Embrace and elevate your own unique personal style by applying these 10 simple fashion rules to live by for better style and confidence.
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“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”Gianni Versace
What is the secret to good style?
There are so many factors that go into what makes someone stylish, from how they think and feel to what they’re actually wearing. It’s rare that the same style formula can be applied across the board, and unlikely that it will flatter everyone.
While there are some people that may be more naturally inclined to be fashionable, improvement is always attainable. Like anything, putting in a bit of time and patience into your personal style and fashion outlook will help you hone your style into something that feels authentic to you.
Below I’ve compiled my top 10 rules that I live by as I’m making choices for myself and my closet. These are rules that I’ve gathered through years of trial and error and personal research. Some are things I picked up through my journey with minimalism, while others are lessons from fashion icons I’ve applied to my own life.
If finding a personal style that makes you feel confident is an elusive task, try applying any of these ten rules to your wardrobe. For more detail and specific direction, scroll to the bottom of this post for my recommended reads. While I love the internet and the freedom and accessibility of information, reading never fails to make me feel more confident and informed on any subject.
Top 3 Fashion Reads for Better Style and Confidence
- Dress Your Best Life by Dawnn Karen
- How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer
- The Curated Closet by Anuscha Rees
If you’re searching for something specific, don’t settle for anything less than exactly what you’re looking for. Whether it’s a specific brand, style, or cut, there is no real replacement for exactly what you want. Often, when we do settle, every time we wear that item we’re reminded of not having exactly what we want. This can create frustration in the long-term, and increase wasteful spending over time.
Certain items, like designer pieces, can be cost prohibitive. However, a little patience and creativity can get you where you want to be. If you really want that item brand-new, then there’s nothing wrong with taking time to save for it. If you don’t mind second hand, there are places like The Real Real, Poshmark, and DePop to shop. Also keep in mind that a piece of clothing can be purchased 2 sizes larger and be altered to fit you.
Don’t Keep What You Don’t Wear
Closet space is precious, and clothing you don’t wear shouldn’t take up that valuable real estate. I think the feeling of when to part with items depends on the person, and my journey with minimalism has helped me with my attachment to material possessions. Whether you take three months or a year to decide to get rid of an item, it’s good to be aware of what’s not being worn in your closet.
If you neglect the closet clean-out, you’re potentially walking yourself into a slew of other issues. More items accumulating in your closet leads to more clutter, which can increase your stress over time. Plus, with more items, it will take you longer to arrange and organize your closet. You will also likely have greater issues getting dressed, because you have so much more to choose from.
One easy way I keep the clutter at bay in my closet is with my donate bag. I store it under my bed, and when an item no longer *sparks joy* for me, it goes in the bag. I re-evaluate the bag every three or so months, but usually I don’t find myself picking up items I’ve put in the bag. This keeps my closet clean, and because I’m consistently re-evaluating it, I’m never surprised by what’s there.
Don’t Shop for an “If” Situation
Sometimes there are pieces in store that are just SO GOOD, that it’s hard not to make a purchase. I’ve picked up my fair share of pieces in the past that have yet to see the light of day (at least on my body) because I picked them up for a very specific situation that did not currently have a spot on my calendar.
Instead, you can take note of the piece and what you like about it. If you really love it but can’t think of a current situation where you can wear it, then take down the details (brand, material, name of item) so you can find it when the time comes.
Also make peace with the fact that if you often shop for an “if” situation, then you’re likely to end up with a closet full of ball gowns and less of what you actually wear. Make peace with yourself and understand that its not an item you would actually wear. That’s the real tragedy. Leave the piece for someone who will actually need to wear it.
Don’t Buy Something Just Because It’s on Sale
We’ve all done it. “But it was SUCH a great deal!”
In my experience, the items I’ve picked up on sale tend to be my biggest disappointments. Either I don’t wear them, or I see them hanging in my wardrobe and think about the money I could have used toward an item I really wanted.
Beyond that, buying something just because it’s on sale means that it doesn’t already have space in your closet. Your time, and by extension, your money, is precious. When you think about it, if you compromise on your clothes based on what’s on sale it will lead you to compromise in other areas too. Compromise isn’t always a bad thing. However, exerting your power to choose exactly what you like will make you feel more in control of your personal style and choices.
If you often buy things on sale, then you’re at the mercy of whatever store you’re shopping at to tell you what you can buy. Purchasing sale items often leads to poorer financial health and an increase in clutter in your home.
Don’t Worry About Dressing Your Age
Life is short, and there are no “fashion police” around to monitor your every clothing choice. You look and feel your best in clothes that you love. Whether that’s a mini skirt, stilettos, or a thong bikini.
I used to spend so much time thinking and worrying about how my clothing choices would make others feel. Now, I dress completely for myself and the feeling is unmatched. No one else gets to inhabit your body and mind, and so it’s none of their business what you choose to wear. If it makes you happy, you feel confident and inspired, then you should fearlessly wear whatever you like.
Lean into the pieces and styles that make you feel strong and confident. An item’s popularity (or potential lack thereof) shouldn’t limit you in what you wear. If the item makes you feel amazing then that is the most important factor to consider.
To work toward honing your personal style, scroll down to the end of this post and check out the books I recommend for finding and executing your ideal style.
Find Your Signature Piece
Signature pieces can come in all shapes and sizes, and you can consider your signature piece as a fashion calling card. This could be a classic style of sunglasses, a favorite necklace or vintage piece of jewelry, or favorite bag. A signature piece is something that is not trendy and stands the test of time year over year.
What to look for in your signature piece:
- Agelessness – an item that can be worn at any age.
- Celebrity Approval – a potential signature piece has likely been worn or popularized by someone that is an important figure in history. Think politicians, movie stars, or characters.
- Timelessness – an item that has a timeless quality that transcends trends year over year. A good place to start is to look at pieces that have been popular in the past and compare them to today’s styles.
- Versatility – goes with just about anything, and can offset your more eccentric choices over the years.
- Value for your money – your signature piece should be something that is intended to last. This means you will likely spend a little more on it, but the cost per wear will make the price negligible.
- Quality – your signature piece should be something that is high-quality and durable.
- Consistency – one necessary element of making something a signature piece is that you wear it consistently.
Signature piece examples: Doc Martens, Burberry trench coat, Rolex watch, Chanel cap toe slingbacks
Know What’s in Your Closet
It’s difficult to exude confidence and style when you have no idea what’s in your closet. Take time to mindfully work through your closet to organize and understand all of the closet items you have working for you. This will help you feel more inspired as you get ready for the day, give you more options, and enable you to keep your closet clutter-free.
There are apps like Stylebook that allow you to have a visual list of your closet’s contents and create outfits. If you’re really on top of things, you can even plan outfits ahead so you don’t have to take time deciding in your week.
Don’t Impulse Shop
When you impulse shop, you give in to the marketing powers of whatever company’s product you buy. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it never feels good to give our power away, even when it seems like it’s something we want. IF the item is unplanned for in your closet, you may find it creating clutter.
Instead, plan ahead for shopping trips and understand when you may be tempted to impulse shop. If there are specific items you’re looking for, keep a running list on your phone so that you can refer to it when you’re out. This way, if you walk into a store with a surprising selection of items, you can hone your shopping while ensuring what you buy will fit seamlessly into your closet.
If It Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Wear It
When we wear clothes that don’t fit us well, the repercussions are evident. We become less comfortable and less confident in what we’re wearing. Plus, this can put us in bad moods which make us negative and unapproachable.
If an item doesn’t fit but you love it, you can always take it to a tailor. Tailors may seem like superfluous expenses, but there truly is no replacement for clothes that fit you well.
Light Reading for Better Style and Confidence
I think reading is essential for getting a better grasp of any subject, including fashion and style. There are so many fantastic books out there to guide you if you’re looking to improve this area of your life. Below are some of my favorites, with a couple that I’ve heard good things about but haven’t gotten around to just yet.
Inès de la Fressange breaks down the stylish French woman in this fun book. While this book may be slightly out of date, much of the basic advice still stands. This book is a great introduction to the French style and mentality around fashion.
Andrea Linett reaches out to an eclectic mix of stylish women for The Cool Factor. Filled with photos, interviews, and practical tips, the content in this book will be applicable long after the clothes featured go out of style.
If your closet is simply unruly and you have no idea where to start, Anuscha Rees can help. This approach to creating and managing a wardrobe is detailed and focused on personal style. This book is perfect for you if you feel you have some of the basics down, but need an ongoing curating approach for your closet.
Alison Freer shares her practical guides to create and maintain a wardrobe that is designed around your confidence and comfort. This book covers everything from stain removal, laundry, underwear types, to using the clothes you already have to flatter your body. If you’re tired of reading the same old fashion advice, this book will likely surprise you and provide practical tips for years to come.
This book breaks down how to wear accessories, including everything from shoes to handbags. Focused on proportions, Alison Freer gives you all the tools you need for an effortless style that makes you feel unique. This book will give you a jolt of confidence that will allow you to go beyond the colors and styles that are within your comfort zone.
This book lifts the veil of your subconscious and helps you identify why you make the fashion choices you do. You’re encouraged to go deeper within yourself to reflect on your own fashion choices. With a more psychological take on the choices we make regarding what we wear, you will see fashion in a whole new light.
This book is designed as a practical guide for women of all shapes, sizes, incomes, and skin tones. It covers everything from color theory (beyond just your season) to help you understand why certain colors suit you better. Nix-Rice also uses real women (not just 5’9″ 100lb models) to explain how to alter clothing to suit your shape.
This simple memoir acts as style-focused self-care and lifestyle guide. This simple and practical read features lessons the author learned traveling to France and living there for a short time. This easy read is one that you can keep on the shelf or your e-reader and refer to often!