The Big Scary Question
If you are like most people, this simple question doesn't have such a simple answer. Trying to develop or define your own style causes many people intense anxiety. You see plenty of people who might be at least attempting, but maybe not succeeding as much as they'd like, at curating a style. Then there are those who are so daunted by the concept of style that they shun it altogether, resigning themselves to the fact that maybe they have no style whatsoever.
There is an overwhelming number of reality shows, magazines, and personal shopping services that are dedicated to making over the people who are are too busy or confused to tackle the task themselves. However, the media attention given to fixing these unfortunates only further perpetuates the myth that style is so complicated that it requires a coach rather than being something that inherently resides in us.
Your own personal style is nothing more than a compilation of things you like. You like polka dots mixed with plaids? That’s part of your style. You like to eat your M&M’s one color at a time? That’s part of your style. All of the little things that you like combine to become a manifestation of your style. It's there, whether you know it or not.
We are living in one of the most accessibly visual times in history. By using apps like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram we are able to curate our interests and express our style to others in a way that we never have before. But this act of constant curation, an act that an ever growing number of people engage in, is not given the importance it deserves.
The Digital Shift
Look at your Pinterest boards or your personal Instagram feed. What does it say about you? You may have posted that pic of last night’s dinner because you were proud of what you created, but when you take a step back, you might realize that 90% of your pictures are about food. You may have pinned that bookshelf because you love reclaimed wood, but then you realize that the last 5 bookshelves you pinned were all full of leather bound books. By curating images you can tell others about yourself, but you may also learn quite a bit about your personal style in the process.
Does this mean that everyone who likes the same picture of the newest textured nail polish, or the video of the puppies climbing the stairs has the same style? Probably not, because the picture is just one in the sequence of the aesthetic DNA you've built up over time.
By curating a collection, even though our boards or Tumblrs may contain similar items, overall they will be as different as our fingerprints. The more we add to them the more unique they become— that’s just math, but what makes our collections truly ours is the way we interpret them. Why we like one thing or another will never be identical to another person. The intention behind it, more than anything, is your sense of style.
So the next time you are blogging, posting, tweeting, or pinning, take a step back and look at your self portrait that you have compiled. What does it say about you? Maybe there is something you ought to be expressing.