How I’m Assessing and Refining My Personal Style

woman holds open Vogue magazine, totally obscuring her face. She sits in a possible office and wears a white blouse.

woman holds open Vogue magazine, totally obscuring her face. She sits in a possible office and wears a white blouse.

Have you ever felt the need to reassess and refine your personal style? How have you gone about the project — and what were the results? Here’s how I’ve been refining my personal style…

I’ve been going through my own personal style reassessment, and I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing — but I’d love to hear what your tips and experiences on the subject are.

(Possible trigger warning in that I am unhappy at my current weight and body style, and trying to come to terms with it, but still have a ways to go. If you love your body no matter what size it is, you have my admiration and respect!)

{related: how to do a complete wardrobe revamp}

My First Step to Refining My Personal Style: I Threw All Constraints out the Window

Because I spend so much time Internet shopping, the first game I played with myself was: what would I want to buy if I had an unlimited budget, it came in my size, and I had a place to wear it? I tried to throw out “how to dress your body” rules I’ve learned through the years and really just focus on what products I thought were cool. I started saving evening gowns, t-shirts, lingerie, dresses — whatever. A Pinterest board would have been helpful here, but I just saved the product images to a folder on my desktop.

I did this for months. (It helped that it was the pandemic and I legitimately had nowhere to go, so this sort of sated the urge to shop, to the extent our blog content doesn’t already fulfill that need.)

{related: how to cultivate style (vs. trend, vs. frump)}

Step 2: I Looked for Patterns

Finally, I opened up the folder and started pulling the pieces into individual folders. There was “Fancy Kat” for evening gowns and cocktail dresses. There was “sexy Kat” for stuff that I’d wear on dates with my husband. There was “working Kat” for workwear I’d buy for networking things, conferences, or the like. There was “mom Kat” that ended up being some beautiful basic clothes that I could see wearing to school pickup or on a family vacation or out to a family brunch — not too sexy, not to businessy.

There were a lot of leftover pieces that I still loved, but didn’t really fit into the other folders — they were a sometimes bold, sometimes sharp-edged, sometimes a little wacky. I ended up calling the folder “That Girl Kat,” because they were all the kinds of clothes you’d admire on a stranger — i.e., “did you see That Girl?” or “I must find a dress like the one That Girl was wearing.”

(These were just my categories and how things broke out when I looked at the images I’d saved — you may end up with totally different folders. This kind of comes back to the idea of “the weekend you,” named after a chapter in a book by Elsa Klensch where she noted that many women executives she knew had a totally different clothing personality on weekends, such as “Daisy in Great Gatsby.”)

I essentially ended up making myself a vision board — this is what it looked like:

vision board Kat made of style she likes

{related: how to get your style groove back}

Step 3: I Tried to See What Pieces I Owned Already Fit Those Patterns

This, again, was more of a desktop exercise because I try to save the product images for everything I buy for myself and the kids, with notes about size and the price I paid (including the non-discounted price if I feel like it’s relevant).

This was particularly interesting because it absolutely helped me refine my style and things that I’d been willy-nilly buying. Some things (that I didn’t wear often or just never “felt right” went in the Goodwill pile almost immediately.

(As someone who tends to hold onto clothes well past their expiration date, that’s saying something!)

The Result: New Lenses

Do I have an entirely new wardrobe now? No — but I feel like I’ve given myself new lenses with which to view myself and my style, and in some cases the courage to try things that might have seemed a bit out there previously. (Such as all the leather/leather-look pants I’ve bought recently!) It’s also given me some new ideas for items to pair together, and a better idea of the general “vibe” I want when I’m putting together an outfit.

{related: how to make an outfit look put together}

Readers, what are your thoughts? Have you ever felt the need to reassess your personal style, and/or refine it? How have you gone about the project — and what were the results?

{related: tips on creating a capsule wardrobe for work}

Stock photo via Stencil.

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