I'm Pretty Sure I Don't Have a "Signature Style" But That's Okay With Me

My closet reflects the rest of my life. It's all over the place.
Publish date:
October 1, 2014
adulthood, personal style, Rihanna, signature style, everything is overwhelming

When I think of "signature style," I think of the celebrities we've elevated to iconic status thanks to their enviable wardrobes and innate sense of what to wear. Or, their thankless personal stylist. Either way.

I think of Audrey Hepburn in black cigarette pants and a white button down. Her hair's chopped into a pixie, and she's playing with a baby deer. I get really emotional when I think about Audrey, so moving on...

I think of Jane Birkin's bangs, and her menswear-inspired outfits. I think of the Olsen twins in black slouchy dresses hanging from their identical tiny frames. I think of the Kardashians in the tightest dresses I can imagine, faces countoured to high heaven, and hair blown out to perfection.

While I've definitely emulated these ladies and more from time to time, and found inspiration in the style of movie characters and TV shows, I can't think of one style I've clung to more than any other over the years. I'm not sure my personal style has any sort of defining characteristic.

There's something to be said for maintaining a signature look. I mean, look at Anna Wintour. She basically wears the same thing all the time, and has had the same hairdo for forever, but no one would call her un-stylish. (Mostly because no one wants to get blacklisted, I'm sure.)

A signature look makes you more recognizable, and I'd also imagine it goes a long way in helping to foster that enviable "sense of identity" I keep hearing so much about. (Join me later, after a few drinks, for my spoken word poem entitled "I'm 24 and I don't know who I am and my whole body hurts!")

My clothing choices reflect the rest of my life, though, which is to say -- I'm all over the place.

I'm just as comfortable in overalls and a lacy bra top as I am in a sleek black suit. Some days, I wake up and all I can do to get through the day is wear as many sequins as possible. Other days, I'm all up in your Target wearing yoga pants and a fleece pullover, snatchin' up all the hot dads.

Some days I truly envy those with identifiable personal styles. How I wish I could be a girl you think of when you spy a sleek black and white outfit. What I'd give to be the woman wearing retro-inspired clothes day in and day out.


I was wondering if maybe my personal style was a bit more cohesive than I realized. In the spirit of curiosity and boredom, I posted a Facebook status asking my several hundred closest buddies, "When you picture me in your mind's eye, what do you picture me wearing?" I asked them not to put too much thought into it and to just give me the first answer they came up with, unless the answer was "nothing." Gross, pervs! Show some respect and send a private message!! My parents are gonna see this!!

I thought, "Maybe I'll get mostly the same answer. That will prove that I do have some semblance of a signature look." But, as expected, the responses were as all over the place as my dating history.

Here's what some of my friends imagine me wearing when they picture me:

"Gingham and daisy dukes and a bike helmet," said Danielle. She gets me.

"That vintage pink dress you wore in the article about Southern Women," said Marci. (And then Katy Whitten chimed in to agree!)

Other answers included: a black dress, flowers (I don't get it either, but I like it), something with red lipstick (thanks, mom, you know me so well), crop tops, frills (?), navy blue coveralls, leotards, one of the croquet outfits from "Heathers," footy pajamas (thanks, DAD), and a big red hat.

Four people responded to say "A romper." Thanks, you guys. I only actually own three rompers, but I guess they've made quite an impression.

My favorite answer was probably this one from my girl, Maryam: "High waisted cutoffs, crop top, Strawberita in your hand." Either that, or my friend Brian who pictures me in, "A soft colored yellow sweater whose sleeves are a touch too long. It may or may not be grooved but it probably is. Jeans. No shoes. Holding a glass of wine." Isn't that a touchingly descriptive image? It's good to know most of my friends picture me with a drink in hand. I'm doing really well at life.

I would also like to thank the several people who responded that they picture me in the green dress from "Atonement." I love you all. (Your checks are in the mail.)

Sure, a lot of my FB friends know me from various stages of my life (childhood, high school, college, the brief period where I dropped out/was kicked out of college and called myself an artist but really just lived with my parents and cried a lot, my twenties so far), and personal styles are bound to change over those stages, but my style changes every freaking day, I swear. It's sort of exhausting, but I'm not sure I'd change it if I could.

As a funemployed person, er, I mean freelancer, I spend a lot of time browsing the Internet and Pinteresting my life away. As I curate boards full of well-dressed women and expensive things, it's easy to wish I had a more steadfast sense of style.

For one thing, if I wore similar clothes all the time, it would make it a lot easier for me to buy me clothes. No one ever buys me clothes because they're all, "I wasn't sure you'd like it." I can see why it's difficult. My tastes are arbitrary and always changing.

I guess my question is: Can a person be stylish without maintaining some consistency as far as personal style? I'd love to look at a person like Rihanna, who switches up her style more often than I switch my underwear, and gleefully report "Obviously!" But I'm not about to compare my style to Rihanna. I would never even call myself a low rent Rihanna. Rihanna and I are not on the same planes of existence.

As a young person desperately seeking a salary and sense of self, would developing a signature style make me feel a little less insane? If I wore black pants with white button downs every day, would the people around me take me more seriously? If I focused less on what I'm wearing and more on what I'm doing, would everything just fall into place? Is my unwillingness to commit to anything more than an attitude of "I do what I want!" just more proof that I'm the living embodiment of everything the Internet hates about millenials?

Maybe. Probably. Who knows? Um.

I'm scatter-brained, and my clothes are too. But I don't really want to give that up just yet. Getting dressed every day is really fun for me. Maybe creating new outfits and changing my style is all that's keeping me from getting so tired of myself I go completely insane. Maybe not.

As with all things, this could all change tomorrow. I might wake up and throw all my clothes away. I might die, and then you will all get to argue about who gets my best vintage stuff. (For the record, I would like to be buried wearing all of it.) But I'll probably keep living (fingers crossed), and coming up with a new style every day to suit my affairs. It might not be the most "chic" way of living, but it'll do.

I might never be a Jane, or an Olsen, or a Kardashian. I'll certainly never be an Audrey. I'm just Rachel Claire. Sometimes in overalls, sometimes in sequins. Usually still in bed.

Feel free to tell me all about your ~signature style~, or lack thereof. Oh, and if you're wondering what I'm wearing right now....