A great conversation broke out on my Facebook Page last night after I posted an article about signature style and why successful people wear the same thing everyday. Granted, the article spoke only about men, however, we can look at successful women like Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang and see the same approach to dressing. In fact, I wrote about this shortly after Steve Jobs passed away.
It may come as a bit of a surprise that I am in full support of creating a signature look and even wearing a variation of the same thing everyday. Yes, I work in fashion, but no I’m not a fashionista. The whole reason I started my business had nothing to do with a passion for fashion in a gluttonous, shop ’til you drop, way. I started my business because I had a desire to teach women how to become more in control of their wardrobes, personal styles and shopping. Developing a signature style is definitely part of this.
However, I think it is important to point out what a signature style or look is. A signature style isn’t about wearing a uniform everyday, similar to Mark Zuckerberg and his grey t-shirts or Steve Jobs and his black turtlenecks, it’s about wearing a ‘you’niform. Before I go on, I can’t take credit for creating this word. One of the commenters on the Facebook post said it and I just had to steal it because it is so brilliant.
Finding Your Signature Style: The Difference Between a ‘You’niform and a Uniform
The difference between a uniform and a ‘you’niform is quite different. Many women who call me for help often wear what would be described as a uniform. They basically wear the same uninspired looks everyday, feel blah and like an acceptably dressed nobody. Instead of feeling empowered and good about themselves they feel lost in the crowd. Their uniform is just a clothing rut that they can’t get out of. A uniform doesn’t feel good to wear.
A ‘you’niform is much different. It’s a look that you have identified is easy, comfortable and, most important you feel good wearing. When you wear this look you feel like the you on the inside is expressed outwardly. A ‘you’niform transcends trend, it’s usually pretty classic and easy to duplicate. Developing a ‘you’niform often comes at an age when you feel comfortable in your own skin and at a time when you are disinterested in trying out trends at the sacrifice of being authentic with yourself.
A ‘you’niform doesn’t have to be the same exact outfit everyday but it usually is a variation in the style that you are most comfortable wearing. For example, being a lover of navy blazers and jeans, I will often grab a more structured or classic cardigan over a drapier one and I will often gravitate towards a sheath dress that has a more timeless feel over one that is overly printed or very drapey or frilly. What I have come to recognize about my own ‘you’niform or signature style is that I prefer timeless pieces, tailored fits and structure. The likelihood of you finding me shopping in a Chico’s or wearing Eileen Fisher is slim to none. There is nothing wrong with either of these companies, it’s just not me.
In a time of over merchandised stores, new product coming in about every two weeks and the barrage of Pinterest photos, outfit of the day looks and blogs, having a ‘you’niform can easily help you cut down on all the fashion noise that is out there that can become downright overwhelming while causing tremendous paralysis in decision making. Seriously, I think half of the reason why most of my clients hire me is to just help them sift through this. Therefore, if you can shop for clothing with a ‘you’niform in mind it makes it possible to appreciate other things that don’t necessarily belong in your closet and on your body. Can I absolutely appreciate someone in a drapey, flowy printed dress? Absolutely…on them.
Finding your Signature Style or ‘You’niform
Going back to that original article I posted on Facebook, reading through some of the comments, I was sad to read that some commenters mentioned that they are struggling to know what their signature look is or that they were working on it. Sure, there is an evolution that comes with finding out what your ‘you’niform is, but it’s not that hard. My guess about these women who are struggling to find their signature style is that they’re looking in the wrong place for it.
Getting inspiration from the way others dress around you is definitely helpful. Something instinctively goes off in us when we know we like or dislike something someone else is wearing. However, finding your true signature style can’t be found outside of yourself. You know you have found it when you everything about you changes because of what you are wearing. It’s almost like a light switch being turned on.
Think about one time you have worn something and immediately noticed a difference in how you walked, stood, engaged with others, put yourself out there, sat more comfortably or were just less aware of what you were wearing or even yourself. Believe it or not, this is all it takes. It’s in the that noticing of how you feel and, therefore, how you engage with the world that your ‘you’niform or signature style is found.
Here’s an exercise you can try. For the next 30 days, I want you to become aware of how you felt each day in what you were wearing and keep a record of it. Make note of how you carried yourself, how outgoing you felt and how confident you were. After the 30 days are over, look for the consistencies in what you were wearing on those days that you felt your best and you felt your worst. What may start to bubble up to the surface are little things that start to come together to paint a clearer picture. Maybe you will learn that you are not a color person or that prints just aren’t your thing. Maybe you felt more graceful when you wore fluid fabrics and too serious in tailored jackets. You may not piece the whole thing together but what it will do is help start informing you on what you should and shouldn’t be looking for when you are shopping, what might be smart to pass up on and what might be smart to look into purchasing more of.
As the classic Greek saying goes, “Know thyself.”
Truly, that’s all it takes.
A ‘you’niform is one of the best terms I have heard in a long time and it’s one that I am sure some of you will be able to use on your journey of personal style development.