"Fashion fades, but style is eternal" - Yves Saint Laurent
Style is something that many desire, but few acheive. Each generation has it's own style icons, today's muses include Nicole Richie's bohemian looks, Rhianna's Rocker Chic, and fashion icon du-jour Kate Moss. These ladies are not slaves to trends, but have defined a personal style. While most women will not have the same impact on the fashion world, creating a personal style is a tool to define who you are and the message you want to send to the world. Defining your style is not a simple process, it can take years, and is ever-changing. As you evolve and change, so will your style.
Getting to know you
The key to personal style is that it is personal. While current trends may influence your style, it will most likely not completely change from season to season. Your style should serve as a tool to define yourself - your interests, your inspirations, your mood. The first step in finding your style is finding what you are drawn to. Pick up your favorite magazines and tear out the images that you love (think beyond fashion magazines to travel, home and garden, music - anything that interests you) , go to style.com and look through the archives of fashion collections, find images of your favorite celebrities or bands, images of places you have traveled, go through your closet and pick out your favorite items; all of these can guide you to finding what you love.
Translating inspiration to style
Finding the images that really speak to you is the fun part, the more difficult task is figuring out what that means from a style standpoint. Gather your favorite things and look for common themes; maybe you are drawn to images of exotic locals, sunny seascapes, and old-world antiques; or maybe your images have a gritty, dirty rock edge to them; or perhaps you love glamourous images, red-carpet dresses, black tie affairs, and old hollywood movie stars. Once you establish a common theme (or themes), you can begin to translate it in to style, from bohemian, to rock and roll, to classic americana and beyond.
The next step is working your inspiration into your life. If your inspiration points to a Rock Princess style and you work for Corporate America, you probably aren't going to be able to show up for work in skintight leather pants and a vintage concert tee; however, that doesn't mean you can't work your inspiration into your work attire. Try a leather blazer, a pair of pencil-cut trousers, or a studded belt.
Look to the celebrity images you picked out, is there a celebrity that you are drawn to more than others? Perhaps he/she can serve are your style muse. Just be aware that if your muse has a different body-type than you (you're tall, they're petite; they're curvy, you're slim, etc), what works on them may not work on you. It may also be helpful to get to know designer's aesthetic to keep your style current. For example Alexander Wang is know for is hip, urban appeal, while Michael Kors creates timeless classics; knowing which designers create pieces that fit your style will be helpful in keeping your style current as fashion changes.
Building your closet
Once you have defined your style, use it as a guide to build your wardrobe. It doesn't mean that you need to get rid of the items in your closet that aren't characteristic of your style, but as you continue to add items to your closet, do so with your inspiration and style muse in mind.