How to find your signature style – a step-by-step guide

So, you want to find your signature style, huh? Sweet! You’re in the right place. We’re going to break it all down in this article so you can begin this journey. Yes, journey. Because while I know you’re probably in a hurry to figure this out, it’s not like you just flip a switch and have it all figured out.

Yes, you’ll have a framework. But like anything worth mastering… it takes time before it looks and feels effortless. Thankfully, unlike learning the violin, this can be fun for you (and won’t bother the people you’re sharing a space with!)

First thing’s first: What even IS a signature style?

While it’s not easy to find a definition, think of signature style like the consistent “essence” you display through the clothes you wear. It becomes something people know you for. 

For example, have you ever stumbled across an item of clothing and it reminded you of a friend, seeming like something they’d wear? 

It’s not because it’s an item they literally wear. Or that they wear the same thing every day. But there’s something about it that *feels* like them. That’s probably because they have a signature style you’ve become familiar with.

Oh, and before you start worrying about how you’ll do it because you’re just not a naturally stylish person: Firstly, no one is “born” stylish. It’s something they’ve developed over time from experimenting, educating themselves, becoming aware of what they feel good in and what suits them. 

The same applies to developing a signature style. See it like a new project you’re going to work on rather than something that magically clicks into place. Deal?

The benefits of having a signature style

There are sooo many reasons having a signature style is awesome, but the biggest ones are:

  • Getting dressed faster each day
  • Easily pulling together outfits for any occasion
  • Feeling more confident in your clothes
  • Saving money on clothes that would have gathered dust
  • Shopping is easier and way more fun
  • Being able to express yourself through what you wear!

“But Kat… how do I know if I have a signature style or not?!”

I’m glad you asked! The following are signs you don’t yet have one:

  • It takes you ages to get dressed each day
  • You don’t have any “go-to” clothing stores
  • Your style is fully dictated by what’s in fashion
  • You never feel comfortable in what you wear
  • You find yourself wishing you could dress like someone else
  • Your wardrobe feels very random and disconnected
  • If you ask 3 people to describe your style, their answers are all different

Right. If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing you’re ready to get to work. So let’s do this!

Side note: you’re going to need to do some writing in order to get the clarity you’re looking for, so now’s the time to whip out a notepad and pen (or the Notes app) and start doing a brain dump on the following prompts…

STEP 1: Assess what you already own

Go to your wardrobe and look for the pieces you’re naturally drawn to. 

  • Which are the ones you wear over and over again?
  • Which ones make you feel the most confident?
  • Which ones get you the most compliments?

Write them all down!

STEP 2: Think about your dream wardrobe

If you had an unlimited budget what would you buy? What shops do you find yourself naturally drawn to (but avoiding due to budget)? Is there a particular label or designer you always adore?

What is it about these labels/pieces? The fabrics? The colors? The cuts? The vibe? Be as specific as possible.

Notice any connections between what you own and what you wish you could own? What do they have in common? This will give us some clues as to your natural instincts!

STEP 3: Take a look at your favorite style icons

Which celebrities have the kind of style you adore? Is there someone who always looks perfect (in your eyes) and wears pieces you’d die to own?

Who are they and more importantly, how would you describe their style? (For instance, Gwen Stefani is modern rockabilly, Brigitte Bardot is French chic)

You may be drawn to a couple of celebrities with different signature styles and that’s great! This isn’t about taking on someone else’s style, but finding a way to define your own.

STEP 4: Think about how you’d like to be perceived

Our signature style allows us to express our personality before we even open our mouths, so now It’s time to think about what kind of impression you want to make.

  • How do you want people to describe you and your style?
  • What would the best compliments be?
  • What are some keywords you wish people would use?

STEP 5: Create a living mood board for yourself

Hopefully at this point, those first 4 steps left with you with a ton of ideas and “keywords” that are starting to point you in the right direction. So let’s bring this to life and create a way for you to actually visualize your style coming together.

Part 1) Head to Pinterest and create a board (it can be a secret one) where you’ll be saving your visual inspiration. Now it’s time to go down the Pinterest rabbit hole!

Set a timer for 30 minutes (or more if you want) and try searching for things like…

  • The labels or shops you love
  • The pieces you’re drawn to
  • Your favorite celebrities
  • [style descriptor] outfits e.g. French chic outfits, glam rock outfits

As you scroll the results, save anything to the board that catches your eye. No need to edit yet – this should be purely instinctual.

Part 2) Once you’re finished (you may want to do this in a few sessions to collect enough “data”) it’s time to start refining.

Open up your board and really take it all in. Make notes on what you see — what keeps popping up? What are some words you’d use to describe the themes of this board?

This is also where you can start deleting. Noticing anything that doesn’t belong or feel right now it’s here? Things you chose because they look like what you own even though you don’t actually like them?

Once you’ve removed the excess, it’s time for inventory #2. Make note of:

  • Colors that were repeated
  • Pieces you chose more than once
  • Cuts you kept choosing
  • Any wow pieces you coveted

If you had to describe the overall style in just a sentence, what would you say?

For instance: It’s feminine 50s with a rock edge

Or: It’s like Jessica Rabbit if she grew up in Alabama in the 80s (lol try and visualize it!)

Your answer is the beginnings of your signature style! ?? Beginnings because it needs time to develop and become your own. Right now it may feel a bit over-simplified or cliché. Hang in there – we’re right on track.

STEP 6: Cross-reference your findings with what you already own

Cold hard truth time. How close is your current wardrobe to being able to support your signature style WIP?

In particular:

  • What pieces are missing?
  • What pieces need “friends”? (Don’t make full outfits)
  • Is the color palette on track? (We wrote a whole article on wardrobe color palettes here)
  • Do you have what you need for all occasions?
  • Do the fabrics feel good?

And most importantly: Which pieces need to go? (Our post on decluttering will definitely help)

Aside from throwing out the stuff that doesn’t support your signature style, I want you to do one more thing. Write a “no more buying this” list.

On that list should be the colors, fabrics, pieces and even shops you will now avoid. No more wasting money on anything that doesn’t make you feel amazing!

If you’re left with a bit of a sad and empty wardrobe, you can also create your signature style Wishlist. Any key pieces you need in order to be able to create the go-to outfits you pulled together on Pinterest.

STEP 7: Assign your signature pieces

Often it’s only one or two elements that actually “make” a signature look. So the question now is… what are they?

Go back to your notes from the Pinterest board. What are the non-negotiables? For instance: a tailored blazer and cigarette pants. Or a va va voom pencil skirt and 50s style cardigan. Maybe it’s a leather jacket and the perfect soft white tee.

Add them to your Wishlist and make sure you budget for them. Being signature pieces, quality is much more important than quality. They’ll allow for “high low” dressing (a couple of cheap or even thrifted items paired with one or two high-quality pieces) which is a trick even celebrities use.

STEP 8: Pick a signature ingredient

Some days you may not feel like pulling a full outfit together. Or the occasion means your go-to signature outfits won’t work. So what is the one thing you could add as a little wink to just about everything you wear?

Is it a statement earring? Is it a hint of floral? Is it a leopard print item? A trusty pair of Converse? A neon purse?

Having one signature ingredient is both fun and a really easy way of feeling pulled together and more confident – even on blah days.

STEP 9: Intentionally create outfits in advance

Trust me when I say that all of this work will be for nothing if you don’t pre-prepare your outfit options. Because on those days you’re in a rush, you’ll be tempted to wear what you always do – simply because you don’t have any no-brainer options yet.

That is EXACTLY why we created The ‘drobe app. So you can do the work once and then never have to think about it again!

Go check out our article on how to get started (the app is free to download FYI) and upload all of your signature style essentials.

Once your items are there, you can have some fun “designing” your go-to outfits for all occasions. This is also a really easy way of seeing that you’re missing a key piece because when you go to create outfits you may find yourself going “damn, if only I had a belt I could add to this” or “this outfit needs a better pair of jeans!”

Now when you get ready each day, you can open up The ‘drobe, pick an occasion, and swipe through your outfit options ’til you have one you feel like wearing.

No more standing blankly in front of the wardrobe for 20 minutes only to wear the same thing you did yesterday!

STEP 10: Experiment + have fun!

As I mentioned earlier, this is a journey. You’ll never have to do all of this work again (unless you really want to) but it’s now about owning this style, developing it further and really paying attention to what makes you feel good.

In time, you may find yourself getting bolder and wanting to push your style limits. Or you may end up wanting to get rid of most of what you own and creating a simple capsule wardrobe.

Whatever happens, you’re well on your way to feeling more confident, more stylish, and spending LESS MONEY on clothes because you have an actual style. YAY FOR YOU!!

Keep us posted on your progress by tagging @thedrobeapp on IG if you’re ever sharing an outfit of the day pic. We’d love to see you rocking your signature look!

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