How to find your own style

Garments of fabric were first used as protection against nature and then matured to identification of personality and status. All countries and cultures have their own antiquity that has continued to present abstract concepts like status and values through fashion. Wealth and Power is often displayed through the luxurious textures of thick soft fur and ethereally carved jewels with brutal origins. Political beliefs and lifestyles are cleverly presented in silhouettes, hairstyles, and the exploration or devotion to the gender spectrum. Deeply rooted culture and world events reflect in everything from earrings to nylon tights.
There’s something so wonderfully strange about living in the late 20th century, in a country with unique access to all the world’s history and societal developments. It started with leathery animal skin to protect our neanderthal feet, and it bloomed into prom dresses, military uniforms, and purposefully ripped denim jeans. Fashion has been the immortal universal spark of desire that has engraved itself into our psyche ever since your estranged relative bought a mass produced onesie for your mother at your baby shower.
To have a “style” is the most important and woefully un-nurtured pure expression of all realms. One piece of clothing can represent depths of philosophical debates and facts of the human experience. Despair, Religion, Derealization, Social-Consciousness and other infinite topics are all woven tightly in every item you wear. There is no way to detach yourself from the world of fashion because every choice you make is still an expression through fashion. Even if you think you don’t care or don’t want to be absorbed in your self image, it still shows in what you wear. Even if you think blue jeans and a mindlessly selected t-shirt exempt you from this rule, you are wrong. Your blue jeans go deeper than you think, and your ‘anti-fashion’ choice in the reckless adornment of your t-shirt is still a fashion statement.
This loyalty that fashion has served throughout human history is the most special connection we could ever have. Fashion is a tool and relationship we use to make other relations with the Earth, Environment, and People. We are just like birds with deep green feathers and yellow eyes when we lace up our name brand sneakers. We are just neon purple frogs living in high trees everytime we wear jewelry. We have stripes and spots and textured, colored fur just like any other animal. Fashion is animalistic and yet our seemingly magical evolution has curated fashion to be prosperous, intelligent, and sometimes otherworldly.
Understandably, finding your own aesthetic and style is intimidating. Above all advice I provide I almost beg you that you explore and experiment with as much as you feel comfortable with. Humanity hasn’t advanced as magnificently without thorough exploration. It’s in our primal DNA to test the waters and try something new.
Firstly, the best way to expand your wardrobe or taste it is to recognize what attracts you. Is it a color? A celebrity? A Song? A name brand designer? Really contemplate on what inspires you.
Personally, I already have a wardrobe that I’m satisfied with, but I choose an outfit every night before I wear it. I usually will already have an idea of what I want to wear based on three things. What I will be doing in the outfit, where I will be wearing it, and what kind of “character” I want to be.
While my clothes and style are extensions and visual examples of my true self, a lot of the media I consume always has some sort of character, philosophy, or aesthetic that can be translated to a distinct outfit. I don’t mean characters as in trademarked and from a series, I mean characters in a more abstract way. I think the creativity that is crucial to making a good outfit can be trained and prompted to be stronger and better at making artful decisions. One of the ways to do that is to create your own “character” in your head.
This “character” is the perfect and most effective way to really explore your own style and even your own wants and needs. Inventing a character means exploring what kind of world and society they come from, what they want, love, or hate, and what they believe in.
I usually fall back on a couple of “characters” that are like building blocks for combined aesthetics and new outfits. These would include a historical character so I can explore vintage trends, a fantasy character so I can explore a more alternative and strange style, and a comfort character. A comfort character is an aesthetic that you can trust to wear when you feel burnt out or if you find yourself in an artist’s block.
There are many aspects to comfort, for me I try to comfort myself physically with many layers for warmth and compression, a color palette I like to keep me positive if I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, and accessories or items of things that I find interesting. For example I have a hair clip from inthemagpiesnest on instagram, with a mouse skull inside. Everytime I wear it I am flooded with happy memories of meeting the shop owner, hanging out with my friends, and thinking about bones and taxidermy. I also have shirts with franchises that I like, and bracelets with charms that look like candy, and a hand stitched love letter on a baggy hoodie from my best-friend. What comforts you? Surrounding yourself with things that you like and enjoy is the easiest way to build a wardrobe and make a defining style with things that genuinely delight you and make you feel happy when you wear them.
Researching is very important to know the history and intent of each outfit you create, but it’s also a good idea to research the area around you to find stores that sell clothes that fit your desired aesthetic. Online retail is a really valuable source if you can find stores that are ethical and congruent with your fashion’s philosophy. For example, buying “punk” clothes online from a corporate retail operation is a horribly ironic flaw. Most alternative fashions are from D.I.Y origins and don’t require any fast-fashion store interaction.
Any good outfit requires layers and accessories. These are things that are easy to find but require time to build up in your wardrobe. Having a large assortment of jewelry is good to explore depths of maximalist and minimalist styles, and it gives you plenty of options to easily switch up aesthetics. Tights, socks, and light jackets are great ways to flow with the weather and to add more personality to your outfits. Invest in really good shoes that will last a long time. It’s easy to buy multiple pairs of aesthetic looking shoes, but they will fall apart or you won’t use them anymore if you change your style. I always recommend anything by Doc Martins, they have all styles of shoes that are very durable. The colors black and white are always reliable and they can be applied to any style you wear.
Start to change your thinking of what an outfit means. It’s not just the clothes and shoes, it’s the jewelry, makeup, hair and environment as well. Learning to style your hair to match your outfit is always a good skill to have, along with doing basic makeup like eyeliner and lipstick. While imagining your outfit, imagine the place you will be wearing it and the people around you. What will you look like with all the outside input? Usually this can make or break an outfit’s impact. Wearing a victorian gothic style won’t have the same effect in a Walmart than it would in a library. If you have friends that dress very pastel and childish, wearing something edgier and darker would enhance both of your outfits because of how the opposites complement each other.
To break down my advice in simple steps, I suggest thinking about what aesthetics or media intrigues you and the aesthetics that come with that. Then think about what kind of person or “character” you want to be and how your clothes can portray that. Find stores or tutorials to start building your wardrobe, then think about what you want to wear, why, and where. Above all else, allow yourself to explore as much as possible and to take risks with pre-existing personal or societal boundaries. Wearing stylish clothes becomes easier and easier with every step you take, and eventually won’t be as scary or confusing. One day people will look up to you as their own inspiration, you will slowly turn the world into a more confident and style-distinguished place with every outfit you wear.