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I am a 36 year old mother of three young children who is planning to re-enter the work force on a part time basis. I am a former marketing manager and a teacher, but feel as though I never developed my personal fashion style. I am not a shopper but when I do try to buy clothes I can't decide if I want to look hip and trendy or tailored and professional, because I seem to be drawn to too many of the styles out there. How do I identify my own "style"?

Each season, fashion offers women such abundant and varied style options that it can become difficult to discern your personal style. Remember too that fashion is always changing; change is the wheel that the entire fashion industry thrives. As long as you do not become a slave to every fashion fad, this is a positive. Fashion offers us the opportunity to change along with the times, not becoming bored with ourselves or worse, to become stagnant or freeze-dried in the past.

It’s important to update your image to keep new energy flowing in your life and to look as if you are living in the now. But there is a catch to it or you end up sabotaging your beauty, your budget, and your personal power just to look fashionable. I find that the women that are the most successful with their image updates always purchase a few new fashion items each season, but only those items that suit their body type, coloring, and personal style.

Personal style comes from knowing the authentic self. To develop personal style, you must get to know yourself on the inside (your confidence level, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, etc.) as well as learning about and accepting your exterior, which includes your body type, physical coloring, proportion, etc. While you may enjoy wearing a lot of different looks, some will look better than others on “you.” Begin to notice which cuts really flatter you the most. Learn which styles you are comfortable wearing and which ones force you to stretch your comfort zone, even when they are flattering. What kind of woman do you most admire? With these observations, you will get clues as to your true personal style. Also, are you willing to work on your look on a daily basis? If so, how much time do you spend on your hair, makeup, clothing, etc.?

There are many different “Fashion Personality” systems. The most common ones tout personal styles such as these: The “Natural” Woman, The “Classic” Woman, The “Romantic” Woman, The “Dramatic” Woman. Do you see facets of yourself in any of those labels?

One of my favorite systems comes from Robert Pante’s book, Dressing to Win (which is out of print and only available in used bookstores). It lists four different types of women, which are these: Chic, Elegant, Glamorous, and Spicy.

  • The Chic woman prefers an urban backdrop (city life) for her impeccable image. She likes to be in control and she has a unique flair for making herself stand out in the crowd.
  • The Elegant woman has a strong presence and exudes a natural grace; she prefers to wear fine jewelry (pearls, diamonds, real gold, sterling silver, precious and semi-precious stones) even when dressed casually; she eschews costume jewelry.
  • The Glamorous woman prefers lots of hair, lots of jewelry, lots of makeup, and a definite eye-catching look.
  • The Spicy woman is an individualist and does not want to look like everyone else. She prefers avant-garde styles, including those that are a bit outrageous

Keep in mind that there are positive and negative attributes inherent in each type. For example, the elegant woman may get so elegant that she may appear aloof, not approachable, or she may choose elegant styles beyond her years which make her look frumpy. The glamorous woman can easily look cheap or overdone, but when she has good taste, the world pays attention to her in a positive way. Many women are not “pure” types. It is common to express a primary style with touches of a secondary style.

Another excellent book specifically designed to help women develop their personal style is entitled 10 Steps to Fashion Freedom: Discover Your Personal Style from the Inside Out by Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield. It is readily available in today’s market, and I highly recommend reading it. You will enjoy the numerous exercises designed to identify the authentic you.

Get to know yourself and enjoy the results!

Best of luck to you,
Sherry Maysonave


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