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Do you have signature style? Or are you in a style rut? Do your friends say, oh my gosh, I love your outfit. You always have the best shoes?

Or do they say, hmm, I didn’t know you own drop these in green too. Wow, that’s a lot of these. If you’re a fan of the show, you know, I’m a fan of creating personal, authentic signature style. But sometimes on our way to signature style, we take a wrong turn and end up in a style rut. So what’s the difference? And how do you know which one you have? That’s what we’re talking about today. Let’s get started.

Hello, gorgeous. Welcome back to the everyday style school, the podcast that gives real lifestyle advice to real life women. If you’re new here, welcome. I’m your host, Jennifer Mackay, Mary. I’m a wardrobe stylist who’s been dressing everyday women for over 20 years. I’m also the founder of everyday style, where we’re on a mission to inspire women to love the way they look and give you the tools to make getting dressed easy. If you’re a longtime listener, welcome back. Thank you for spending time with me, I really appreciate it.

Today, we’re kicking off the first two episodes about style ruts. I think this is an important topic because every single woman, including me, has found herself in a style rut a time or two, you know, where you’re just bored by everything in your closet and buying new clothes doesn’t help because they all look the same. Even though they’re kind of technically different. You just feel like everything’s the same old, same old, getting dressed for anything out of the ordinary is difficult. And your wardrobe makes you feel worse about yourself instead of better. That’s what a style is. Now, there are a few types of style ruts. And there’s a lot of reasons we get into them. But today I’m talking about a very specific type of style, right? The one that happens when you’re trying to create a signature style that feels fun and authentic, and makes getting dressed easy. And instead, you end up with one that feels blocked and boring.

In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the difference between being in a style rut and having signature style. Believe it or not, these two while they seem wildly different, have a lot in common. And it’s really easy to start off trying to build signature style and end up in a style rut. So I’m going to cover three things that signature style and style reps have in common. And then three things that make them completely different. We’ll wrap it up with the one mistake women make that I see all the time when they’re trying to create signature style that leads them down the dark path to style Red City.

Then in our next episode, I’m going to share some other things we do that lead to style ruts, which also happened to be the way to get out of one. That one will be really helpful if you’re feeling stuck in your style.

Before we get started though, I wanted to let you know that in a few weeks, we’ll be hosting the signature style challenge in the style circle member community. I’m going to be walking our members through our signature style masterclass, sharing the things you need to know to create authentic personal style. So you can stop spending money buying all the wrong things. And finally, have a wardrobe that’s as unique and fabulous as you are, it’s going to be a really good time, we’re going to do extra tips and tricks and videos. And of course, lots of prizes. We always do lots of prizes in our challenges. If you’ve got a case of this style blahs, and you need a little kick in the style pants, to shake things up, you’re gonna want to get in on this challenge. It’s free for members. So if you’re already a style circle member, be sure you’re in the Facebook community. If you’re not a member, come join us the link is in the show notes.

Alright, let’s talk about signature style and style ruts. First of all, what are they? We’ve already talked about this little bit. But a style read is basically a major case of just the style blahs where you’re standing in front of your clothes and you’re like, oh, I don’t want to work. Any of this. Chances are you feel like everything you own looks the same. And you have a really hard time. For anything outside of your normal routine. Everything seems difficult to get dressed for. You might even be shopping and buying new clothes. But that doesn’t seem to solve the problem or change anything. New clothes just feel like the same old, same old, getting dressed is in fun. You’re probably only wearing I don’t know 10% of the clothes you have. And what you wear each day is mostly determined by what’s clean and close in hand in your closet. Sound familiar? I thought it might like I said, I’ve been there a timer to myself. True signature style, on the other hand, feels a little more like a celebration of self and of style. When you flip through your closet in the morning, you think Oh I love that or Oh that’s so cute. When you shop you see things and you go oh my gosh, that’s so me. I have to have that you get it. tided about it. Getting dressed each morning doesn’t feel like a daunting task. It’s actually kind of fun, and you wear a decent amount of your wardrobe. What you wear each day is determined by how you want to feel that day and the image that you want to project. And sometimes it’s hard to get dressed because you have so many options, your wardrobe makes you feel better about yourself instead of worse. So with that said, they sound pretty different kind of complete opposites. So how can they have anything in common? I don’t know. But they do. Here’s three ways. The first thing is that signature style and style ruts are really both based on uniforms. Someone in a style right might be wearing jeans and tees all the time. While someone with signature style might favor dresses, those are both uniforms. And I believe that every woman, every single woman has a style uniform, they naturally gravitate to. Some of us know what our preferred uniform is. And we can use that knowledge to our style advantage, while others just kind of ended up there without realizing it. I’m going to talk more about that in a minute. So just hold that thought. Another thing they have in common is that they’re pretty recognizable. Back in the day, every once in a while when I was with Chico’s I’d walk into a store I was working in that day and someone would say we got a Gen watching yesterday. These were never dainty, subtle, bangle watches. Nope, they were they were quite the opposite. One was a huge Barbie pink faux Croc number with rhinestones on the face, and another was a big wide gold cuff. I loved both watches. And even though I never expressly told anyone that they just knew it was recognizably my style. On the flip side, years ago, when I used to speak to women’s groups about this topic, I used to joke and say a good way to know if you’re in a style rut is to call your best friend and ask her if you were to meet for coffee and 15 minutes. What would you be wearing? The speed at which they answer and the closeness of their answer to your actual outfit is a pretty good indicator of a style rep. Try it what’s fun. Now obviously this isn’t a perfect science. But if they say black pants, white tank, cardigan, black flats and your hair is in a ponytail. And right that moment you’re actually wearing black pants, white tank, a cardigan and black flats with your hair in a ponytail. You might be flirting with a style rut my friend. Style ruts usually have high recognizability and predictability.

Now the third thing they have in common is where this gets a little tricky. A lot of women with signature style have a signature item as well. We all know the woman we used to work with with the scarf collection, or the woman who was known for her shoes right or me with my watches back in the day. Whatever happened to the scarf woman, she was really nice. Anyway, having a signature item is a really easy way to step into having a signature style. But sometimes the line between this is one thing I’m known for. And this is the only thing I’m known for gets blurred. So yeah, signature style and style rats are kind of recognizable uniforms that feature an often repeated item. They have a lot in common. So let’s talk about the three things that set them apart. The first one is specificity. If you’ve listened to the show more than one time, you probably know that I love fun or statement pants. They’re part of my signature style. I have wide legs statement pants and slim legs statement pants I have plaid pants and leopard print and bold textures and bright colors. So you might guess that if we met for coffee and 15 minutes, I’d be wearing statement pants. But beyond that you couldn’t really narrow it down you couldn’t get highly specific. On the flip side, there was a Linda I worked with years ago who called me because she was in a style rut. Even though she was buying according to her really fun clothes. She loved fun clothes. It was springtime. And as I always do, I made her start by getting out all of her bottoms pulling out all the bottoms from her closet. And it was then that I found the problem. Linda had a ton of pants smoked she had Capris actually. And they were all really fun. I’ll give her that. But they were all exactly the same fun like exactly. She had at least 15 pairs of black or navy Capri pants that were embroidered with a fun little motif like flamingos or margarita glasses anchors or flip flops you get the idea. And then she had a whole bunch of bright V neck tees that coordinated with her fun pants. Y’all dark Capris with a novelty motif and a bright V neck T is a highly specific outfit. In her mind. They were different because obviously you wouldn’t wear the black Flamingo pants the same place you’d wear the Navy Tinker pants and a bright pink T is clearly not the same as a bright red T. But also they’re the same, Linda. They’re exactly the same. And they’re very, very specific. Another example I like to share about this is jeans. Did you know that jeans come in a variety of lengths and washes and silhouettes? And just by changing up those factors, you can completely change your look. Yep, it’s true. You can be a jeans and a T woman and have a huge variety in your gene collection. Or you can be like another Linda I worked with who had six pairs of the exact same medium wash bootcut jeans. It had honestly never occurred to her that jeans weren’t just neutral nothings, that they could actually be a part of an outfit a changeable part of an outfit, and you could change up your look just by changing your jeans. That’s how we got that Linda out of a style rut while keeping her close to her signature style. So the big difference here is that signature style thinks in broad categories like jeans or statement pants, while style ruts deal in specific items like novelty embroidered capris, or beanie and wash bootcut jeans. The more adjectives your item share, the more specific they are. Let me give you an example, pants. Ponte pants, black Ponte pants, straight leg black Ponte pants, see what I mean? If you keep the category I like to wear pants or I like to wear Ponte pants and you shake it up there, you’re probably not going to get real specific but if all you’re buying is straight leg black Ponte pants wearing my friend. Okay, the second difference comes in the form of intentionality. And I like to use color to illustrate this one. There was a Bravo TV show years ago called Tabitha salon takeover that I was kind of obsessed with. I don’t usually talk about my stint running a chain of hair salons that specialized in hair color. But this show was during that time and I just couldn’t get enough of it. If you’re not familiar, it featured a very direct Australian hair salon owner who was not afraid to make people cry named Tabitha who went into struggling salons to turn them around. hilarity ensued. Anyway, like a lot of hair stylists, Tabitha only wore black. I never saw her wear any other color, not even a speck of white or gray. But her wardrobe wasn’t boring. It was super stylish, and she utilized lots of different proportions and textures and details. Because Tabitha intentionally chose to narrow her wardrobes color palette down to just one, she found other ways to make it interesting, and a signature style was born. On the other hand, I can think of dozens of Linda’s I worked with who, when they were faced with the table of teas or sweaters that loft, they used to reach for a fun color, like a bright pink or a green before subconsciously talking themselves out of it. And they would their hand would move and grab a gray or black one instead. I could see it happen on their faces. And I would say what happened you were going for the green one. And they say yeah, but Cray goes with everything. Linda, if all you’re wearing on the bottom is jeans or black pants, all of them go with everything. But that’s not the point. The point is that overwhelmingly, my clients closets were full of black and gray, but not because of intention. It just kind of happened. None of these grayscale clients said to me, I just think the lack of color is so chic and modern. I love a monochromatic palette with different shades of gray and black. Nope, it was. I don’t know, it was easy. It just goes with everything. How fun. Last night, I was playing around making outfits online with these silver jeans that I’m just obsessed with. Even though I don’t wear silver. I think I might turn this little project into an Instagram reel which may or may not be out by the time this episode airs. I don’t know, we’ll see. But of all the outfits I made my favorite was the silver jeans paired with a gray sweater and a long gray coat. It made me want to buy silver jeans, a gray sweater and a long gray coat. It was just so good. There was just one color, but it’s beautiful because it was done intentionally doing something on purpose. Whether it’s choosing to wear just one color or collecting watches or scarves is a big determiner in whether you have signature style or you’re in a style rut. No one chooses the rut, it just kind of happens. The final difference which happens to be the most important one is simply how you feel about it. Some people can wear the exact same thing every day and love it while others change it up every day and are really bored. How you feel about your style matters more than anything. Have you ever seen the movie The B movie? Yes, the animated film about a B featuring Jerry Seinfeld. This is is one of the smartest, funniest kids movies out there. And I quote it a whole lot more than a woman in her 40s probably should, but there’s just some great stuff in it. In this case, I’m talking about a scene where Barry the B is picking on his outfit and he’s flipping through his clothes and he says, yellow and black, yellow and black and yellow and black. Oh, black and yellow. Let’s shake things up a bit. If any of my former grayscale clients are listening, you’re probably laughing because they most likely teased you lovingly with that line. I told you I quoted a whole lot more than I should. But the point is, Barry the be was underwhelmed by his options because they all looked at like style read. I don’t know how to help Barry to be get out of that one. He’s kind of stuck. But anyway, now I want you to picture Mark Zuckerberg picking out an outfit in the morning. He’s probably not standing board in front of his hoodie selection sighing as he says, neutral hoodie neutral hoodie, neutral hoodie. Now it works for him. He likes it. Its signature style.

There’s a stylist I used to follow whose signature was animal print leopard to be more specific, she just loves leopard print. To me only being into one print. And wearing at least one piece of it in most of your outfits feels highly specific. And again, to me would feel very much like a style rut. But this is what she loves and wants to be known for. So okay, fellow stylist, whatever floats your leopard print boat go for it. I imagined her standing in front of her clothes in the morning. And it’s just a cacophony of leopard print with a huge smile on her face. Because it’s her signature style. How you feel about your wardrobe is really more important than anything else. So if you wear the same things on repeat every day, but you’re happy with it, you’re actively happy with it. Give yourself a pat on the back, well done you. My goal for this episode is to help those of you who are really trying to have signature style, but feel more frustrated and bored by your wardrobe than you were when you started to help you understand the subtle and not so subtle differences between the two ideas, and maybe put you back on the right track so you can have the joy and ease that having a signature style can bring. If that’s the case for you. I want to wrap this up with a big mistake I see lots of women make when it comes to personal style. Again, if you’ve been listening for a while, you know a big part of how I teach women to create signature style is to choose your style guide posts. style guide posts are the words that describe how you want to look so you know what to buy, what to get rid of, and how to tweak your outfits to achieve a look that feels personal and authentic and fun and like the best of you. My words are current polished and fun. Almost everything I buy and every outfit I wear hits at least two of my guideposts. Even my pajamas are current polished and fun. These words make style so easy. But a big mistake I see women make when choosing their style guide posts, as it relates to ending up in a style rut is picking words that are aspirational, rather than authentic. My words again, are current polished and fun. That’s authentically who I am. I’m not trendy. But I like to look current. I live a casual life but I still like to look put together and polished. And you probably know I don’t like to take clothes or anything else too seriously, I like a little fun in my wardrobe. But if I felt like I should dress differently, and I chose tailored, classic and elegant, and I bought clothes that were tailored, classic and elegant because I wanted my style to be that I would never ever wear them. Because to me those words mean shoes that hurt and uncomfortable pants. So even though I might really like that look or aspire to that look, they’re not really clothes I want to wear. So I can say I want that to be my style. And I might even fill my closet with clothes that, to me look tailored, classic and elegant. And then you know what would happen? I would wear the seven things left in my closet that were current polished and fun. I would neglect the five silk blouses I bought and wear my one remaining graphic sweatshirt over and over and over. I would struggle to get dressed to go anywhere because my wardrobe didn’t feel like me or I didn’t buy anything because it felt like a costume. I see this happen all the time. The reality is that you’ll always return to the person you naturally are and were the things that feel authentic to you. So don’t try and fight it and try to be or dress like someone you’re not have the best wardrobe you can with a style that’s authentically you. If I wanted to add a little dress Enos or a little tailored elegance to my current polished fun wardrobe. I could and I do add those things. I almost bought a purple suit a few weeks ago. It looked amazing. And it had those tailored classic elements but it was current and It was polished, it was definitely fun. I didn’t buy it, because I now have too many suits for a woman who never needs a suit. And also, I was afraid that I would look like grimace in head to toe purple. But I’d be lying if I didn’t look at it on Nordstrom site at least once a week. My point is, you can aspire to have better style or up your style, but the foundation has to be authentic to you, or it’s never going to work. If you choose words that are aspirational and not authentic, you’re going to struggle to get dressed and you’re going to end up only wearing the things that do feel like you and find yourself in a big ol style rut. I want to challenge you this week to think about what your natural uniform is, what do you gravitate towards, and what your natural style guideposts are, knowing those two things is going to go a long way in helping you create effortless, authentic style. If you’re struggling or you don’t know where to start, we teach all of this in our signature style masterclass, which is of course available in our membership. And if you join some, you’ll get into the signature style challenge. If you’re just getting started though, if you head to the show notes, you’ll find a link for the signature style quiz free. It’ll help you put you on a path to having a wardrobe that is as unique and as fabulous as you are. It’s a great first step. I hope this episode has encouraged you to think about creating your style with intention to look the way you want to look and has helped you understand just one reason you might be feeling stuck, especially if you’ve been trying hard. In the next episode, I’ll be sharing a few other things we do that lead to style ruts. And of course, we’ll talk about how to undo them. I’ll see you next time and until then, remember that your everyday matters. So get dressed for it. And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening today. If you’re loving the everyday style school podcast, I’d like to invite you to become a member of the style circle. It’s our monthly all access membership that gives you everything we create to make style easy, so you can save time and money have easier mornings and more confidence all day long. You get our seasonal capsule wardrobe guides, all of the master classes we offer and our exclusive members only podcast, the everyday style school extra credit. Plus, you’re invited to the Facebook community where you can get even more style support and inspiration. I would love to get to know you and support your style journey. It’s just $19 a month, less than the cost of a clearance shirt you’re never going to wear. Come join me and make your everyday style easier.

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