5 Tips for Establishing a Unique Personal Style

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Last weekend, Poshmark asked me to be on a panel at their annual PoshFest entitled “Fashion Pros Help Elevate Your Look,” so I've been thinking a lot about personal style lately.

And then Kim Kardashian's ass broke the internet and everything seemed meaningless.

Then again, Kim Kardashian certainly has a strong personal style. It might not involve much clothing at times. And when she is wearing clothing, it's very tight. A full face of makeup, always. Her style might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's recognizable. And no one could argue it's not working for her.

But we've all witnessed Kim struggle with finding her style. Her missteps are public. Ours are too! Because we post our outfits on the internet. Maybe not as many people are looking, but it can still be cringe-inducing.

So how do you establish a personal style that's unique, and that won't induce blogger's remorse? Here's what I learned from my fellow panelists and my own introspection:

Start with a mood.

Having style role models is a great place to start, but recreating someone else's style can only take you so far. For me the vibe I want to create is relaxed and beachy, with a touch of 70s rock and roll glam, which is helpful to remember when I get obsessed with photos of Cher.

Shop carefully.

When splurging on a luxury item, make sure you love it. You'll wear it often and it will become a key component of your personal style. But don't buy it because it's on sale but in an off color, or not quite a style you love. You'll probably end up taking photos of it for reselling purposes rather than for an outfit post on your blog. Or, you'll force it into an outfit and it won't look or feel good.

Find your signature piece.

Darci Wolfgang of Diaries of a Southern Shopper—who also happens to be a parole officer, how awesome is that—said on the panel that her signature is a tailored jacket. Have a few go-to pieces in your closet that you love and that make you feel comfortable and stylish, because sometimes (most of the time for me) you won't have leisurely hours to think about what to wear. Have some items that you can always grab and go and feel great in.

You've heard this before, but be wary of trends.

Trends are personal style's kryptonite by definition—they're trends because everyone is wearing them. Unless of course you started the trend, in which case, kudos to you! Or, if the trend fits with the personal style you've established, then obviously go for it. When maxi skirts were everywhere in the past few years, I was pretty happy.

Don't be afraid.

Maybe this is just me, but I often love something and feel like it's so my style, but when it comes to wearing it out in public I get nervous. What if people don't like it? A rejection of your personal style is kind of a rejection of you, and that never feels good. But I try to remember that it's just fashion. No one is going to die because of your floral harem pants (ooh I think I need these). No one is thinking about your outfit nearly as much as you are. Unless of course you're Kim Kardashian.

This is a short list of what works for me, and I know you guys have your own great tips. Please share in the comments!

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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21 Responses

  1. fly won

    LOVE these tips as I’m reinventing my style with my new MommyMakeover look after babes comes in February. I’ve transitioned from my eccentric pieces like sequins, bright colors, and over the top silhouettes to more tailored pieces with a concentration on statement accessories like scaves, furs, and jewelry to accent tailored basics.

    Reply
  2. Accidental Icon

    Very wise words especially those about staying true to yourself. When you are really embracing it I have never had a situation where there was anything other than a positive response. In fact, I started my blog because so many people commented on my style and told me I should start one to showcase it and so I did. Your style is your brand.
    Accidental Icon
    http://www.accidentalicon.com

    Reply
  3. Lillie

    It’s so intimidating, but so true, that no one should be afraid of their own personal style. Wear what you want- who cares what a passerby thinks? Express you! Be creative. Have fun. Great little article.

    Reply
  4. Andrea Christine

    Being stylish and being fashionable are slightly different, and I think the author does a great job of pointing it out in this piece! Now, I’m off to find my signature outfit. ♥

    Reply
  5. Madame Ostrich

    These tips are so on point, and I appreciate how practical and attainable they are.

    As to the Kim K point–love her or hate her, you can’t deny that she *does* know how to brand herself. In fact, I think she’s a solid example of “personal” style.

    XxMO
    madame-ostrich.com

    Reply
  6. Oliver Long

    Never followed trends, never will. My outfit posts are mainly old clothes from years ago I still think look good on me, with one or two (max) pieces of new items.

    Oliver
    suedeandsymphony.com

    Reply
  7. Jen

    it is easy to have a personal style imho. But a woman has to feel comfortable with herself, and that isn’t easy. We are told different things about how we should be nearly every day both consciously and subconsciously. For a woman to say, “to heck with it, I’m me,” is very empowering. With regards to Kim K. I could have lived my entire life without seeing those pics (oy-my own fault for clicking on the link!). What she does know how to do like all of her sisters is rock her curves like a boss.

    Reply
  8. Brittany Ann

    A lot of people say “all style bloggers look the same!” but I don’t think this is true. It’s only when you open your closet/go shopping and think “What do I want to photograph?” rather than “What do I want to wear?” that you risk turning into the dreaded every-other-fashion-blogger, as it stops being organic.

    Your style of photography and accompanying text can really sway things in a specific direction as well. Minimalism is popular now, but I’m drawn to colors/nature more than sleekness and make sure my photos reflect that aspect of my personality. Each blog has a unique tone outside of the clothing itself; it’s important to utilize that.

    Brittany
    http://www.fineryandmadness.com

    Reply
  9. Carlle

    It’s funny to end up reading this article tonight, because I just wrote something on defining your own personal style. I love what you have written, yet I have such a hard time defining my own personal style – and I’m okay with being an opportunist in the sense of my aesthetics. I’m new to the personal style blogging world, so I’m waiting to curate my niche. If you are interested in my article, check it out here: http://wp.me/p3hNAz-Iu.

    Cheers

    Reply
  10. Sheela Goh

    I’m in my 40s, and I still feel I haven’t quite defined my style. I do know, though that whatever I wear, the outcome has always been perceived by onlookers as flamboyant (be it colour or cut). Which is, in itself, rather ironic since I’m an incredibly shy person. As I write, I’m working on building upon that adjective through (a lot of) trial and error. I’m hoping the end result of this process will not only be a clearer viewpoint of my style, but also a stronger sense of self-confidence. A process I fully intend to share on the blog for others in the same boat 🙂

    Reply
  11. Kelly-Lee Fitzpatrick

    I love this post. It took me a long time to find my personal style and I love that I went through a bunch of different phases to find it. I think personal style is always changing with the season/trends/and your personal life as well.

    Reply
  12. Ashley Barile

    Thanks for this post! I only follow the trends I like. If I don’t like a trend, I don’t try hard to follow it. I believe you have to be comfortable in what you’re wearing, otherwise you won’t look good no matter what. 🙂

    Ashley
    http://feedmetrendy.com

    Reply
  13. Barbara Adeniken

    I always knew from the onset of starting a blog, that I wanted to be unique in what I put out there, however being surrounded by particular trends, makes it hard for your tiny voice to be heard. I suppose it’s a case of keep calm and carry on. Still learning, still growing and who knows
    Outofbarbarasbox.wordpress.com

    Reply
  14. Onianwah

    I did a fashion shoot last week and posted some sneak peeks. Everyone says “these are so much better than your so-called vintage outfits better get them”. But I love my vintage outfits and understand when they say that the clothes for the shoot are so much better fitted to my body shape.
    I’m not going to change what I love but I hope to find a way to incorporate fitting clothes and vintage clothes into my fashion posts so it’s a balance. Otherwise, I guess everyone will have to get used to my style (which they used to anyways I’m wondering why the complaints, lol)

    Barbara
    http://www.barbara1923.com
    Lagos, Nigeria

    Reply
  15. Carly Maddox

    To others I have a certain style, but inside I sometimes I feel like I don’t! Truth is, I love all styles and want to experiment with them all, I can’t stick to one look. One day I want to dress urban and modern, the next day I want to dress like Stevie Nicks and then the next day I’m in an LBD and patent pumps. My mom said she was always the same way (she’s who I picked up my love for fashion from) and she tells me to embrace it, because it’s boring to see the same old thing everyday. I completely agree, because I’m influenced by so many types of music and films and style icons out there, so I want to apply it to my style! I always feel comfortable in what I wear, but then I read articles and hear people talk bad about girls like me who just love all styles! Maybe my style is experimenting with all styles! I just worry sometimes if it will negatively influence my blog…but I’m just gonna keep wearing what I like!

    http://walkintheparkblog.com/

    Reply
  16. ReZZaa

    You are right with ” don’t be afraid” as many are scared to try new thing and explore. Thanks for these tips I really have problem with sales as i end up buying things I don’t like 100%.

    http://www.rezzaa.com

    Reply