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]