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I’ve always been into fashion because I like beautiful things and I like the ability to express myself through my personal style. Fashion allowed me to share aspects of my personality, giving me a voice when I didn’t always feel like I could speak up or out. But, I followed a very traditional path in life.
This resulted in me making safe, low-risk fashion choices that were in direct misalignment with all of my personalities (there’s more than one, lol).
That is changing and – let me tell you – not only is it refreshing but it’s also a dope confidence booster. Someone I used to know would always tell me to ‘enjoy the journey.’ Now I understand what that really means.
I’m at the beginning of mine, but I’m open and excited to see where it takes me. I encourage you to do the same by trying out some of the ideas below!
Keep your eyes and ears open! I have found that the key to finding sources of inspo is, simply, to look around. Inspiration is everywhere. The easiest online tools to use right now are social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest since they are digital platforms. Find things you like and excite you. Then, lightly incorporate it into your style (lightly, meaning don’t spend too much money trying out new things. If it feels good, natural, and authentic then stick with it…if not, retire it.
Personally, I gravitate toward individuals who have a sense of their own style sensibilities and wear what they want regardless of what is on trend. Oh, and they look on point and ooze confidence along the way.
My fave recognizable names: Rihanna (shocker – I think she’s most people’s) for her versatility, risk-taking and constant experimentation, Tracee Ellis Ross for her ability to mix new and old (especially classic vintage), and LA-based blogger Aimee Song who is effortlessly cool, chic, and approachable.
Traveling is also a major source of inspiration for me because it opens up a whole new world (no pun intended) of ways to approach and think about wearing clothes and presenting myself.
Sometimes we put artificial constraints on ourselves about what we can wear, how we can fix our hair, or if we can show our tattoos (which I’ve also struggled with). We may do this because we think we’re being judged by doing so or that we’d be negatively affected by being ourselves.
Life is short – we only live once and we are not our jobs or our circumstances. Identify if those constraints are valid. Find ways around them so that you’re constantly moving in the direction of being your best, most authentic self through your personal style.
I reached a point where I did not find joy in my clothes. This was partly due to having too many “work” clothes (thanks to my Corporate America 9-5) as well as not allowing myself to spend money on “fun” clothes because I didn’t see them as a priority.
This led to me having a closet full of clothes that were safe, presentable, and nice BUT that did not align with my personality. For starters: I’m moody so my wardrobe needed more variety. Second: I like to switch things up (don’t like routine), I can be sassy (Imma Aries y’all), and I’m a single 30 something who likes to feel sexy at times (yep, it’s true).
My therapist encouraged me to purge what does not fit with the life I plan to lead.
Dress How You Wanna Be Addressed
Since doing that I’ve felt much lighter and more excited by my pieces I still have. Pro Tip: Don’t let those clothes go to waste if they’re in decent shape. Donate (to local non-profits) or sell through ThredUp, The RealReal and/or Poshmark (a super easy-to-use resell platform I recently joined. Find me if you’re on there!).
Now that I have purged clothes that didn’t serve me and picked up pieces that I really like, I make it a point to enjoy myself in them. I take my time getting dressed, playing around with styling, trying out accessories, taking photos for myself and IG (hey, that’s part of the job), posing, embracing the fabric, and feeling the vibes my look is evoking. I am learning to slow down by taking my time to get ready and get to my destination so I can relish how my clothes move and feel as well as how I feel in them.
Start small if you need to. Many of us have jobs or other circumstances that may not allow fully allow us to embrace our inner fashionista. For example – I used to be nervous to wear my natural hair to my Southern-based corporate gig. Slowly but surely I tested the waters with my hair (first a bun, then a ponytail, then full-on afro) and it was fine. If it wasn’t fine, then I had to ask myself if that was the job for me. The bigger lesson I took was – if I’m being professional and delivering my work, then my natural hair shouldn’t be a limiting factor. If if it was, then that company does not deserve me or my talents. Experiment and see where you end up.
Let me know in the comments how any of these ideas turn out for you. Do you have anything to add to this list on how to develop your personal style?