Ever since I’ve been in the fashion industry, which is now longer than I haven’t been in it, I’ve examined and given great thought to the topic of personal style. I’ve written about it, talked about it, been interviewed about it and tried to understand what is one of the most elusive and hard-to-define fashion topics. While I’ve done my best to explain style in the past, one thing I feel certain about is that personal style has absolutely nothing do with fashion and is definitely not something that money can buy.
Last week, while riding on a NYC bus, a woman got on who was wearing a leopard hat and scarf along with a coat that completely clashed. Nothing matched and, fashionably, what she chose to wear would have been strongly brought into question by even the most unknowledgeable of fashion. However, as I studied her, I started to fall in love with her outfit, not because I particularly loved it, but because I loved it on her. She was an older African-American woman, completely comfortable with herself and had a look about her that said, “Honey, I’ve got miles on this odometer.” Not only did I start to fall in love with her outfit, I started to fall in love with her.
One of my biggest pet-peeves when I work with clients is when they question the trendiness of an item they’re considering buying in a store. While I understand the argument, to a degree, I hate to see anyone question their passion for something simply because they’re afraid it isn’t trendy. Whenever this happens I always say the same thing to them, “Look, <client>, fashion designers get paid a lot of money to do trend research, to make sure that what they are designing is timely and to put seasonal merchandise in the stores that customers will want to buy. If it is here in the store, then it is trendy. Let the designers do their job. All you have to decide is whether or not you like it.” My goal, when I do this is to teach clients to trust themselves because it is trust that determines whether or not someone is stylish, not fashion.
Nothing is more deliciously attractive than a woman who is authentically comfortable in her own skin, regardless of what she is wearing. It is when that inner spirit connects with outer appearance that the true magic happens. Style is that alignment. Style is when a woman feels comfortable enough with herself on the inside and has no fear in expressing it outwardly. Style is truly what it means to live out loud. Even I have found a strange sense of admiration for those who we would all consider “fashion nightmares” and who don’t give a damn. It may be ugly, but it’s honest.
I feel one of my biggest job responsibilities with my clients is to teach them inner trust and how to listen to themselves, as it is that lack of trust that gets all my clients twisted and turned around in the first place. Instinctively each and every one of my clients have known what their personal style was, even if they didn’t think they did. My job has been to simply to pull that out of them and then teach them how to embrace it through wardrobe direction. Yes, without a doubt, there are many women out there who struggle with basic fundamentals of wardrobe management and how to put an outfit together, yet, when it comes to personal style, I don’t do anything besides listen.
If you’ve been struggling to find your personal style, I want you to stop searching and start listening– to yourself. If you struggle with putting a look together or feel inept in the fashion basics, that’s okay. These things you can learn, and I’m here to teach you. However, when it comes to learning what your personal style is, there isn’t a magazine, a fashion blog, a store or another person out there who can tell you what that is. Finding your personal style is something only you can do because it can only be found within.