Laurel Kinney is a personal stylist, and we toured her beautiful Austin home a few years ago. She has five questions you should ask yourself before the year is up so you don't end up filling your 2017 closet full of clothes you'll never wear.
Have you ever peered into your closet and had the frustrating feeling that none of your clothes feel right anymore? Since our closets are home to our wardrobes/outward identities, these kinds of existential dilemmas aren't uncommon (or shallow, as detailed in my last post) especially since we tend to have ever-changing, complex emotional lives and personalities. Maybe you've tried to shop with this in mind, but have ended up purchasing pieces that you just never wear, or clothes that feel like new interpretations of the same old thing.
Sure enough, those new pieces collect dust and seem just as lackluster as the rest of your wardrobe. It's intimidating to try to start fresh, and no one wants to waste money on not getting it right. Pushing the discomfort of not having clothes that reflect the real you aside only works for so long, especially if you understand the confidence boost and overall benefit that comes from having a wardrobe that's aligned with your personality.
Before you can align your style, you need to look inward to get super clear on who you are and what you want to be known for in this world.
But how do you begin to make smarter choices when it comes to your wardrobe if all you really know is what you have doesn't work for you anymore? In order to truly align who you are with what you wear, you have to go a little deep. Anyone can look in a magazine and tell you what's on-trend at the moment, and you can even get your colors done to understand whether "autumns" or "winters" look better on you. Before you can align your style, you need to look inward get super clear on who you are and what you want to be known for in this world.
Your wardrobe can be inspired by AND communicate your personality, goals in life, and your particular brand of creativity. But before you toss out your entire wardrobe and hit the mall in desperation, ask yourself a few questions (some of which were inspired by Danielle LaPort and Carrie McCarthy's awesome personal style manifesto Style Statement). So get out your journal and jot down the first things that come to mind when you read the following questions:
1. What do you want people to notice about you?
These don't have to be physical attributes, but rather certain qualities you want to illuminate, values you possess, or aspects of yourself you want someone who meets you for the first time to "get" right away. Once you have a grasp on what you want people to see in you, you can start to use these words as inspirational starting points for wardrobe creation.
2. What do you think people see when they look at you?
Do they see your creativity? Your eyes? Your self-possession? The maternity shirt that you're still wearing even though your baby is three? Are the clothes you're currently wearing giving off a correct impression of who you really are right now?
3. When do you feel (or have felt) your absolute best?
Is your sweet spot hanging out with your family? Riding a bike? Sitting on your couch with your dogs? Reflecting on times you have felt really great can put you in the mindset for replicating that feeling, and can inspire your style by keeping those times top of mind when you explore new styles. Can you picture feeling your absolute best in those pants?
Don't shove under the rug the fact that you used to follow Phish just because you have to go to a corporate office job every day.
4. Think back to a time you felt truly alive and free.
What were you doing and what were you wearing? I love this question because it can get at that extra ingredient that might be missing from your current wardrobe. Your past! Don't shove the fact that you used to follow Phish under the rug just because you have to go to a corporate office job every day. You can take elements of what you love to do (and wear) and translate them into your everyday wardrobe with just a little thoughtful effort. It's so worth it.
5. What are 5 words that describe YOU?
This is difficult to answer, so it helps to ask a few close friends to share a few words that they think describe you. Why not just email them and ask?
One mistake we tend to make with our style is thinking it can only be ONE thing. Our moods and personalities shift and change, so our style should too. When you lock onto just one single style like "professional" or "classic," you're missing out on the juicy combinations of styles that really give you a distinctly YOU look, like "creative edgy pro," "boho classy pro," or even "modern punk pro." Having a varied array of styles that inspire you is the difference between having personal style and just wearing clothes.
Once you've gone a little deep to clarify how you want to be seen and what you want to communicate to the world, you can look at how these attributes are being played out in your current wardrobe. Ready to take action? Read about how you can sort your closet like a personal stylist.
→ You can read more about Laurel's personal styling business on her website.
And see Laurel's house tour from 2013