How to find your style
This is the most important step for anyone who is starting their style journey. You can buy lots of clothes, but that is just fashion, style is what you do with them.
It’s important to note that having a personal style is all about giving it your personal touch. It’s not about trends and it focuses more on experimentation. Trends come and go even monthly, but if you have a defined style, you can incorporate trendy pieces that can last you for years.
if you want to listen to these tips, instead of reading them here is a link to my Youtube video on the same topic!
These are the steps you should follow to find your style
Each section individual steps to follow in order to get to the s
A. Understanding your body
B. Examine your closet
C. Look for inspiration
D. Go shopping
E. Learn how to build outfits
Understanding your body
This is the most important part of the process because it will determine what things flatter you most. It’s very common to buy things that you like on someone else or on the rack, but when you put them on, they don’t look as good, this happens because we all have different bodies, understanding yours will save you a lot of time and money.
To understand your body, there are 3 steps you should take. I have videos on all these topics, if you want to watch them just go to the Cocoa Styling Youtube channel.
1. Know your body shape: knowing your body shape will help you understand your body balance and where you need to ad volume. Understanding your body shapes can also archive the looks that you want more easily, for example, wanting to make your hips look bigger or smaller.
These are the traditional body shapes:
If you are a woman the shapes are: inverted triangle, apple, rectangle, pear, and hourglass
And if you are a man the shapes are: oval, inverted triangle, rectangle, triangle, and trapezoid.
A little thing to note is that if you are a Pear, you can also be a Spoon (also called figure 8) or a mango. This means that you are still a pear, but if you are a Spoon, the upper part of your hipbones is the widest part, instead of it being the lower part. And if you are a Mango, the hip to waist ratio is very significant 20in+ (50cm).
For example, Beyonce, she is a Spoon.
2. Understand your body geometry. Next in line, we have body geometry, this determines what sort of lines and silhouettes flatter your body structure. There are many systems that can help you determine yours, but I think it’s very important to separate body lines from essence because this can lead people to believe a type doesn’t fit them because it doesn’t match their aesthetics.
Harriet McJimsey and Belle Northup were the pioneers of these Ying Yang body systems, their systems have been reinterpreted multiple times by stylists, the most popular being David Kibbe and John Kitchener. And also by fashion enthusiaststhere from blogs or YouTube, like Aly Art, Elyssa, and Truth is Beauty. Even I have my own system that I use on my clients, you can read more about it here (it will be uploaded soon)
What all of these systems agree on are 5 main families:
Some of the systems might have more families like the Angelic, Ingenuine, and Ethereal families.
The reason why I use a mix of these systems and adapted them, it because I feel like all of them fail to recognize that different ethnicities have different body structures. The most popular one, the Kibbe system is extremely eurocentric, which makes it very hard for a woman of color to find her type. He also doesn't have many verified examples from people who aren't Caucasian, and the ones he has are extremely polemic because they don't actually fit the requirements that he listed for each type.
Rihanna is the perfect example for this, she is a certified Theatrical Romantic. But she is 5'8 or 173cm, which means that she should be one of the tall types and she can pull off perfectly more Dramatics looks because of her height. Here is where I believe it's important to take ethnicities into account, women of African descent tend to have wider bones and lusher features, not all of us do. But it taking things like this into account is important when analyzing body geometry.
3. Know your colors, you want to wear colors that match your natural coloring. When you wear the right colors, your clothes make your features pop and harmonize with the rest of your outfits.
To know your color season the first thing you need to know is to know your undertone, are you warm, cool, or neutral. You also need to know your skin tone, this will determine if you look best in dark colors or light colors, but it goes hand in hand with your contrast level and your seasonal type.
The next step after those two things is to know your seasonal type, Clear, Dark, Soft, or light. If you have a dark skin tone you just have to see if you are Clear, Dark, or soft. Here is a link to my Kenuzi Color Method, this is a seasonal color theory for dark-skinned people.
Examine your closet
It’s important to see what you already have, it’s very unusual for people to have to start from scratch. You might have to learn how to pair things differently, but before you start buying and getting rid of things, you should do an in-depth assessment of what you already own.
1. What you like vs what you don't. The first step in this assessment is to look at what you already have and see what you like and what you don’t. But you need to think about why. Why do you like that shirt? Is it the cut, the color, the fabric, or the fit? And you also have to do the same with the things that you don't like. Try to write down these things in order to find your preference patterns.
2. What you wear vs what you don't. Now it’s time to do the same thing with the pieces that you wear the most and the ones that you wear the least. You might think these two steps are the same, but sometimes you love a piece, but you don’t actually wear it very often. Make sure you also write down why you wear those pieces the most or why you don’t wear them at all.
3. Pieces never worn before. The third step is to go deep into your closet, look at those pieces that you have never worn, maybe they even have their tags on. And ask yourself why did you buy them and why you never got to wear them.
If it’s because it doesn't fit or because you don’t like it anymore, it should go to the dispose pile, but if it’s because you don’t know how to wear it, hold on to it a bit longer and come back after you finish all the “how to find your style” process. Maybe after doing your research and knowing how to pair things, it may turn out that the item does belong to your closet, or maybe not at all, but it’s important to finish the process before you get rid of anything on the piles.
4. Keep, Maybe, Dispose. Time to classify your things into 3 different categories. If you completed the other exercises, this part should be easy, because now you have an objective way to do the separating.
Keep: the keep pile is things that you are definitely not getting rid of. Maybe they are extremely comfortable, they are in a color that fits you, and they also fit your body lines. But most importantly, you like these pieces. Try to see what all of them have in common, you can refer back to the other lists that you have made to figure out what makes you like all these things.
Maybe: the maybe pile is the most confusing, here is where I feel most of the people I have worked with, and even I have a hard time deciding what to do with these items. Maybe they don’t fit, in that case, you should probably get rid of it, maybe they have a sentimental value, but it doesn't go with anything else in your closet, or maybe you just don’t know how to pair it with the other things in your closet.
Dispose: this one is self-explanatory, these are the thingns that you have, but you don’t wear them at all or the ones that you don’t like.
Don’t get rid inmediately of any of the things on these piles, not even the dispose pile, try to keep them separated for as long as you can, because we will come back to this execese in a bit.
Look for inspiration
Looking for inspiration can be tricky because some things might look amazing on some people but unflattering on others. Here are some steps to follow to avoid that.
1. People that look like you. The first one is the most important in order to ensure you don’t do the other steps in vain is to look at people that look like you for inspiration. If your reference looks like you it will be way it’s easier to picture yourself wearing that style.
It would be extremely hard to find someone who looks exactly like you and shares your same likes and dislikes. This is the part where understanding your body plays a big role. Look for people who share individual features that you have for example:
Look for people who share your color season, you should also make sure they have a similar skin tone to yours. I have a list of celebrities on my Color Theory Tab.
Look for people who have your same body shape, they won't look exactly like you because body geometry and your skeleton plays a big part as well, but this way you can see how they style themselves in terms of balance and where and how they add or remove visual volume.
Look for people who have your same body geometry. I would feel like this is one of the most important steps. This will ensure that even if you pick an aesthetic, that you find pieces that harmonize with your body lines. For example, being extremely soft and wearing lots of sharp lines can make you look off because you are wearing the complete opposite of your lines.
3. Look at different styles, there are lots of aesthetics that you can take inspiration from, you don’t have to pick one in specific, but knowing them and understanding the basics of each can help you understand a bit more what you like. You can look at my Pinterest boards and look at different styles and aesthetics. New styles and Aesthetics surge every so often, a very good resource to see what's new and the existing ones is the site Aesthetics Wiki, where you will find a list with descriptions of each aesthetic.
I also have a Youtube series explaining the basics of each style.
It’s important to understand the basics of each style, and what would make an outfit look, for example, Preppy. This will also help you get garments that fit the aesthetic but also harmonize with your body lines.
An example would be, what happens if you have a sharp body structure, but you want to dress in a Cottagecore style that is mainly known for soft and airy lines. If you understand what wakes an outfit Cottagecore, you can change some things up, like wearing a cotton milkmaid dress that is made with a starched fabric and the design has more defined pleats. That would make it a bit stiffer, and look very good on you. But that same starched dress might not look as well on a person with a soft body structure.
3. Make lots of mood boards. Now it's time to put all the information that you have gathered to use and make moodboards.
Make color moodboards,
Make aesthetics moodsboards
Make and garment moodboards
After you have completed your moodboards, analyse them and see what kind of things repeat the most and what is it that you like about them. Chose a few of those pieces (a mix between tops, bottoms, and accessories) and try to picture how you would wear those in combination with the things you have on your closet. Remember to take into consideration all three piles, this would also be the moment to move things around from the maybe and discard pile.
After that what you have to do is try to build 5 outfits using a combination of pieces you already have and those pieces from your mood boards.
Shopping can be challenging and overwhelming, but if you have completed all the other exercises, it should be a piece of cake.
At first you should aim to get a small number of pieces, for example buying just 5 things: 2 tops, 1 bottom, and 2 accessories like bags, coats and jewelry. Make sure they are pieces that you can easily integrate into your wardrobe, on the last exercise you built 5 outfits, try to find pieces that look similar to the ones you chose there.
Then make a list of a few items, if you are online shopping its way easier to find those items, but if you are going to a physical store, try to add a few more things to your list in case that you don’t find exactly what you are looking for.
Since you already have a list of what you are looking for, its way easier to not get distracted with other things you might find at the store and it also helps with impulse buying. You can do this every few months, and when you already have your basics, you can start getting statement pieces.
Learn how to mix and match
Putting an outfit together is all about experimentation. The only way you can finally see if an outfit will work is by trial and error.
The best exercise is to choose a base outfit and try to change it as much as you can by incorporating more pieces, for example changing the feel of an outfit, make it warmer, make it fresher, dress it up, or dress it down. Try to create at least 5 different looks and document the ones that you like the most. This is a very good exercise that you can do every two weeks of once a month,
Documenting this sort of exercises can help you understand your patters and how you like to build your outfits, and if there is a day in which you don’t know what to wear, you can look back and chose one of those outfits that you build previously.
Those were all my tips to help you find your style, but if you still want more resources, you can sign up to this blog and get all my newest tips, go to my Pinterest, follow my Youtube channal, and you can follow my Facebook page, it will be used as a community where we all try to help each other, give suggestions, and find tips.
And if you need more help you can book me to personally guide you on your journey.
Comment down below how is your style journey going and what sort of content do you want to see on my blog!
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