4 key elements or “style markers” for your wardrobe.

Now you're building upon that theoretical description of your wardrobe with some concrete items or elements you can incorporate into your style. For me, as a lingerie blogger, my key elements involve things things like mesh, lace, leopard print, and strappy accents…all details that are meant to evoke my chosen subject matter. When I'm working, I try to make sure I'm wearing something from one of those groups. You don't have to be as literal as me (remember, personal, lingerie-unrelated style isn't my strong suit), but having these elements in mind not only helps with your public presentation, it also helps with building  a wardrobe. Which brings us to point #3.

3) Invest in signature pieces.

I know, I know…it's the most typical advice in the world. But I'm including it here because it's true. Even if your brand is built upon disposable fashion, there needs to be some kind of structure or framework, and signature pieces help with that. I'm not saying you need to adhere to anyone else's version of signature, but you need to figure out what that word means for you. What's your trademark? Your fashion autograph? For one blogger, it might be really chunky, statement jewelry. For another, it might be ultra-fashionable sunglasses. For another, it could be a handbag or shoes or even a particular print, like florals. Decide on your sartorial calling card.

4) Be willing to experiment.

That said, sometimes you don't know what you like until you go out of your comfort zone. To illustrate, I am a huge fan of gray, black, and camel. But I've been experimenting more with bright colors like orange, coral, and pink. And do you know what? I like them. More than that, they help me to make a better impression. While wearing clothes that help you feel like the best version of yourself is, of course, paramount (because if you feel like you're wearing a costume, everyone else will be able to tell), dabble a bit in something new every now and again.

5) Put together a seasonal budget, create a wishlist, and become obsessive about sales.

I realize those are three separate things, but in my head, they all go together. Thus, they're only taking up one line. The thing about fashion, as well know, is that it's relentlessly seasonal. What's in one year is out the next, and while your signature pieces are the foundation of your wardrobe, you also need some trend-focused items to break up your look and make it, well, trendy. However, trends cost money. Figure out how much you can spend on updating your wardrobe with more trendy pieces each season, and, a few times a year, put together a wishlist of items you're either looking for or that you've already seen and want to own. The point here is to be deliberate about which trends you pursue, not impulsive. Make sure that whatever pieces you're looking at agree with points #1 and 2 on this list, and then, if you're on any kind of budget, become an absolute sales fiend. Sign up for newsletters. Use retailmenot.com.  Hang out on Shopstyle. Whatever it takes. And of course, don't forget those great budget-friendly haunts like eBay, Goodwill, and your local consignment shop.

6) Be willing to go against the tide.

If everyone's wearing (and writing about) a particular trend, do you really need to be the 500th person to wear it? Will you stand out and make an impression if you just go along with the crowd, or is there an opportunity here to assert your style and your brand through the way you dress? One of the most common complaints I hear about fashion blogging today is that fashion bloggers tend to all talk about the same things and wear the same brands.  While that's fine if you truly love those brands, always be willing to ask yourself how what you're wearing reflects on your blog?

How would you describe your blog's style? And what are your favorite tips for bloggers looking to build their brand through their wardrobe? Please share in the comments!

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

11 Shares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

12 Responses

  1. Diane

    I love this advice so much I started taking notes as I read your piece. I’m not much of an OOTD blogger; I write more about fashion than I do about my personal style. However, I’d like to diversify my posts and write more about myself and my style. This post helped me come up with a coherent set of words to define my style and brand. Thank you!

    http://stylecontext.com

    Reply
  2. Nina

    I’ve been thinking an awful lot about my own wardrobe lately so find this advice particularly useful, thank you! “Decide how you want people to remember you” – that’s actually something I hadn’t thought about and it’s definitely a good foundation to build your wardrobe on. I also like your advice about having a budget for trend-focused items – while it’s nice to drool over the latest gorgeous items this would help you focus on buying just the right amount without regretting it.

    Reply
  3. Courtney

    I love this post. I have my personal style figured out now, but I think blogging helped with honing in on it. I’ve always gravitated toward classic, preppy pieces so making my blog about that helped to streamline my wardrobe. It makes it a lot easier to get dressed everyday when, for the most part, my closet is cohesive to one style…and it makes impulse buying better because it’s much easier to determine if I will wear it regularly by determining if it fits with my style or other clothes. I’m definitely going to need to work on finding signature pieces for branding though, I’m going take your suggestion on writing those key words, that’s such a great idea and branding is such an important part of blogging.

    daughterofasonofasailor.com

    Reply
  4. Courtney

    Also, I loved what you said about the wish-lists. I’ve actually made my seasonal wish-list a blog post and they are one of the most popular ones I do.

    daughterofasonofasailor.com

    Reply
  5. Joelle

    As someone trying to develop a strong personal style, this article offered some valuable tips and ideas to consider.

    I am an avid sales shopper, and have found that joining the mailing list to my favourite online clothing stores is the best way to keep me in the know of sales – the annoying spam is worth it!

    -Joëlle
    http://www.lapetitenoob.com

    Reply
  6. Pawan Shah

    Now tell your mother that she is the best present you have received from God by ordering Cakes to Mother in Brazil and convey your message of respect and love for her, for whatever she has done from your birth and is still doing today.

    Reply
  7. Sienna

    I think it’s great to follow trends, but only the ones you like! You should never wear something JUST because it’s trendy right now. If you don’t like the trend, don’t wear it. If you do, then do. This is how I tend to dress.

    xoxo Sienna
    http://www.fashionintheair.com

    Reply
  8. Jen

    A lot of people may not think about this, but every person is their own brand. They may not be self-employed, but they do have an image they want to project. And since we are visual people, what people wear does make a lasting impression.
    I like your last point: going against the tide. As a fashion blogger, it’s so easy to look at other blogs and {almost} subconsciously talk about the same thing. A great reminder to always be thinking outside of the box.
    ~Jen
    Chambray+Cabernet
    chambrayandcabernet.wordpress.com

    Reply
  9. Wanda

    Actually this article really made me think, especially number 1. often try to look at myself (inside and out) through another person’s eyes and imagine who they would make me out to be. Now how they remember me would be an even more interesting question! And I’ll definitely also will need to think about my key elements, it’s quite hard nailing it down to a few words actually. Thanks for the input, great article!

    vamirato.blogspot.com

    Reply
  10. Hey Mishka

    Agreed! “Decide on your sartorial calling card” is such a great way of wording what is addressed in #3.

    Reply