A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the difficult task of moving out of your comfort zone and making the change to a new style and wardrobe. Today I’m going to backtrack and talk about ways that you can identify this new direction in the first place. And in particular, some simple exercises that will help to get you started if you’re in a rut.

You’re in a style rut when you feel bored and unexcited with your wardrobe choices, hair routine, and daily outfit creations. You walk to your closet each morning, see the same old thing and are desperately uninspired. You stand in front of the mirror and can’t bear to look at your hair for one moment longer. These are some of the warning signs. Time to change things up. Express yourself in a new way. Wear exciting outfits that energize your day. Hello style evolution.

The warning signs are easy to spot. But how on earth do you move out of a style rut and on to a journey of style renewal? I wish that there was an easy answer, but it takes patience, investment and soul searching. Also, in my experience, the more interested you are in fashion and style, the more frequently you’ll feel like you’re experiencing a style rut. Ironic perhaps, but it makes sense. Your heightened exposure to fashion and style keeps you on your style toes, so you’re constantly yearning for more, better and different.

Both new and old clients reach out to me for help in getting out of the rut. Hiring a fashion stylist to help with and accelerate your style journey is not within everyone’s budget. Well, the good news is that you can successfully renew your style on your own if you’re prepared to put in the time and the effort, and make a little investment.

When I work with clients, we begin our sessions by exploring the following questions and getting stuck into a few excercises. It’s just the starting point, but the answers pave the road to a new you:

  • Choose what you want to express through your style: Style is self-expression. A non-verbal message and statement about your lovely self. Narrow it down to a few adjectives. For example, I want to express that I am urban, modern, chic, bold, modest and practical. I also want to look ladylike and authoritative. You might want to express that you are casual, creative, natural and approachable.
  • Evaluate your hairstyle: As I have mentioned many times, a new hairstyle and/or colour is sometimes all you need to renew your style.
  • Describe your current style: Be honest, but don’t beat yourself up either. Acknowledge the good aspects of your current style and allow them to come through in your new look.
  • Contrast that with your ideal style: Scour blogs, fashion sites, forums and magazines for style inspiration, and include a few style icons and celebrities if you have them. Study their looks and identify why you like their style. How is it different to your style? How is it the same?
  • Describe the style you DON’T aspire to: By identifying the styles you don’t like, you might identify new directions that do tickle your fancy. For example, you don’t like severe, monochromatic and strict looking clothing. You also never described yourself as romantic, but that is the opposite direction and perhaps worth exploring. As a result you might become more open to the idea of adding romantic touches to your style.
  • Take out your favourite wardrobe pieces: Analyze why you love them. Do you see a style pattern and can you replicate these items?
  • Identify the outfits that make you feel fabulous: Take pictures of yourself in these outfits as a constant reminder of what you are striving for.
  • Identify the outfits that make you feel okay, but not fabulous: Snap photographs of yourself in these outfits too because a picture speaks a thousand words. It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t want to replicate this type of dressing.
  • Identify your colour palette: Think about the colours that you like to wear, should wear, and want to wear.
  • Take yourself on an experimental dressing trip: Sometimes I give my clients a little retail therapy homework without me just to get the style juices flowing. It costs nothing to try on clothing, footwear and accessories in stores – so have a ball. Try on a bunch of stuff that lights your fire but that you wouldn’t ordinarily take into the dressing room. Don’t purchase anything, just try it on and formulate an opinion on how things look with an open mind. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

These types of reflections will help you home in on your current stylistic preferences. Once you’ve established them, it becomes easier to achieve your new style goals, thereby lifting you out of your rut. Again this exercise is just the tip of the style renewal process and there is still lots of work to be done.

The next step is to put together an action plan for purposefully incorporating your stylistic preferences and achieving your new style goals. Robbing a bank springs to mind because a limitless shopping budget would be nice. But seriously, we always shop our closets first. Often, we can reach some of our new style goals by remixing the existing items in our closet.

I’ve had my fair share of style ruts and I’ll have many more. Each time, I bring myself back to these reflections and exercises, and the effort I put into them pays off. Have you ever been in a style rut? Were you successful in lifting yourself out of it? Please share you experiences and advice in the comments.