April 13, 2022


Finding Your Authentic Style

By: Leah Nalepa

In a world that offers conflicting messages about fashion, I am often asked, “how do I find my style?” It’s a good question. To answer this, it’s important to remember that personal style reflects our tastes, preferences, and lifestyle. It can and should evolve over time. That said, if you are someone who is starting from scratch, there are a few things I recommend digging into to discover your authentic style. 

Make a list of 5 influencers, celebrities, TV characters, or even friends whose style you admire. 

It’s important to ask yourself a few questions about why you chose these 5:

Why do you like their style? 

What features of their style stand out to you most? 

Are there elements of their style you can build into your closet? 

Especially now, as many celebrities have their own clothing brands, honing in on the answers to these questions will help guide your style process and can lead you to some brands you otherwise wouldn’t have stumbled upon!

Build a Pinterest board based on what you like.

If I’m styling a client’s closet, I always build out a Pinterest board based on what they told me they like before seeing their closet. This is a vision board for us to view together to make sure we’re on the same page. The board captures their style personality, style elements they enjoy, and what they (and I) see working well for them. Importantly, it helps us stay on track during our session and guides the client to ensure they maintain a consistent style aesthetic after we’re done working together. 

This can easily be done by yourself. Vision boarding is all the rage. But have you actually taken time to sit down and put a digital board together based on clothing items you love? This process can easily be done on Canva too!

Understand how you want to feel. 

Do colors make you come alive? Does wearing a black dress make you feel powerful? Are you waiting for someone else’s approval before you chop your hair in the style you want it? 

Identify actual words that describe how you want to feel in your clothes: creative, bold, authentic, care-free, natural, tailored, clean-cut, gorgeous, influential, commanding, the list goes on! This is an important step in the overall process. 

Hint: The words you choose usually are in alignment with your personal brand and who you are when you’re at your best. 

Consider how you want others to feel when they see you. 

This is not as important as the previous point, but it’s still valuable because our style carries a message about us. Consistency is important in our personal style because our brand is a promise to others. That promise comes in the form of what we wear, how we show up, and how we interact with everyone around us. 

For example, I typically wear a mix of creative and classic clothes. I want to convey that I’m bold, yet classic; inspired, yet approachable. So, when I choose an outfit in the morning, I try to embody these values in my clothes and in my life. Do I always meet this exactly? No. But I will try. However, if I were to show up in a grunge, gothic outfit out of nowhere, people would question my authenticity and personal brand.

This isn’t to say don’t be creative or flexible when shaping your wardrobe. But ensure that the message you’re delivering to others through your style (your promise) is authentic to who you are and consistent with other areas of your life. 

Shop at non-traditional stores to find unique pieces that fit within your budget.

Many of you know by now, Nordstrom is my favorite department store and I always recommend shopping there when possible. But Nordstrom can be pricey. When exploring your style identity while on a budget, it’s always worth checking out places like upscale resale and thrift shops, factory stores (like J. Crew Factory or Banana Republic Factory), and even Amazon for great finds that won’t break the bank. 

At the end of the day, style is personal, custom, and authentic. It’s a reflection of who we are on the inside. The sooner we understand our style, the easier it is to let go of the changing trends around us. 

As one of my favorite stylists, Clinton Kelly, says, “Fashion is the buffet, but style is what you put on your plate.” 

Have fun discovering your authentic style and don’t take it too seriously. You know you best. And it’s worth creating time and space in your life to show your beautiful self to others through your style.