Find Your Signature Style

Find your signature style. Although I dress confidently, I am a sucker for how-to’s, lists, do-overs, et al. I’ll read any fashion article that starts with “Five Ways To . . .” I swear I found one that was titled “How To Dress More Elegantly” and started with “Buy more elegant clothing”.

This little article from the magazine Real Simple has some gold in it: Define Your Signature Style. It’s real simple (heh), can be applied to any wardrobe, and appeals to my sense of orderliness without being oppressive.

I’m going to apply the guidelines to my own wardrobe, and hope that you’ll play along, if you choose. And share in the comments! From the article, here’s the verbatim text for Step #1:.

Step 1: Identify What’s Working

You probably have a handful of go-to pieces you instinctively reach for when you want to look put-together. Now imagine having a rack full of them. The first step toward achieving that goal is figuring out what makes those favorites so, well, favored, says Amy E. Goodman, the author of Wear This, Toss That. “Pull out the five things you would wear every day if no one was keeping track,” she says. (Emphasis mine). Choose something in each clothing category: tops, pants, dresses, and skirts. Then ask yourself a few questions about each piece:

How would you describe the item? Crisp and tailored? Soft and ruffly?
What image does it project? Smart and professional? Edgy and fashionable?
What color is it? Does the shade brighten your complexion?
What fabric is it made of?
What is the silhouette like? Nipped at the waist? Flowing and hip-grazing?
What parts of your body does it accentuate?
What parts of your body does it de-emphasize? Is it comfortable?

Your answers reveal: your style barometer. “Be careful of buying replicates,” says Goodman. You may learn you prefer darks and flared shapes, but you need only one good pair of black trousers. “Think of it as nailing down a signature look, not getting into a rut,” she says.

OK, here I go. The five pieces I’d wear every day are:

  • Dark wash boyfriend cut jeans.
These look like me.
  • Black long sleeve tee, slim cut but not tight.
  • Striped long sleeve tee, slightly oversized.
  • Black pencil or full skirt.
  • Midi length black or grey knit dress, sleeveless for layering.
But a little looser. I buy one size up : >

I’m not entirely sure about the image this projects, except it feels like “me”, “she likes black”, “move to NYC”, or “boring!”. Everything is soft, easy to wear, neutral and fairly casual. I like body-skimming clothing that hints at my form. I like a waistline and I emphasize my upper body. I avoid bright colors/prints.

What this question does not take into account is that these pieces are the backdrop for lots of accessories. So one of my signatures is: blank canvas for creativity.

Next installment will be Analyze Your Mistakes!

Over to you: What are your five reach-for pieces? What do they reveal about you? Or do these articles make you numb?? No wrong answers!

Stay fabulous, xo

Wear what you love, always. Here are some goodies to browse:


Please be aware that links to vendors may be affiliate links. I may benefit from your purchases through the links on the blog. Header photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash.

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  1. What a great exercise. I have to play along! :: Medium wash boyfriend or straight leg jean with a little distressing. Denim skirt (I bought the one in your roundup) either knee length or midi. Peasant blouse that I made. An oversized olive green jacket made like a French work jacket. A traditional “grandpa” cardigan a bit oversized. Honorable mention: Linen joggers with our up and down weather in TX this fall.

    • Hi Kimberly and thanks for your comment. I love the French work jacket as a go-to. And linen joggers, got to get some! Have a lovely evening, xx.

  2. Boyfriend jeans in a dark wash are a go to for me. In winter with Turtlenecks. This summer I want to experiment more with overs-sized button downs and said jeans. Flat comfy shoes are a must too.

    • Hi Lise and thanks for coming by. I love the idea of an oversized shirt with classic dark jeans. Very cool. stay well and have a great weekend, xx.

  3. I am a yoga teacher so my signature style is usually yoga pants (leggings) with a tank and tee, and then a long drapey sweater on top. Since I’m in Canada, I add scarves and boots and a lot of warm things to the mix! On days that I’m not teaching, it’s pretty similar, just substituting jeans for yoga pants. Oh, and black. Almost everything is black!

    • Hello Nicole – you are my style sister! Nothing better than yoga pants with a soft tee (in black). Have a wonderful weekend up there in the chilly North, and stay fab, xx.

  4. Thank You for today’s post .I am looking forward to your next post regarding signature style .I enjoy fashion and styling items I have with new items that appeal to my personal aesthetic. I am always setting personal and fashion goals which create enjoyment and growth.New favorite quote below
    “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”.
    – C. S. Lewis

    • Hello Joan and always nice to see you! I love that quote by C.S. Lewis, that makes my day. Stay well, xx.

  5. Hi Patti, loved your blog today as usual. My go-to look is black or dark wash straight-leg jeans and a black long-sleeve tee, worn with a “utility” jacket in some solid color. I prefer the very plain jackets, without epaulets or extra hardware. I like the ones with an (interior) drawstring at the waist. For some reason, this is a look that seems to suit me really well. I just wish that this season there was more variety in the colors of utility jackets on the market. Seems like you can find any color you want as long as it’s some urpy shade of dull green! Now I plan to go downstairs and dig through my closet to see what other go-to outfits I have on repeat. Thanks for the prompt!

    • Hi Judy, nice to see you! I get it that you like a certain item enough to want several color versions of it. And I love the word “urpy”. Very good. : > Have a lovely day, xx.

  6. Happy New Year Patti – I have been a fan of yours for a long, long time and love all of your posts.
    My go-to wardrobe pieces are black yoga pants, short-sleeved graphic t-shirts, cashmere sweaters, and either Hoka tennis shoes or my vintage Danner camo hiking boots.

    • Good morning Tami and thanks for being a loyal reader over the years (approaching 11 years on the blog). I love your go-to outfits, graphic tee shirts are so much fun. Ditto hiking boots. Stay fab, xx.

  7. Change the black long sleeve T for a short sleeve white T and add a cashmere black cardigan and we have the same essential pieces! I knew I loved your style!

    • Hi Kerri Lee and thanks for coming by. Oh yes, a black cashmere cardigan would be a perfect finisher. Have a great day! xx

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