A Sense of Style: Learning What You Like… And How to Wear It

By Kim Alexis

by ELYSIAN Magazine

What makes some of us stylish, and where do we get that sense? Some people always look “put together.” I don’t know if it takes them hours to do so with meticulous planning, or if they are able to just throw something together and end up with the right look. Others can put on the same clothes and look dumpy or sloppy.

To me, style is how I feel in my clothes, but to others it is all about how I “look” in the clothes. Some choose to wear something uncomfortable just to get that look. I had to do that in the modeling world. Some clothes I couldn’t wait to take off, even when I looked great. So, what makes people stylish? And how do you get it?

Each of has a certain fashion sense, even when you are not trying. When you pick out clothes to buy, you normally reach for a certain type. Some of us are preppy, some tailored, some sporty and others wear designer outfits every day – even to the gym! Any of these types can look stylish. It is how the whole outfit works together with your personality and how you present yourself to society. Do you walk confidently or slouch and try to blend in?

Why do we pick out the same type of clothes? I believe some of it has to do with how we grew up – whether we experienced positive feedback or negative. I know I cannot spend hours buying or putting together an outfit, trying one look and then another. I have to have things in my closet that are my go-to clothes for any occasion. I have to be prepared with a variety of looks. Being prepared is half of my battle.

When I was growing up, my mom loved clothes. She would take my sister and I to Sears at the Lemon Shop to get our school clothes. Everything could mix-and-match – a short-sleeved sweater with a pair of blue pants or a blouse or T-shirt with the same color skirt! She was so confident and was so passionate about clothes. We would be in fitting rooms for hours while she handed us outfit after outfit over the top of the stall. If we got tired, she told us to have a Tab. (Remember Tab? It was like a Diet Coke.)

Growing up with this system, I didn’t have to think too much about what to wear. It was right there in my closet, and combining looks was easy as it all came from the same place! Since I didn’t have people laughing and pointing at me, I felt that I looked OK.

I arrived in New York City at 18. I was immersed in the world of high fashion, having no idea of what I liked and what looked good on me – I quickly learned that as I tried on clothes. 

There was a lot of feedback, let me tell you! High fashion is filled with opinions, and they don’t hold back. I did get feedback on what worked on my body and what to avoid if possible. Being a model, though, you were supposed to look good in everything. To rebel after a shoot, I would wear a white T-shirt and jeans with a clean face, a string of pearls and my hair in a pony tail. I didn’t like all that makeup, so I would wash my face with any soap I could find in the restrooms. To me, I was stylish enough.

So, how did I develop my own style after that phase? It took years. It all comes down to what you are drawn to, what you are comfortable in and what you get compliments on. Holding yourself with good posture and confidence goes a long way toward making your clothes work. You have to like what you are wearing or trust that you are rocking an outfit. 

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