Have you ever looked at a stranger and recognized them by their outfit? This was my experience during Lagos fashion week 2022. There was this particular lady who donned a red ensemble. I mean, everybody rocked monochromatic outfits. But what was strikingly familiar about this lady was the red wide-brimmed hat on her head which happened to be her signature style.
When I saw her sitting in the audience, even without seeing her face, I knew without being told she was Angel Obasi aka Style connaisseur. Why? Her signature fashion accessory told me so!
If you’re familair with Angel’s Instagram account, you’ll see she wears a hat in almost all her photos. And this has helped her carve a name for herself in the world of style influencing.
It’s also the same for another style influencer, Jennifer Oseh aka The Lady Vhodka. Everybody knows Jennifer is the goddess of prints and bold colors. And as a lover of edgy fashion, she loves to mix prints and colors in all her outfits. It’s become her signature fashion style too.
The best part about these guys is that their signature outfits have become a part of their personal brand identity. They’ve put it in our faces for so long. And now, we can’t mention their names without forming mental images of them in their signature looks.
If you’re just starting out in fashion influencing or you just wanna have a memorable look anytime you dress up, having a signature style is key. But what does it entail and how do you carve one for yourself?
That’s what we’ll cover in this piece.
What is a Signature Style in Fashion?
It refers to the way you showcase your style in an outfit by including recurring patterns that become a part of your identity.
Signature style doesn’t mean repeating the same look every day. If that was the case, it would be called a uniform. Instead, it involves incorporating the core elements of your style in all your outfits.
As Anuschka Rees, Author of Beyond Beautiful and The Curated Closet, defines it:
“A signature look is the holy grail of personal style. It is the icing on a refined, well-curated wardrobe, but at the same time the best starting point for any style journey….Your signature look is the outfit people picture you wearing when they think of you, and your one and only look if you were a cartoon/fairytale/pixar character.”Anuschka Rees
Having a signature look doesn’t mean repeating the same outfits every day. It doesn’t even mean only dressing in bold or edgy clothes. Though both can apply, they aren’t compulsory.
You can be bold or minimalist yet have a signature style without repeating one look every day. You just have to consistently repeat something in different ways in all your outfits. This could be a particular hairstyle, accessory, cloth, color, makeup, theme, or anything that when people see, they immediately think of you.
But the key to doing this is variety. For instance, Angel Obasi doesn’t just wear one wide-brimmed hat. She spices things up by trying them in different shades, styles, and colors. It’s the same for Anna Wintour, Jennifer Oseh, Ayra Starr, Falz, Yemi Alade, and every other music artiste who has a personal style.
Having a signature style involves discovering what you love about fashion and serving it in different looks. Say you love streetwear outfits and urban fashion is your personal style. You don’t have to stick to jeans and t-shirts every day.
You can try out cargo pants, hoodies, joggers, and every other clothing item that makes up hip hop fashion. It’s that easy as you’ll soon see.
Why You Need a Signature Style
It’s a Sign of a Great Personal Style
When you have a remarkable way of dressing up that makes people think of you, it just means your style is superb.
It means you’ve dug deep into your preferences to discover what best expresses you. It shows you’re becoming creatively aware of yourself and expressing it through how you look. In addition, it means you know what suits you. And when anyone comes across your photos, they immediately perceive how stylish you are.
It Gives You a Lasting Impression
Do you want to remain unforgettable in the minds of people? Let your signature look be your weapon. Wield it to create ensembles that transform you into a remarkable icon.
Do this consistently in different ways and you’ll make a lasting impression in any social gathering you attend.
It Helps You Create a Functional Wardrobe
A signature look helps you ensure you don’t fill your wardrobe with furniture. You know what I mean, don’t you? I’m talking about those clothes and fashion items you hardly wear. They just remain in your wardrobe as though they’re a piece of furniture.
When you have a signature fashion style, you’ll see no need to buy stuff you’ll hardly wear. You’ll instead only get items that serve you and optimize them for versatility.
What’s more? A signature outfit also saves you from worrying about what to wear every day. Just work with the basics and add your signature piece and you’re good to go.
It’s an Integral Part of Your Personal Brand
When you see a random person wearing glasses without lens, who do you think they got the inspiration from? You’ll agree with me it’s Falz the Bahd guy. Those glasses have become a reflection of his personal brand and it’s almost hard to picture the rapper and actor wearing glasses with lens.
It’ll be the same for you if you have a signature look. And when people see that particular item or element that makes up your style, they immediately think about you.
Using myself as an example, I am a lover of purple and all its shades. And as a fashion designer, I always include a touch of purple in almost all my creations. Everything about that color inspires me. It’s become my signature color and my friends know this. It’s why whenever they find pictures of purple outfits, hairdos, makeup, shoes, or anything, they think of me and send them my way.
In other words, a signature style of dressing up lets you create a successful personal brand. You just need to work on your self-confidence, charisma, and content to complement the first impression your style of clothing gives to you.
It’s your trademark. And to prove this, let’s see the celebrities who practice this.
Celebrities who have Signature Looks
Here are some celebrities—dead and alive—who were known for including a particular item(s) in their outfits:
- Anna Wintour— bob with bangs
- Nancy Isime — blonde low cut
- Alicia Keys — cornrows (at the beginning of her career)
- Mark Zuckerberg — Minimalism (neutral-colored jeans & tees)
- DJ Cuppy — the color pink
- Ariana Grande — high ponytails
- Ruger — eye patch and pink haircut
- Victoria Willie — the color purple
- Karl Lagerfeld — white hair, black sunglasses, and fingerless gloves
- Yemi Alade — Afrocentric fashion
- Davido — streetwear outfits
- Falz — glasses without lens
- Angel Obasi — hats
- Burna Boy — eccentric fashion
- Asake — Loose pants and brown dreadlocks
- Beyonce — honey blonde hairstyle
- Lupita Nyong’o — natural hairstyles
- Marilyn Monroe — undone blonde bob
- Ayra Starr — revealing outfits (crop tops, micro miniskirts, etc)
- Denola Grey — debonair outfit, sleek suits
- Pharell Williams — hats
- Jenifer Oseh — bold colors and prints
- Tupac Shakur — bald haircut and bandanna
- Lady Gaga — avant-garde outfits
These guys—and many others— all began with a particular element in their outfits. And while some still keep at it, others have evolved to experiment with other styles.
How to Develop a Signature Style
1. Look Inwards & Discover What You Love
Whatever happens outside first begins inside. This applies to fashion too. So, it’s necessary you do some introspection to figure out something you love so much that can become a part of your style.
An easy way to implement a signature look is by incorporating one thing you love into your wardrobe. It could be anything that makes up an outfit ranging from makeup to clothes, accessories, color, etc. You may not even love it so much. You may just find it more interesting than others and that’s enough to deem it fit to be your signature identity.
2. Define Your Personal Style
Once you’ve discovered that interesting thing you’ll like to make a part of your outfit, define it, and start implementing it. But first, you have to discover your personal style as everything you wear will be based on this.
Do you love to look chic, minimalist, urban, avant-garde, Bohemian, professional, Afrocentric, etc? There are many different fashion styles for you to choose from. You just have to look deep into your core being and pick the most resonating one that’s easy to implement.
We have a timeless guide that’ll show you how to discover your personal style. Go ahead and read it. But if you would rather save it for later, let’s proceed.
3. Create a Moodboard for Inspiration
Scroll through your screenshot folder. There’s a reason you had to screengrab those pictures there. And that’s because they resonate with you. It could be your fave style icons, a fashion item, or just any individual on the Internet who looked so good.
Now, look at those pictures and save up many more looks that catch your fancy anytime you scroll through social media. If possible, add them to a particular folder and consult it anytime you need better ways to showcase your style.
4. Consult Your Body
If your body doesn’t agree with your clothing choices, it’ll be a flop. So, as a general rule of thumb, always consider your body type and only wear what your body approves.
For example, don’t wear revealing clothes when you aren’t confident about your stretch marks and other physical flaws. Furthermore, don’t wear tight-fitting clothes when you won’t feel comfortable in them. Only choose what fits and accentuates your body as that’s the overall goal of fashion.
5. Consider Your Lifestyle
Yes, your lifestyle plays an integral role in defining your signature style. This includes your profession and everyday activities.
For example, if you work in a bank and spend most of your time in the office, it’ll be absurd choosing streetwear outfits as your signature look. Instead, find ways to include a particular formal fashion accessory into all your looks. It could be a pocket filler, bow tie, etc.
The same goes if you’re a pop star. You just know you’ll feel uncomfortable performing on stage with a suit and tie every time. So, you just have to go with what suits your profession.
Your style identity has to complement your lifestyle and not contradict it. Keep that in mind.
6. Implement Your Signature Style
Now that you’ve decided on what you like, it’s time to make it an integral part of all your outfits.
Again, it’s not hard. For instance, you can start by rocking bold red lipstick to all your outings or wearing a particular hairstyle all the time. Or if you wanna use a particular color, ensure you include touches of it in all your outfits if you won’t be wearing it as an ensemble.
Here’s what I mean. Say you’ve decided your signature item is the color pink. Like DJ Cuppy, you can either rock an all-pink ensemble, install pink fashion nails, wear pink hairstyles and accessories, or even drive a pink car.
You just have to keep practicing, experimenting, and implementing. And while at this, never forget…
It’s the Little Details that Make up Your Signature Style
An outfit or a look is just a combination of several different elements that you wear at once. It includes foundations (underwear), basics, outerwear, hairdo, makeup, accessories, and even your perfume.
So pay attention to these little details. You may think rolling up your shirt sleeves, wearing jackets all the time, or layering your necklace is something you do for convenience. You’ll be surprised to know others find it stylish and attach your personal brand to it.