Building Your Personal Style (Part II)
In the blog post last Thursday, I started going over how to find your personal style. The first step is to recognize that everyone has a distinctive brand. What makes you, you. Like everyone recognizes the Starbucks red cups during the holidays, or knowing it is Nike when they see the swoosh.
It does take the time to learn who you are and build your style. During your exploration, you may make mistakes, and that’s perfectly okay. Here are my four top tips on developing your personal style:
1. FIND INSPIRATIONS
I believe beauty and inspirations are around us everywhere, even in the mundane, day-to-day moments. (In fact, there is a blog named Happy Mundane and it is one of my favorite blogs.)
There are TONS of information out there nowadays that are easily accessible, both online and offline. Take Pinterest, for example, there are 50 billion pins as of 3/31/2015, surely you can find something that’s of interest to you. (source)
I sound like a completely broken record here, but I’m an avid Pinterest user. In additions to using Pinterest as a source of inspirations, I also use it as a tool to create internal mood boards for projects. I use my boards to communicate with clients. I also use boards to show styling examples on my blogs, like my boards on entry ways, living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms,kitchens and different home styles, like Bohemian, Modern, Traditional & Transitional.
I also read and collect a lot of shelter magazines, especially foreign ones. I especially love House & Home (Canadian), Elle Decor UK, Living etc. (UK). There are also many free online magazines, like Rue Magazine, Est Magazine and tons of interior blogs like Decor8, designlovefest, and Simply Grove, just to name a few.
2. FINDING YOUR CORE
So now you’ve found tons of information out there, how do you know what you like? Be picky and choosy. Most big brands go through a similar process. They brainstorm a list of keywords that describe their brand personality. Then, they distil everything down to the essential few words that represent their brands. For example, Anthropologie is all about the found experiences. That’s why the store is merchandised like a Parisian flea market because they want the customers feel like they are hunting for treasures in unexpected places.
You can do the same with yourself. Go through all the images that you have collected, start eliminating things you don’t feel that resonate with you 100%. Once you have accumulated a large pool of images (like 100), with a visual tool like Evernote or Pinterest, it is easy to start seeing similarities. See if you can find any common keywords that describe your core.
Here is an example, my Styling Inspirations board:
What makes Pinterest a great tool is that the board layouts everything visually, making it easy to see everything. This is the board where I collect inspirations for my personal test shoots, ideas I want to play with. You can tell that I’m interested in geometric shapes, muted palettes with pops of colors, simple layouts with play on negative spaces.
3. LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
Most stylists I know started by assisting senior stylists in their industry. No one is a “stylist” right out of the gate. We learn by observing the best doing what they do best. They always make everything look so easy, but it took years of practices and doing to master the skills. That is is why I find internships and apprenticeship so valuable.
When I started working on photo shoots, I started to learn seeing the images through the camera lens, how to compose photographs and using negative spaces. I’m still learning every day. It does not stop. The more you see, the more you can hone your skills.
You can learn by reading blogs, magazines, and books. You can also learn from professionals by taking classes. No matter how you decide to learn, be hungry for information and opportunities to practice.
4. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
photo credit: Nicole Eliason
Similarly to seeing, the more you do, the better you will get.
I am a bit embarrassed to see my early projects. Professional stylists didn’t become who they are because they are design geniuses or born with that natural talents. In my experiences, sure, there needs to be a baseline of talent, but practices make artistry. A lot of creatives have an innate instinct. Over the years, they learn how to refine and deliver the results that they want. Like Malcolm Gladwell had said in his book Outlier, it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery. Why do you think professional athletes still put in hours and hours of practices every day? Michael Phelps did not become Michael Phelps by sitting at home on the couch eating bon bons.
Start small, and work your way up.