Style is Style: How to Overhaul Your Look in 4 Easy Steps

Hello! Nice to meet you, I’m Lydia. I write a personal style blog called Style is Style, which essentially chronicles my outfits as well as media that I find inspiring. I suppose you could say I am a little obsessed with clothing, and matters of maintaining/creating personal style. As a fellow queerdo and style oriented lady, I’d love to talk to you (yes, you) about developing your personal style.

You open up your closet and everything feels just a little bit… boring. You’ve been looking to change your look for a while now, but the task seems SO daunting. Where to even begin? Will you need to just chuck everything and start over? Is it going to cost a million dollars? Fear not, My fellow Autostraddlers; it’s as easy as 1-2-3… and 4!

Is today the day I finally make my sexy schoolgirl librarian chic dreams come true? Via Shutterstock

Is today the day I finally make my sexy schoolgirl librarian chic dreams come true?
Via Shutterstock

Step 1. Determine Your Dream Personal Style

Solange? Margot Tenenbaum? Bette Porter? Ruby Rose? Maybe it’s a fictional character or celebrity, perhaps it’s a cutie who just walked past you… Maybe it’s a specific era or your elementary school crush. Maybe it’s Johnny Bravo. Point being, you have to narrow it down. For me, this is the point where I make a Pinterest board. Making a collage or image board helps point out overall patterns or unifying themes. For example: I realized I lean towards a femme 1950s silhouette and have a major thing for greaser girls. Set aside some time to create a pinboard, a collage, a folder of inspiring photos or a Tumblr re-blogging spree of outfits/vibes/apparel that speaks to how you want to dress. See if you can track down some bloggers/web personalities whose style you admire.

After gathering images, take a moment to assess what the overarching vibe is; are there recurring articles of clothing? Repeated textile patterns or colors? Structured garments or draped layers? Hopefully you’ll be able to create a visual narrative of what you would like your wardrobe to be. If the direction seems clear enough, this is a great time to make a wishlist of items that are “essential” to achieving the style that you would like to emulate.

This underwear totally goes with my new cheetah-mermaid look! Via Shutterstock

This underwear totally goes with my new cheetah-mermaid look!
Via Shutterstock

Step 2. Figure Out What You Already Own

This step involves a big closet assessment. Take a long, hard look and see if you already own pieces that will get you there. The point is not to purchase a new wardrobe and toss everything you own. But it will help to get rid of some pieces that you no longer wear/are falling apart/are taking up space. What do you wear the most often? Can you incorporate it into the direction you are taking your style? If the answer is yes, hang on to it! If the answer is no, consign/donate/give it to a friend! It’s likely that you already own articles of clothing that you feel comfortable in which you can wear with your “new” style.

I'm gonna do all my new clothes shopping through Autostraddle affiliate links! Via Shutterstock

Yay! I’m gonna do all my new clothes shopping through Autostraddle affiliate links!
Via Shutterstock

Step 3. Shop For What Your Wardrobe Is Missing!

This is the fun part: SHOPPING! *Cue mall montage* If you haven’t already, make a master list of things you’d like to add to your wardrobe to complete your style. It can be as broad as listing some colors or patterns ie.”brighter colors” or as specific as particular items “floral printed cropped pants.” Keep this list handy (I usually enter it into my phone) and take a gander online. This is another step where Pinterest is super handy (they aren’t paying me, I promise). Typically, I’ll pin all articles that are currently catching my eye, and try to look for something similar in real life. I like to go window shopping and see if what I’m looking for is currently in stores.

A great place to start shopping (in person) are your local thrift stores. Firstly, they are a super inexpensive option. Secondly, you’ll be able to try on a wide range of clothing, including things that you wouldn’t usually bother with. You’ll be able to experiment without making a big dent in your wallet. Stores like H&M, Forever 21 and the like are also a good option as far as low price points go. I recommend choosing a low-cost option when trying something new, and then investing in the mid to higher end option once it has become a staple in your wardrobe.

Step 4. Put It All Together!

You’ve found all the missing pieces, edited your wardrobe, and now you’re sitting with a bunch of clothes and not exactly sure what to do next. Sure, you’ve figured out what your ideal style would be, you’ve got the tools…but how to put it together? It’s seldom I recommend copying someone, but a great starting point is replicating an outfit that you really love.

Go back to all those inspirational photos you’ve collected, choose a outfit/color scheme/pattern clashing that you currently posses the articles for, and put it on. Check your self out in the mirror. Ideal scenario is that it’s EXACTLY what you were going for. Perhaps you’ve got to tweak a few details. Test drive your new style. Are you comfortable? Do you feel supa fly? Does it feel authentic? If the answer is yes to most (or all) of these questions, you’re on the right track. The fun part about mastering your style is that you will feel so fuckin’ fabulous once you figure out. Like Kanye’s ego fabulous. Basically, you’ll be untouchable. You have my word.

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Lydia O

Lydia Okello is a feminist, body positive, queer personal style blogger. On her website Style is Style, she showcases her panache for bright colors and power clashing. When she isn't pawing over Samantha Pleet collections on Tumblr, she's dreaming about havin' a kitten of her own one day. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and on her personal blog.

Lydia has written 64 articles for us.


  1. Love this! What an easy and fun way to do a rehaul, even if you think you have a pretty good handle on your personal style.

  2. Ooh I’m definitely doing steps one and two! What a great strategy to make the entire pallet visible and then check to see what pieces you already have that fit. That sounds so simple, yet it never occurred to me. I usually just stare at the random state of my closet, hold back the tears, contemplate throwing everything away, and end up walking slowly away while pretending clothes aren’t real.

    I just really hate step 3…would someone want to do the shopping part for me?

  3. This is exactly what I needed, thank you. I’m trying to do a post-grad-school overhaul of my wardrobe, without much success. Now I have some ideas!

    • OMG. I can’t wait till the post grad school overhaul. I must keep dreaming till December! Good luck!!

  4. this (plus the ellen page style thief) is exactly what I need to actually cultivate a style and not hyperventilate in the process. your style is rad and I like the art in the background in the last pic. So doubly rad.

  5. I love your blog and your style. You are beautiful and radiant! I now wish I hadn’t thrown out all my crazy-patterned clothing from college. Thanks for reinspiring me to love my curvy body!

    Also this wardrobe overhaul is fantastic. Much needed on this end.

  6. I have a big sketchbook I call my “inspiration book” (though the name could be more inspired, I guess), in which I collage pictures I rip out from my old fashion magazines so I’m not holding on to them forever. It’s relaxing actually, and a great way to see what sort of a look I want to develop.

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