Welcome to part eight in the series Dressed for My Day…My Way. In this post we’re discussing how to factor in your personality so that you look authentic, fashionable, current and even appropriate as you dress for your day…whatever that day may hold. We’re learning a few keys that will guide you in how to dress for your personality…for each and every occasion.
If you’ve stumbled upon this blog post but haven’t read through rest of the series, welcome! Stay right here and read along with us. But I also invite you to check out the other posts in this series. You’ll see, as you continue reading, that you’ll want all the components in the style equation to help you dress your body…your way.
Why We Need to Factor in Personality
When I lost about 25 pounds back in the spring with the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, I was excited about the prospect of buying some new clothes. Hardly anything in my closet fit me. At the same time, I started writing this style blog, so I was all over the latest trends and styles.
Unfortunately, I forgot to factor in my own personal style as I purchased some things. While I would say most of the fashions that I showed in my early posts were true to who I am, some were not. And I was left with some trendy clothes that fit my body, but didn’t really fit…me.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever gotten caught up in the trends or pressured by a well-meaning friend or confused by all the options or enticed by the pretty display in the store window or catalog…and then ended up with clothes in your closet that didn’t really work for you? That’s really frustrating, right?
As with most of you, I imagine, my finances are limited and I have no desire to build a wardrobe of clothes that I don’t really enjoy or feel “at home” in. I know you don’t want to do that either.
That’s why we need to factor in personality when we’re selecting our clothes, accessories, hairstyles and make-up.
What Do We Mean by Personality?
Actually, there are two components to consider when it comes to personality and style. Imogene Lamport and Jill Chivers have determined that we need to consider our style essence and our style expression.
Your Style Essence
Your style essence is your personality, who you really are, how you think and what you prefer. It’s where you are your most natural self. It’s what makes you most comfortable and authentic and genuine. It’s the way other people would describe you based purely on how you behave, how you talk and how you move through your day.
But your style essence or “true personality” is only part of the equation.
Your Style Expression
You reveal your style essence through your style expression. Your style expression is your clothing, your hair and makeup, your accessories, but still more. Your style expression is how you carry yourself, how you present yourself in a crowded room.
The Conflict and the Balance
When we dress in a way that doesn’t convey our true style essence (our true personality) we present a disjointed and confusing style expression to the world. Instead, we want to present a balanced and beautiful expression of our true essence.
For instance, even though your personality may genuinely be quiet, reserved, soft and gentle, if you dress with bold colors, over-sized accessories and dramatic cosmetics, you’re expressing something very contrary to who you really are.
That’s how I felt sometimes this spring and summer when I would wear some of the clothing I had bought to replenish my wardrobe. It had appealed to me in the store, but when I wore it I didn’t feel genuine. I felt like I was putting on a costume instead of clothing that felt natural and authentic to my style essence.
[bctt tweet=”If you feel like you are wearing a costume instead of clothing that is authentic to who you are, you may need to rediscover your style essence so that your style expression lines up.” username=”mykayharms”]
Why the Conflict?
Have you lost your personal style essence? That’s what had happened to me. Here are some reasons you may be out of touch with your style essence:
- you were told to dress a certain way by someone in authority – your mom, a well-meaning friend, your husband, your employer, etc.
- you are afraid of experimentation and became outdated
- you fear looking different from others, expressing your true self, surprising others, etc.
- you have lingering self-esteem issues that hinder your style expression
- you experiment too much
- you’re tired of trying
- you tend to copy others who you admire or who look confident and happy in their clothing
- you tend to stick to a safe formula that works, but fear doing anything you haven’t done before
- you fear missing out on the latest trends
What do you think? Have you allowed any of the above to hijack your style expression of your true style essence?
So What is Your Style Essence?
Lamport and Chivers actually identify 16 different style essences, but that’s really because we can indeed be a combination of two or more of the 7 well known style personalities. Here are the well known style personalities in their most basic form. Read and look through them quickly, without overthinking. Which one or two resonate most with you?
REMEMBER: We’re rediscovering your style essence right now, not your current style expression. So don’t think so much about the clothes in your closet. Consider who you are at your core. Not all of the qualifiers for a particular style essence will resonate with you necessarily. But select the one or two essences that resonate most with you.
Feminine/Romantic Style Essence
- enjoy soft, pretty things?
- often engage in domestic activities (baking, gardening, sewing, etc.) because you love to?
- prefer romantic movies and novels?
- like to take bubble baths, receive flowers, sip tea, write handwritten notes?
- enjoy dining in tea rooms with friends and on a sweet picnic with your honey?
- prefer soft fabrics, muted colors, antique jewelry and feminine frills?
Then maybe you have a feminine/romantic style essence.
Creative/Innovative/Eclectic Style Essence
- enjoy expressing yourself freely and creatively through some form of art, music, drama or other craft?
- tend to use your hands, eyes, and full body expressively when talking with others?
- like to collect all manner of things that make you happy?
- enjoy modern art and music and theatre?
- find yourself switching music channels in your car or playlist often because you crave variety?
- enjoy trying new foods from different ethnicities?
- have a real variety of friends – from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and professions?
Then maybe you have a creative/innovative/eclectic style essence.
Elegant/Chic Style Essence
- like to always have your “ducks in a row” as much as possible?
- prefer for your home and living environment to be free of clutter and minimalistic?
- feel drawn to more expensive items (clothing, cars, handbags, etc.) even when you must actually operate on a tight budget?
- enjoy classical music, fine art and museums over craft shows and seasonal fairs?
- prefer fine dining experiences where there is real china, white table cloths, small portions and exquisite service?
- like to thumb through magazines of beautifully decorated homes, manicured yards and exotic travel experiences?
- prefer to drive an elegant, upscale vehicle, if at all possible?
- keep your car clean on the inside and out, even if it’s not an especially expensive model?
Then you may have an elegant/chic style essence.
Rebellious Style Essence
- like to color outside the lines?
- take a different route in life than the conventional?
- like to take risks? Or at least not be deterred by them?
- often get in trouble or face consequences for not obeying “the rules” – when driving, working at your workplace, following a recipe, lining up for an event, etc.?
- disdain the idea that there even are “rules”?
- tend to dig your heels in when someone tells you that you need to change something?
- look for opportunities to be different?
- prefer to eat what you want to eat, even if it means sending something back, ordering off menu, or just waiting to eat when you get home instead of eating with your friends?
Then you may have a rebellious style essence.
Relaxed/Casual/Natural Style Essence
- consider comfort (in all areas of life) to be of utmost importance over style or cost or appropriateness?
- enjoy getting outside and enjoying nature?
- feel strongly about taking care of the planet and being environmentally aware?
- enjoy sports or participating in athletic endeavors, even if it’s only at your own pace and pleasure?
- feel strongly about eating healthy, even if you’re not always completely successful at it?
- enjoy casual and relaxed social environments over more “uptight” and formal affairs?
- like using natural products for skincare, hair care, bathing, and laundering when possible?
Then you may have a relaxed/casual/natural style essence.
Dramatic/Bold Style Essence
- like to make an entrance…that everyone notices?
- tend to talk a little more loudly than others, perhaps using noticeable facial and body language, too?
- feel drawn to big, bold, colorful and dynamic art, home decor, music, entertainment, and even people?
- tend to be energetic and even a little overwhelming?
- command a room with your energy?
- enjoy being celebrated by your friends and family with over-the-top desserts, colorful decorations, loud singing and lots of laughter?
- think bigger is always better?
Then you may have a dramatic/bold style essence.
Classic Style Essence
- have a strong appreciation for timeless styles of music, art, fashion and theatre?
- decorate your home with mostly classic, timeless pieces rather than things that feel extremely personal or trendy?
- like simple, uncomplicated things?
- tend to use the same kitchenware, linens, and decorative pieces that you’ve used for years, perhaps for many years?
- enjoy watching old movies on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel? Or maybe Masterpiece Classics on PBS?
- have a strong need to feel “pulled together” even for casual, outdoor or recreational activities?
- like for things to be pared down and simple, not ostentatious or showy?
- enjoy setting a pretty table with cloth napkins, nice china and a simple but pretty centerpiece?
- prefer a family meal around a dining room table filled with food your loved ones appreciate?
Then you may have a classic style essence.
What to Do with This Information
If you need to, spend some time really thinking through the above lists and try to nail down your dominant style essence. And remember, there is no right or wrong essence. It simply is what it is. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and that includes your personality or style essence!
So there’s no point in wishing for a different style essence. In fact, you need to choose to dress, style your hair and apply your makeup in a way that is most authentic to your personal style essence. That’s when you will feel the most comfortable in your own skin, as they say, and be able to engage with your world with confidence.
BUT you can also freely dabble in the other personality styles when you feel like it or when you need to. This is important. Here’s why. There are times, as you know, when a woman whose style essence is rebellious must reign it in and dress in a more classic fashion. Think work environment. Likewise, there are times when a woman who has a relaxed/casual/natural style essence will want to look a little more romantic. Think wedding or even romantic date night. And there are times when a woman with a bold/dramatic style essence may need to tone it down a little so that she fits in more with the surroundings and doesn’t draw undue attention to herself – think wedding…that’s not her own wedding!
To cross over into other style expressions simply stay true to your own style essence in the basics (think fabrics, colors, basic wardrobe pieces, etc.), but add touches of the desirable style expression (think accessories, shades of color, makeup, hairstyles, etc.).
Bottom line, work to build your wardrobe around your authentic style essence and add pieces that help you venture into the other style expressions while still staying true to who you are.
How to Transition from One Style Essence to a Different Style Expression
For instance, here’s how you could accommodate the legitimate need to express a different style than your authentic style essence.
Style essence: dramatic/bold ——-> style expression: classic = still wear bold statement pieces of jewelry (large earrings & necklace or a hat), but choose more subdued colors; or choose to wear bold colors like red or bright blue, but choose tailored dresses, a-line skirts and simple accessories.
Style essence: relaxed/casual/natural ——-> style expression: romantic = still choose clothing that feels comfortable, not binding or overly complicated, but select a dress that is made of soft, flowing fabric. Or add a little dainty jewelry, some pretty pastel coloring or a floral scarf to an outdoor adventure outfit that will look ready for the day, but also feminine and approachable.
Style essence: classic ——-> style expression: rebellious = add leopard print shoes or bag to an otherwise classic, tailored dress or suit. Keep warm with a faux fur vest over your classic jeans and plaid button up shirt. Or add a metallic handbag to your slacks, cashmere sweater and nude heels look.
Style essence: elegant/chic ——-> style expression: creative/innovative/eclectic = go ahead and wear your wool pants, rich cashmere sweater and high heeled pumps, but add some large, colorful rhinestone earrings and a large gold shoulder bag. Or top off the same outfit with a colorful, geometric scarf and pull your hair up in a sloppy ponytail. Maybe add a fun, artsy brooch to your jacket lapel.
Do you see the formula? Well, it’s not really a formula, but it is simply about making small adjustments to your authentic wardrobe so that you can express yourself a little differently for different occasions.
Here are some basic principles to conclude with:
- Find stores that “major in” your style essence and learn to shop those stores frequently and enthusiastically. Get to know the store manager, if it’s a brick and mortar store. Sign up to receive their paper catalog and their emails. These store are home base for you.
- Shop online. When you shop online you’re more likely to deliberate over your purchases a little longer, and you’re not as tempted by store windows and displays that may take you the wrong direction.
- Know your body type, shape and variation rules so that you can dress your style essence, but you can also incorporate the rules which will help you look better in the clothes of your style choice.
- Move past FOMO – fear of missing out. If a trend doesn’t fit within your style essence and you don’t really care for it, don’t feel like you must participate. Sit it out with grace and confidence, enjoying watching other women wear it well, but content and happy to be your own person without it. And don’t let anyone – including me or other style bloggers – make you feel like you have to try every trend. You absolutely do not.
- Each season decide how you will use the current styles (or not) to achieve looks that are authentic to your natural personality.
- Do experiment with other style expressions as you desire or as required by occasion or environment, but be sure to incorporate enough of your own style essence so that you don’t look or feel like you’re wearing a costume.
Download the Freebie and Check Out Your Wardrobe
Alrighty, ladies. I hope this post has helped you to at least begin thinking about your wardrobe and how it reflects your personality, your style essence. You may not have even known that you already have a style essence. But you most definitely do. It’s who you are at the core. Now, just make sure your style expression correctly communicates your authentic style essence.
If you’re a subscriber, and I certainly hope you are, you can download the printable Style Essence —-> Style Expression Wardrobe Checklist at the Freebies for Subscribers page. If you’re not a subscriber, let’s get you signed up today and you’ll be able to download this freebie and all the others, too.
Thank you for spending some time here today. If you’re new to Dressed for My Day, be sure to look through some of my other posts and make yourself comfortable here. And if you liked this post, please share it on your Pinterest boards and/or Facebook feed. Thanks so much for spreading the word!
Blessed for My Day
Isn’t it amazing that God not only created each of us different physically, but also in our temperaments? He made some of us bold and dramatic, others soft and subdued. He created some of us to prefer comfort, some to prefer function and some to prefer formality. So none of us are wrong in those things; we’re just unique. Today let’s rejoice in our uniqueness so that we do not compare or feel envious or less than. But let’s also rejoice and celebrate the unique characteristics of others – even the characteristics that sometimes seem annoyingly different and rub us wrong. Vive la difference!
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You [a]comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have [b]hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. ~ Psalm 139:1-6
10 thoughts on “How to Dress for Your Personality”
Absolutely terrific blog today Kay! It is all so true. Thank you so much for all your hard work which helps us all on our individual journeys in life, especially regarding fashion!
I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Cindi. It’s well worth the work. You gals mean a lot to me!
The best thing I think about clothes is how we can change it up from day to day. At least for me, I don’t feel the same way every day. Some days I am more classic, and others I’m a rebel through and through. And that’s where I think finding our “style” can be misleading. Because I always say that my personality isn’t one dimensional. And so my clothing style shouldn’t be either. But you have to start somewhere, and this is a great first step!!
Great post, Kay
Thank you for all your hard work on this very interesting post. After reading through all the types, I would say that I am about fifty percent Elegant/Chic and fifty percent Feminine/Romantic. Combine those two and it sums up my style pretty well. I know what you are saying about buying outside of your style- I have done that a few times and the item usually ends up in my Goodwill bag because I feel uncomfortable or “not myself” in it. I have mostly done this buying from sale racks. It is such a good deal, how can I pass it up? Almost always a mistake if the item of clothing is not something I would be anxious to buy at full price.
Oh, that is such a nice combo – elegant/chic and romantic. I bet you dress beautifully!
Another reason I make that shopping mistake is because I have this tendency to think that if I think something is oh-so-pretty then I need to own it. But I don’t need to own everything I appreciate. I’m constantly having to tell myself, “That’s truly beautiful, Kay. But you can appreciate it without owning it. You saw it and enjoyed it, now move along!” Ha!
Kay, this is most informative! Thanks for the time and expertise! Love it!
Wow! 25 lbs? Was that just one round? Did you follow it perfectly? I just finished round 1, and I lost no where near that. Here’s hoping round 2 does the trick!
Hi Jennifer! I did two rounds and probably lost more in the second. I did stick to the plan pretty well but I didn’t completely give up gluten or dairy. Hang in there. It’s a process and everyone is different. ?
I have been enjoying reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
I have a natural/relaxed/casual style with a little bit of feminine accent thrown in. I’m a SAHM of 6 children and am fairly active/athletic. For a lot of my life, I have worn athletic clothes (not sweats, but clothes appropriate for the gym or exercising) because I can move in them and don’t feel like I have to adjust things when I bend down or am cleaning. However, I feel like that, at age 42, many of the gym/athletic-type clothes that are in the stores are meant to be too form-fitting and I feel self-conscious, even if I size up. Do you have suggestions for how to transition to a middle-aged athletic look, especially when it comes to replacing fitted yoga pants?! I do not have a defined waist and overall have a broad athletic build. I find that joggers or anything with a bump at the waist are unflattering on me. I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have!
When I’m not wearing athletic wear, I find it pretty easy to dress in my style and also in my best colors. I’m a soft season and my signature color is teal.
P.S. I love that you love clothing and putting together outfits. It’s a little bit of a hobby for me. 🙂
I have a classic style essence, but have a petite, yet curvier upper body. I wear a 6-8 in pants and a 12-14 in jackets. Dresses do not work on me! The size difference between my upper and lower body, creates a challenge. Classic pieces are generally more fitted and structured pieces, like; button up shirts, cardigans, little black dresses, and timeless jackets, skirts and outerwear. They don’t always fit well. But, feminine flowing fabrics fit well, yet aren’t my style! So, I have an ongoing issue between fit and style! ?