A simple way to discover and create your authentic style, and a gentle approach to tune into what you love without overwhelming you?
Let me take you over the other side of the world to meet my ‘style muse’. This story is set in a cafe in Europe where we talk about authentic style.
I’m calling her M; she is the woman I think of when approaching a post on fashion and style because it is not my expertise. I want to include her point of view. She inspires me and gives me creative licence which is the point of having a muse.
My muse has insights I don’t, and I’m curious about what influences her style. Being authentic takes courage. Even wobbly courage is worthy of applause.
We meet in Berlin. I’m lucky to catch her because she is about to move to New York. After we hug and say hello she takes off her coat. It’s a chilly Autumn morning, and we settle into our chairs to sit in the sun at a cute Kreuzberg cafe. M loves to talk about style. Fashion, homewares and branding. She lives and breaths style and makes a living telling brand stories.
We order our coffee, she smiles and waves to someone she knows across the street. “So Jenn what’s the piece your writing and how can I help?” M gets down to business.
“I’m doing an article on authentic style. I think it will be the first of a three-part series.”
“I’d like to start at the beginning. What is authentic style? What’s the first step to discover and create authentic style”?
“I’d be grateful for your insights. Because it’s not discussed much. I don’t think the industry wants us to figure this out, so we follow along with the current trends”.
M gives me her Mona Lisa smile, tilts her head to the side while gathering her thoughts.
“Okay, Where to start. What is wearing or living with an authentic style”?
“To me, authentic style’ is how you speak to the world about who you are without saying a word”.
“Let’s say; I took a picture of every woman at the cafe or in the street. We could make up a story about her from what she is wearing”
M is using her hands as she talks.
“Learning how to interpret someone’s style is the first step, let others show you the way” “Then your reader can decide what’s right for her.”
“Just like a costume designer working on a movie, she will articulate the actor’s visual character by designing what she wears.” That’s where to start. Ask – “What do I want to say the world about who I am?” M paused and said, “Next she must be willing to trust herself when she is shopping. Getting it right has a ripple effect on how she will feel about herself.”
“Being unique, expressive and experimental or classic, understated style like European women is still all authentic”.
“When she invests in clothes that are right for her it gives her inner confidence. Having an authentic style is about being intentional and thoughtful about the clothes you buy, it becomes second nature after a while.”
I sit back in my chair and sip my coffee for a moment. “Okay M, I’m starting to get a feel for what authentic style is, but where to start?”
“Truthfully, I’m feeling a little anxious and want to rush home and empty the wardrobe and start again”.
M laughed and shook her head, ” Okay yes I understand, we all feel this and I promise you will love discovering your signature style” she went on without hesitation.
I said, “That’s a relief because I’ve wasted tears, money and time over what hangs in my wardrobe, or what doesn’t!”.
M’s eyes lit up “Perfect, let’s start with a simple exercise”.
“Awesome!” I said and leaned forward in my chair with my notebook ready.
Step one. Train your eye to see the authentic styles in what women are wearing. Even if it’s not what you like.
- Learn to describe several different styles.
- What story could you make up about her style and life?
M starts to point out women in the cafe and the street. She tells me a little story about what her style says about her and her lifestyle.
M said “The woman in the black jacket I’d describe as Modern Minimalist Chic. This young woman has a tight capsule wardrobe of great quality mid to high-end labels. She is loyal to one or two brands and selects several new outfits or pieces each season online to carefully consider what her wardrobe needs to refresh it or update then shops in store. Most of her wardrobe is monochromatic with one or two pieces with strong colours like tan, rust or pale pinks. She spends the same attention to detail on her accessories and grooming”.
A beautiful young woman looking directly at us. M described her as “European Feminine, Fresh and Quirky. She chooses clothes that drape and have a feminine silhouette showing her small waist. She combines influences from different decades but stays within a soft colour pallet, small prints and keeps her look focused on what she is wearing and keeps her hairstyle simple and accessories fresh. She prefers dresses or skirts and cute jackets. She shops online, in small local boutiques and op shops or when she travels”.
Across the road, is a woman walking to her car. M said her style was ‘Eclectic Op Shop, very popular in parts of Europe. This style creates a very individual look that can mix with clothes from different decades, textures, colours and silhouettes. More experimental with clashing styles and cost-effective. The downside is it takes commitment, time and skill to make this style work in your favour”.
Another Style M pointed out to me was Minimal Natural – “This woman is uncomplicated and loves natural fibres. She chooses comfortable clothes. She is confident in who she is and is content with her style and colour pallet. Neutral blue, black, grey and white. She loves her beautiful quality handbags, and shoes and wool coat collection for winter.
She wears her clothes out and replaces them. The minimal neutral focus she is easy to spot what she would like she has good relationships with boutiques, and they call her when a new interesting white blouse arrives. When she finds a label, brand or shop, she likes she is a loyal client”.
M sums up saying “The reason most women are confused about their stying is they have a wardrobe of too many different styles”.
“When you find a style that matches your personality, character and lifestyle, you can be consistent — your authentic ‘signature’ style — saving time and money.” “Your authentic style is part of your self-discovery. You need fewer accessories, shoes and bags. Getting dressed becomes an entirely different experience”
Thanks so much M. I appreciate your thoughts and I think we have a good starting point. When are you off to new York? …
A three part series to be continued… Join the newsletter for the next article in the series.