I’ve heard it said you can’t practice it.
That you can’t go off to “practice your style” because either you got it or you don’t.
I don’t rightly agree with this.
I believe everyone has style- no, I believe that we are born with style.
Being alive- every experience, everything that we see, adds to our sense of style.
The business of being alive and growing up often also ends up suppressing our style.
When you have to wear a uniform, your style is being denied. When you’re told to ‘put on something nice’ for a wedding, your style is being ignored. When you associate ‘dressing nice’ with a set or type of clothing, your style is being erased.
When all the cool- and uncool kids are wearing X brand sneakers and you start wanting them too, when you change something about yourself to fit in better, when you accept without question the improvement suggestions of others- you are ignoring your sense of style.
Unless you are mindful of it, it’ll grow fainter and fainter. Eventually, you’ll be unable to hear it at all. You will ponder over what flavor of ice cream you like, try to recall what you used to like when picking a notebook, and look for what you should like in the magazines, looking for an opinion that will make people think you know your style.
Not everything can be found in a magazine or on youtube.
You can bite moves, but you can’t bite flavor.
How can you practice style? Style is a sense, not a skill.
How to you practice inspiration? How do you ‘get style’ if you don’t got style?
How can you create, say, a signature cocktail? Or a signature, for that matter.
You have to the basics. You have to know what the individual elements taste like. How to write the alphabet.
Experience helps. Knowing what goes together with what. Drinking many different mixed drinks. Knowing what letters flow into each other. Seeing how others flourish their signatures.
Most important, knowing what you like. That is Style.
Style is that accumulation of all the things you like, wrapped around you.
How do you know what you like?
By knowing what you don’t like. What you’re OK with. trying things that you think are silly or stupid or weird and seeing what you feel.
By writing your name over and over and over again in every way imaginable, and looking for examples when you can’t think of any more variants.
By making strange and sketchy looking drinks that you’ll have to finish by yourself, and adding things to try and make it better till you’re left with a mish-mash of unrecognizable liquid that you gulp down so you can start again.
Making a space for yourself and disregarding everything you’ve learned about what is ‘proper’ and ‘right’ and ‘nice’ and ‘pretty’, so that it’s just you and yourself and the full range of possibilities.
And now you try to feel it.
It’s quite likely you won’t. Ads tell you what is cool and what is sexy and what is elegant and powerful; schools and societies and friends and pretty much every human being not you shows you or tells you what they think is right and hip and acceptable, what is gross and bad and wrong. You can’t just drop that all at once.
But slowly, you do.
You do all the things, starting where you’re comfortable and working out, and try to ask yourself, try to feel “Is this right? Do I like this?”
And you start finding things. Confirming and discovering what you like. Realizing what stuff you’re just OK with. Deciding what actually make you scoff.
Now you know style.
But knowing your style don’t mean knowing how to express it.
You just know what you’re looking for.
You throw everything at yourself and see what sticks. You overdo and overuse them because you’re so excited and finding something so unique and fresh and you.
You feel fed up and drop it for a year and pick up ten other things. You get a sense of a right time and place.
Finally you forget it all.
There is no ‘sense of style’, for it is inseparable from you.
You feel the music, or the mood, or the anything, and you know what to do.
Without thinking, with feeling.