Class Report

Back to Basics: Finding Your Own Personal Style

Teacher: Pearlette Merriweather, attorney (center)
Documentarian: Ilana Nutkis
Location: Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library
Class date: Jan. 12, 2014

What we learned:

“Style without substance is empty. Substance without style is an impediment.” The take-home message: Personal style is unique to each individual and should express who you are, not what’s trendy. That translates to your workplace wardrobe: “Style will get you in the door, but substance will keep you there,” Pearlette said.

“You are enough” is Pearlette’s motto. Style isn’t about playing a character or fixing yourself; it’s about using clothing to present yourself to the world. To find your personal style, think about what inspires you — Audrey Hepburn, the 1980s, a friend, anything that you identify with. Your boss or a well-dressed coworker can be a model for workplace style.

To jump-start your journey, think about your favorite pieces of clothing and identify what you like about them. This will lead you to similar styles that express your fashion sensibility.

Explore your personality traits and emotional intelligence. That can help you find your style. Pearlette recommended “The 48 Laws of Power.”

Find a good tailor. “Cut and fit are just as important as quality,” Pearlette said. One of the biggest style mistakes people make is not having their clothing tailored. When investing in quality pieces (such as a suit), buy one size up and have it tailored to fit you perfectly.

Ilana Nutkis is a policy nerd and cheese enthusiast who enjoys road trips, tiramisu, and bemoaning the D.C. rental market. She has read every Agatha Christie novel ever written, and once jumped out of a boat in the Pacific Ocean to snorkel with sea turtles despite a traumatic childhood viewing of “Jaws.” For political hashtagging, follow her on Twitter at @IlanaNutkis.