How to Find Your Personal Style
Finding a dress you love or the perfect pair of shoes is easy. Too easy, even. But when it comes to landing on a signature look you actually feel comfortable in every single day? Not so simple. That's why we asked our friends—who work in different areas of the fashion industry and who have very different closets—exactly how they discovered their own personal styles (and why the trial, error, and occasional outfit regret are all worth it).
“When I was younger, I would see celebrities or models wearing things and try to emulate them, but it just never really worked for my body type. Embracing your features and figuring out what you want to show off is a *major key* to discovering your personal style. I try my best to stay true to myself, but also respectful of any occasions and situations that I am in—meaning, there’s an appropriate time and place for everything you want to wear. While I always violated my school uniform in some way, I would never wear destroyed denim shorts to my office (even though these are a summer staple of mine). I think working in fashion has helped me adapt. It’s actually fun to come up with outfits that work for a variety of occasions but still feel like me.” —Danielle Prescod, Lifestyle Editor at BET
“My style is definitely still evolving, but only in this last year have I really landed on an aesthetic I feel comfortable in. Give me a wide leg pant or boyfriend jean, a pair of sneakers and a fun top, and I'm set. I think the best way to find your style is by trying out anything that interests you. I went through phases of only skirts and dresses with heels, then phases with only jeans and t-shirts. I've now landed somewhere in the middle where I feel comfortable every day. Trying out a trend you like on someone else is the only way you're going to be able to figure out if you like it on yourself.”—Marissa Smith, Fashion Market Editor at NYLON
"Since I can remember, my personal style has been more directly influenced by celebrity muses than by what's happening on the runways. The OC premiered during high school, and I remember falling hard for Marissa Cooper's Chanel bags and pointy-toed flats—to the point where I made a scrapbook filled with photos of all her outfits (!). Once I headed off to NYU and started my first fashion magazine internship, I became obsessed with Alexa Chung. Nowadays, my style is more classically feminine and polished—and heavily influenced by Taylor Swift, whose outfits I first began following during her 2012 Red era. Like her, I live in fit-and-flare dresses, matching sets, and fitted turtlenecks and tees. Heeled ankle booties and ladylike bags are my accessories of choice (plus a red lip and winged eyeliner, of course)."—Elana Fishman, Entertainment Editor at Racked
“I think the process of finding your ‘style’ is as important as actually feeling like you've discovered it—how I dressed in middle school, high school, and college were all wildly different, and very different than how I dress now, but I'm glad to have gone through all those phases. As I got more into fashion, my style became more contrarian; I really didn't want to wear what everyone else did, and that opened me up to a lot of shady comments. I developed this tactic (that I still use today!) that when people ask me 'What even are those shoes?’ or ‘Whoa, those pants are really weird,’ I talk about why I like them so much. It's much harder to hate on something when someone's just told you a little story about them. Plus, it helps you spread the fashion gospel. You might know that clothes can do much more than help you fit in or look 'normal,' but not everyone else does!"—Connie Wang, Fashion Features Director at Refinery29
“I had no style when I was younger and cared very little about fashion until I was about 18. Since I didn't have years to cultivate a fashion identity, I went through heavy phases from late high school through college, influenced mostly by Japanese street style. Think lots of black, Dr. Martens, and topknots. Now I work in international wholesale for fashion labels and am required to wear the brand's collection as a part of my job. It's certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone, and at first I often felt like I wasn't dressing in a way that wasn't me. I'd actually ask myself if I was trying to be someone I wasn't. As I've gotten older, I've realized that it's actually the best part of my job! It's kept me open to different interpretations of style and I am constantly challenged to see clothing from many different lenses. Now I have an anything-goes mentality when it comes to fashion and my personal style."—Nancy Kim, International Sales at Opening Ceremony
“I think my look is always evolving. It started out as preppy because I grew up in Westchester, New York where Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, and Juicy Couture were the norm. By the time I moved to New York City and I was living downtown, it became edgier. Now as I'm getting older (and having worked at Bazaar for five years), my style is somewhere in between. I try to go for more classic pieces that I know I'll wear for a long time. But most importantly, I stay focused on things that I really feel good and confident in, like a fit-and-flare dress or high-waisted jeans with a bodysuit—and I repeat them! I love the idea of having a uniform. And I still like to have fun and experiment with bold outerwear and statement accessories—I'm growing a little collection of leopard footwear."—Chrissy Rutherford, Senior Digital Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar