Finding Your Style

5 Easy Steps to Find Your Style Later In Life

August 31, 2023
A selection of different patterned shirts and tops hanging on a clothes rack

Have you ever looked at other people and wondered how they seem to know exactly what they’re doing in life? They know what they like and what they don’t, they have their own unique style, and they definitely know how what they want from life. Yeah, me too! And when I asked on socials if anyone else felt the same way, 83.3% of people said yes, and that they would find resources on this helpful. So here I am, writing my first post. This post will focus on how to find your style fashion wise, but I will have other posts coming in time, so let me know in the comments what you’d like to see next.

So why start with fashion? Well, I’ve been having a really hard time lately, with a lot of changes in my life, or rather around me in life, whilst I feel like I’m completely stuck in a chronically ill rut where nothing ever changes and I have zero sense of purpose. So I decided to do something about it. But what can someone as sick as I am actually do? I barely leave the house, and I have very little energy to do anything even at home. But one thing I can do is turn those days when I’m well enough to get dressed into a fun and creative activity.

There was only one problem with this – I actually have no idea what my style is or even the basics of creating a style. I’ve just found out that I am autistic, and one of the ways that has played out in my life has been trying to “fit in” because it felt unsafe to be who I was naturally. So how do you find your style after a lifetime of masking? And who do you even ask when you find yourself exploring things in your late 30s that most people do in their teens?

Well, it turns out that there are actually resources out there for those of us who are a little late in blossoming, and between those and the help of some very good friends, I’ve made a really good start so far, although I still have quite a lot of exploring and tweaking to do. And I wanted to share them with you, so that you can join me on this fun little adventure. Let’s go.

5 Easy Steps to Find Your Style Later in Life

A clothes rack seen through a shop window with a variety of white, cream, beige, brown, and green shirts and jumpers hanging on it.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

1. Learn about the different styles people enjoy

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have very little idea of where to even begin with finding your own personal style. Fashion might be one of those things that has always confused you, or you simply haven’t had the financial freedom to buy exactly what you want and have stuck to whatever you could find in the sale or at the charity shop. So trying to pin down your own unique style can be a really daunting process.

However, there are resources out there that can really help you in this. My favourite is from Minimize My Mess, as it describes a whopping 57 different styles and has Pinterest boards for all of them so you can easily see what each one looks like. There’s even a quiz and a worksheet if you want more help (although I must admit I did not agree with the answers the quiz gave me at all).

57 different fashion styles sounds like a lot, and it is. But there is quite a bit of overlap between some of them and the worksheet helps you to narrow down which ones speak to you most so that you can come to a style that feels uniquely yours. I’ll share how I got to that point myself over the following steps. For now, just make a note of which styles you really like. And whatever you do, don’t feel like you have to choose just 1 style right now.

2. Create a Pinterest board with your “dream aesthetic”

The next step I personally took was to create a Pinterest board of my dream aesthetic. I’m a very visual person, and that helped me pin things down (pun not intended, but very welcome).

I saved anything that felt like it had the dream qualities I was looking for. I had been feeling very “unfeminine” and “inelegant” recently, so that definitely had an impact on my choices! Yours will likely look very different. But that’s the point – this is you chance to work out what makes you happy and find your style. And it doesn’t have to be perfect – this is just step 2. You’ll create a second Pinterest board in step 4 when you’ve had chance to craft your style a bit further.

In fact this exercise may already show you something you hadn’t even considered. For instance, I started with 40s and 50s inspiration, but as I built the board I realised that I was pinning the same kind of “feeling” each time. By that I mean every single image had bold, but natural colours. With smooth lines and a sort of whimsical, autumnal feel to them. Which makes sense to me – autumn has always been my favourite month, and I look good in autumn colours.

3. Consider how your dream aesthetic fits with your current wardrobe

Now we get to the crux of it all – how does your dream aesthetic fit in with your current wardrobe? Very few people have the funds to throw out their entire wardrobe to start afresh, so you want to look at what you currently own that fits the theme(s) that you came up with in the previous step. Chances are you already have certain items that will work well, with maybe just a little bit of tweaking. They’re likely the items that you’ve worn most, I know they were for me. Because even though I didn’t know what my actual style was, I knew I liked them.

So make either a mental note or an actual list (whatever works best for you) of these, and take a moment to consider whether those particular items have anything else to tell you about what your unique, individual style may be. For me this meant that I realised that I had a lot of summer dresses, corduroy skirts, cardigans, tights, and leggings. I’d been buying them in colours I loved, but they didn’t really fit the 40s-50s style of my dream aesthetic. And I couldn’t afford to throw them all out, neither did I want to!

So I went back again to the list of fashion styles from step 1 and realised that I also really loved both geek chic and girl next door styles. They felt cute and familiar to me, whilst still having that flexibility to provide the “feeling” I spoke about in step 2 – that of being nature based with bold colours. Which is how I eventually came up with what I’m calling the “Geek Next Door” style. Finally it felt like I had captured what I wanted to create, and that allowed me to move forwards. So take some time in this stage, and wait until something feels right for you.

4. Create a second Pinterest board with “your personal style”

Once you’ve figured out the unique combination of styles that you want to recreate for yourself, and it usually will be a combination of styles rather than just one thing, you can start building up inspiration to help you take the leap in clearing out unwanted clothes, making the most of what you’ve got, and adding new items to the mix. And for this we’re heading back to Pinterest again.

I started a second board which I entitled Geek Next Door after my own personal style. I built this by searching for the two fashion styles I’d been inspired by – Geek Chic and Girl Next Door – and saving any which inspired me. Just like with my first board I found I was pinning a lot of bold, autumnal colours. But it also showed me the keys to the style I wanted to create – namely layering!

If you look through the images on this board, you’ll notice a lot of jumpers, shirts, and cardigans over other tops. This helped me to be more thoughtful when it came to step 5 and helped me think about the different ways I could use what I already had. So my Summer dresses could be worn as is in the Summer, but with leggings or thick tights and a cardigan in Autumn and Winter. I had a practice run today, as the weather turned a little cooler again, and I love how the different pieces all came together.

Amanda, a white woman with short, dark auburn hair, is standing in front of a raised bed with a variety of herbs growing in it. She is wearing a blue flowery patterned dress that comes to just above the knees and has pleats. She's got a green cardigan on top and navy blue leggings underneath. She is wearing black socks with black mary jane shoes.

Have fun with this step. Play around with different ideas until you feel like you’ve really started to find your style. It should be a fun activity, allowing you to imagine recreating some of the looks and owning them.

5. Clear any unwanted items from your wardrobe and take stock

Finally you’re going to want to do a big clear out of your wardrobe. Say goodbye to anything that doesn’t work for you anymore. I don’t mean get rid of things you like just because they don’t fit your new style perfectly – that’s not what this is about. Some things we just love because we love them and there is no reason for it. And some things you’ll want to hold on to for sentimental value. But get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you anymore, doesn’t feel comfortable when wearing it, or just doesn’t feel right.

Make a couple of piles – one to send to charity, and one for selling. Because you know you have some pieces that someone else would love to buy, and if you pop them on eBay or Vinted the money you make will help you buy new things to expand your wardrobe again. And don’t forget to use those sites when looking for new items too. There are some real bargains to be found over there.

It can be really helpful at this stage to take stock of what you feel would really improve what you already have. For me that is some cute jumpers (I only really have hoodies and cardigans and I want something in between) and some accessories to help pull looks together (eg a hat, some jewellery, and a belt). These are the things you can spend money on from selling the clothes you’re getting rid of. Or stick them on your Christmas list!

And that’s it. That’s how I developed my own unique style and sorted out my wardrobe, and I hope it will help you to find your style too. Let me know how you get on – I’d love to see your Pinterest boards! And if you want to follow along with my journey as I continue to explore things like fashion, hair, and make up more, than either subscribe to my blog, or follow me on my socials. Above all else – have fun!

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Large Pinterest Pin image of a yellow dress, white shoes, yellow leaves, silver berries, and make up all on a flat lay background of pale blue. There is text that says 5 Easy Steps to Find Your Style.

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