The first, and arguably most important step to cultivating your personal style is the inspiration step. This step will help guide you in deciding what you are drawn to, what you think is glamorous, and what you’ll want to translate into your own wardrobe.
For example, when I was in junior high, I used to live for bright colored rave pants and platform sneakers (what, it was the 90s), but the minute I became a high school cheerleader, suddenly I was wearing Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts, and denim skirts like every other 16 year old girl. The truth was, I had become inspired by my peers, and the sound of my own drummer quickly faded into the background.
If I would have had a bit more inspiration (aside from Seventeen magazine and Dawson’s Creek) maybe this would have been less likely to happen. Now, inspiration can be found nearly everywhere. For example:
- Fashion magazines. This seems like an obvious one, but I’m talking about going beyond Teen Vogue and Elle and checking out edgier magazines such as Interview and V. Or better yet, see if you can get your hands on foreign versions of your favorite magazines.
- Fashion blogs. This world is full of amazing style in all budgets and prices ranges. If you have a thing for high fashion, there are blogs for that. Vintage? You’re covered. The options are absolutely endless.
- Pinterest. It’s amazing how Pinterest has changed the way we get inspiration. We can not only search and find tons of inspiring looks, but we can also keep it organized in one place. (P.S. Follow me here)
- Style books. I love my collection of style books, I’m constantly pouring over them again and again to get new inspiration, and to find new ways to put looks together. Some of my favorites are: Lauren Conrad Style, A to Zoe by Rachel Zoe, The 100 by Nina Garcia, but there are a ton out there.
- Movies. Netflix has an amazing collection of old movies. I absolutely love spending rainy days watching musicals or old film noir pieces. It’s impossible not to be inspired by some. Try: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Love Story, Gentleman Prefer Blonds, Bonnie and Clyde.
- *I also secretly love to watch Disney and ABC Family movies, the girls always seem so put together and fun, I can’t help but pull inspiration from it!
- Library. When I was a kid I checked out old style books from the library constantly. Better yet, see if your library has copies of old style magazines.
- Street style. Some of my favorite New York style moments come from people watching. Not in a big city? Not a problem. Whenever I go back to Montana, I find myself inspired there as well, from the look of classic cowboys, to natural stone accessories. Just start to observe and you never know what you’ll start to find!
- Your own closet. I know that when you have your favorite pieces, other things tend to get pushed to the back of your closet and you forget you have them (I have several vintage dresses that haven’t seen daylight in months to prove it), but if you take a few minutes to go back through and rediscover what you have, you may find yourself inspired all over again!
So now what? You know where to look, you’re starting to find inspiration everywhere you turn, but how do you keep it all straight? How do you make sure that you remember that amazing dashiki you saw in a library book?
- Keep copies of everything! Before I ever toss out a magazine I clip anything that might be inspirational. If I’ve checked out a library book and there is something I can’t get over, I’ll make sure to make a copy before I return it. I keep everything in one place, like a binder or a big manila folder (I love the chaos in organization). You could also try making an inspiration board and put it somewhere you’ll see it all the time (like your closet!)
- Make a list. I recently went through all of my style books with sticky notes and a pen. Any time I thought of something I would love in my closet, I wrote it on the sticky and put it on the page.
- Start taking pictures. I’m constantly taking pictures on my iPhone (and not just of my cat), if I see colors together I like, clothes I’ve tried on but am not sure I want to buy, someone on the street I admire, whatever. It’s my favorite part of technology.
- Keep a journal! Gala Darling has an awesome suggestion about keeping a style journal where you can write down your thoughts on style, put pictures in it, etc.
So, here’s the challenge. Now that you have a couple ideas of where you can get some inspiration, your job is to go do it! I want you to get out there and start getting inspired. Don’t be shy about it, this is a time for you to reflect on exactly who it is that you want to be.
I suggest you do one other thing while you are embarking on this journey to become inspired. And that is to not shop. I know, that can sound really hard and annoying. But trust me on this one. Reflection takes time and although you may see a really awesome pink blazer that you feel like you need to have, in a weeks time you may realize that the style you’re drawn to is deep muted tones and the pink blazer would have ended up in the back of your closet.
The great thing about inspiration and personal style is that it is constantly changing. This inspiration phase may last a week, but dressing inspired is a lifelong activity that you’ll always be working at developing. The important thing is that you feel comfortable, happy, and like you!
Next Week- Cultivating Your Personal Style, Step 2: Get Organized!