Personal Style: The Importance of Being You

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My grandmother was striking. With her lion’s smile and kind, glassy blue eyes, she caught attention even when she was not wearing her signature color: royal purple. She owned dresses, coats, purses, even shoes in the rich shade, but one dress in particular, with a flowing a-line Disco skirt and mini-sculpted shoulder pads, will always be the dress I see her in. This was a key element to my grandmother’s personal style, as much a part of her look as her laugh and regal posture. Later on, after one of many trips to New Mexico, my grandmother added silver and turquoise accessories to the mix. These bracelets clanked against one another while she told jokes from the head of the dinner table; her small silver watch still visible beneath the layers of jeweled bangles. Although her personal style was developed long before street style blogs, Tumblr and Instagram, my grandmother knew the importance of a signature look, or at the very least, she understood what she liked and dressed that way, always.=

Now, with social media and the Internet only a finger swipe away, navigating the minute-to-minute who wore what and current trend updates can be daunting, especially when on the hunt for a more defined sense of your own personal style. Just ask the two sisters of lifestyle blog Walton & Rush.

While Emily and Devin are two of the closest sisters you will ever meet, their go-to looks could not be more different. Emily’s self-described style leans more towards the “classic and simple” with lots of “black, white and camel” while her sister, Devin, appreciates a little more left of center. When describing her look, Devin says, “My style tends to be a bit over the top. I’m always drawn to metallic, big statement pieces, and fur is a must!” Their two unique styles act as a foil against one another, allowing their blog to feature several different trends while highlighting their different looks. Though social media can add “pressure to defining a young adult’s style vision,” Emily says, “the social media world also gives us many outlets to discover new trends, how to mix different pieces to create a unique look, and where to find these amazing pieces.”

Similarly, WhoWhatWear’s article entitled “9 Steps to Defining Your Personal Style” highlights great tips for those on the hunt for a defined style all their own. Whether noting wardrobe patterns—i.e. an ever-growing oxford obsession—or finally activating that Pinterest account, all the steps hinge on knowing yourself, and what inspires you. “Never be afraid to try something new, and never lose sight of yourself. Style is fun and is always changing,” says Emily. So while a head-to-toe white ensemble may be the trend for spring, if you are easily washed out or are accident prone when eating, this monochromatic look may not be in your ideal color palette. Style is all about tweaking trends to fit you.

After my grandmother passed away, her purple dresses and turquoise jewelry were divided between the daughters and grandchildren, but the vintage purple and brown Coach bag I was given has become as much a part of my look, my signature purse, as the flowing Disco dress was a part of hers. Personal style is a balance between outside inspiration, whether grandma’s jewelry or Alexa Chung’s latest collab, and how these pieces play to the inner self. One lesson my grandmother taught me, just from a look and a dress, is if you want to wear purple, wear purple.