You’d be forgiven for getting a bit tired of my “find your personal style” mantra. I do go on about it a fair bit. Recently a friend had me up about it on a couple of points. She said (something like) “Sonya, some of us don’t really have a style you can put a name on. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have style”.
She’s absolutely right. For many women, the whole idea of putting words to their taste is a bit pointless. They like what they like. End of story. And she got me thinking about a whole bunch of things about personal style, things that I hadn’t quite refined or clearly articulated. Until now…
Myth # 1 – Personal style must be clearly defined
Personal style is one that we each must give personal meaning to. And this may or may not be able to be put into words. In the end, all it is concerned with is having a clear sense of what you like and dislike, one that you can call your own.
Myth #2 – Personal style means being different
Personal style is, well, personal! So there’s no right or wrong way to go about having it. Yours might mean dressing quite differently from your peers. Or it might not. Your style might stand out, or be very conservative. It might be loud, or quiet. What is important here is not whether it’s different or not, but that it’s yours and it makes you feel good.
Style is in the eyes of the beholder. So you’d better like what you see in the mirror.
Myth #3 – People with fantastic personal style are unconcerned with what others think.
Great personal style isn’t about total disregard for societies expectations around what to wear. Indeed, knowing how to dress appropriately and in a manner that is sensitive to the situation, the people, your role or the environment is one of the cornerstones of having great style!
Jackie Onassis Kennedy mastered the art of playing by the rules and expectations as First Lady to President John F Kennedy without compromising her individuality. In so doing she quickly became an icon of style
It’s a kind of social-emotional intelligence that recognises in certain situations it’s important to play by the rules. Usually we do this unconciously, a wisdom that by dressing according to what others will be wearing we show respect for them or can connect with them more easilly. Without this filter, the uncompromised expression of personal style could alienate us from others and create a self-conciousness within ourselves. The trick is therefore to find ways to express your inner sense of style, and to play by the rules. (Or to know when it’s okay to break the rules.)
Myth #4 – Personal style is a goal and it has an end-point
Having great personal style might be something we pursue. But it’s not something we’ll necessarilly reach. The point of encouraging it is simply to encourage us to think independently about fashion. The pursuit of it is a process. It’s about self-discovery and expression, and this is a lifelong journey.
Style is a journey, not a destination