Finding your elements of style

Translating fashion into your own personal statement

By Kelly Hockenberry, Columnist,

I was beyond flattered to be asked to take part in an interview about my thoughts on fashion until I got the questions….


Here is the opener: “What does the word STYLE mean to me?”

Ummmm……(trying to think like a beauty contestant and say something coy, yet, smart, yet cool)

Here’s the thing, I think that style is inherent.  You either have it or you don’t.  I think that you can be “fashionable” without having a sense of style.

Does that make sense?

Maybe I’m overthinking this, but, have you ever seen a person who is dressed to the nines but isn’t truly stylish?

Listen, anyone can copy a look from a magazine or buy an outfit right off of a store display mannequin.  But, that isn’t style.  Style, in my opinion, is the girl (or guy) that can walk into ANY store and zero in on an ensemble that “looks” like them.

Style means having a signature trait.  Jackie O and her pill box hat and tailored dress, Gwen Stefani and her red lipstick and “skater” type outfits, Madonna and her bustier and layered bracelets.

It’s having the confidence to express yourself through fashion without strictly conforming to the rules.  It means knowing what items look good on your body.  A stylish person always looks pulled together because they wear clothes that are complementary.

Style also means investing in yourself and feeling worthy of looking fantastic.  You wouldn’t describe a woman as “stylish” if she is constantly in sweatpants with her hair in a ponytail.  It doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours upon hours on your wardrobe, hair and make-up to run errands for the day.  On the contrary, the woman who can do the most menial of tasks and look pulled together while she does it has figured it out.

So, what to do if you don’t think that YOU are stylish?  Hang out with someone who is.  Find the person who you believe has that special spark and pick their brain.  Go shopping with them!  Invite them over to go through your closet and have them weed out the un-necessary and locate those pieces that are missing.

But, some of the work has to come from within.  Think about an outfit that you wore that got lots of compliments.  Did you feel fabulous in it?  If so, REALLY examine it.  What was it about that outfit that worked?  The color?  The fit?  The fabric?  Build your ideas from that particular item and experiment!

It only took approximately 400 words to answer that one little question…how will I whittle down “what is style” into a sentence or two?  A question that important needs clarity and perhaps a footnote.

How would you answer?  Don’t just sit there and read this!  Help a sister out!  Leave your comment at the bottom of the page.

Until next Sunday…keep it stylish, people.

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  1. Helen says:

    I’m not a fashionista and have NO inherent sense of style. I’m the mom in the sweatpants, T-shirt, flip-flops and hair in a butterfly clip, but love it that way. I still look forward to your column every week. You could make it nationally!

  2. Alisa says:

    Style is when my 5yo sees a shirt and says, “That doesn’t look like you, it looks like Aunt T!” Clearly we both have our own very distinct looks — hers is more flowy fabrics and mine is more tailored blazers and jeans — so distinctive that even a kindergartener can tell them apart!

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