Personal Style Formulas: What Are Yours?


I’ve been thinking more about my style formulas, as I work my way through The Curated Closet, by Anuschka Rees. Personal style formulas are clothing combinations we often reach for.  It’s not the same as a “uniform,” e.g. the well-known head-to-toe black worn by NYC fashion editors, or a Wall Street uniform of sharply tailored suits and white shirts. Formulas are guidelines, ones that we have become comfortable and confident with. And they simplify that morning ritual of what-to-wear.

One familiar formula for many of us might be: slim jeans + striped knit top + loafers or sneakers. We don’t wear the same pieces every day, but follow this flexible formula. Another example, and one I used in my work years would be: dressy knit top + full skirt + low heels/flats. I have a friend who wears skinny jeans + printed flowing top + loafers most days but I never think, “Oh, that again.” In fact, I only thought of it as a “formula” as I sat down to write this post. It actually guides me to find tops at the Thrift that I think she will like.

One of my formulas for many years has been: button down shirt + slim knee-length skirt + belt + booties or boots. It’s a no-fail for me, as long as the pieces skim, and not grab my shape.



Plaid wool skirt is courtesy of the lovely people at Chadwicks of Boston.

And here are some (old!) examples of the knit top + full skirt formula:

PicMonkey Collage89

I always feel good in these proportions. And a midi skirt works better for me than a maxi. I like the short hair too. : >


Slim fit top + pencil skirt + tights + booties, back in 2011. Ahh, youth!

These repeaters are the elements that make up our personal style, and make shopping/getting dressed much easier. We can change them up any time, because we wear what we love and we don’t need rules. What are some of your favorite combinations?

Stay fabulous,

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  1. Formulas make life easier, especially when you are busy. My style formula? Probably jeans / trousers and a Breton stripe top. Or a pencil skirt and a semi-fitted top. It always works.

  2. Skinny jeans, tank or tee, plaid shirt or jacket, and ankle boots.

    It’s a bit hard living in a Southern state but I sweat it out.

  3. Hmm formulas…I wasn’t interested in mathematical or scientific formulas in my school days, or, fashion formulas – especially fashion formulas, I just dress in whatever feels right in the moment. xx

  4. You look fabulous in your midi skirt and boot combo, Patti.
    Hmmmm…what’s mine…something 1970s, bright and maxi length with ankle boots and lashings of jewellery. x

  5. Hmm, like Suzanne, I think I am always changing – but a steady go-to for me is either skinny jeans + tunic sweater/poncho + boots or boyfriend jeans + tee + long sweater. For work, a wrap dress + tall boots in the winter. No matter what, I always add some bangles, earrings (usually hoops or studs) and a large bag. I just returned from LA where EVERYONE was wearing super fun sneakers, with everything. I am late to this game, but did order a pair and want to give this look a try. I don’t like totally flat shoes, so I’ve strayed away from the sneaker look, but found a pair of wedge sneakers that I plan to try..stay tuned!
    Great post, I need to check out the book as well!

  6. I think most of us have a fall back style that suits us best and this is what we return to.I must admit to wearing black pants and a black top of some kind on most days, adding in colour with scarves, jewellery or a jacket.

    • I was going to use you as an example of a great “formula” that wasn’t a “uniform”! You always have wonderful jackets. xo

  7. I wear a lot of tunics and skinny jeans or leggings. My go-to jewelry is a necklace, and in fall and winter I often add a scarf. Those pieces are definitely what I reach for when I need to get dressed quickly, and they feel like me. Lately, I have however noticed that I reach more and more for colorful and standout pieces, things I didn’t feel were “me” just a few years ago. It’ll be interesting to see what my style formula will look like in a few years…

    • It’s part of the fun of fashion to evolve our style, right? You have a great “look” and look like you’re comfortable in your skin. xo

  8. It makes me so happy when I see you wearing that skirt : )

    I’m loving your leopard skirt too!

    My formulas are always changing it seems. Right now I’m into full midi skirts with a fitted top and possibly a jacket.


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