Ask Laia: Help Me Figure Out My Personal Style

Heather's clothes all say "basic and boring," and she HATES that!
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Heather's clothes all say "basic and boring," and she HATES that!

Dear Laia,

I'm having trouble finding a "fashion personality" that works for me.  I have a lot of basics, but little in the way of style.  Partly because I don't know how to define "my style."  And those "fashion personality" quizzes are -- let's just say that all of the ones I have taken have been unhelpful. I'm a quirky intellectual type, and my clothes all say "basic and boring," and I HATE that. The bottom line is that I want to dress more uniquely and play up my personality -- and I don't know how!  Do you have any advice for me?

Oh yeah, and I'm a plus-sized woman -- which complicates things (a lot).

Any help you can give would be MUCH appreciated.


Thank you for writing in, Heather. This is quite a dilemma. I think I have a couple easy steps that should point you in the right direction towards finding your "fashion personality" whether your are plus-sized or minus-sized or mid-sized!

1. Find Your IconsThis one's easy. Think about all the things you've ever seen that made you go "man, I wish I dressed like that " or "so and so has cool style." This could be from anywhere: movies, a book, a celebrity or even someone you just saw on the street once. Do you like making collages? Because a great way to do this would be to go through magazines (or the internet) and print things out into a collage of all the things that you'd like to incorporate into your style (you can also just keep a folder on your desktop like I do). Personal style blogs and street style blogs can also be really helpful! I recommend my friend Nicolette Mason's blog as a good starting point for you. 

Once you've done this, study the images. What is it about it that you like? Is it the color combinations, or the silhouette or maybe a special detail like a bracelet or something. Make a list of these things (mental or otherwise) and next time you go out shopping, try to look for things that are on your list in one way or another. For example, if you're really into French movies from the '60s ask yourself "Is this something Anna Karina would wear?" If the answer is yes, then you've got a winner!

2. Interview Yourself

Imagine you are being interviewed for a fashion magazine. The world wants to know your top five fashion essentials! These don't have to be very involved. If everyday you wear a skirt and a tee then those can go on your list. If you enjoy wearing big jewelry, it can go on your list as well. Next time you go shopping, concentrate on these items, but look for them in different colors, prints or fabrics than what you usually go for. The idea is not to go crazy buying the latest trends but fitting all those trends into your (budding) personal style.

3. Invest In Things You Love

Developing your style and wardrobe takes time, after all--just as your interests are always evolving so will your sense of style. But I find it really fun and rewarding to buy things that I know I will have forever. If you love ballet flats then instead of buying a $20 pair at Old Navy, maybe spend a little bit more money on a pair of classic Repettos. Yes, spending a lot of money on clothes is totally wack BUT it will also help you be more conscious of the things you buy. I'm not saying you need to buy designer everything, but sometimes with so-called "fast fashion" stores it's easy to be like "eh, this dress is 40 bucks, I'll take it" and then maybe you do that every week and you end up spending a ton of money on crappy dresses that you might not even be THAT into that you could've spent on one really wonderful piece that you'll love forever. Basically the point is to be a conscious shopper; think of the way things will fit into your life and into what you already have before you commit to it and don't give into temptation just because things are cheap!

I hope these will steer you in the right direction! Fashion is really all about having fun and experimenting and you should never have to settle for "basic and boring."