Do you know why the likes of Amal Clooney, Meghan Markle and Katie Holmes all look amazing? Ok yes, they might have a brilliant stylist, but if you look carefully you’ll see they all have a signature style.
Every time you see them photographed there’s always a synergy with what they’re wearing, and they look extremely well put together.
These ladies know what they like and have a style personality that’s the perfect match with their lifestyles. They don’t necessarily follow trends, but when they do, it’s a trend that works for them and suits their physical appearance.
Take Amal Clooney for example. You’ll instantly see that she always looks well-polished and put together. She definitely dresses to impress whether she’s going to a courtroom or hanging out with her kids and gorgeous hubby. There’s a synergy with what she wears that oozes sophisticated chic – clean, feminine tailored silhouettes, minimalistic jewellery (often earrings rather than necklaces) and a bold lipstick to accentuate her pouty lips. Head to toe she always looks a million dollars.
What is a signature style?
Many might describe signature style as a uniform, but I beg to differ. Uniforms remind me of what I wore to school in the UK; polyester shirt with a navy and green striped tie, navy pleated skirt and a cheap navy V-neck sweater with the school emblem. We all looked like clones!
The way I look at signature style is that it’s an outward translation of who you are on the inside. Our clothing is our second skin that shows the world who we are. It needs to complement our first skin and our lives, and not dominate or become the only focal point.
“Our clothes should make us feel like our best version of ourselves and create a memorable and authentic image.”
Something I believe and share with my clients are the five key components to creating your signature style. Some will be obvious and others less so.
Let’s take a look at each of them…
Component 1: Mindset
Quite frankly I think this is the most important of the five components, and something you may not have even considered when it comes to your style. However, your mindset is the thing that will have the greatest impact on how you dress.
From believing you’re worth investing in, to challenging the idea that some women are just more stylish than others, how you think about these things will determine the style choices you make. Of course, it also depends whether your personal style is a priority to you (if it’s not that’s absolutely fine). But if it is something you prioritise, you’ll be far more willing to invest the time, money and effort aligning your style to who you are.
The most common disconnect I see in women when it comes to mindset, is that they want to prioritise their personal style but come up with a million excuses that hold them back, such as…
- I can’t dress like her because I don’t have the perfect body
- I can’t dress how I want because I have kids
- They don’t make nice clothes in plus sizes
- To have a great wardrobe I need lots of money
I could go on and on!
It’s easy to look at super stylish women and think it’s a breeze for them because they have great figures, they have more money or they have more time, and if I had all of that it would be easy for me too.
But that simply isn’t true. There’s no such thing as effortless style; it takes work and commitment.
Style comes when you care
Style doesn’t come when you have all your ducks in a row. It comes when you care about how you look and decide to make it a priority. And if style isn’t your priority at the moment, there’s no shame in that.
But you can’t say your style is a priority for you and then not put any effort in – that’s where the disconnect lies. Your actions need to match your mindset.
Recently after giving birth I kept feeling crap about the way I looked and blamed it on all the baby weight I’d put on (chocolate bar regret felt very real!!). I kept thinking, “I need to lose weight before I can dress how I want”. I was giving myself a hard time, but in reality there was a disconnect because I wasn’t actually making much effort with looking my best – I was lucky if I had time to wash my hair!
As soon I came to terms with the fact that my appearance wasn’t my priority at that time, I freed myself up to focusing on what really mattered, which was adapting to life with a new member in our family and being a family of 4.
Now I’m back at work my priority has shifted again. My body isn’t quite back to how it was pre-pregnancy, but I’m not hung up on it, because I’m doing something about it. I’m putting in the time, money and investment and wearing clothes that flatter me best.
How do you feel getting dressed?
To find out how you really feel about your style, think about how you feel getting dressed every morning. Do you just see it as a chore, or do you see it as part of your self-care and self-expression? How do you feel about the clothes you put on every morning? These feelings are important as they set the tone for your day.
How highly do you prioritise your self-image?
Granted self-image won’t always be a top priority for everyone, and that’s absolutely fine. But if it is something you’re not happy with, do you believe you can learn about and stretch your style muscles? Are you willing to put the effort and time in and not make excuses?
Once you’ve given yourself permission to make your self-image a priority, you can then consider the next components.
Component 2: Personality
Like anything you do, you need to have a vision of how you want to look and what message you want to convey.
Think about it this way. If you were decorating a home, you wouldn’t just start randomly buying every piece of furniture you like. First you’d think about what kind of space you want to create and the mood – are you going for antique or shabby chic, or a cleaner minimalistic look? Then you’d buy furniture that’s to your taste and adds a finesse that makes you feel good about the room.
It’s the same with your style. Your style should translate who you are on the inside to how you look on the outside. (I’ll be exploring this in more detail in my upcoming blog, ‘How to Look Effortlessly Stylish’.)
Component 3: Lifestyle
Do you often hear yourself saying you have nothing to wear? Well, this is because your wardrobe is not entirely matching your lifestyle. Your clothes need to be functional for your everyday activities, but more often than not we end up with a wardrobe that sways more to one aspect of our lives than the others.
Next time you have a few minutes spare, record how your week is broken down. For example, are you 60% at work, 20% doing sports and 20% socialising. Then look at your wardrobe; does it represent how your time is split? When your wardrobe is aligned with your lifestyle you’ll find it’s more cohesive and easier to dress every morning.
Component 4: Physical Characteristics
Quite simply, this is knowing what suits your body shape, skin tone and features. Be true to yourself and don’t look at how you hope to dress if you were a few sizes smaller or bigger. Dress for the body and skin you have now because believe me, it’s the one you’ll be wishing you had in 10-years’ time!
Use clothes to your advantage as they can really accentuate and elevate your assets and minimize any less than desirable aspects.
Learning how to dress for your body and knowing what colours to wear is a long-term investment that can be a big game changer.
Component 5: Essential Pieces for a Signature Style
This goes hand in hand with lifestyle. Every woman needs to have staple pieces in her wardrobe that she can dress up or down, and that truly reflect her personality and lifestyle.
From my experience, one reason women struggle with building multiple outfits is because they lack good basics. Avoid trends unless it’s one that you can pull off and will last many seasons in your wardrobe.
If you look at the women who dress with style and ease and look comfortable in their skin, you’ll see how they use the right essential pieces that become part of their staple look.
Another point to remember is that your essential pieces don’t need to break the bank! Always remember to buy the best quality and mix high and low prices. For example, I spend around 30CHF on white t-shirts because I know they’ll wear out quickly. I’ll buy a few of them as they’re part of my signature style, but I also wear a lot of blazers and these will vary in price range. I have high priced ones as well as a couple from Zara that are timeless.
“The key to making a signature look work year after year, is to be consistent but not fall entirely into a rut” – stylist Kate Young
Once you’ve done all the hard work with establishing and building your signature style, you need to ensure you keep it current.
I’m not a believer of constantly shopping, but sometimes some styles do get outdated or look worn out. Just keep this in mind and always be on the lookout for a replacement.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Anne Klein…
“Clothes aren’t going to change the world. The women who wear them will.”
If you’re ready to create a signature style and would like to discuss these component parts in more detail, I’m here to help! Book yourself in for a style consultation and we can talk things through together.