How to dissect your mood board and refine your personal style


A while back a nice girl called Sadie sent me an email with a good question: "I want to refine my style and I've already created a huge mood board with all the things I like on pinterest. Now what?"

Mood boards are a great tool for getting all of your abstract ideas out of your brain and onto a canvas. Lots of people use mood boards like a visual journal and fill it with their current inspirations: Many of my pinterest boards are just collections of images that appealed to me at one moment in time and it's fun to look back and see how for example the seasons influence my taste. But - mood boards can be more than just a running stream of inspiration. They can help you create a strong and refined personal style if you do a bit of extra legwork and read your mood board like a story. Try these four steps:

Step 1: Collect
If you have never created a mood board for the objective of refining your style, be sure to give yourself enough time to develop your aesthetic ideals and train your eye. At the beginning you will probably be drawn to a wide range of styles, but overtime your taste will become more consistent and eventually your mood board will turn into a precise summary of your style.
Step 2: Cull
Your mood board should be a reflection of your personal style, so any element that you doesn't speak to you in a strong way is tainting that reflection. Take off or delete pictures as soon as you feel that you don't like them anymore or can't see yourself wearing them. Personal style is about subtracting unnecessary elements as much as it is about adding the right ones.
Step 3: Analyze
The most important part of the whole process: turning a random selection of pretty pictures into a coherent style profile. Go through every single piece of your mood board, figure out what it is about them that inspired you and then identify themes. Use these 5 questions as pointers:
What are the key textures and materials? (e.g. lightweight fabrics, leather, soft cotton ...)
What is the overall color scheme? (e.g. monochrome, bright accents, pastels, jewel tones)
Which are the key proportions/ specific combinations? (e.g. short, straight-cut skirt + slim-fitting t-shirts + loafers, high-waisted jeans + loose-fit shirts, maxi dresses + platform heels...)
What are the main themes? (e.g. clean-cut lines, classic tailoring, 90s-inspired, bohemian)
Which single items stand out? (e.g. steel blue crew-neck sweater, flared dark-wash jeans)
Step 4: Prioritize
Choose a handful of elements to incorporate into your wardrobe, whether  they are specific colour combinations you can create with items you already own or individual pieces that can go on your shopping list. Prioritize elements that you consider to be an essential part of your style rather than single-season accents pieces.

You mood board is a representation of your ideal personal style. Compare it to your current style and wardrobe and either add in missing elements one-by-one or restructure your wardrobe from scratch. Whatever you do, bear in mind that refining your style is like creating a complex piece of installation art: It takes a lot of planning, trial-and-error, adding and subtracting until you find the perfect mix of elements to represent exactly what you want to convey.

How I use mood boards I collect inspiration throughout the year on pinterest and then analyze my pins at the beginning of every season when I create a new capsule wardrobe. Click here to see the mood board I used to build my spring wardrobe. My uniform and main proportions will be pretty similar to last season (slim-fitting trousers + long sleeve shirts +  shorter jackets + ankle boots), so the new themes I identified from my spring board revolve mainly around single item additions and colour combinations. These are the elements I plan to add to my wardrobe this season:


How to dissect your mood board





image credits: top picture - my own, after DRK, Elin Kling, Fashion Toast, The Northern Light, Wolf Cub, Terry Richards, unknown, They All Hate Us, unknown, unknown,  unknown, They All Hate Us.