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The Style and Identity Connection

By | Style Tips

Have you ever thought about the message your clothes are conveying and the stories you’re telling with your current style?

There’s so much available to us now with endless choices and influences that it can sometimes be challenging to know what to wear. And with all of the external input, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our personal unique style should be a reflection of our identity, not the style that others dictate for us.

Is your style reflecting your identity?

We often base the way we dress on the roles we’re playing, and on the stories and beliefs we carry about ourselves. For example, when I was going through my teens I completely changed my identity from being a tomboy to becoming more girly.  By changing my interests and behaviour, it also shifted the way I dressed.

I’m guessing, when you get ready in the morning, you probably don’t even think about what identity you’re going to adopt that day. Like everyone else you likely just grab clothes and go! Unless of course you have an important event; then you might spend a little more time thinking about what you’re going to wear.

Generally though, on the surface it might seem like you don’t think that hard about what you’re wearing each day! But subconsciously you make a choice without even realizing it. Your choices are likely based on what you have planned for the day, what you like, how you feel, how you want to turn up, maybe what’s clean or what’s easy or what makes you feel confident or what fits, etc. And, in amongst it all, your choices are also based on who you are, your IDENTITY.

Clothes are an outward expression

The clothes you put on are an outward expression of who you are and how you feel about yourself and can speak a 1000 words even before you’ve opened your mouth. So, dress for the impression you want to make.

When you don’t like what you’re wearing it’s because somewhere it doesn’t feel like you or the woman you want to be. Our clothes should always resonate with us on every level.

There’s a lot of talk these days about being authentic and coming across authentically, but what does that actually mean? We can spend an endless amount of time pondering this question, and in the end twist ourselves up in so many knots and narratives about who we should or shouldn’t be and what we should or shouldn’t wear!

Dress as you want to be

When I work with my clients I keep it really simple and remove the ‘shoulds’. We get clear on what their values are, how they want to turn up, and what’s important to them. We work together to make sure the clothes they have reflect and support the best version of themselves in every situation.

For example, many of my clients at the moment are working from home and don’t feel comfortable wearing their usual office attire. But they also don’t feel comfortable wearing t-shirts and more lounge pieces. To make sure they’re still aligning and presenting professionally, we have added some soft tailoring pieces in their wardrobe that can be smart enough for a Zoom meeting, but casual enough to pick the kids up from school.

What you wear also influences people’s perception of you. Yes, maybe this shouldn’t matter because the most important person who needs to feel comfortable is you! But if you’re prospecting for clients or want to impress the boss then it does matter how you appear. People make preconceived ideas of who you are based purely on factors such as your appearance.

Unfortunately, this is a fact we can’t get away from, but how I like to see it is, use your clothes to your advantage, and dress in a way that gets you the results you want.

Clothing is like armour

Kids are an amazing example of how this works. Take my son – he loves wearing superhero t-shirts and as soon as he puts one on he of course feels like he’s invincible (it’s super cute!).

There have also been many studies on adults who were also told to put superhero t-shirts on, and they also took on the identity of the superhero. Doesn’t that make you want to buy a Wonder Woman t-shirt? : )

Have heard of the doctors’ lab coat experiment? People felt superior as soon as they put a white lab coat on and were told it was a doctor’s coat as opposed to a technician’s.

Using our clothes to our advantage to create the identity we want can be a powerful tool. For example, I have a client who’s starting a new job and wants to feel confident and feel like the leader that she is. So, we’ve created a signature style that reflects her personality and lifestyle but also encapsulates the identity that she wants to embody.

When we use our clothes in this way, to BE the person we want to be, over time this actually sends subconscious messages to our brain that allows us to naturally adopt the identity we want to take on.

Change your style, change your identity

When you change your style to be in alignment with who you really are, you create a healthy self-image, and your natural confidence automatically shines through.

To create a style that truly represents your identity, you need to focus on YOU. You need to know…

  1. How you want to show up
  2. What your style personality is and what you’re drawn to
  3. Your lifestyle and having clothes that reflect this.
  4. Your vision and goals

While you’re not the sum total of what you wear, you have to recognise that you can become what you wear. Wearing different styles of clothes has the power to change your identity and how others see you. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the clothes you put on.

If you’re ready to shift your mindset away from unconscious grab and go dressing and start embracing your unique style identity, my brilliant ‘How to Create Your Personal Style’ workshop is the perfect fit for you. This FREE 2-hour workshop really is the first and most powerful step you can take towards finding your Signature Style. There are two dates available, Saturday 1st or Sunday 2nd May. Click here and select the date you want to attend, and I’ll see you there!

Signature Style

How do You Create a Signature Style?

By | Style Tips

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…

  1. I can’t dress like her because I don’t have the perfect body
  2. I can’t dress how I want because I have kids
  3. They don’t make nice clothes in plus sizes
  4. 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.