Developing personal style (that reflects who you are)
Recently in a talk , Daniel Boey talked about how clothing is what we say about who we are to others before saying a word. He argued hat you wear should ideally reflect what you believe in, or what your personality is like.
For example, Aimee Cheng Bradshaw - former participant of Asia's next top model mode; and the talk's guest speaker has a sporty but also sexy style. She is someone who is fun and easy going, but also sexy, and cares about healthy and balanced lifestyle. You can see that it translates to her style.
These are four points that summarise what Daniel said about curating a style :
Find people who inspire you and see how they present themselves through their style
Find a signature and do not be afraid to try anything
Play to your strengths - know your body type
Trust your instinct - you will know what feels good and right.
This list was not at all foreign or a new concept to me because I had already been curious and drawn to having personal style the moment I let go of my high school uniform, and gained the freedom of wearing.. well.. whatever I want.
Being in fashion school also helped, in a sense, because it is not silly to think about what you want to wear, or what that means, or what does that represent about you. Also, a lot of people in the school are unapologetically themselves in their unique “uniform” that it inspired me to find what my idea outfit will look like, and what my style is.
I had previously read a book called The Curated Closet that helped me so much in terms of finding out what I like and -rather than what- how to buy clothes. Some of the points in the book are not unlike the ones Daniel Boey said, and since, I have some experience implementing those points, I want to share how I went through those steps (cause it's fun to talk about) and maybe it might help you on your way to find your style as well.
I think the first thing to know before storming ZARA or saving many different things to your pinterest board is to get to know yourself. What is your current styling habit and why do you do them?
I am used to dressing modestly because of the society in Indonesia.
I do not like being in the center of attention unless I feel like I need to be or I deserve it which is why I do not wear clothes with loud prints or even eye-catching slogan or logo.
I am a low maintenance person so I do not buy fabric that needs extra care like silk or easily wrinkled such as linen. Cotton and cotton-mix pieces are my go-to.
I am not a bag/accessories person I have a couple of neutral colored bag so I don't have to think whether my bag can go with the outfit of the day. Also, the only accessories I wear is a simple cross necklace from my mom.
Now, moving to the step number one to curating a style is to find inspirations! I think with instagram and pinterest, and the ability to mix and match everything, we tend to not have a specific person whose style we 100% like and want to adopt, but if you start saving the looks you like from different people or brands you follow, you can get a pattern of what interests you from these people.
For me, my ultimate style inspiration is Jeanne Damas.
She got me into trying and loving many clothing items namely long dark wide legged pants with boots combo, semi bootcut cropped pants with short block heels combo, wrap dresses, and square necked tight fitting top, and stripes tee and jeans.
I love her simplicity in dressing and even in make-up and hairdo. She is sexier in nature than I am, but a lot of the cut that works for her surprisingly worked for me too! So, who is it that you’ve been admiring in terms of style, dare to see if you can pull off their signature items?
Now, segway into the part where Daniel talked about signature items. Truthfully, I have yet to complete in my own journey, to be perfectly honest. However, if we are going to talk about signature color, then mine is navy. I have two weeks’ worth of navy clothes in my closet!
The third step is "to know your body type and play your strength."
I used to think that if a clothing looked odd or just did not look right on me, then it would be my body’s fault. No more of that! When a style does not fit, it is not your style nor it is the end of the world. Try other things, even the length of the hem can matter when it comes to finding clothes that flatter your body. Most clothes are not meant for everybody, but thankfully there are so so so many clothes out there that there must be some that look like they were meant for you.
Clothes that look like they were meant for me are those that put emphasis on my waist and take away the emphasis from my shoulder and my thighs. The “goal” is often to make you look more proportioned and show your “best” part.
For me, mid rise pants, with flare at the bottom always work.
A-line skirt and dresses also work.
Square necked tops or shirt that covers me to the base of my neck both work, but I have to be careful with V-neck and square neck tops.
A t-shirt for me cannot be baggy for it to look good in my own judgement so, Brandy Melville t-shirts work better for me than oversized street style t-shirts.
I do agree with Daniel Boey's final point.
Don't worry when shopping because you will know when a clothing is 100% you.
Once you find something and you look in the mirror and feel great in it, instead of wishing something was different, whether it’s your body or some parts of the clothing, you know when to buy or when to browse around. There are many brands out there that produce similar cute tops to the one you’re holding on in that changing room, and if you want it, but with slight differences here or there- you can find it if you want. You are not missing a thing if you do not buy that cute top right away when it does not fit perfectly 😃
I hope you can take away something if not at least entertainment from this piece. If you are curious about finding personal style as well, I would remind again to go back to YOU, not the trend or celebrities, but how you want to show your personalities and values. Also, HAVE FUN.
I attended a talk with my whole class called personal branding through styling. The father of fashion in Singapore, Daniel Boey was main speaker, accompanied by guest speakers model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw and musician, Houg.