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Personal Style: Definition, Impact, and How to Hone Your Own

Style is an outward expression of personality, cultural identity, and social conditions through different mediums, such as fashion. Style reaches beyond what you hang in your closet to give insight into who you are and why you dress the way you do.

What is style?
Style is a visual extension of your personality and identity.

Your unique choices regarding self-expression develop into your personal style. The personal touch you add to a style is a way to express your inner workings without saying a word. Although it’s a form of non-verbal communication, your fashion choices speak volumes about your beliefs and generation.

Acceptable fashion and trends come in cycles, with old trends influencing new styles and public opinion determining how they evolve and gain popularity. Style relies on fashion cycles to provide different elements to mix and match, which gives each era a fresh perspective on the old aesthetics.

Style is a powerful tool that boosts self-esteem and gives people a sense of belonging. However, on the negative side, it can lead to stereotypes and stigmas. By understanding the many sides of style, you’ll better understand how to express yourself and interact with the world.

Below, we examine how style connects to identity, the impact past trends have on new generations, and the impact style has on cultural expression.

What is style?

Style refers to prevailing or common manners of expression through fashion, art, and behavior that reflect different aspects of society. Style affects how you decorate your house, what art you enjoy, and how you communicate. It’s a signature that reflects the values and aspirations of different eras and identities.

Cultural trends, historical contexts, and personal tastes all influence style. It emerges from your environment and reflects how you process and perceive the world. Style balances individuality and societal norms by weaving tradition with innovation. For example, athleisure has embraced modern society’s technological changes by adding phone armbands or directly incorporating cooling and heating tech into its products.

Style acts as a mirror to societal changes and reveals trends, aesthetic evolutions, and shifts in attitudes. This helps style serve as a visual indicator of cultural currents. Moreover, different styles allow for a multitude of expression and social critique. Individuals use them to assert their identity, challenge norms, and promote movements as a form of activism.

Furthermore, style connects people across cultural and generational divides. It creates a sense of community and shared experiences. For example, the punk style is a form of dysfunction or rebellion against societal norms. The punk movements worldwide appear to be cohesive but are a product of those societies’ shared experiences.

How is personal style defined?

Personal style is the outward expression of your personality by mixing and matching different fashions. It uses fashion elements like clothing, accessories, hairstyles, and makeup to create a distinctive look.

For example, someone valuing comfort might choose a minimalist wardrobe with neutral, versatile pieces. Conversely, someone who likes to make bold statements might select bright colors and unconventional accessories for expressive outfits.

Personal style is as versatile as you are and grows as you experience changes and cultural shifts. As you progress through life, your style choices will align with your evolving roles and experiences. For example, a young professional might prefer polished, tailored outfits for work, while a new parent may focus on comfort and functionality.

Individual style lets you convey your stories, moods, and values. A signature look, such as a leather jacket or boots, gives insights into your personality and acts as a self-expression tool. Additionally, someone committed to environmental conservation might wear vintage or eco-friendly clothes.

Personal style can develop independently but thought and effort are necessary to maintain it. Following trends won’t always allow your unique style qualities to shine through, but with a little effort, you can mix and match the pieces you love to reflect your true self better.

How can you hone your personal style?

The list below features seven suggestions for how you can hone your personal style.

  • Establish a base: A foundation of staples contributes to a cohesive and intentional wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a way to assemble that base of staples effortlessly.
  • Research aesthetics: Research different aesthetics and past trends to incorporate unique elements into your wardrobe. Mixing modern and classic fashions will personalize your style even when you’re following a trend.
  • Color analysis: A color analysis involves comparing your complexion with different colors to determine the best hues for you.
  • Refresh your closet: Refreshing your closet gives you a clean slate to construct a more personalized wardrobe. You can donate or upcycle the old clothes that are taking up space to make room for clothes that you’ll wear.
  • Go window shopping: Window shopping is a way to hone your style by getting ideas from different stores and designs. Each brand will showcase the latest trends on mannequins, ads, and store associates.
  • Find new inspiration: Look for style inspiration from designers and fashion brands by following them on social media and staying updated with their releases.
  • Have fun: To hone your personal style, you need to experiment and have fun. Try different styles and trends to avoid boxing yourself into a category you don’t feel comfortable in.

How is style tied to identity?

Style is a medium that lets you explore your identity. It’s an external expression of your inner self, values, and beliefs, allowing for a non-verbal communication of who you are. You tell a story about your background, interests, and aspirations through the clothes and aesthetics you choose.

This personal curation creates a visual identity that can evolve over time. For example, your tastes change as you grow. The studded belt, fishnet sleeves, and heavy eyeliner from your younger years might not appeal to you as you hit 30.

However, no matter how you express yourself through the years, you’ll always naturally integrate pieces of your identity into your wardrobe. For example, the tattered Vans you wore as a skater kid might not make it through life as a staple, but a new, more professional design from Vans can give you that timeless silhouette and callback to your youth. In this way, style is not just about fashion trends or your clothes; it’s deeply intertwined with individuality and is a canvas you display to the world.

Does personal style influence your relationships?

Yes, personal style influences your relationships. The clothes you wear and the way you style yourself reflect who you are on the inside. Your personal style can attract like-minded individuals and signal your values and interests to others. It usually serves as your first impression and can affect how people perceive and interact with you.

A distinctive personal style can lead to positive social interactions and connections with those who appreciate or resonate with your aesthetic choices. Furthermore, expressing yourself through your style can boost your confidence. The boost you get from feeling more put together can make social engagements more enjoyable and fulfilling. By showcasing your unique identity, personal style plays a key role in forming relationships and enhancing those connections.

What do scientists say about style?

Scientists say that style is a form of non-verbal communication that conveys individuality and societal influences. Research in psychology and sociology reveals that style influences our self-perception and how others perceive us. It can have such a great impact on people’s opinions that it guides judgments regarding personality, social status, and competence. For example, wearing professionally tailored outfits in a corporate setting might be perceived as more competent and successful. Meanwhile, wearing a suit and tie to watch a surf contest might leave you feeling out of place.

Social Psychological and Personality Science published a paper titled The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing, which explores the impact of wearing formal clothes on cognitive processing. Their research showed that wearing professional attire can increase cognitive abilities and abstract processing.

Moreover, style has a notable impact on mental health. A well-curated personal style can boost self-esteem and enhance social interactions to improve well-being. It becomes a medium for expressing individual identity and navigating various social settings, from formal events to casual meet-ups. Different styles foster different types of social connections in these diverse contexts.

Can style choices boost confidence and mood?

Yes, style choices boost confidence and mood by helping you define your identity and feel secure in your body. Wearing clothing that matches your personal taste and fits well enhances your self-esteem and outlook. The better your clothes feel, the better you’ll feel.

This alignment allows self-expression that echoes your inner self. Being able to express yourself freely is rewarding and can leave you feeling more authentic and confident. Choosing and wearing outfits you love gives you control over how you present yourself to the world and can separate you from others. Furthermore, taking time to curate your wardrobe is a way to show others you’re fashion-conscious, which can spark compliments on your style choices and reinforce confidence and a positive mood.

How does style impact culture?

Style impacts culture by shaping how different groups express themselves with clothing and accessories. It reflects the socio-economic condition, values, and pivotal historical moments. The culmination of social interference influences the cultural zeitgeist.

Each style allows you or your shared community to communicate aspects of identity and status. Shared styles allow you to speak out with what you wear and either stick with the status quo or help you find your place in a subculture. This communication enriches cultural diversity and contributes to a dynamic social landscape.

Styles transform through the years, and with new fashions or movements influencing what we wear, the evolution challenges traditional norms and stereotypes. Each generation gives you a fresh perspective on the issues old and new. This everchanging quality of style encourages inclusivity, sparks dialogue, and pushes the boundaries of conventional thinking.

However, it can’t be overstated how important style is for preserving cultural heritage by keeping traditional crafts and techniques alive. Although fashions change, the uniqueness and beauty of each culture are a permanent source of inspiration as they reinterpret historic cultural attire to better represent the future. For example, Nigerian fashion is known for blending traditional and modern styles to honor heritage and progression.

How do cultural definitions of beauty impact style choices?

Cultural definitions of beauty impact style choices by influencing the standards, trends, and methods used to cultivate style. These definitions determine what society considers aesthetically pleasing and appropriate, which influences the fashion and beauty industries’ marketing tactics.

Cultural diversity results in eclectic beauty standards, which in turn shape fashion trends and styles worldwide. For example, some cultures, like the Amish, prefer plain clothing and minimalism.

Furthermore, cultural norms shape body image and how individuals present themselves, which encompasses clothing and grooming. The interaction between cultural beauty norms and style choices contributes to the diversity of fashion and fosters the exchange of ideas across cultures to enrich the global fashion landscape.

Do past trends influence future styles?

Yes, past trends cyclically influence future styles. The fashion industry’s interest in revisiting and revitalizing iconic looks from previous decades is evident in the resurgence of 70’s hippie culture in the 90s and how the early 00s have influenced GenZ.

Moreover, designers seek inspiration from historical garments, patterns, and silhouettes and then add those elements to contemporary designs. They aim to attract modern audiences with a new coat of paint on tried and true styles. The blend of past and present results in innovative styles that carry nostalgia and novelty. As a result, fashion sustains a dynamic and evolving narrative.

The unique aesthetics of each era inspire each generation in a new way, with them incorporating their tech, morals, and interpretation of past trends. This cycle preserves the legacy of past fashion movements and ensures that style remains a vibrant, ever-changing form of expression.

What effect does public perception have on style?

Public perception can determine how a style evolves or prevails and how it integrates with social norms. This influence is shaped by the social zeitgeist, which mirrors the time’s dominant cultural, political, and social attitudes.

As global events unfold, technological advancements emerge, societal values shift, public perception transforms, and the collective style adapts accordingly. A prime example of this phenomenon is the increased awareness of environmental issues, which has propelled sustainable fashion into the spotlight. The more pressure society feels to combat the climate crisis, the more these ethics influence consumer behavior and industry practices.

Furthermore, public figures, media, and social platforms play pivotal roles in shaping these perceptions. The opinion of these iconic figures can catalyze the adoption or rejection of certain styles. Consequently, style emerges as a dynamic conversation between individual expression and collective conscience.

Is style the same thing as fashion?

No, style and fashion are concepts that work together, but they aren’t the same. Fashion includes elements of style that come together to define specific types. Style is an amalgamation of fashion that reflects different aspects of society. Fashion and style intertwine and influence each other through the fashions that spark runway trends or styles revitalizing past fashion pieces.

In the 1990s, brands like Carhartt became a style aesthetic rather than solely known for their workwear. They’ve since secured collaborations with high-fashion designers such as Vetements and Marni. Moreover, popular past trends come back to inspire new styles and influence the current generation. The fanny pack was once a mockery among practical accessories, but after some rebranding, they’re now called belt bags. The resurgence has solidified the bag as part of streetwear culture, with industry elites like The Row and Balenciaga debuting belt bags with recent collections.

What impact does the fashion world have on style?

The fashion world impacts the genesis of style and the ebb and flow of its trends. Fashion designers rule the industry because they create the garments you wear daily. Those designs blend with different cultures, beauty standards, artistic visions, and ethics to define style types.

Fashion magazines are a primary source of fashion trends and style guidelines. Their editorials document the rise and fall of trends and even contribute to their creation. For example, Rags was a magazine highlighting the 1970s counterculture and was one of the first publications to print street style.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of style?

Style’s influence on personal identity and social perception has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is style’s positive influence on self-esteem. Developing a cohesive style can help you outwardly express stability and maturity by channeling the styles that impress you.

Additionally, style contributes to a feeling of belonging to a group or community. For example, hanging out with peers who all wear the same brand or type of accessories might influence you to add that item to your wardrobe.

However, stereotypes and stigmas associated with certain styles can impact how others view you. While some people adapt to their social group, others develop a strong sense of personal style that causes them to feel alienated from their peers. For example, people with a casual, beach-inspired sense of style strike a stark contrast to professionals in suits.
Moreover, style often revolves around physical features and body shapes, which can lead to shaming and lower confidence. The early 00’s is famous for low-rise jeans and baby doll tees that aren’t complementary to diverse body types. These body-centric style trends can impact how people express themselves and leave them feeling left out or unattractive.

Is it expensive to maintain a personal style?

No, maintaining personal style isn’t expensive. Staying up-to-date on trends can feel like it costs you time and money, but you don’t have to empty your bank account to express yourself and evolve your style.

One way to maintain style and stay on top of trends is to shop at thrift or consignment stores. Buying secondhand means you can save money while practicing sustainability, and you get access to clothes others might not have.

Can you have more than one style in your wardrobe?

Yes, developing personal style can lead to having more than one style in your wardrobe. Your personal style is a hodgepodge of all the styles and pieces of fashion you love. The best way to express yourself is by incorporating the aesthetics and pieces that give you joy.

Celebrities like Harry Styles frequently incorporate multiple styles into their wardrobes to better reflect their personalities. Moreover, many styles exist because of the way they blend together. For example, the early 00s scene subculture style was heavily inspired by 80s goth, punk, and glam. Your wardrobe is a smaller version of these social movements and can reflect any aspect of style you connect with.