Every field has their icons. Technology has Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Biology has Charles Darwin and Jonas Salk. Literature has Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. However, in the realm of fashion and, more specifically, personal style, the way in which we select our heroes is unique. For every worshipper at the temple of couture, the experience of selecting a role model and ultimately establishing one’s own “fashion sense” is utterly unique. For me, my style awakening came at an early age when I paged through my mother’s old issues of Vogue and I greedily devoured glossy page after glossy page of images of airbrushed women (I assume many young women and men have similar anecdotes.) I was introduced such women as Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Anne Hathaway, always looking sleek and ethereally beautiful. I cut out pictures of these women, pasting them to innumerable “vision boards” (oh, how ten-year-old me would have squealed in delight at the wonder that is Pinterest!) This is how I came to pride myself on my discerning taste and distinctive style. But of course, mine is only one of a thousand experiences. Mine occurred at a very young age as well, and many find themselves coming upon a reckoning with adulthood without a sense of what their “aesthetic” (to borrow an overused word) might be. Though this may seem a trivial problem, not understanding one’s own style can be indicative of deeper issues at hand – lack of self-confidence, fledgling self-actualization, a grappling with one’s identity – and finding your personal style can give your self-possession a boost and perhaps bring more joy into your life. This journey begins with identifying your style icons.
There are certain denizens of conspicuous style factions. Androgyny and bohemia has Alexa Chung, cutting-edge trendsetting has the young model set (Kendall Jenner, though I’m loathe to admit it, is one of these young arbiters), traditionalism and classic femininity has Amal Clooney, et cetera, et cetera. Associating with one of these factions, conformist thought it may seem, can be essential to setting off on the path to locate your own aesthetic. Blending these is, of course, common, and can be done with ease: many are now putting a more bohemian spin on classic style (see: Meghan Markle), and women have been adding a masculine touch to traditionalism for ages (see: Katharine Hepburn). But it is important to remember that you must start your odyssey by joining one group or another. If you find yourself foundering at this first step, try tossing around a few adjectives. Do you find yourself to be more masculine or feminine? Do you enjoy bold color, pastel tones, or completely neutral ensembles? Are you hippy-dippy or posh? All of these can help you define both your style and yourself.
Essentially, that’s what it’s all about: finding “yourself” and expressing that self through clothing. Famed stylist-turned designer Rachel Zoe phrased it wisely: “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” So the question left to you is, what do you want to say?