I’ve always felt drawn to several different styles at the same time — in interior design, in music, and especially in fashion.
Yet over the years, as I’ve honed my personal style, I’ve occasionally felt the need to fit the whole of my style underneath one label — as if I need to “pick one” style and forgo the rest.
It’s no secret as to why I’ve felt that way: Personal style is often presented to us as an either/or. Are you classic or bohemian? Colorful or neutral? Relaxed or tailored?
But to me, this either/or mindset zaps the fun right out of something that’s meant to be playful and open-ended.
So when it comes to my own personal style, I try to keep the either/or approach out of it. Instead, I like to pick three or so distinctly different styles, focus on a few of my favorite elements of each style, and combine them to create my own unique personal style.
So today, I thought I’d dive into the three different styles that exist within my current style and closet.
01: Natural + Relaxed
The natural + relaxed aesthetic is the foundation of my style — it’s been the most consistent over the years.
Key elements include:
- Natural fabrics like linen and cotton
- Elastic waists and pull-on bottoms (no stiff, uncomfortable bottoms allowed)
- Soft, worn-in, vintage denim
- Textural details like straw, soft leather, wood, and ceramic
- Flat sandals (no heels)
This section of my wardrobe gets the most use in casual, everyday settings — morning coffee runs, casual gatherings with family or friends, relaxing at home, working on house projects, errands, etc.
Here’s an example of this style — almost like a mini capsule. Some of these items I own, and some are just items I like.
If you see something you like, you can shop it and support my blog at the same time by using the affiliate links throughout this post.
Linen Tee | White Tee | Linen Jacket
Denim Cutoffs | Pull-On Shorts | Drawstring Shorts
Flip Flops | Woven Slide Sandals | Woven Mules
Wood Hoop Earrings | Round Sunglasses | Wood Bead Earrings
02: Sophisticated + Chic
This is the newest style to join my closet. It surprised me, because I’m usually drawn to a more casual look. However, we recently moved from a small town to a big city, which means I dress up a bit more.
Key elements include:
- Fluid, luxe fabrics like silk (Machine washable silk is ideal, so I’m not constantly going to the dry cleaners. Elizabeth Suzann is my favorite for machine washable silk.)
- Shorts with a long inseam (4-6 inches)
- Pleated pants or shorts
- Dressy belts
- Oversized blazers
- Sculptural bags
- Low wedge heels
- Gold jewelry
This section of my wardrobe gets the most use in social or event settings — happy hour meetups, dinner dates with Aaron, going to a play or museum, etc.
Here’s an example of this style. Again, I have some of these items, and some are just items I like.
Blazer | Silk-blend Button Down | Silk Tank
Knot Mini Skirt | Pleated Shorts | Satin-look Shorts
Satin Mules | Wedge | Duo-strap Wedge
Tortoise Sunglasses | Half-moon Bag | Belt
03: Romantic + Boho
This style probably makes up the smallest section of my wardrobe, but since it’s so different than the other two styles I’ve mentioned in this post, it’s such a refreshing counterbalance when I’m craving something different.
Key elements include:
- Printed dresses
- Maxi or midi lengths
- A slouchy, roomy tote
- Simple, minimal sandals that don’t draw much attention
- Little to no jewelry
- Undone hair and little to no makeup
This section of my wardrobe gets used for just about anything. I’ve worn my nicer 70’s inspired dresses to cocktail parties, and I’ve worn my casual, floral day dresses to grab coffee or groceries.
Take a look at an example of this style.
Dot Wrap Dress | Dot Button Up Dress | Floral Wrap Dress
Gingham Mini Dress | Square Neck Button Up Dress | Plaid Midi Dress
Floral Smocked Dress | Floral Ruffle Dress | Easy Floral Day Dress
Straw Woven Hobo Bag | Vegan Leather Hobo Bag | Slide Sandals | Duo Strap Sandals
Mixing It Up
My favorite part of this whole thing? Taking each of these styles and mixing them together to create something unique.
My friend and fellow blogger, Anuschka Rees says:
“If you think about it, a style is nothing but a set of individual elements [for example: color, shape, texture, fabric, details, specific items, etc.]. To merge two different aesthetics, break them up into their elements and select which of those elements you want to incorporate into your own style concept.”
For example, I might mix my natural + relaxed denim shorts with a sophisticated + chic silk tank and blazer. Or I might mix a romantic + boho floral dress with a pair of sophisticated + chic heels and gold earrings.
While it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how to mix styles in a way that feels right to you, it can be a delightful process. All it takes is a playful attitude and a willingness to try something new.
• • •
And there you have it!
Now I want to hear from you! Do you ever feel some sort of external pressure to pick one style only, even though you like lots of styles? What are your best tips for combining different styles into your personal aesthetic? If you had to pick 3 styles you feel represent you, what would they be?
And hey, I recently did an interview all about vintage shopping with my dear friend and fellow blogger Mary Beth of The Threads We Wear. If you have a minute, head on over — Mary Beth is right in the middle of a blog series on shopping secondhand, so don’t miss her other posts on the topic too.
Krista Moores says
Really loving this post and the mini capsules. So great!!
Your post was so refreshing. I also have had a hard time labeling my style because the change in seasons tends to change my style profile significantly. Great post!
Katie sheldon says
OMG it’s so nice to hear that I’m not alone! I am also drawn to very different styles, basically the same ones as you. I used to try and pigeon hole myself into one distinct style but it’s just not me. Love your blog so much!!
Denise k says
Such a helpful post!! Thanks so much?
Sarah Winton says
I love this post! It speaks to me so much right now! I’ve recently been feeling so much pressure to define my style but I have a few different ones – especially since there is a dress code for my job. It’s such a relief to read a blog post about someone who doesn’t have one, neatly defined style. Thank you!
Lucretia Roletta says
I love your conclusion: creating a unique style of your own by combining items from your closet that you love.
You are certainly a breath of fresh air!!!
I love style posts most of all as personal styling is one of my favourite hobbies and interests. I call my style retro casual and like patterns and warm colours. I like to mix up elements of masculine and feminine that takes inspiration from mainly the 50s but in a casual temporary way as full on vintage styling doesn’t lend itself well to my lifestyle. I love seeing people’s personal styles even though many of them wouldn’t suit me
Oh yes, definitely have several different styles in my closet, and I love to combine them the way you describe. No need to limit oneself to just one. My style is close to yours, most of the casual – relaxed – chic – sophisticated – style, with lots of natural fabric (I hate synthetics so I think 90% of my wardrobe is natural), but with a few floral or patterned dresses thrown in for a bit of fun. Really got to experience this last summer, we went on a two week vacation with just a carry on, on we were going two very different places, and I find that my style changes a bit after the environment.. One called for more of the sophisticated chic-style, the other for the casual, natural, relaxed style. Most of the same items worked both places, just in different combinations. A really fun experience that taught me a lot about my style.
So with you on this! I’m pretty classic, but love some Boho mixed in. Got to have some fun with the clothes!
Great post, thanks! All your styles are so pretty, and I love the way your cohesive color palette makes it easy to blend them. For interior design, you might enjoy the book Styled by Emily Henderson. She has a fun style quiz that helps you blend different styles you like into one look for your home.
With Love From Amy says
Love this post! I feel so inspired to go shopping for summer now xx
Anna Grace says
I love this post! I’ve always felt a little off for not just buying into one style, but it’s inauthentic for me to just go wholesale on one look. Thanks for validating :)
This post really got me thinking, and hit on a constraint I didn’t realise I’d been imposing on myself. Like you I have a style that I wear most of the time, and I feel most comfortable in. In the past I’ve been inspired by different styles, and bought a few pieces, then lost my confidence and decided they weren’t ‘my style’ after all, and felt a bit down about my choices. Your post made me realise that it’s ok to branch out and enjoy different styles, and that having a varied closet that gives a nod to different styles or pieces you’re drawn to at any given time, can be even more authentically you than having one style that you wear exclusively. For instance, I’ve always wanted a nice coat, but after a couple of coats that I lost confidence in, I’d decided coats didn’t work for me, like maybe they were too structured for my style. After reading your post yesterday, I decided to give them another shot, and found one that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s a little more chic and edgy than my usual relaxed, natural style, but I’m looking forward to wearing it on days when I’m feeling like wearing something fun. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us, I find your thoughts so grounding and confidence-inspiring :) x
The ideas expressed here are so close to what’s been buzzing around in my own head for so long, in terms of style. It’s funny how we impose these rules on ourselves. Style should be fluid and fun! Thanks for this =)
I came up with tomboy lux because I love both luxury fabrics and sparkle and froth and boyish heard working jeans and brogues and blazers. Capsule wardrobes and style bloggers made me feel I had to choose one or the other but mixing them is what made me me!
This is such a great concept and a very creative way to get more use out of your closet. I never thought of having mini collections in my wardrobe, but now that you mention it, I do have some pieces that fall into the romantic and boho. I also enjoy the fact that you mention hair and jewelery… small details can make such a difference in an outfit!
This warms my heart it seems so sad when we put ourselves in boxes, even if it is for a good reason like reducing waste :) Caroline, I love the way your style is evolving.
I have 3 to 4 style personnas. The Urban Wanderer, The Creative Iconoclast & The Explorer.
The Explorer is my version of “natural” – cosy jumpers or linen shirts/pants & wooden elements.
The Creative Iconoclast is my boho – mainly seen through kimonos, colours (earthy) & jewellery which is more ornate.
The Urban Wanderer includes my version of city dressing – darker colours & a Japanese feel.
The 4th one is still a work in progress but it is tentatively called “Le Smoking” because it will be my formal evening look which I think will consist of a velvet pantsuit.
I absolutely identify with this! In all areas of my life — I know exactly what I like, but have a hard time bringing things together (style, interior decor, etc) because there are so many different elements. This post made it click in my brain, though! I love how you pointed out that you can mix and match elements. I feel a little more confident going forward that I can now add in mixed elements by sticking to a similar color scheme, etc. Filling out your capsule planner right now and I realized I have two very similar styles to yours — a natural, effortless, minimal style, and a boho, soft romantic style. :)
I don’t understand why people feel constrained to only wear one style or another. Reading your post made me think of food: I wouldn’t limit myself to only eating a certain cuisine like Italian, Mexican, or Chinese every day; why would I limit myself to only wearing a certain style?
That being said, I know that I tend to like things that are classic with clean lines, feminine but not frilly, and super comfortable. So if I find myself highly drawn to something outside of that, I’ll try to ask myself honestly if it’s something I would wear regularly, or if it’s something that I’m just appreciating the beauty of in the store.
I actually saw a shirt in a store the other day that was really bold, fun, flirty, not my typical style, and I thought it was great. But I asked myself, “Where would I wear this?” and the only place that came to mind was the beach! To me, it was a perfect shirt to wear while drinking a fruity cocktail at the beach, but I really couldn’t see myself wearing it to work, at home, or anywhere else. Since, unfortunately, I don’t go the beach very often at all, I passed on the shirt without even trying it on, knowing it would be fun to buy, but I’d rarely, if ever, wear it.
I’m not totally sure if this is related, but on the same shopping trip, I tried on a really beautiful shirt that I totally expected to love. It was right in my wheelhouse: beautiful color, classic lines, feminine details, comfortable fabric, but when I tried it on, I didn’t feel great. I realized that I LOVED the detail at the hemline, but it wasn’t doing anything for me anywhere else. Even though I WANTED to love it, I knew I wouldn’t wear it often if I only loved it for the hemline, so I passed.
In the end, I purchased three pairs of pants, two tops, a dress, and a long cardigan (my first!) and I couldn’t be more pleased. Every piece made me feel great and I can’t wait to start wearing them for fall!
Thank you SO much for sharing the link to Elizabeth Suzann’s designs. I never would have found that on my own and her styles are exactly what have been missing from my wardrobe. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas and for sharing resources where we can purchase pieces or just window shop for inspiration. REALLY appreciate your insight, Caroline!
sarah ali says
Thanks for the article!
I’m cleaning out my closet to prepare for my 30s and am trying to figure out what dressing for this next chapter will look like. I am so inspired by your top 3 concepts. :)