Does the term Signature Style really mean “stuck in a rut”: what does what you wear say about you?

By Jane | November 15 2012 | 18 Comments

Some of fashion’s most influential people have a signature style that’s almost like a uniform. Anna Wintour’s bob,  furs and shades. Donatella’s tan, eyeliner and blonde hair. (I use the word ‘hair’ loosely here).   Michael Kors with his jeans and black t-shirts. (Now his look is just pure laziness, he is a designer for heaven’s sake.  If you don’t wear fashion Mick, then why should we buy yours?)

They obviously feel that it’s fine to go with a look that they think works for them and that’s actually something that a lot of us do – possibly without even realising it. I have a friend who lives in Latvia and the last time I visited her she commented that everything I wore was just a variation of the same style – short dress, leggings, and knee length boots. She was right. Crap.

I realised that when I want to look good, I go for that look. If Halle Berry can do it every time with her trouser suits, why can’t I with my dresses?  But after her comments I decided I’d try to shake things up a bit.

I didn’t go totally crazy but I wore things I had in my wardrobe that I like, but wouldn’t normally have chosen.  When I collected her from the airport I wore skinny green trousers, a girlie shirt and a smart cropped jacket with ankle boots. The next day it was skinny jeans with a Breton striped top and wedged trainers. The following day…you get the idea. On the last day I let myself revert to form and do you know what she said?

‘Oh darling!’ (Yeah, she calls me darling!) ‘You look like yourself today. You look gorgeous.’

WTF?  Are you kidding me? I told her what I had been trying to do and she just laughed at me. It turns out that what she meant was that I have found my own ‘style’ and that it looks good on me!

However, the whole experience has encouraged me to make more of an effort to vary my style. And I have to admit I’m enjoying the variety I’ve managed to get into my wardrobe. But I still think if you find a look that suits you, it’s ok to wear it – just try and use current trends to keep it updated.

Look at Jennifer Aniston, who always looks good but only ever seems to wear black, white and sleeveless outfits. She is certainly not a trendsetter but like Halle, she always looks good.

Cate Blanchett loves fashion but sometimes she looks like she tried too hard and although the dress may be wonderful it does nothing for her. Or the other way around:  remember the alien dress? Hated it, but thought she looked amazing in it. Although I think that had a lot to do with the styling, her hair and makeup were flawless.

And Florence Welsh is so determined to be fashion forward she sometimes looks like she fell backwards into a clothes recycling bin.  Eeeeek.  All those layers and patterns and textures and colours…who lets her out the door? Does she not have a best friend?

Kim Kardashian, love her or hate her and her huge arse (sorry for the language but that is no ass – that is an arse!) knows what looks good on her and as long as she ignores Kanye’s advice to swamp her figure almost always gets it right.

It’s a difficult one because constantly reinventing yourself can be exhausting and expensive: but is sticking to the style that you know definitely suits you a bit… boring?

Which camp do you fall into? Do you like to try out new styles or do you usually play it safe?  Is it always an LBD on a night out for example – or do you like to shake it up?

To the comments!


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18 Replies to "Does the term Signature Style really mean “stuck in a rut”: what does what you wear say about you?"

  • Atkin says:

    Kim K almost always gets it right?! Are you nuts? I think she always looks incredibly cheap. You can predict what she will sear these days skirt, belted waist, too low shirt, silly pointed shoes. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a signature style at all, as long as it suits you. Nigella in her Westwood dresses, VB in her ahem, VB dresses, and of course, Sofia Vergarra in anything tight and shiny :D

  • *Aisling* says:

    I think once you know what suits you you should probably stick to it or a variation of it too – I’m with you on that one Jane! For instance I would LOVE to wear pencil skirts and LBDs – but I just can’t, I don’t have the right shape. And I can’t bear to go round all day sucking in my stomach either.

    Jennifer Anniston should definitely shake it up a bit though – I love her but her look is so boring at this stage. How many black sleeveless dresses must she have in her wardrobe!

  • Shygirl says:

    I always dress exactly the same! Don’t know why, just do! Probably just stuck in a comforable rut!

  • Gracie says:

    I think the bets way to go is to find your signature style but mix it up a bit once in a while. At least for us mortal people. If I was a celebrity or someone with enough cash to spend on a stylist and clothes that I’d wear once in the name of experimenting, then I’d be adventurous.

    I went through my adventurous stage (with cheap clothes) during university. But now, I cannot look presentable with clothes that doesn’t fit me as I did when I was 19. In short, I can’t afford to be that adventurous both in terms of money and looking presentable/not like an alien. I have my “signature style” (very loosely used term. It’s more of a rut. I basically live in dresses+flats during summer and dresses+tights+ankle boots+cardigans during winter) and I try to experiment with different styles, colours, etc.

  • Lola says:

    I like to vary up my look a bit! I tend to looks like I just fell backwards into a clothes recycling bin too, my outfit choices sometimes get a few raised eyebrows (Limerick isn’t the most fashion forward of places!) But my atitude to clothes is wear what you want and sher feck what other people think!

  • Shygirl says:

    Yea thats the thing Gracie, we don’t have money to experiment with things that you may decide that you don’t like or wear.

  • Jane says:

    As I said I do have a style that I tend to go for and I just try and keep it updated – sounds a lot like yours Gracie!!
    But I love when my sister buys me clothes as she has a much more varied wardrobe.
    When she buys me something its always a bit different and I feel like I am in a whole new look after I have matched it up or bought something to go with it.
    Feel really good today in a top she got me just a few weeks ago – thanks Sis!!

  • EvieM says:

    I have a fairly classic aka boring style that generally doesn’t go out of fashion so I can pull off the same clothes over and over again, which is handy in a recession. Jeans & converse/ballet pumps with tees/jumpers. Jazz em up with a blazer for a trip outside, maybe a pair of heels if I don’t have to small fella to run after. Short dresses & high high high heels for a night out. Thats about it really.

  • Orla says:

    Kim wears awful shoes that make her legs look stumpy. But I think there are times when she can work that little waist very well. Must be hard to find clothes that fit and complement that butt though.

    I’m totes guilty of wearing the same aul thing:
    1) patterned dress with sleeves for going out

    2 jumper and jeans with trainers for wherever

    3) A-line skirt / bootcut pants / pencil skirt with a v-neck sweater for work. I’m top heavy so forget about finding a nice shirt that will close securely over the girls. Just wish nice wrap tops were easier to find :(

  • PinkPanther says:

    When people admire my outfit choices they often follow up with the comment ‘it’s very you’ so I always wonder am I too predictable. I’ve tried to mix it up but I’m never as comfortable when I break away from my style staples of pencil skirts, heels and red lippy.

  • *Aisling* says:

    Pink – take it as the compliment they mean it to be – you always look great!

  • witchgirl26 says:

    I defo have a style I’ve stuck with for years. I always wore boot leg jeans & tops. Only recently enough (compared to others) did I even break into the world of skinny jeans (which I now love)!
    Even the dresses I wear are usually cut quite similarly. I have thought about shaking it up a bit but every time I try on something new style-wise, I don’t think it looks good on me so I go back to a variation of what I know and am happy with :)

  • gobo says:

    I try to shake it up day to day although I’m getting a bit reliant on the aulskinny jeans/knee high boots combo of late.

  • Jane says:

    Its hard to admit it but sometimes a certain look is more about comfort than style!
    Life is tough enough without clothes being a hassle but when i am feeling lazy about changing my look i try and remember how great you feel when your outfit works and you feel good!

  • Fiona says:

    I love when people have a signature style – even when its a bit wacky! Love Florence Welsh’s look … on her its just right.

    Having a signature style makes me think that you have a strong sense of who you are. I was only thinking the other day about a girl I knew in college who was totally “grunge” – all Doc Martins, black, leggings and dreads(yes, this was many years ago) in 1st year, and when we all came back after the summer had transformed into “techno” bright colours, sneakers etc (as I said… many, many years ago). I could only think – what a flake! :-)

  • Atkin says:

    Fiona I blame All Saints and their “I Know Where It’s At” video for that :D

    Speaking of Florence Welsh, did you see the pictures of her at Kate Moss’ book launch? I think she has a new stylist.

  • littlesis says:

    I think it all depends on your attitude. You are either ‘stuck in a rut’ or you know what you like and what suits you.

    I often get people saying clothes are ‘very you’, and I love it!

  • AoifeEile says:

    Having lost some weight recently, I’ve tried to shake up my wardrobe a little, only to be told in work “You look really weird in a skirt.” Thing is, I feel skirts/dresses are much more me & are actually what I used to wear all the time. But people get used to seeing you a certain way, and it seems I’ve been labelled a “trouser person.”

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