History in the Making

How to Identify Your Style Basics, Style File Friday

In the next few months, I’m going to be analysing my wardrobe in order to pare it down to my style basics and streamline it to pieces that I wear and love, and to make a cohesive, long-term shopping strategy. I will be sharing my tips on looking at what you are wearing, how you are shopping, and how you can care for the pieces that you own in order to make them last. It can sometimes feel overwhelming when you are looking at racks and drawers of clothing, but taking it one step at a time makes it manageable. Today, we are looking at how to identify your style basics- your basics aren’t necessarily mine, or what magazines and stores want to be your basics. It’s time to look at your wardrobe and assess!
How to Identify Your Style Basics

1. Identify What You Wear Regularly and When

Starting off, I would recommend that you track your wardrobe, even if it’s just keeping a list in your phone or taking selfies, including your accessories. After a week of two, go through your list and note what pieces you are wearing regularly and for what. Are you always wearing the same three bottoms to work? Is it a completely different outfit every single day of the week? Is it formal for week and athleisure for the weekend? Remember to keep this judgement-free- nothing is “good” or “bad”, you simply want to know what things are being worn the most. If you can, try to make a fast note when you are choosing your clothing for the day; even something as simple as “the office is cold and I need a sweater” or “I wanted to wear this piece but it’s dirty/wrinkled” can be helpful. Also important? If you are continually ignoring certain pieces, remember that as well. (You don’t have to get rid of it, just take note.)
Wardrobe Basics Collared Cuffed Shirt

2. Identify Patterns and Colours You Wear Regularly

I am a big fan of having a cohesive colour palette in your wardrobe, as having a random mis-mash of colours tends to make your wardrobe more difficult to use on a daily basis. (Some people enjoy having a wacky and mis-matched wardrobe that does whatever it wants, but I find that most people can’t pull that off.) If there are any patterns or colours that you wear on a regular basis, keep track of it! I personally wear a lot of plaids in the fall, winter, and spring, and I wear a lot of stripes all year round. Colour-wise, I usually wear green, navy, red, and blue! Because I tend to stick within this colour palette, most of my wardrobe can be mixed and matched without a ton of work. I do also have a few pieces that don’t fit into that colour palette, but when I bought them, I ensured that I have pieces that work with them.
Wardrobe Basics Stripes

3. Identify Shapes and Silhouettes You Wear Regularly

Along with colour, it’s important to know what shapes are common in your pieces. Do you always wear flowing tops and dresses? Do you wear a lot of tunics and leggings? Skinny jeans or relaxed girlfriend jeans? Are you wearing a collared shirt or a sweatshirt to work? I personally gravitate towards structures pieces with unstructured layering pieces to balance it out; it offers the simple and sophisticated look that I want without looking like a formal uniform. I also find that structured pieces are more flattering for my silhouette, as loose and drape-y pieces tend to distort how I look. Are you wearing those pieces to hide one part of your physique, or to highlight another? This can be the tricky part of analysing your wardrobe, as it can sometimes take some difficult thought- pondering the aspects of yourself that you consider to be flaws isn’t exactly a jamboree. However, the information is useful and can help you moving forward! (It’s a good time to remind yourself that things aren’t “good” or “bad”.)
Wardrobe Basics Blazer

4, Identify the Trends You Wear Regularly

This is an overarching task that is best done over a few months if you can! Do you like to try out new and upcoming style trends, and stay up to date on the latest looks? Or do you try to choose pieces that you can wear five years down the road? A mixture of both? The kind of looks you like to wear can help you figure out where is best for you to look for inspiration, where to shop, and how to shop for the best deals. My wardrobe is fairly classic and traditional, and my goal is to be able to wear everything I own for at least five years. That means that looking at the latest runway looks for inspiration can feel confusing; yes, I may enjoy them, but they clash with my wardrobe. However, if you love being of-the-moment with your style, the runway and fashion weeks are the perfect place for you to go! You may also want to cultivate relationships with your local department store, so that you can have access to the newest pieces before they are everywhere. Looking for timeless pieces? Set up alerts online for when they are on sale, as they may very well be permanent pieces that are continually restocked.
Fossil Emma Satchel Front View
What types of colours and silhouettes are most common in your wardrobe? And how often do you re-assess your wardrobe? 
Until tomorrow,
The Historian
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16 thoughts on “How to Identify Your Style Basics, Style File Friday”

  • I’ve definitely realised recently that I have a certain style I always go back to. I’m drawn to the same types of pieces every year. I love tiny patterns. And knitwear!

    • Knitwear is so lovely- depending on the fibre, it can be warm and cool (whatever you need), and it’s always appropriate!! And I think that knowing that you love certain things only helps in the long run- you don’t waste money and time buying clothing that you know you won’t wear!

  • Love this; love your advice on pattern and color! I’ve been editing my wardrobe so that I could (ideally) reach into my closet and grab anything and put it on without worrying about whether it will fit — or match — anything else I have on!

    • That’s really a defining feature of my wardrobe now; with few exceptions, most pieces can work together, and it makes life so much easier. I don’t have to worry about accidentally looking like I got dressed in the dark haha!

    • It’s something that a lot of us never think about!! What about your favourite sweater makes it comfortable- is it soft, is it warm, is it loose? It is a fantastic exercise to set you on the way to loving your wardrobe 🙂

  • I did this kind of analysis of my wardrobe over the summer, before moving to university. I wanted my style to be in-check before I had to make a tonne of first impressions and, well, it worked! My whole life I have felt uncomfortable with everything that I wear, nothing ever felt like *me*. Then I did this kind of assessment and realised that I love accentuating my hour glass body shape by bringing things in at the waist (high-waisted jeans are my favourites), and hated wearing bold colours and stripes… stripes are just a no go for me. It’s completely changed my look on fashion!!

    • Sometimes it can be a tough thing to do (you might have to deal with things you have been avoiding), but I think it is completely worth it- I find that taking that time to plan and strategise my wardrobe has given me more confidence in myself. I don’t worry if something is wrong with what I’m wearing or if it doesn’t fit well, because I’ve edited those “maybes” out of my wardrobe!! And what you enjoy now might not be what you like in five years. Checking in with your style is definitely a must!

  • I love that you wear so much green. You are Christmassy/ or match summer colours…so it works all year round. 🙂
    I also adore that green coat with the polka dots.

    • I stand by my proclamation that green is a year round colour haha! And Christmas can almost always cheer me up, so it’s nice to have that in my pocket 🙂
      It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made!! It’s almost 6 years old, I’ve worn it probably 150+ times, and it was $60 CAD. To think at the time, I thought it was outrageously expensive!!

    • I honestly cannot tell you how much this means to me, that would be a dream job!! Some people will argue that style is frivolous, but I think that it is an important part of our identity, and a fascinating subject 🙂 You have made my 2018!!

      • I’m happy to hear that! But honestly I find your prose wonderful – you definitely have a way with words. I’m not sure how difficult it is to break into that market, they probably already have plenty of stylists, but I am sure they are always looking for good writers. If you like makeup, the beauty editor of Oprah magazine retired recently, Valerie Monroe I think was her name and I always looked forward to her column as she had a way of describing products that made you want to run right out and buy them, but now that column is just blah. I am recently retired (from something medical), but had the opportunity when I was in my 20’s to interview with Hearst magazines in New York for a Glamour editorial assistant job (does that magazine even exist anymore?), but turned it down, something I always regretted. This was in the 80’s before computers when freelance work was not an option. Wishing you the best of luck!

        • (I’m terrible with responding to comments, so I’m taking all of today to respond, and hopefully schedule in weekly time to respond!) I’ve recently decided to target 5 areas/topics of writing, and try to guest blog on those topics, to test the waters, so-to-speak! I have submitted to a few sites but never heard anything at all. I know that the world of blogging and online writing is incredibly competitive (and there is no way to know just how many thousands and thousands of writers have submitted along with you), but I’m hoping to finally gain a little traction!!

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