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The NEW New College Advice Column

By Sydney Rosenthal

I dated a guy for a while who was really manipulative and he didn’t let me dress or act the way I wanted to. I’m past that now and totally moved on, but I feel like I lost a few years of figuring myself out and haven’t really been able to find my style since then. Any advice for someone who doesn’t really know how they like to dress and doesn’t even know where to start?

I’m sorry you went through that, but I am glad you’re working on finding your personal style. Finding my own sense of style has always been an evolving process. In high school, I struggled with confidence and it used to be hard to know if I was following a trend or if I truly liked something. Because it’s so hard to fall into trends, I would recommend not looking at magazines or fashion influencers until you’re more in touch with your preferences. 

 The biggest thing that helped me was going to the mall and trying on everything that I thought was cute. It is helpful to bring a friend who’s supportive but non-judgemental. Trying on clothes can be emotional and taxing, so try not to focus on sizes but more on fabrics, patterns, and how the clothes make you feel.  The right outfit can make your heart sing. Do not feel like you have to find your style in a day and do not feel discouraged if you cannot find anything that feels like you. 

If this seems like too much, you can start with window shopping or researching brands online. For me, sustainability is important along with supporting small businesses, so I try to find brands that align with these values.  Remember that when you’re looking online the clothes are on models and may not look the same as they do in person and that’s ok! Pro-tip: before you buy something online check out the store’s return policy. 

 Hopefully, these tasks will help you to identify some attributes you want in your wardrobe, but you can also ask some of your close friends to send you a few words describing how they see your aesthetic along with thinking about a few styles you’d like to try.  Do not be scared to try everything, even if it makes you feel silly at first. Also, if you see a classmate in a really cool shirt or pair of shoes ask them where they’re from. 

But joking aside, I feel like the thing that solidified my sense of style the most was thrifting. The diversity of clothes available forced me to focus on silhouettes, fabrics, and colors that I like. I personally prefer to go to a thrift store like Goodwill that’s sorted by color rather than size because the size is often inaccurate.  I like that thrifting is relatively cheap and sustainable so I do not feel guilty about shopping. I try to go into a thrift store with a vague idea of what I want—for example, everyday dresses—and then I try to keep an open mind and let the thrift store gods guide me. 

The best fashion should make you feel good and you will know you found a piece of clothing that you like when you are excited to wear it. Take it slow and have fun, you got this! 

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