Part II: What Is Your Personal Style?
Updated: May 9
Few years ago, I interviewed a young girl for a merchandiser role in my team. She dressed decently like a normal office lady. I could tell that she’s quite intelligent and well-educated from her logical self-expression. However, at the same time, she also acted unconfidently by repeating to me that her weakness being “not fashionable and without fashion sense.”
Impressed with her good personal quality yet bothered by this message, at the end, I couldn’t help asking her whether she had the true passion to this role. She said yes, but just wanted to be honest with me as she was not sure if “fashion sense” and “being fashionable” could be trained or would be a hurdle in this role. I said this firmly to her, “as long as you have passion and eager to learn, it is totally possible!”
These words are from the deep of my heart as they are from my experience. I was not a confident girl at my teenage. I had very thin and long limbs, tiny head, long neck and slim torso. With my height, I felt myself like an alien sometimes. My style evolution reflected exactly my state-of-mind and my life- there was time I tried to dress sweetly and girly to create an obedient image to get recognition from peers and away from being bullied; then I explored sexy outfits plus heavy makeup and pretended to be cool while being freed from those entrance exams; after then I wrapped myself with those so-called professional clothes to look sharp in my early career; afterwards it was a crazy daring period to adventure anything to be fashionable.
When looking back this black history, I have to admit my embarrassment for those uncountable mistakes. However, it is through these experiments that I start to discover myself better- what suits my body well, with what hairstyle and makeup I look great by gaining more compliments. Also with the confidence gained through my maturity in age and in life, gradually I understand, accept and appreciate better how and who I am. From there, I build up my personal style and continue to learn and get inspired from the world and people around.
Gabrielle Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld- these legendary designers who master the fashion history and industry all had the same comment that style is not fashion – fashion is ephemeral and only style lasts. Personal style is the self-perception and expression. It decides largely one’s personal image, which connects opportunities and brings possibilities in life. The interesting thing is, in life many things are uncontrollable yet personal style is excluded.
How to build one’s personal style? From the book “The Truth about Style” by Stacy London, I found resonance to my personal experience. Ms. London suggests two starts: 1) accepting wholly what life has given to you- the good, the bad, the ugly without prejudice; 2) understanding your lifestyle. We all fear to be judged and therefore we try to embrace the mainstream and the current fashion without digesting how well it fits our body and lifestyle. However, if we don’t like what we see in the mirror- ignore or overcompensate for it- there would be a disconnection between who we are and how we appear. Only those organic to who/how we are and our lifestyle will make us empowered, strong and cool.
Given this self-realization and acceptance, how to strategic and “consciously camouflage” oneself will be a life-long learning. To me, getting inspired by others and experimenting on oneself would be the most practical methodology. Take myself for example. I select to follow quite a few celebrities, fashion designers, bloggers and fashion magazines on Instagram. Their styles and tastes may not correspond to mine, but I take them as inspirations to explore different styling possibilities. I am sharing few I like the most below for your reading pleasure.
Avant-garde, versatile yet accessible. I love the well-organized harmony- between her silhouette and the background- on her pictures. This Singaporean fashionista also owns her fashion brand Exhibit Store.
Being a photographer, stylist, law school student and fashion blogger for “Shine By Three,” this Australian girl attracts me with her creative style and the aesthetic on her photo.
You don’t find too many colors and accessories on her, yet this Korean American masters her style with good taste, iconic bleached hair color and healthy image.
A professor living in New York. She started her blog originally to speak for regular women in the fashion world. Her unique style wins her attention to be a fashion icon accidentally. I am heavily attracted by her for our similar taste (obsession with Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto) and the attitude on her pictures.
This Albanian American is a multi-hyphenate: blogger, consultant, model and jet-setter. Her style is very eclectic, artistic and glamorous. Her Instagram account gives me a mood of visiting an art gallery. She’s amazingly skillful for stocking up accessories.
Welcome to share with me your story- your struggling and learning to identify your personal style. Let’s be authentically chic together!
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