I’ve spent the last 4 weeks OBSESSING over style blogs, books, an online styling course – and, you guessed it, Pinterest. Why? Because I’m determined to discover my personal style – whatever the hell that is – before I turn 30. Which is in 6 weeks. (Excuse me while I run to the bathroom to throw up.) Why before 30? Well, I figure that even if I’m going through a confusing and slightly frustrating “transitional period” with my career, finances and even location, if I look good doing so, maybe feeling good about it will follow! (Jokes, I’m not completely superficial and I’m not depressed about the big 3-0. It’s more like… trepidation.)
I’m learning a lot. And I’m even discovering that despite not being born with the “naturally stylish” gene, after almost 30 years, I have developed some taste and a sense of personal style (though it’s all theory right now since I’m currently living out of a suitcase). Basically, all this study is helping. Sure, it might be a nerdy approach to take, but hey, self-education is how I’ve achieved everything in my life so far, so why stop now?
Anyway. Let’s talk about you. Maybe you have some natural style but it’s no longer working due to age, body shape, climate, lifestyle or boredom. Maybe you wouldn’t know what you liked if you were let loose in a Myer or Macy’s and given $10,000 to do with what you please. Either way, I think a lot of us are struggling to develop a style of our own that doesn’t feel like a watered down copy of something we saw in a magazine or on a mannequin. The good news is it’s an easy fix. And it’s free.
Pinterest. Your one-stop-style-inspiration-shop.
Yep. That’s it. It’s been sitting there patiently all these years, just waiting for you to realise its beauty and power. Full to the brim with more images of possible outfit combinations and styling advice than you’ll ever have time to view. No subscription fees, no one telling you about trends you MUST follow. Just good old fashioned digital scrapbooking.
I’ll admit, Pinterest can be a little overwhelming when you first try it out. It looks nothing like Facebook or Instagram and it’s hard to know where to start. But never fear, I’m here to walk you through it. Well, the part after you’ve created an account. If you can’t do that on your own, I recommend sticking to magazines and glue. (Which I’ve done for years, by the way. My style scrapbook is amazing. But it involves magazine subscriptions and isn’t very portable, so I’ve decided to go digital for the both the environment and my bank balance.)
Pinterest in a nutshell
So with Pinterest, you have a feed (like any social platform) and boards – which you can think of as inspiration boards, albums, scrapbooks… whatever! Your feed is “intelligent”, taking note of things you’ve liked and saved (called “pinning”) and will suggest similar content in future. The more you use it, the better it will get at anticipating your needs. Awesome, right?
Before doing anything else, you’ll need to set up your own board for collecting inspiration. For the purposes of this exercise, I recommend starting with just one board. You’ll be able to see the “Create Board” button if you’re on your profile page. Give it a name like “Style Mood Board” or “My Style” and decide whether you want it to be public or private (totally up to you).
Now it’s time to follow some great Pinners (active Pinterest users) which you’ll do by using the Pinterest search bar. It’s a bit like jumping down Alice’s rabbit hole. You search for something, click on something you like, which leads to more clicking, and an hour (or 5) later, you come up for air, wondering what happened. Super fun though, so just set aside some “you” time and go for it. You can search for pieces of clothing, styles of outfits, stars whose style you admire etc. If you find a Pin you like, click through to the Pinner because chances are they’ll have more where that came from.
After that following, your feed should have some direction, so you can start pinning (if you haven’t already). Start by pinning anything that grabs your interest – whether you can see yourself wearing it or not. Because this is more of a reconnaissance mission rather than a wardrobe styling session. To pin something, put your cursor over the image you like and left click on the “Save” button (with the thumbtack icon). Then a pop-up will appear asking you to “Choose board”. Easy, since you only have one board! You can leave yourself a note where you see the “Tell us about this pin…” under the image, or just put your cursor over your board and click “Save”. Boom. Pinned! Now wash rinse repeat until you have at least 50 pins in your board!
Possibly obvious, but important note: You are NOT looking for red carpet inspiration or special event looks here (at least not now) because that’s not where we usually struggle. You’re searching for outfits that you could wear on a Tuesday afternoon or casual Sunday since that’s how we spend most of our time!
Sherlock Holmes-ing your Pinterest board
Congrats. You’ve got a board. But now you need to use it to unlock the mysteries of your style tastes. So what you’re going to do is grab a notebook (or split screen your monitor and open up a note taking app) and start analysing this board. Here’s what you’re going to look for.
1. Consistency. Are there any colours that keep popping up? Are there items of clothing you see a lot of? Do you keep seeing the same hair & makeup styling? What about the silhouettes? Accessories? You get the idea. Write down every little observation and figure out what the common denominators are.
2. Things you own. Do you see any connection between these outfits and items in your wardrobe? Or items that could work as substitutes? Are you drawn to the same colours as you own or have you found new favourites? Pay just as much attention to the way an outfit is styled and accessorised as the main items of clothing. After all, a t-shirt can look thoughtless and lazy or incredibly chic depending on how it’s styled.
3. Lifestyle. Do the looks you’ve chosen fit with your existing lifestyle? Would you wear them to run errands or just to work? Would you be comfortable in them all day? If you have kids, would they survive a day of running after them? This is important, because we often shop for the lifestyle we wish we had, leaving us with a wardrobe full of clothes we never wear.
From Pinterest to real life: road-testing your finds
This is the fun – albeit scary – part. BEFORE you do any shopping, you’re going to start choosing outfits from your board to recreate in real life with pieces you own (or borrow, if you’re lucky enough to have a sister or bestie the same size as you). Sure, you won’t be able to replicate these looks exactly, but you’ll be surprised with what you can achieve. Pinterest even added a cool “Tried it” feature to the pins so you can check off a look after you’ve tested it.
When road-testing, pay special attention to how the colours, fabrics and silhouettes make you feel. And if you find outfits that feel amazing, but were perhaps missing an element (like an accessory or a better fitting top), start a shopping wish list. When outfits don’t work, rather than feeling frustrated, figure out WHY they didn’t work. Either you didn’t have the right pieces for it (an easy fix), the pieces you had were ill-fitting or poor quality… or it really wasn’t “you” – which is a win! Because half the battle is finding out what you DON’T like. See how this can all be a learning process rather than one of tears and despair?
Once you’ve worked your way through a variety of looks, feel free to delete the duds and continue growing the board based on what you loved. You can also branch out and create more specific boards based on occasions (beach days, coffee dates, errands etc) or styles (preppy, office, retro inspired, floral, edgy…). Go wild, have fun. It’s great for long waits at the doctor’s office too! 😉
Where to from here? Well, if you’re just getting started on your style discovery (or re-discovery) journey, I suggest checking out my article, 3 Steps To Ditch Trends and Discover Your Personal Style, because this is a big process that won’t happen overnight. Alternatively, if you’re feeling like you’re in good shape to start making over your wardrobe (as in, it’s NOT currently overflowing with unworn items!) you can continue this with The 10 Timeless Pieces You Should Have In Your Wardrobe. Either way, you shouldn’t be shopping just yet if you don’t have a strategy! Trust me, I would know. (sob)
Finally, if you have any thoughts on this article or want to request a follow-up, please let me know via the comments below or here. That’s all from me for now. Thanks so much for reading! x
PS Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!