never underestimate the magical powers of a style journal

never underestimate the magical powers of a style journal

i’ve been clipping photos, articles and entire editorials that i find inspiring for ages.  i’m pretty sure i’m not the only one who does this.  it’s great to have a collection of inspiring imagery on hand – my big problem though, was always how to store them in a usable way.  once things got tossed in the “idea box,” very rarely did they see the light of day again.

i meant to start a “style journal” for quite a few years – one which i updated regularly and used as a reference tool.  i’d started a few, but never really showed any follow-through until recently, while stuck in bed with the flu, i forced myself to tackle the project like i meant it.

i’m not even going to tell you how many days it took me to get through the whole stash.  i will say however, that it was worth it.  i feel excitement for my closet where there was only waning interest before.  what’s even better is that i feel a little more direct in my enthusiasm.  and anything that manages to accomplish the impossible task of drumming up some closet glee in the midst of the mid-season doldrums is a magical, magical thing in my books.  



the amazing thing about keeping your own style journal, is that unlike wardrobe_remix or the multitude of other fabulous “daily style” photo sharing sites, your journal is for your eyes only.  (unless you want to share.)  it’s private.  it’s not an end product, but a tool to create the end product.  you don’t have to worry about presentation – it gives you a rare opportunity to really analyze what grabs you, and play around with things you might be intrigued by but not quite sure how to try.  

daily “what i wore” sites, street style sites and personal blogs offer endless inspiration, but unless you’re one of the lucky few with a strong foundation, it can be easy to become distracted – and overwhelmed – by all the shiny pretty things.  (i do not at all mean to imply that fantastic personal style is unattainable to all but a lucky few.  what i am saying is that a little under-cover work is really all you need to take your style to a level that you feel best expresses who you are.  that’s the whole point of style, right?)

this is how a style journal helps.  it’s a foundation you build to support your needs. it’s a fantastic go-to source of immediate style inspiration, catered specifically to your preferences.  it’s a reference point to remind you of what you are striving for on days when you feel less than inspired.  it’s actually (i’ve decided) a pretty awesome thing to have around.



still not convinced?  that’s ok.  i’ve got more.


  • putting it all in one place and being aware of your preferences will help you start to see what works for you, and what doesn’t.  most of the time we’re attracted to styles that work with our personality and body type, and having a collection of options at your fingertips will remind you of how many choices you really do have.  
  • knowing what works for you – and what you like – will keep you from being blindly pulled from one trend to the next, and help you develop your closet into a well-thought out and coordinating collection of pieces that work for you and work together.  (just think about that for a minute…)
  • keeping a style journal will help you become a more efficient and conscientious consumer – which saves both money and the environment.  it will help you know what you are looking for when you are buying, which really – when you think about it – seems like a silly thing to even need to mention.  we don’t wander blindly through a car lots, test driving random vehicles that strike our fancy.  very rarely do we even wander into a grocery store without some sort of shopping list to remind us of what we need.  wardrobe investments should be no different.  
  •  a style journal gives you a tool to help better understand yourself, which in turn allows you to present yourself in a more thought-out and complete way.  what happens then?  people take you more seriously and treat you with more respect.  the way you present yourself is how the world sees you, and if you appear confidant and organized, the world will respond accordingly.  


the way you decide to keep your style journal is entirely up to you.  i’ve found it extremely helpful to make notes in mine as i go along, but i know some people also like to keep theirs as a picture-only sort of log.  a lot of times i will have a “style epiphany” when i’m looking at a picture, and my geeky self likes to keep a log of these things.  the margins of my notebook are packed with things like “oh!  i totally get why this outfit works, while a similar one i tried was a total flop…”  or “this would look even better paired with —”  i’ll even push the geek envelope one step further, by jotting down phrases, styles and eras that come to mind when i look at a picture that really inspires me.  as silly as that sounds, it serves a purpose – it helps me see a common thread between previously (seemingly) unrelated images.

it goes without saying, but style is a life-encompassing word.  your personal style is not limited to just your clothing choices, and any positive change you make in one area is going to affect other aspects of your life as well.  as you get to know your likes and dislikes a little better, its fun to branch out into other areas of personal style (art preferences, home decor, etc.) and see where those take you as well.  it’s all interconnected – have fun with it!

34 comments to never underestimate the magical powers of a style journal

  • Wow. That was brilliant.

  • Pam

    I also collect pics of outfits I like and they too never see the light of day. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • This was such a good post. All your points make such sense. In a way, I think I started my blog for this very reason — to have a place to keep and remember what inspires me and catches my eye. It has really started teaching me a lot about my style and tastes — it tends to draw out your style in more specific ways, if that makes sense.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. A style journal definately helps you create your personal brand and keep your look focused. Also it enables us to explore looks that we’ve never thought of trying. I’ve also noticed that I look at magazines and other fashiony-type things in a whole new way: instead of admiring something, I conciously accept it as inspiration.

  • Stephanie

    I also have stacks and stacks of magazine clippings (in addition to the piles of actual magazines) and a large blank journal that were supposed to form a beautiful union many moons ago and it has yet to happen. Perhaps I will catch myself an illness and bundle up and get it done…or I could just stop making excuses and start this weekend. Thanks for the push in the right direction!

  • Kathryn

    I just found your blog two days ago, and am in love! Usually, I take a daily peek at the blogs I like for inspiration and pictures. I never actually read, but something about your post got me. Putting together the beginnings of my personal style journal was an amazing way to spend my snow day. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • Barrie

    LOVE this post!!! I am a librarian, working on a Saturday, and I am going to go to my favorite parchment shop on my lunch break, buy me a sweet scrapbook-y journal, and get started. This will save me a lot of money and hopefully help me develop some sort of consistent style and focus for my shopping, which I am desperately in need of. Thank you, Darling Diana!

  • I also keep a tear file. My “look book” is now becoming digital though. I have too much crap.

  • Lovely article! You made excellent points and have literally forced me into accepting that I must and will start a style journal.
    Do you suggest a coil-bound notebook, or what works best for you guys?

  • AWESOME post Diana. Super helpful. I’ve been meaning to start one for days now…

  • eee!! so many new style journals now!
    i’m glad this lit the fire under you guys! the journals are totally worth it, i promise.

    nikki – i personally am currently using a really silly spiral-bound $2 notebook from target with a peacock on the cover. but i know a lot of people also like the fancy sketch-book type notebooks.
    whatever works for you!

  • [...] Hip recently posted a great piece about keeping a style journal. While PH was writing about clothing style, the advice applies (as she states) to all kinds of [...]

  • wow. this is a fantastic idea and the post lays the whole thing out in a way that makes it seem DOABLE! great post!


  • diana,
    you are a gem. a brilliant, shiny gem.
    thank you, this post is completely fucking amazing.

  • I know what I’m doing when I need a break from my family during the holidays! I think I’ll keep it digital though, so I can include photos of my self in my fashion dos and don’ts, to remind myself that certain styles I adore require a very specific way of wearing them, because the border between dorky and cool can be so thin sometimes.

  • Thanks Diana! Totally went out and bought one with really heavyweight durable paper (Michaels is THE store) and I’m super excited about getting everything underway.

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  • [...] is to take my own advice to re-assess and maximize my wardrobe and perhaps finally start my own style journal (thanks, [...]

  • lillia

    i just started a style journal, the day before yesterday, what a coincidence(sp?) ! they are very helpful; but i think that i need to transfer mine into a ‘hipper’ notebook. mine is weird and has a bunch of flowers on it. i know it sounds ok, but believe me its not; it was from my 70 year old aunt. if that means anything. haha im rambling. well anyway, thanks :]

  • You just blew my mind. I was just thinking this weekend what I’m going to do when I finally fill my bedroom door with clippings and what will happen to them. I happen to have a spare composition notebook lying around. Project!

  • I do the EXACT same thing!!! I get excited every time i add something new to my “look book”!

  • Hmm, very cognitive post.
    Is this theme good unough for the Digg?

  • RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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