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How to develop a signature style

How to develop a signature style

Photographed: A.P.C. coat (£375); Nigel Hall shirt (£85); MVP t-shirt (£28); H&M Edition jeans (£49.99); G.H. Bass boots (£180); GANT scarf (£40)


If you think about the the most stylish men – your David Beckhams, your John Coltranes, your Steve McQueens – then you probably picture them in a certain look. For Beckham, it could be could be rugged denim and a white tee; for Coltrane, a black suit and unbuttoned white shirt. McQueen managed to make the simplest items – a rollneck, say, or a textured blazer and knitted polo – feel like they’d been created just for him.

That’s because each has a signature style, which feels like an extension of their personalities. It’s not a uniform – the Steve Jobs look is tough to pull off if you’re not Steve Jobs – but rather a consistent approach to clothes. “It’s something that’s true to you as a person, like a trait or a habit,” says Thread stylist Alexander McCalla. “It can be an item or a way of wearing something. It’s what people picture when they think of you.”

There are a few reasons why you’d want a signature style. For one, you’ll dress better. “If you’re consistent in what you wear, then it’s like practice,” says Alexander. “Over time, you get really good at it.” You’ll also find shopping easier, because you know precisely which kinds of clothes work for you. “You won’t take risks on things that feel wrong because you already know they won’t go with what you wear every day.”

But the biggest win is that your clothes will become your clothes. You’ll express who you are in what you wear and leave an impression that stays with people. So here’s how to get write your own style signature.

Pick an aesthetic – and stick to it

Picture your five favourite things in your wardrobe. They probably belong to a distinctive style – perhaps sporty, or tailoring, or workwear. Make them the core of your wardrobe, then only add things that work with them (if you’re unsure what aesthetic those favourites hint at, ask your stylist). “Having a consistent style makes it easier to add new things,” says Alexander, “because you can always picture the outfits they might fit into.” The best signatures come from wearing your much-loved items to death.

Stock up on things you love

The trouble with consistency is that clothes change every season. So when your favourite shirt does die, it’s out of stock – and with it, your signature. “When you find something that works, buy a few versions,” says Alexander. “You’ll also be sorted on laundry day.” This works equally well with staple pieces – the chinos that fit perfectly or the t-shirts that are always flattering. By being consistent with the pieces that don’t stand-out, it’s easy to craft a more distinctive style on top with things like accessories or outerwear.

Nail your colours

Figuring out your best colours does two jobs: when you wear similar shades regularly your look feels consistent, and you won’t introduce colours that don’t work with your complexion. If you don’t know yours, then head to your Style Summary – we’ve broken down the tones that work best with your skin, hair and eye colours. “You should also think about what you’re comfortable wearing,” Alexander. “If you only like neutrals, then find the ones that complement your complexion and stick to them. That can be a signature in itself.”

Add a signature piece

Obeying every style rule means you avoid mistakes – but it can make you look the same as everyone else. “A unique item, whether it’s a hat or a scarf, or a pair of shoes, ties everything together,” says Alexander. “Without it, you can disappear into whatever aesthetic you choose. But having something that feels personal differentiates you.” Coltrane did it with the way he wore his shirt collars; McQueen made a pair of Persol sunglasses his own. Experiment and see what works, then commit. Because the only way to nail your signature is to wear it until it feels like yours, and only yours.