On Developing Personal Style

As a child, I was obsessed with all things fashion related. Every issue of InStyle or Vogue that was delivered to the house for my mother almost immediately ended up on my bedside table or in my backpack before my mother even had the chance to read it. I would sketch dresses in my free time, sew skirts, and spend hours assembling outfits for school the night before. However, when I was younger, especially in middle school, I was terrified to divert my personal style from anything that seemed out of the ordinary. If girls at my school were wearing Delia’s (side note: this was probably the worst stage of my life in terms of both style and personality), Delia’s it was. I would often find pieces while out shopping with my mom that I loved, but ultimately was too scared to wear out because I feared judgment from my peers. Although no one’s self confidence is particularly high as a preteen, I wish I had experimented more and embraced my own unique sense of style because I was so passionate about it. Now as a college student, I feel as though it's the perfect time to branch out and develop my own individual sense of style. While we experiment with different career paths and educational interests, it is also the perfect time to experiment with different social groups, involvements, and dress. Coming to college is a clean slate, and there's no reason we shouldn’t be able to embrace who we are. Although we don’t think of Waterville, Maine as the fashion Mecca of the world, and as tempting as it is to throw on a sweatsuit in the depths of winter, don’t be afraid to try something new.

1. Find Inspiration: While cliché, this first tip is huge. We live in a digital age with vast amounts of resources. We see photos daily, whether they’re of peers, celebrities, influencers, etc. Inspiration can come in various shapes and forms. Electronically, I am an avid Pinterest user and create boards for practically every occasion. Instagram is also somewhere I look to for inspiration. I admire Hailey Baldwin Bieber and Bella Hadid’s street style, and anytime there is a post that catches my eye or inspires me, I use Instagram’s save feature to look back on their outfits. Youtube also comes in handy for clothing hauls! Find something--whether art, a celebrity, a friend, whoever or whatever it may be--and get inspired. Take ideas from everywhere you go and use them in your own, unique way.

[Courtesy of @margot.lee, @haileybieber, @bellahadid]

2. Dress for Yourself: This is something that I wish I had taken seriously when I was younger. Dressing for yourself and only yourself can make the biggest difference in your mood and your own personal style. As a teenager, I sought validation from those around me and would try pieces for the sake of impressing someone else. Not only would I confine myself to only trendy or popular clothes, more than half the time, I was uncomfortable and discouraged with what I was wearing. When you start dressing for yourself, you feel better. Anytime I need a pick me up, I’ll pick out an outfit that I feel confident it. I’ll admit, sometimes that is a sweatsuit, but trying out a new outfit just for the fun of it and for yourself is so much more rewarding than wearing something for the sake of those around you.

[Courtesy of Pinterest]

3. Know When to Splurge and When to Save: Let’s face it--we’re in college, and money is tight. Most of us don’t drop serious bucks on clothes. However, if you’re going to spend more money, there are pieces worth investing in. Whatever your budget may be, it is always better to spend more on basics that can be worn several times. My go-to “splurges” are a nice pair of jeans, simple shoes, or bags. Every time I’ve spent more on trendy tops and pieces, after a few months, I almost always regret it. By investing in a few pieces that fit you well, work with anything, and you feel confident it, finding your own sense of style becomes so much easier. For example, you can mix and match various staple pieces with more cheap, trendy pieces for an effortless look. If you do spend, spend the money on a well-fitting pair of jeans instead of an in-the-moment top. Your future self will thank you, and now you’ll have a base for other outfits to build off of.

4. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try new things when it comes to personal style. As we develop as people, it is natural for our style to change with us. Some trends and statements I’ve been into that spice up any outfit have been plaid coats, tortoise hoop earrings, textured pants, and chunky sneakers (not necessarily all together though!). The more you experiment, the more you can see what you like and what you don’t. Follow trends if that's your thing, or create your own. You’ll never know unless you try! Maybe bring in a new color or print to an otherwise muted outfit, or try out new jewelry on top of something you already love. The beauty of fashion is that it’s entirely what you want it to be--you can dress however you want, and no one can stop you, so why not have some fun with it!

Whether your a lounge wear girl or you frequently opt for polished, put-together looks, getting dressed shouldn’t be a chore. The key to confidence is comfort--so why not begin with your wardrobe? You can never go wrong with being true to yourself.