CLASS IS IN SESSION! How to Find and Cultivate Your “Signature Style” (HERE'S LESSON #1)

In which we begin by taking a peek into how some xoJaners would describe their own signature looks. Plus: YOU HAVE HOMEWORK!
Publish date:
September 21, 2012
clothes, signature style, comments are cool

As you guys may know, almost every morning Emily sends all the xoJane editors an email with possible post topics. I am 3 hours behind the east coast out here in Los Angeles; plus I sleep till noon when I’m not working, so I always wake up to some hilarious email chains.

Everyone is always chiming in or piling on and agreeing/disagreeing with each other, sometimes vehemently! (Also, here’s a little known xoJane fact: s.e. has a pretty wicked hilarious, dry sense of humor underneath that serious exterior!)

Most of the proposed posts are about actual important issues and thoughtful topics, so I usually just read and then consider myself smarter through osmosis. But earlier this week, Emily had the brilliant suggestion of a piece on how to find and cultivate your own signature style. (This is why she is the clever boss lady and I am one of her minions.)

I raised my hand to say, "I'll do it!" and began my research by asking some willing xoJaners to share with me what they think their signature style is. Here's what they had to say.

“I guess I'd go with 'Manic Pinup'. I feel like polka dots and a red lip are my signature."

Somer:"I don't think I have a personal style! I used to wear all black, but I'm trying to not do that anymore. I like asymmetry, weird shoes and hats, and big accessories. I don't know what you would call that."

Then about 20 minutes later, Somer sent me this gem: "The inside of my head looks like Cindy Gallop's all-black apartment -- so if there is any style I aspire to, it is that."

Trust me -- this AMAZING video she sent me of Cindy Gallop’s apartment is well worth 4 minutes of your life!

Julieanne:Julieanne simply sent me a link to endless pictures of the amazing Lynn Yaeger. If you don’t know about her, read up. Lynn is the boss lady to end all boss ladies. Julieanne's only follow up commentary on her signature style was this: "I WAS SHOOTING A MUSIC VIDEO THIS MORNING BECAUSE I AM COOL. Wearing sunglasses indoors RIGHT NOW. xo"

s.e. smith:s.e. answered me by saying, “I don’t think I have a personal style?” I instantly wrote back, saying, “Um, yes you do babe, you are 'Busty with a Point of View!'I submit the following as pictorial evidence:

I definitely like my social justice served with a nice side of boob.

Helena: "I'm obsessed with this idea. No lie, my boyfriend called me from work the other day just to say he'd found his 'signature style' for his 30s."

It struck me as insanely hilarious that a dude would even think about that sort of thing. He is clearly a real Renaissance man.

Helena describes her signature style this way: “I'm 'Vintage Modern'. (Think Lucille Ball meets Zara!)"

WELL HOT DAMN. If I saw a Helena on the rack at Zara, I'd snap her up without even waiting for her to go on sale.

Marianne: "I was most recently described, by Ed the Hubs, as a 'Fatty Velma' (from Scooby Do), which I was absolutely totally into. I guess my usual preference is to look more like a cartoon than a real person."

"The blue hair and glasses are very much part of my look as well -- a TV producer recently asked me if I'd be willing to go back to a solid brown/black for a spot on their show and, man, I really don't think I would be. I am MISERABLE when my hair is not blue."

India Jewel Jackson: "2 words: Lazy Luxe”.

Which she then almost immediately followed up with, "Ok, so wait. Now I wanna be Lazy Luxe Power Lesbian Dressed In All Black Like The Omen."

Daisy: "My style these days is mostly truck driver who wears lipstick. Lest you doubt me, here is what I am wearing right now. To a client meeting, nonetheless. Shame: I do not have it."

Hannah: "I'd say my signature look is bipolar Barbie. (And I am bipolar so I can say whatevs I want!)"

Olivia: "How about: Approachable Downtown Bitch"?

Which is just SO TRUE -- Olivia is way hipper and cooler than I could ever hope to be; yet she is ridiculously kind and sweet and welcoming. Not your average downtown bitch, indeed.

Kate Conway: "Steampunk Joseph Gordon-Levitt".

Kate had nothing further to say about the situation, so you are going to have to figure that one out on your own. An aura of mystery, kids. Kate Conway has it.

Et moi: I’ve said before that my personal style is very “Tomboy meets early 80’s glam cocaine babe,” but now I find myself wanting to “class it up” a bit as I get older.

I wasn't going to post a picture of myself because, whatever, BORING, and we all know what my dumb blonde ass looks like. Plus this is my post AND I'M THE TEACHER but look closely at the photo above -- I'm wearing a halter top that I made out of Budweiser beer bandannas.

Project Runway, eat my shorts.

I pore through every J. Crew catalog I get and think about how I wish I could pull of that classic yet quirky style, but it just looks SO BORING on me when I try it in real life. I have to have a little bit of weirdness in an outfit for it to look right on me. I LOVE ladylike style, so I think that my new jam may be “Genteel Bizzaro”.

Gala:Eccentric Pop! I just wrote about this on my own site!" OF COURSE SHE DID! Gala has candy colored hair AND all the good ideas. Life is so patently unfair.

Gala certainly got it right in her post. The idea of boiling your style down to just a few words or a clever, visual phrase is your first step to figuring out what your style actually is! It's also a totally fun activity to do with friends.

(TIP -- buy a thesaurus to help with this process. A real one. Made of paper. It’s your best friend. I travel with my giant thesaurus from college in my purse at all times.)

This exercise is an excellent way to get your wheels turning as to what interests you and really floats your style boat. The goal in establishing some keywords for your personal look is to help you pinpoint what you should keep and what you should toss in what you already own.

I'm not ever going to preach to you that you should change anything -- I'm looking to find and refine what you probably already have going on, and encouraging you to work it, rock it, and own it like the babe you are.

Okay -- so are you ready, you smarties? Your assignment for lesson #1 is to hit me in the comments with your own short descriptions of how you'd describe your signature style. A good one needs no photographic explanation, but feel free to link to one if you have it!

You know, I truly get my most hilarious material straight from you guys, and I always use it to crack up all the Hollywood phoney baloneys I have to deal with. You are endlessly hilarious, and just never, ever disapoint. So thanks in advance for the laughs.

Coming up next week: Where to start and what to do if you don't have a CLUE what your signature style is or how to find it!

(I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison)