The best style is your own style

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Style is a process of discovery, not a something that can be copied wholesale from someone else. We tend to mistake style for visible markers only but true style is an extension of yourself, your way of being in the world.

Effortless style is the only style. Everything else is pretense.

Someone who has a distinctive style has absorbed multiple influences, some consciously, but most unconsciously. The unconscious is far more intelligent than we know. It absorbs and rejects influences organically, because it has a more accurate understanding of who we are.

But the unconscious needs needs raw material to do its job well. This is where culture comes in, offering us a range of influences to choose from. Assimilating such influences from our environment is a crucial part of finding our own style. However, getting influenced shouldn’t turn into completely copying others.

Influences are more like clay on a potter’s wheel: they have to be ultimately shaped into something distinctive and personal. In this process of shaping, we must closely listen to the signals coming from deep within us and make choices on what to accept and what to ignore. It takes patient work to achieve this, but the result will be something you can call your own. Most importantly, it will feel natural.

Consider any successful artist. They start off by following their influences, but over time they begin to diverge towards their own signature style. It is the result of making choices that felt right in the moment and eventually a new genre might be invented. The important thing is there’s no way to know in advance what it will be like. You have to make the journey to discover it.

What this means is there are potentially infinite versions of style that could exist. Even if society is conformist, our individual experiences are diverse enough to provide us rich source material. The only question is whether we have the courage and patience to let our distinctive styles emerge.

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