Finding Your Personal Style 101

And some quick tips on how to clean out your closet

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing at some point you started asking “what the heck is my personal style???” and ended up realizing you had absolutely no idea. You know there’s a sweater in your closet that you love, and there are items brand new with tags that you don’t, and that’s about the extent of your knowledge when it comes to your personal style.

Been there!

Style is a very personal choice. We are all human and therefore our style and tastes change from person to person. Sure, you may like the way another person dresses, but it’s not necessarily something YOU would dress in, right? You may also dislike the way someone dresses, and that’s okay, too! Their style is theirs, and your style is yours. That’s the fun of being human, we get to do whatever makes the most sense for us.

So how does someone figure out what their personal style is? I’m glad you asked! This is a journey I’ve been on several times and I’m excited to share with you my tips on developing your personal style.

Let’s dive in!

The Difference Between Fashion and Style

First things first, I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between fashion and style. I know a lot of people use these terms interchangeably, but they actually mean two separate things.

Style is a reflection of you. Style is personal. It’s timeless. It’s what sets you apart from everyone else.

Whereas fashion is a reflection of someone or something else – fashion magazines, fashion icons, fashion designers, etc. Fashion is trendy and changes rapidly.

Most of the time we have our own personal style – a style we love that makes us feel comfortable and confident. Sometimes, people love to follow trends, making their style very trendy. Whether you love to follow trends, or you prefer a more signature approach, I think it’s a great idea to narrow down your personal style. It makes shopping so much easier, makes getting dressed at the start of the day more enjoyable, and brings a huge boost of confidence to our daily lives.

MY Personal Style

I have always loved clothes. I love shopping, following fashion influencers, pinning outfit ideas on Pinterest, and putting together unique outfits. While I thought for sure I knew what my personal style was, recently I found my tastes evolving, causing me to no longer align with the style I was wearing just a year ago. Because of this, my confidence has been low, getting dressed every morning has been such a struggle, and I’ve absolutely dreaded going shopping – which so isn’t like me.

So we’re going on this journey together. I’m setting out, once again, to figure out what my personal style is. If you’re like me who’s tastes change rather quickly, you may find yourself going through this process pretty regularly. However, if you’re someone who hates change and loves for things to stay the same, after this process, you may be set for life.

Let’s jump into it!

5 Tips For Finding Your Personal Style

Tip One – Start Slow

This does not have to be an overnight thing. I know once you’re done reading this you’re going to be ready to take action, remove everything from your closet, and go buy yourself a new wardrobe. PAUSE. Finding your personal style takes time, and you don’t want to rush into it, because you’ll end up back at square one with a closet full of items you don’t really like all that much.

Finding your style requires some research, some testing, some determination, and a lot of patience. It’s okay to take your time!

Tip Two – Think of a Personal Style Icon

Can you think of anyone specifically who’s style you absolutely LOVE? This can be fashion influencers, celebrities, your neighbor, a coworker, the lady you see at the grocery store every Monday at 11 am, anyone you can think of.

What is it that you love about their style? Use them as inspiration! Remember, just because you love someone’s style doesn’t mean it’s your style. Find what you love about their style, and keep it in mind as we go through this process. We’re just doing some research right now! Don’t worry, we’ll narrow it down.

Tip Three – Download Pinterest and Follow Fashion Influencers

I’m a biiiiiiig fan of Pinterest. Pinterest gives me tons of inspiration for literally everything: style, food, drinks, organization, crafts, art, etc. Pinterest is a fantastic tool and I cannot recommend it enough.

Pinterest gives you the option of searching for clothing styles and “pinning” the ones you feel connected to. Hop on to Pinterest, search “Style Inspiration” and begin pinning the pins that speak to you.

Here’s my “Style Inspo” board in case you’re curious (ps you should also follow me)

This can feel like a lot at first, and like there’s too much variety, but we’ll continue to narrow it down.

Once you feel like you’ve got a good amount of pins, go into your board and analyze it. Are there any color consistencies? Patterns? Shapes? Are there styles you LOVE where others are just “meh”?

Create another board (you can create a section within your style board), and begin moving outfits you LOVE into this sub section. It helps you to see even clearer what really stands out to you!

Remember, this may take some time. Sure, you can pin for an hour and have a board full of inspiration, but take a couple days and scroll for 10-15 minutes a day adding whatever speaks to you. You may find that some styles inspire you more than others today, and the opposite tomorrow. Just like some days you feel like dressing up, and other days you can’t be bothered to put on pants.

I also recommend following fashion influencers on Instagram or TikTok, however, be careful with this. As someone who has dealt with a lot of negativity towards my body, I’m very picky about the fashion influencers I follow. I prefer to follow influencers who are similar in body shape and size to me, or influencers who don’t make me feel poorly about my body image. I’ll leave this up to personal interpretation – you know yourself best. Follow those who make you feel good.

Tip Four – Clean Out Your Closet

This might just be my favorite part. There is something so refreshing and freeing throwing out a bunch of unused clothing!!

Have you heard of Marie Kondo? Marie Kondo took the world by storm in 2019 when Netflix released a television series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. This show set the precedence for how I clear out my closet (and my entire house tbh). I still fold my t-shirts and pants the way she taught me in 2019. I highly recommend checking it out on Netflix. If you’re not feeling particularly inspired to clear out your closet at this time, check out the episode specifically about tidying up a closet – you’ll feel real inspired after!

While I’m not going to go into depth the way Marie does, I will give you my version of how I clean out my closet.

  • First, take out every single item and lay it in a pile on your bed or floor, or whatever works. Just get it allllll out of your closet. Every. Single. Piece. While your closet is empty, clean it! Super quick! Vacuum, dust, clear up any cobwebs, etc.
  • Begin going through every single item by holding it in your hands, and determining if it “brings you joy”, according to Marie. According to Amy, though, determine if it’s a “Hell Yes”, a “Hell No”, or a “Well, Maybe”.
  • Create three different piles (hell yes, hell no, well maybe), and get to work sorting every single item into these three piles.
  • Once everything is sorted, take the hell yes pile and put it back into your closet and box up the hell no pile for donation.
  • Go back into your closet and analyze what’s left. This is a strong indication and starting point of what your personal style is. Your closet should be full of items you love and make you feel comfortable. Notice any patterns? Color consistencies? Do you have a lot of bold patterns or more neutral tones? Do you have more oversized items or fitted? etc.
  • Go back to your well maybe pile and determine if these items fit seamlessly into your style, or box them up for storage if you think you might wear them another time or in another season. If they don’t fit in seamlessly, get rid of them!
  • Lastly, soak it all in, and pat yourself on the back. You’re on your way to creating a personal style!

Tip Five – Set Aside a Day to Go LOOK

I lied, I think this is actually my favorite part.

Plan a day to “window shop”.

Basically, go to all your favorite stores, and even some stores you’ve never been into, and TRY. EVERYTHING. ON.

I LOVE this idea because it allows you to shop without the obligation. You don’t have to buy anything or spend money, and it allows you to get super creative and try things that are way out of your comfort zone. It also allows you to see how things fit. We all know how inconsistent clothing sizes are (have you read my previous post about fashion sizes and how they’re totally arbitrary?), but this will hopefully give you a better sense of your personal size (but really, read my previous blog post because essentially, sizing doesn’t matter).

Try recreating outfits you pinned on Pinterest or saw your fave fashion influencer wear. Put things together you’re unsure of. Try on different colors, styles, and shapes. See what works for YOUR body and what makes you feel really good. Be as creative and crafty as you can, and begin to narrow down what your personal style is.

Pat Yourself on the Back – You Now Know Your Personal Style

You started slow, taking your time to really think about what you love. You picked out a handful of people who’s fashion sense you love, you began pinning inspiration, you have a curated closet, and you tried on all the things to get a better sense of what you love and what feels good. At this point, you should have a better sense of your personal style!

If not, don’t fret! This is something we work at regularly, and quite frankly, forever. We’re humans – our tastes continue to evolve as long as we’re on this Earth, therefore your style will too! Take your time curating your personal style. Add and subtract things as you go. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Continue to try until you nail it! It gets easier!

BONUS: What to Do With Your “Hell No” Pile

“I now have this huge pile of clothing I don’t wear, what the heck do I do with it?”

I’m glad you asked.

There are several ways you can get rid of this “Hell No” pile.

  1. Donate it – Charities, homeless shelters, Goodwill, Clothing drives, schools, etc.
  2. Sell it – Poshmark, Mercari, FaceBook Marketplace, Depop, etc.
  3. Consign it (other people sell it for you) – Sunny + Olive (heyyyy), ThredUp, or consignment shops near you
  4. Recycle it – For Days, or a local recycling plant near you
  5. Give it to your friends or family

The End

I hope this helps! Finding your personal style should be fun and exciting. Don’t think too hard about it! Take your time, ask for help, have lots of fun. If you have questions or tips of your own, drop ’em in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

Another bonus tip (because I’m full of ’em today!), I wrote a blog post last week on when to say NO to thrifted items. It’s so easy to fill our closets with items we don’t particularly enjoy. Now that your closet is clean and organized, check out my previous blog post to help keep it that way!


Amy Kelley

Owner – Sunny + Olive

February 5, 2023

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