As our lives change and our goals shift, so too does our style. The start of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your wardrobe, think about what you want to achieve this year, and how your wardrobe can help.
Dressing well is an art form. It takes practice and hard work. Having a firm style direction will help guide you and save you from staring at your wardrobe every morning thinking you have nothing to wear. It will make shopping easier, give you more confidence, and give you a reason to make an effort.
These five easy tips will help redefine your style.
This is the most important and most time-consuming exercise. Start by thinking about your favourite outfits. When have you felt your best? Then scour magazines - not just Vogue or Fashion Quarterly either. Think outside the box. Go to your local library and grab stacks of different mags to pore over. Don't limit yourself to recent ones. If there are archives, ransack them. Watch films with strong, definitive styles (from any era).
Join Pinterest, click on the WIWT ("what I wore today") and OOTD ("outfit of the day") hashtags on Twitter and read fashion blogs. Pay attention to what other people are wearing in your neighbourhood, school, workplace or city.
Street style blogs are a great source of inspiration. Besides the big-name overseas ones (thesartorialist.com and jakandjil.com), try Auckland-based Four Eyes blog (eyeseyeseyeseyes.com) or Wellingtonian-abroad Jessie Bush's We the People Style (wethepeoplestyle.com). All these things will help inspire you and give you a sense of the looks you love.
Now that you have some idea of where you're headed, have a real, honest look at your wardrobe. Try on everything to see what fits or doesn't - both literally and figuratively -with your new style direction. What classics or basics do you already have? What gaps are there? Make notes of everything. Anything that doesn't work can either go in the dress-up box (yes, I have one and I don't have children - it's handy), on Trade Me, or to a consignment store or your nearest charity shop of choice. Alternatively, give them to a friend who you think may suit them. This will help garner goodwill for the next tip.
Now it's time to include someone else. Ask that friend of yours - you know, the one who is honest and has a good eye for detail and proportion - to help you go through your wardrobe. Get them to style you. Then go through their wardrobe. Ask to borrow things you think may suit your new direction. This will help you figure out what you're missing and what suits you without spending a cent. If you fall in love with something, you could arrange a trade or sale or write it down as something to keep an eye out for in stores. See if they have old accessories they don't wear. Take them home and style them into your wardrobe. Wear things you wouldn't normally, just to see how it feels.
As you complete each step, record everything you love. Pin or save a folder of pictures you love online, make notes in what will become your style handbook or create a mood board of images you love from magazines and books. Don't limit yourself to outfit or clothes photos either. If you see a pattern, colour or building that inspires you, or a film poster, book cover or page of typography - all those things can help you define your style. Take daily outfit photos. When you look in a mirror, you tend to automatically focus on one point or aspect of your outfit or body. By taking a photo you are forced to see the whole, giving you a better sense of whether the outfit works or not. Don't forget to also note when a particular outfit makes you feel fantastic, as that's important, too. Once you start to get a sense of what you love and makes you happy, write a style manifesto. It could be an entire page or as simple as "skinny jeans and ballet flats" or "rockabilly" - whatever works for you and will remind you of your style goals. Keep it somewhere you will regularly see it, whether that's lipstick on your bathroom mirror or a Post-it note in your wallet.
Now's the time to fill those gaps and buy any basics you may be missing. There's no rush though; you could make it a year-long adventure. When out shopping, refer to your manifesto. Think "does this fit with my style direction?" before you pull out your credit card. At the same time, don't be afraid to buy on impulse. Every now and then you'll come across a piece that inexplicably makes your heart go all aflutter.
Don't let your sensible side talk you out of it, either. If you truly love it, you'll find a way to wear it.