How To Develop Your Personal Style -

8 Ways to Develop Your Personal Style + ANOTHER Giveaway

How To Develop Your Personal Style -

Frank Sinatra once said, “You’ve either got or you haven’t got style. If you’ve got it, you stand out a mile.” I firmly disagree with the first half of the late Sinatra’s statement. I think personal, tasteful style can be cultivated, and I’ll give my story as an example.

As a young girl, I had NO style. Exhibit A:


Yea, I’m fairly certain that bucket hat was never OK. I credit catalogs like Delia’s that were popular back in the day for inspiring me to get more creative with my dress and to actually put forth some effort into my appearance. When I became a Christian, I worried that I might have to forsake any interest in physical beauty and fashion in order to be pleasing to God. Fortunately wise counsel from older Christian women informed me that I could serve God and still pursue my interest in fashion as long as I did so within HIS standards.

The good news from my story is this: YOU can develop your personal style even if you feel you have none, and you can dress stylishly in a way that honors God, yourself and your bothers.

In the last post we discussed the basics every woman should have in her closet — now we’ll discuss HOW you can wear those pieces in a way that’s uniquely YOU.

1) Be confident.

None of the following tips will work if you don’t feel comfortable and good in your clothes. If you think you look frumpy, chances are you’ll end up looking frumpy even if your clothes look just fine. Confidence not only affects your attitude, it affects your posture and the way your clothes appear on you. Low confidence leads to poor posture (somewhere my mother is shaking her head and having a major “I told you so!” moment).

I’m not talking about developing the kind of confidence that leads you to don thigh-high slit dresses. I’m talking about believing that you ARE a beautiful woman who has the option to dress in a way that compliments your inner beauty.

2) Know your personality + values.

Style is more than just finding and buying pretty clothes. It’s about expression of yourself through clothing. What you wear says a lot about who you are and what values are important to you, which is why I think dressing modestly is so important. You’ll be able to express yourself more clearly if you’re aware of your personality and what you’re trying to say through your clothes.

3) Know your body.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get boyfriend jeans to work for me. I’m too short and too curvy to pull them off without looking silly. I have pear-shaped friends who express similar frustrations about skinny jeans. Learning what works for your body takes a lot of trial and error, but you can also learn so much from extensively Google-searching “what works for my (pear, curvy, athletic, etc) body shape”.

4) Buy clothes that fit you, or get them tailored.

Fit is EVERYTHING with clothing. With the number of affordable retailers out there, there is no reason to wear baggy, ill-fitting jeans. There are just too many better options in the market. Some quick advice: get your clothes tailored when your budget allows, or even better…learn how to tailor yourself! It’s so easy to do. In fact one of my favorite DIY blogs, Cotton and Curls, has a good tutorial on hemming jeans here.

5) Start by building outfits from ONE piece that excites you!

Fashion can seem overwhelming when you look at the final outcomes of bloggers with masterful style. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air, just take it one step at a time. The key to building a nice outfit is to start with one piece that excites you and then work around that piece.

In my most popular outfit post thus far, I started with a neutral colored maxi skirt.  I knew burgundy would match well with the pinkish undertones of the skirt, so I chose a burgundy turtleneck to make it seasonally appropriate. From there I chose my accessories (a burgundy purse for a monochromatic effect). How do I know what colors would work well together? I mostly rely on gut feeling, but I also use a bit of color theory…

6) Consider color theory.

Considering what colors work together can truly pull together your outfit with minimal effort. Real talk: I’m a lazy dresser for the most part. I rely mostly on the power of good color combinations. For those of you who slept through art class like moi, let’s get reacquainted with our dear ol’ friend: the color wheel.

Learn the Basics of Color Theory to Know What Looks Good

(image source)

Here are the basics. First we have our primary colors: red, blue and yellow. When you mix primary colors, you get the secondary colors: orange, green and violet. When you mix a secondary with a primary, you get tertiary colors. Tints = colors mixed with white, and shades = colors mixed with black.

You can use that basic knowledge and the handy graphic above to find harmonious color pairings:

Monochromatic: A single hue (a pure color like red) in different tints, shades, saturation. (If you try this scheme with your clothes, keep it interesting by adding layers or mixing up different textures.)

Complementary colors:  Any two colors opposite each other on the wheel. For example, blue and orange, or red and green.

Triadic colors: Any three colors that are equally apart on the color wheel. For example, red, yellow and blues

Analogous colors: Any three colors next to each other on the wheel. For example, orange, yellow-orange, and yellow.

Also, wearing three colors or less is generally a good rule of thumb.

If all this seems overwhelming, just remember that neutrals like black, white, camel, and gray work with practically any other color. If you need some color theory inspiration, check out my Pinterest Board:

 Follow Liz @ Downtown Demure’s board Color Theory on Pinterest.

7) Learn styling tricks. 

The key to truly memorable style, which I honestly cannot yet claim but respect, is attention to detail and the ability to take basics and make them your own. Speaking of, remember all of those basic pieces we talked about in the last post? Well you can get maximum usage out of them by learning how to apply various styling tricks (like cuffing the sleeves of your white button-down J. Crew style).

Styling tricks not only make your outfits look more interesting, they also increase the longevity of your closet! You don’t have to shop all the time to develop great style, you just need to know how to work, layer and wear the clothing you already have!  If you need some quick styling ideas, I have an extensive board on Pinterest dedicated to that very topic:

 Follow Liz @ Downtown Demure’s board Styling Tips & Tricks on Pinterest.  

(If you want me to cover styling tips and tricks in detail, let me know in the comments section! I might make that a new weekly segment.) 

8) Follow style blogs for inspiration.

Humility is important for cultivating your style too. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge that other women have a more developed sense of style, and there’s SO much you can learn from them. My personal style blossomed when I made that realization. So use tools like Bloglovin’ to keep up with style bloggers whom you admire or who has the kind of style you’d like to develop.IfyouthinkIcan be one of those bloggers for you, you can follow me here: 

 Here are some of my personal favorites:

  1. Who What Wear (not a modest fashion site, so you have to be careful about content)
  2. Refinery29 (same note)
  3. MoMoMod
  4. Plane Pretty
  5. Clothed Much

As you’re developing your sense of personal style, keep this in mind: It isn’t about emulating your favorite fashion blogger or living beyond your means. It’s about learning how to buy and style key pieces that truly illustrate your beautiful personality and your beautiful values. So have fun with it!

If you have additional tips to add, by all means share your knowledge with us in the comments below. 🙂

Oh, you’re probably looking for some information about that giveaway, right? Well I have the great honor of partnering with Allison Ramsing, fellow blogger and owner of this lovely Etsy shop. One person will receive 5 of her beautiful handmade CELEBRATE cards. Awesome, right? Enter to win below!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Comments

  • Avatar

    Yes, I totally agree that style is something you can learn! I can hardly even look back at my old pictures, I just can’t believe my style(or lack thereof lol)! Delia’s was actually what helped me get more into style! I started getting their catalogs and would always try to keep up with what was in style. Then I discovered Pinterest and life has never been the same lol. I also discovered style blogs. Also, I became really sick and not able to go shopping all the time, so I would go in my closet and make new outfits. Also, I’ve never had a big budget to spend on clothes, so I had to get creative. By the way, if it makes you feel any better, I used to have TWO bucket hats, haha. Oh yeah, another thing besides confidence that’s ALWAYS in style and looks good on everybody is a smile 🙂

    • Elizabeth
      > Elizabeth

      Haha! We have more in common than I anticipated. If bucket hats ever make a comeback, we’ll be golden. We can be trendsetters and bring them back ourselves…

  • Avatar

    Hello! I found your blog a week ago while searching for Christian modest fashion blogs. Your post about “How to build a stylish modest wardrobe on a budget” was the first post that I read. Very informative and interesting! I am wondering if you would do a post about styling those basic pieces. Show different outfits and maybe incorporate some not so basic pieces to show us fashion challenged girls some ideas. I hope to build all those basic pieces into my wardrobe a little at a time. Thanks for your inspiration and time.

    • Elizabeth
      > Leann

      Hey there! I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog. Thanks for returning. I actually have series about styling basics in the works. Stay tuned!

  • Avatar
    Terrence Hebel

    This is great!!! I think Frank Sinatra’s statement comes from an era in which statements were often oversimplified and the “mind” was not understood.. Now that we understand psychology more, I think we can realize that style is learned. Maybe he meant that some people learn style growing up and some don’t? I think, however, some people do have a bit more of an intuition for style, while others have to think about it a bit more! That’s just my personal experience! Probably has something to do with whether or not style/creativity was emphasized at home growing up.

    Anyways! I say in that top picture you DID have style!

    Light and Love,
    Terrence Hebel recently posted…The Bachelor Repurposed: Episode 2 – The Art of BrokennessMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      > Terrence Hebel

      Terrence (lovely name, btw!), you are too kind for not making fun of me and my bucket hat! You bring up an excellent point. I can’t say I ever considered the psychology behind Frank Sinatra’s, err, frank statement. I agree — some have an eye or knack for style that’s affected by upbringing. But ultimately it is absolutely something that can be developed, especially in our digital and image-rich age. Thank you for the insightful comment!

  • Avatar
    Rachel G

    Fit is something I really struggle with–I tend to always think clothes fit at the store, and later on, when I’m wearing them in real life, I realize that they are loose and baggy and really don’t fit at all. Ahh! It’s frustrating. Color, though, I’ve got that down, and my own personal style and flair dictate that more than 3 colors are always being worn at once. 😉 We all have to choose a rule to break, right?
    Rachel G recently posted…For those Left BehindMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      > Rachel G

      Haha, I don’t firmly believe in any style rules aside from fit. If you are able to rock more than 3 colors at time, go for it! And then teach me your ways…

      Agreed, finding the right fit is a struggle and takes trial and error. I’m certainly thankful for forgiving return policies for that reason. I think fit is something that’s easier to tackle when we are mindful of it, though. It gets easier to discern with time and experience (and maybe some advice from a good seamstress or tailor!).

  • Avatar
    Ashley Bree Perez

    hello, I am a new subscriber! So glad I found your blog… I love your style (:

    • Elizabeth
      > Ashley Bree Perez

      Hi Ashley! You are too sweet. Thank you for subscribing! I hope you’ll continue to find the content interesting and useful. I have new outfit shots coming next week, so stay tuned! 🙂

  • Avatar

    I just love reading your articles. Could you address dressing according to what colors look good with your natural skin tone, eyes and hair? I think the system is called Color Me Beautiful. I found out about it many years ago and truly believe that it works. Once you know what colors compliment your natural coloring, you spend less time and money on clothes that are the wrong color.

    • Elizabeth
      > Sue

      Thank you, Sue! I love reading your comments — they are always insightful. I’ve never heard of Color Me Beautiful, but I will definitely look into it and report back! I also intend to do a post about harmonious color pairings by skin tone and eye color (you read my mind). Stay tuned!

  • Avatar
    Anna Parker

    Thank you so much for what you write about! I love these styling tips! No.1 is probably my favorite, (My Mom also encouraged posture too!) If you are ever bored, feel free to check out my modest fashion blog

    Have an amazing day, and keep up the great work!
    Anna Parker
    Anna Parker recently posted…Vlog no.4My Profile

    • Elizabeth
      > Anna Parker

      You are too sweet! Thank you for the encouragement, Anna! I’m glad you found the post useful. Next week I’ll discuss how to style a plain white button down so it’s anything but boring. 🙂

      Checked out your blog — I really like the tutorials! Maybe you can help me set up my vlogs (I’m still camera shy). I hope you keep up the good work as well!

  • Avatar

    Yay, there’s hope for me to gain some fashion sense! 🙂 People like me NEED these tips! Thanks for sharing; you have a great blog!
    Jennifer recently posted…the power of oneMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      > Jennifer

      Haha, of course there’s hope! If I could do it, ANYONE can.

      I’m so glad you found these tips useful. Plenty more to come next week and in the coming weeks (I’ll talk about how to style basic pieces using easy fashion formulas).

  • Avatar
    Diana Kerr

    Wow, these are really good tips. Thank you! You definitely have a gift for this!

    • Elizabeth
      > Diana Kerr

      I’m totally blushing right now. Thank you, Diana! I’m already so glad we connected. You’re awesome.