How To Perform A Style Audit (And Why You Should).
Forget New Year Resolutions… a Style Audit is something you can perform at any time and as often as you like.
Why Perform A Style Audit?
The concept is straightforward, and very simple. The goal is to get you thinking about your style/image and how to make changes.
The main goal is for you to improve your image to a point where you are happy with the impression you give to others.
I’ll list my steps below but you can adapt it to whatever suits you.
How Often To Perform A Style Audit?
There’s no rule for how often. But you should do it at least once per year. I do it twice per year – the start of summer and the start of winter.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
How To Prepare Your Style Audit
STEP 1: Gather Your Supplies.
If you have a whiteboard, great. If not, use a notebook, pen, post-it notes and a blank wall. Set aside some time and space, preferably where others can’t see (or judge what you’re doing). I’ve done this several times, so I’ve got it down to about an hour. If this is your first time, maybe give yourself longer.
STEP 2: Get Comfortable And Start Dreaming.
As fast as you can, start writing your Style dreams, wishes, and goals. Don’t overthink or censor – just write and repeat. If you’re stuck, write down names of people you admire and want to emulate, you might want to buy more cufflinks or tie bars. You might want to get noticed at work, hoping for a promotion. The list can be anything. Write each one on a post-it and stick it on the wall, quickly. Speed helps get everything out there to be addressed.
STEP 3: Sort Your Dreams Into Categories.
The categories I use are: role models / work clothes / casual clothes / jewellery / shoes / other. Then I move the post-it notes into each category.
Role Models – These can be family members, work colleagues, celebrities, someone you noticed on the street, that guy I often see when getting coffee (I know who I mean even if no one else does).
Work Clothes – You might want to buy a suit, new shirts, a different style of shirt, sweaters, ties, have your clothes adjusted by a tailor, the list can be endless.
Casual Clothes – You should be aiming to get rid of all clothes that are grungy or torn by design, and replacing them with stylish casual clothing. Also get rid of anything that is worn or frayed (even if it is your favourite).
Jewellery – Invest in some cufflinks, tie clasps, collar bars. I have a thing for “vintage jewellery” – I feel it has much more character than the more modern items.
Shoes – Invest in some quality shoes. Quality shoes will cost more, but they will also last a lot longer. And take a look at your old shoes. Are the soles wearing thin? Do they look lived in? Do a smell test. Trust me… if you can smell it, so can everyone else.
Other – I use this category for things like ‘regular polishing of shoes’ or ‘take torn clothes to a tailor for repair’ or ‘get my hair trimmed before it looks shabby’. You might want to subscribe to a mens style magazine, or become more knowledgeable by reading books (fact or fiction).
STEP 4: Assign Time Frames for Each of Your Style Dreams.
Some can be done quickly and easily (the quick wins), some may take longer or require planning. I assign categories of ‘Short-term’, ‘Long-term’ and ‘Habit’. You might want to be vague (now, someday, always) or specific (assign a month).
For something assigned as habit (polish shoes, regular haircuts), consider how you can turn it into a habit – like polish your shoes every Sunday morning or get your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks.
For something assigned as short-term, think about what you need to do to make it happen. For buying clothes, shoes or jewellery, set an affordable budget (don’t overspend).
For something assigned as long-term, consider breaking it down into smaller steps. If you have a role model, what is it you like about them and what changes can you make in yourself? If you want to travel (become more worldly), do you need to save up or set a budget?
STEP 5: Make A “Five People” List.
Make a list of five people you know and admire – for whatever reason (their look, their intelligence, their charisma). They may be family, friends, or colleagues. Make a conscious effort to spend more time with these people. If you’re young, you might find it fascinating once you really get to know your grandfather. Spending time with friends is good for your inner self, and in turn you project a positive image to others. Spending time with role models can help you cultivate similar traits.
For an interesting twist, make two lists – the five people you spend the most time with, and five people you’d like to be spending time with. Not necessarily the same!
Whatever the criteria for your list, start making an effort to spend time with these people.
STEP 6: Spend Time With Your Style Dreams.
Revisit your dreams the next day. Are they realistic? Are they impossible?
If you think something is impossible, consider if it can be broken down into smaller segments – baby steps. If improving your professional image seems too big a step right now, start on your casual image. If overseas travel is too daunting (or expensive), consider travel within your own country.
Look at the obstacles objectively. Can you find twenty minutes per day? How long will it take to save up $1,000? Is a cross-country move really out of the question?
Which of your Style dreams excited you the most? Were there any common themes? Were you surprised by any? What scares you?
Take a look at your Habits category. What can you change to make these part of your daily or weekly routines? Are you willing to do this?
Choose five Style Dreams you want to make happen this year. Any five. What can you do today and what can you do next week to make these Style Dreams become real?
When you consider a Style Dream has been achieved, choose another to work on.
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
– Abraham Lincoln
(photo courtesy of StockFreeImages.com)
Why You Should Perform A Style Audit?
Working out your goals and breaking them down into achievable steps is the best way of making positive changes.
I was stuck in a job where I felt unappreciated and wasn’t happy, but I felt stuck. By identifying my Style Dreams and making changes, my appearance and self-confidence improved. I became noticed by those higher up than me. When the opportunity for a promotion arose, I submitted my application and I already had the attention of those making the decision. I got the job and moved away from the toxic environment in which I had felt stuck.
That was four years ago. And I am still setting goals and working toward them. Although now my goals are more family-related rather than work-related. I work hard to be the best I can be, portray a positive image and be a role model for others.
Putting my Style Dreams on the wall made them real. No hiding. No denying. I wanted to achieve a certain life, instead of fitting into what I had. I had to make changes.
Four years on, my Style Dreams have changed considerably from where I started out. And that’s a good thing. It’s a constant evolution.
Everyone’s journey is different. What you want is probably completely different to what the next guy wants. And that’s okay.
A big change can seem impossible. But by making small changes, you enable the big change.
Maybe you want to be a writer – you need to be able to make a good first impression when you meet with publishers. Maybe you want to travel – a higher paying job could help with your budget. Maybe you want to be noticed/appreciated – what better way than improving your style and image.
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
– Warren Buffet
(photo courtesy of StockFreeImages.com)
Your style dreams are your blueprint. You don’t need to make big changes right now. Begin by taking your style dreams seriously. Look at your blueprint and work out what changes you need to make. Little tweaks can have big impact.
Thank you for taking time to read this post. I wish you success with your Style Audit and the changes you want to make to better yourself.
What five style dreams will you take on this year?
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