For some people, getting dressed is no big deal. They have their own look, they know what they like and they know how to put it all together. But for others who’ve yet to define their own style or are simply struggling to build an outfit that they like, it’s a problem yet to be solved. Next to actually getting out of bed, dressing yourself in an outfit you’re not totally embarrassed about can be difficult.

That’s why we talked with Michael Baquerizo, a New York City-based stylist, who knows a thing or two about getting dressed. He’s styled for brands like Corridor, Nepenthes, Intelligence Mag and more, and has developed his own style to a point that’s immediately recognizable.

Start With a Garment You Like

When you’re standing in front of your closet, blank-faced and confused about to where to even begin, don’t try and force it. You don’t have to try and solve an equation to make a garment “work.” Instead, stick to what not just what you know, but what you like. “I think the answer is to hone in on an item or two that you really feel comfortable in, whether physically or emotionally,” Baquerizo says. “If it’s a pant, wear them a few times, not necessarily in a row and try things out.”

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Make Mistakes

The point isn’t to dress for others, but for yourself. Yes, you’re expressing yourself through your clothes, but you also want to be comfortable with who you are and your clothes. When you’re building an outfit, start with your favorite garment and go from there.

“Don’t stand in front of a mirror,” Baquerizo says. “Make a mistake or two outside in the real world. I’m not really concerned with what things look like to others, but I tend to get pretty focused on what I like and why. I don’t think anyone else should worry either.”

There’s trial and error when it comes to style. There are nights that I’ve hatched a great look in my head as I’m getting ready for bed, only to realize the next day that the idea should’ve been workshopped or scrapped altogether. That realization may come mercifully in the morning when I get dressed or, more likely, in the middle of the day when I catch my reflection and it’s too late. It’s all a part of the process.

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Take Your Time

“I do think people make mistakes getting dressed all the time,” Baquerizo says. “But, I don’t think that necessarily applies to style.” The most basic mistake isn’t so much related to pairing the wrong garments together. It’s more existential than that. “They might get caught up in trends too quickly, might spend a grip on something that doesn’t really suit them because they’re seeing it everywhere,” he says. “So my answer is time. There are items in my wardrobe I’ve waited more than 10 years to add, whether it just didn’t feel right spending the money at the time, or they were impossible to find.”

Though Baquerizo went through a phase of copping trends only to sell them off as soon as they didn’t fit his taste, he says he’s much more calculated about what he chooses to incorporate into his closet. “Now I wait forever to buy something so that I know I want it,” he says. “And, when it doesn’t fit with the rest, I just sideline it. It’s become a bit of a problem as our storage has bins of shit, but I don’t want to regret getting rid of things again.”

He also suggests developing criteria that asks ‘do you really need this?’ in order to find your own personal style. By going with necessity, he says, it should help you feel more comfortable in your clothing.

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Finding Your Own Style

Like many of the answers here, this one isn’t straightforward. Finding your own style is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of book. For some, it’s seeing someone on the street or in a photograph and emulating that, similar to how people dress like the musicians and actors they admire. Others find joy in the details and history of a particular garment, like a period-correct sweatshirt or a rare graphic tee.

“Some people are perfectly content copying someone on the internet,” Baquerizo says. “Others need to read and research until they’re happy with themselves. More positively, others just have it.”

While most people don’t “just have it,” you can take these directions and form your own sense of style. Over time, trial and error, figuring out yourself and what you really need in your closet, your personal style will come.

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