Saturday, 1 February 2014

DIY Personal Style Analysis

Not everyone can afford the luxury of a personal style analysis and not everyone lives near enough to a personal stylist anyway, even if they can afford one.  If you´re interested in defining your personal style, there are lots of resources on the internet to help you or, even better, why don't you do it with a friend? Promise each other to be honest, but also to be tactful: I'd hate to ruin a beautiful friendship with this idea!

The House of Colour Style Analysis looks at your Yang/Yin personality and their checklist contains questions about whether you are dark or fair, tall or small, angular or curvy, formal or informal etc. No prizes for guessing which traits are yin and which are yang! A dramatic or classic style personality is more yang whilst an ingénue or romantic style personality, not surprisingly, is more yin. The other two options are natural and gamine, which fall in the middle, and I am of course a natural gamine.

Here is one on-line quiz, which is job related, however it gives you an idea of the differences between yin and yang: are you a dragon (yin) or a tiger (yang)?. I have tried a couple of quizzes with differing results, though in all cases I was somewhere in the middle and either slightly yin or slightly yang, which ties up with the results of my style analysis.

Another way of identifying your personal style is to go through your wardrobe and pick out your favourite clothes and accessories. The clothes that you feel good in when you wear them and that make you look good too, not necessarily your latest purchases. This is where your friend can be helpful in saying "You always look great in that!" Or maybe, tactfully, "That's not your most flattering look."

Is there a theme? Are your favourite clothes tailored, feminine, sporty or dramatic?  Don't worry if there is no common theme as you don't have to rush this process.  Go through some magazines, cutting out pictures of outfits that you love and the celebrities that are your style icons. You can also do this on-line by clipping pictures to Polvore or creating a Pinterest board. Here's a Pinterest board that I've just started, to give you some ideas: Natural Gamine style.

Who wouldn't want to look like Audrey?
The photo below, taken in Paris (where else?!), shows me in an outfit that reflects my style personality. Neat fitting, boyish with (I like to think) a touch of French chic: this is my gamine look. Examples of well-known personalities who have the gamine look are Audrey Hepburn (my no. 1 style icon!), Dannii Minogue and Zoe Wanamaker.

As I'm only 5' and a bit, it would be difficult for me to have a dramatic personal style without being overwhelmed by my clothes. Bold patterns and colours would dominate me, and I don't have the height to carry off the striking clothes that a dramatic would wear. Think Joan Collins, Iris Apfel, Jennifer Lopez - not exactly shrinking violets - all glamorous, flamboyant women: these are the true dramatics. Does this sound like you?

If you have a classic personal style, you probably buy simple, elegant clothes that don't date. Classics go for neutrals rather than bright colours and are willing to spend money on good quality clothes. You will admire the style of Michelle Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Middleton. You always look well-groomed and probably don't like casual styles or anything OTT.

The natural style personality is very casual and sporty and many naturals aren't really interested in fashion. Naturals don't feel comfortable in formal clothes and will always choose comfort over style. If naturals have a style icon it is likely to be Cameron Diaz, Keira Knightley or Jennifer Aniston.  They are all stylish in their own way, but they don't look as if they've tried too hard: they clearly have more important things in their lives than fashion. Could you be a natural?

I've seen ingénue described as a gamine, as both styles tend to look best on smaller women, but whereas a gamine is boyish, an ingénue will be more delicate and feminine.  Goldie Hawn and Charlene Tilton are good examples of ingénue style personalities. You like small and delicate jewellery, light fabrics and will tend to avoid clothes that are too sexy.

Finally, the most yin of all the style personalities is the romantic woman. She is sexy, curvy and very feminine: if I mention Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren and Catherine Zeta Jones you will know exactly what I mean. Do you love to wear glamorous dresses that show off your curves? Do you like sensuous fabrics such as silk, cashmere and suede? If you love bows and ruffles on your clothes, if you enjoy dressing up to go out and if you feel undressed without make-up - well maybe you are a romantic too.

Most of us are a mix of style personalities.  I am a natural gamine, for example. It's a good choice for someone who is as short as I am and who has a rectangular body: bows and ruffles don't look good on me, bold patterns wear me rather than the other way round however I am interested in fashion and looking stylish, unlike most naturals.

Your personal style should work well for your body shape as well as being a reflection of your personality. I have always been a bit of a tomboy, I'm told that I still look youthful at the advanced age of 66, I tend to wear fairly structured, neat-fitting clothes but I also like to have fun with my clothes and I try to create a chic look. Voilá! I'm definitely a gamine!

I'd love to know whether you have found this helpful and to hear what your style personality is.


  1. So what did you learn about your own style etc that really brought it all home for you?

    I'm reluctant to do a color analysis since my sister, who has VERY cool skin tones, was told in an analysis she had olive skin. Makes me reluctant to trust someone else's judgment I guess. Although I had a bit of a shock tonight when I was minutes away from placing an ebay bid on a silk top and my husband said, that's too dull a color for you. And then pointed out the other one I had on my wish list and said, that's a good color for you! So, I'm soft summer but a touch cooler than soft (and softer than cool).

    Other than that, I think we have a lot of similarities. Short (but I've got three inches on you!), H or rectangle, short waist--but I have a slightly longer rise than regular petite. The way you differentiate gamine and ingénue makes sense, so I'd have to say I'm also ingénue with a nod to soft classic in preference but natural in practice.

  2. I think the most interesting aspects were confirmation that the jacket that I'm wearing above is a good shape and length for me (I took it with me as an extra layer to cope with British winter weather!) and that shorter skirts are better than ones too far below my knees. I've always been a bit of a tomboy and don't like clothes that are too fussy, which ties in well with the gamine look. Most of the clothes now in my wardrobe are right for my personal style and the few that don't work as well tend to be ones that don't fit the guidelines. Interestingly enough, I do like the styles worn by the natural style icons too. I also enjoy more dramatic styles, but know that they don't look right on me. What I found particularly helpful was looking at body shape (rectangle) and proportions and identifying the most flattering clothes for me. Robin, you don't know how much I envy you for those three extra inches!

    Regarding colour analysis, I do think that you need personal recommendations as some consultants are a lot better than others. There are several resources on-line to help, but you can also try out different colours yourself to see whether you look better in warm or cool shades. Does silver flatter you more than gold? Pure white or cream? Black or brown? Warm red or blue red? It's best to do this when you're not wearing any make-up and in a good natural light.

    A lot depends on your lifestyle: it's much easier now that I'm retired and my only "work" activities are blogging or showing visitors around our local Spanish town! If your preference is soft classic, perhaps you can gradually introduce a few touches into your wardrobe?

  3. Sue
    I'm also retired, at least semi-retired, and work from home teaching college online. So natural fits that part of my lifestyle. I wore a uniform to work for nearly 30 years so I'm still in the "look professional" mindset. I recently bought a nice suit--after looking for 3 years, thinking I would re-enter the "real" workforce, but I also wanted it for when I attend conferences. However, most people don't wear suits to conferences these days. Still, I might get to present one day, and a suit is good to have. (dream on??)

    I know what you mean about those three inches since I wish I had just two more to make clothes fit better. I have to alter most petite tops as it is.

    My new color consultant is my husband after his startling comments yesterday. He's not only British, but an engineer and I had no idea he even noticed such things--but he did approach it from an engineering perspective! I know I'm cool/summer but thought I was more soft than I am.

    Anyway, like you I have a long face too, and am still looking for a good hairdresser who won't make me look like a guy.

    Where does that jacket hit you? I still struggle with jacket/top length after being told a jacket I thought was perfect "swallowed" me.

  4. Robin, it sounds as if you have a very helpful husband fashion-wise! My guess is that, as an engineer, he is able to be objective when looking at colours on you. Also, he's British!!!! My Scottish husband's favourite word is "fine", so most things I try on are "fine". However if it doesn't look right he slowly shakes his head, so then I know it's not fine!

    Can you wear your suit as separates? I have a white trouser suit, which I don't wear very often as a suit, but the jacket is good for summer evenings if there's a bit of a breeze. It's a petite suit so the proportions are good for me. As it's white I don't wear it too often to save on dry cleaning bills!!! I wore the jacket last year for my niece's wedding in June and it was ideal for making my cotton dress look dressier.

    The Mango jacket in the above photo hits me around my leg break, so any longer and it wouldn't look as good. The sleeves are long (it wasn't a petite size, just USA medium) so I wear them rolled up a bit, which is a good look for a gamine apparently! I did ask at the style consultation whether I should shorten the sleeves but was told the way I'm wearing it is a better look on me.

  5. Sue

    If I'm at an event where I feel a suit is a good idea (can't say required since how many places really require one anymore?) I would break it up and try different combos. I did attend a conference last fall and wore a suit opening day and then mixed and matched the pieces throughout the week.

    I see now why you'd be considered gamine. If I roll up sleeves, I look like a bag lady wearing clothes that are too large. I might be taller than you but I'm wider too! Maybe that's why. I dunno--I just know I can push up sleeves and not look too bad but rolled up is a bad look for me. The jacket I mentioned that drew negative comments hit it my leg break so I need something shorter. But I've recently realized I have a long rise (long being a VERY relative term, but even an inch matters, as you know!) So I was looking for short jackets and now I realize short but not too short is the key. I just don't know what that perfect length is yet.

  6. And now, I do need that suit! (OK, that might be too formal). I'm being interviewed by the local paper for a volunteer project I do. Gotta figure out what to wear for the photo.

  7. Robin, it might be worth booking a session with a personal shopper if there are any stores near you that provide a free personal shopper service. Failing that, if you go into a large store and pick out a selection of jackets of varying lengths to try on. Forget about colours and styles, just check out which length looks best on you. Take a tape measure so you can measure the best length for future reference!

    How exciting that you are going to be interviewed for your local paper! As you say you are a soft classic, you will probably feel happier wearing a jacket if not a suit. I would wear something that you really love and that is also comfortable to give you confidence. If you feel good, you will also look good!

  8. We're in too small a town to have personal shoppers. Himself is NOT a fan of shopping but he might go with me to help me evaluate jacket lengths--if I convince him there's a nice lunch waiting after!

  9. Hi Robin, I've just returned from a long weekend in Barcelona. Did you get Hubby to go shopping with you?!!! I'm sure the promise of a nice lunch did the trick!

  10. Hi Sue

    Not yet. I was involved in the newspaper interview, as well as the volunteer project, and then I caught a cold. We are going away for a Valentine's weekend and will be near a city with better shopping and he's offered to build time into the schedule for shopping! And of course that means lunch at some interesting place we don't have here, so a win for everyone!

  11. I sooo need a makeover. I just got my hair cut too!

    1. Hi Robin, Thanks for sharing the link. Wow! I didn't realise how important you are! ;-)

      Your hair suits you, however I'm not so sure about the colours you were wearing (though I loved the pop of red!) I'm no colour expert though and also, like many women, I have to be careful not to be influenced by my own favourite colours. What I did notice was how much younger you looked when you smiled! I've always said that my number one beauty tip is a smile and I think you proved it!

  12. Thanks. My husband commented several times since our shopping trip that I need to go a little brighter. I love the color in that shirt and was convinced after getting compliments it suited me, but I'm thinking I should rethink!

    Yes, I do like my smile and try to use it often!

    As for our shopping--other than the color comments it didn't go well as there was never a place for him to sit. I'm used to better department stores having a place for the "support crew" but the only one we found was next tot eh sales clerk and he didn't want to sit there. But at least he gave me feedback on colors.

  13. I am a flamboyant gamine, according to the Kibbe classifications--I am pulled to dramatic styles, but I am too short and not angular enough to pull it off. I am also a light spring, and I think these go well together.

    1. Thanks for your interesting comment, Vanessa. I had a look at the Kibbe classifications after reading your comment and noticed that there wasn't a natural gamine there. Yes, I like dramatic styles too, but lack of height definitely makes it hard to pull off! I'm a jewel winter as well as being a natural gamine. What I liked about Kibbe is the fact that there were options for all seasons too.