Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2)

This is the second post in my Intentional Closet series. To see part one and learn more about what an intentional closet is, click here.

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

I have never been a trendy person. From my Kindergarten Halloween costume (a clown, not a princess), to the over-sized hoodies I wore all throughout high school, my clothes have never been “cool.” A big part of the reason for this was because I was ashamed. I didn't like my body, and so I dressed in a way that kept people from looking at me.

Years later, I'm still not trendy, but I have developed a certain sense of personal style. While to some that may seem meaningless, putting effort into how I dress lets me take back my self-image and make a statement about myself. I am no longer ashamed of people seeing me for me; instead, I am ready to show them who I am.

This is part of the reason I care so much about developing a personal style. Personal style is about more than trends and fashion; it is about finding clothing that articulates who you are and makes you feel like you.

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

However, that's easier said than done. This post looks to help you put words to the clothing tastes and preferences you may already have, and if not, to help you find the kind of clothes that make you feel like your best self.

I am not writing this post as a fashion expert. However, I am someone who finds a lot of joy in having an intentional closet – a collection of clothes that represents me and what I stand for, while making my life easier (and a little more colorful!). For that reason, I'd like to share with you my process for defining my personal style. I'm also include an intentional closet style planner that you can print out and use as you go through this post. To download it, please click here: Style Planner.

1. Finding style inspiration

There are tons of different style categories out there: classic, romantic, bohemian, edgy, dramatic, goth… The list goes on and on. Most people (who are not Instagram models) don't fall into just one category. For that reason, I'm not a huge fan of “style quizzes” that tell you what your clothing rules should be based off of your favorite color or coffee order – people are so much more varied and interesting than that!

Instead, I think it's a good idea to find style inspiration in a variety of categories, and create a profile for yourself based on those styles. To get you started, I've created Pinterest boards for some of the most popular styles – Classic, Romantic, Casual, Preppy, Dramatic, and Bohemian. Take a look through these Pinterest boards and other fashion boards on Pinterest to figure out what styles appeal to you. If the boards I created aren't your thing, no hard feelings – just search on Pinterest for the words “fashion,” “style,” or “clothes” and create a board where you pin the pictures that are a closer match for your style.

In your style planner, there is a box for identifying your favorite style categories. I put down three boxes: “styles I love” (which will make up the base of your wardrobe), “styles I like” (which will contribute to your wardrobe), and “accent styles,” (which will give it some extra flair and personality).

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

Here is how I filled out my style inspiration boxes:

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

The great thing about this approach to creating a personal style is that, while dressing in only one category may box you in, give you style “rules” to follow, and copy the tastes of other people, finding the mix that is uniquely you will do the opposite. It will give you an open array of elements to choose from; a clearer idea of what you like, without giving you rules; and a style that is uniquely yours.

To figure out that perfect mix, turn to the second box on the style planner.

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara LaughedThis is just a blank rectangle, but we will fill it in with your ideal mix of styles. For me, I  find that the clothes that most represent me are a mix between romantic and classic. This means lots of dresses and cardigans, navy stripes, and romantic accents like lace, eyelets, and bows. I also tend to wear a lot of scarves and big jewelry, so I'm adding the category “bohemian” to my style make-up. When you do this, you certainly don't need to add percentages, but I thought I would add them to mine to make my categories clearer for you.

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed
2. Creating a style board

It honestly took me until this year to be able to articulate my style at all. For those of you who are new to figuring out what kind of tastes you have, creating a Pinterest board or inspiration board of photos and styles you like, as mentioned in the above step, may be helpful. Here's my own example – you don't need to add more than a few photos!

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

Seeing the kinds of things you like side-by-side may help you recognize patterns in your preferences.

3. Creating a style profile

Finally, add these steps together and create a style profile for yourself. Consider the colors, patterns, and types of clothing items you see in the Pinterest board you created. Fill these in in the final section in your style planner.

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara LaughedHere is how I filled out the final section in my style planner:

Defining Your Style (Intentional Closet Part 2) - Sara Laughed

You can see that I took the romantic textures, classic patterns and silhouettes, and bohemian elements from how I answered questions one and two. As for types of clothing and patterns, I took a look at the contents of my style boards and took note of things that appeared time and time again.

Choosing colors is a little harder. I love colors – bright and colorful clothing is my jam. For that reason, it's hard for me to choose a single color palette, and as you can see, I chose a pretty wide array. I will discuss choosing a more specific, smaller color palette for a capsule wardrobe in a later part of this series.

If you'd like to follow these steps to create your own style profile, please click here to download the free style planner.

I hope this post has been useful in helping you better understand, articulate, or determine your personal style. The next installment in this series will help you determine what your standards for clothing are, from how they're made to how they fit. I'm looking forward to it!

Love, Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, recent grad, and American abroad. I graduated from college in December and promptly moved to the Netherlands, where I live with my boyfriend and our 11 plants. Follow along as I figure out my roaring twenties: I don't quite know what I'm doing, but that's not stopping me from writing about it!

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  • Over the years I’ve definitely grown to ‘own’ my sense of style–I wear a lot of the same colors and same silhouettes–and it’s a quirky style that would suit everyone (my husband has been known to tell me, “Just because you feel pretty in this outfit doesn’t mean you actually look pretty.” haha! Good thing I love that guy….) but it suits me just fine.

  • Wow! This post was really helpful. I’m thirty-four years old, and although I know what I like, I would have a hard time really defining my style. I might have to try this.

  • I so, so need to do this. I did a Capsule Wardrobe this year, and though I love the space it’s given me to actually see my close and be creative with only a set number of pieces, I still feel like I need to define my style a little bit more. This is so immensely helpful!

    My biggest challenge is going into a store and shopping for a while until everything starts to look like it might fit into my style. I call it shopping goggles. I wish I had a better filter for what fits me and what I might just like because it’s “in season.” Thanks for this … I plan on implementing a lot of your tips!

  • Wow, thanks for making this so practical! I was thinking, “How can a blog post really help me articulate my style?” but I’m a big charts/lists girl so that pointed me in the right direction. Also, love that you curated separate Pinterest boards for those different general styles! Thanks for sharing, Sara 🙂

    Found you at the Peony Project. I blog at

  • Sara, this is really good stuff! One of the best pieces on this topic I’ve read. I love how you broke it down in a way that style obsessed people and others who may be less involved in matters of style can relate too. Keep up the fabulous blogging!