5 min read

We’ve all been there: you slept in a little bit later than expected, took a little bit longer in the shower, and now you need to choose what to wear before rushing out the house. You’ll probably grab your go-to outfit, that pair of jeans you like, a blouse, and a leather jacket. Maybe you’ll choose a two-piece suit with a sporty tank top. We all have that one outfit we always go back to.

In our daily lives, often we simply do not have the time to think too much about the things we do and the choices we make. Instead, we must rely on our intuition, which has been honed through practice and repetition. You know that go-to outfit is comfortable and professional enough for work, all while being suitable for the restaurant you’ll be meeting your friends at in the evening. Personal style is often intuitive - you know what you like, what feels right, and what looks good on you.

But as that intuition relies on a familiar set of circumstances, a disruption of that norm may call into question how we approach getting dressed, having taken its habitualness for granted. The ongoing upheaval of our daily lives and routines by newly implemented practices like social distancing, working from home, and self-isolation, present an opportunity: in times of change, habits become more discernible, and that self-awareness can be vital in implementing positive changes. It is no exception when it comes to personal style: what better opportunity than now to reassess your wardrobe, and develop an in-depth understanding of it, that will ultimately allow you to develop your style in a positive manner. 

 

  Woman's 3-tone dress on abstract backdrop

 

Assessing your wardrobe and styling habits

Art Critics, Philosophers, and religious practitioners alike engage in deep thought and investigation of their subjects. Be it the study of a painting, a theoretical proposition, or spiritual prose, the resulting contemplation brings about both personal insight and deeper understanding of the subject. And while sitting on your floor in front of your closet isn’t nearly as glamorous as studying the Mona Lisa, taking the time to refamiliarize yourself with your wardrobe is an important first step to understanding and developing your personal style.

Under normal circumstances: what do you find yourself wearing most frequently? What do you gravitate towards when you want to feel comfortable? When you’re going out? When you need to be formal? What about when you go to work?

Take note of everything you own: your pants, your jackets, your tops, your shoes, your accessories. Breakdown what you wear on the daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Your daily wardrobe likely centers itself around specific key pieces, even across the different settings you have to dress for. Identifying them is important, as they act as the foundation of your wardrobe.

These key pieces tend to be versatile, both in the ways they can be styled and in the occasions they can be worn. Then, ask yourself what about those pieces have made them staples in your wardrobe? Maybe they’re very comfortable, they’re unique and capture your personality and style, or maybe they’re simple and can be worn in many ways. Identifying the “What” in your core wardrobe will help you find more pieces that can be used in the same way.

 

      
Woman reflecting seaside

 

Strategizing your purchasing habits and expanding you wardrobe

With the insight gained by breaking down your styling habits, you can now start the process of assessing how to develop your closet. If you have your key pieces as your core wardrobe, consider the types of pieces you have and would like to have as secondary pieces to be worn in conjunction with the core ones. Your wardrobe is a puzzle, and instead of buying up random pieces and hoping they fit in, you know what pieces are missing, and can identify them as needed. Given the impact of fast fashion and overconsumption, refining not only your wardrobe, but your shopping habits, can be beneficial in a number of ways. 

Those key staples in your wardrobe? Why not choose to invest in high quality, well constructed versions of them? You know that you’ll use them on the day-to-day, and their quality will extend their longevity.  For some people this means buying a solid pair of boots, a sustainably produced denim jacket, or chic versatile dress. Versatility is key, as it means you can style something for many different occasions, be it work-related, a more formal occasion, or a casual outing.

Regardless, quality and longevity allow you to wear pieces for a longer period of time and slow down your purchasing rate, giving you time to research and invest in brands that align with your values. This type of approach is about being intentional from a practical perspective; it allows you to make informed, calculated, and intentional decisions based on practical and physical characteristics of your wardrobe.

 

      
Mother of Pearl; celebrating individuality & authenticity

 

Embodying authenticity and personal empowerment

You can be intentional in how you dress in ways that are more than just practical.

Do you ever see a look on the runway that gives you chills? Or have memories of a loved one dressed a certain way that instills comfort or familiarity? Or even just a special feeling you get when wearing a certain outfit? The artistry of fashion speaks to our emotions and feelings, in a way that can be used to your advantage.

Firstly consider what you feel: whether that's comfort, empowerment, pride, beauty, etc.  while wearing certain outfits, and take that understanding and apply it to how you plan your outfits. Identifying elements of your style that bring on these specific feelings will allow you to put together outfits that are personally rewarding for you to wear. The artistry and visual nature of fashion is also visible to those around you.

Finding and embodying a style that's genuine and personal, effectively translates confidence into the eyes of others. Depending on the occasion and the audience, you can manifest different sides of yourself through your outfit. Whether you’re going to a job interview, a first date, or meeting up with friends, authenticity is important and how you dress can be key in embodying that.  

 


Female wearing a white dress by Mother of Pearl

 

Finding brands that align with your values, both stylistically and ethically

Another dimension of the artistic nature of fashion is that, like with other forms of art, you can choose to support artists that resonate with you. If a particular designer creates pieces that you think are thought-provoking and interesting, purchasing them and supporting their craft is important.

This is where supporting brands that align with your values comes into play. Whether that's supporting high-quality craftsmanship, sustainable production, or unique creative visions and designs, you’ll feel much better investing in a piece of clothing you know was developed in a way that aligns with your values and tastes.

Ultimately asking these questions and contemplating your styling tendencies will allow you to uncover what preferences have become key in your habits while making decisions on what to wear. These preferences, both practical, emotional, ethical, and artistic, now being explicit, will allow you to transform what may have been a seemingly gut decision of choosing what to wear, into a more intentional understanding of how you want to present yourself and how you want to feel, all through your outfits. Slowing down and contemplating your values and habits will allow for your personal style to become intentional in a way that is both practically beneficial and personally empowering.


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