Looking to others for style inspiration and style advice can be a wonderful boon, but it can also be laden with pitfalls. Here are a few questions to help you navigate:
1. Are you asking for an opinion before trying to form one of your own?
If you ask what someone else things of something before sitting quietly with yourself and determine what you think of it, you're handing over the keys to the kingdom. Your opinion should ultimately matter more than the opinion of others when it comes to the way you dress, and forming your own opinion first requires both the time for consideration and the confidence to claim an opinion.
If you're still really not sure, it can be beneficial to ask others, BUT, get clear on what you're looking for in terms of feedback before asking. General "what do you think of this?" is not likely to be as helpful as "which pant leg best balances my body lines x or y?". If you've taken the time to ask your own opinion, you should have an idea of what you remain unclear on. Is the line off? Does the vibe not enhance your authentic beauty? Is the color a smidge too bright or too cool? Neckline too sharp or closed? Know what you're uncertain of, and phrase your question to others to reflect that.
2. Are you copying someone's look wholesale?
I think copying is one of the most useful tools available to us, and that everyone should try copying this or that to see what happens, but a full scale copying isn't beneficial on a daily basis- it's most useful as a temporary tool to see what works and what doesn't. Using someone else's look as a template for your own is wonderful, accompanied with doing the work to personalize it so that it fits you like a glove.
I see women try to copy a look or style type and become quite frustrated that it isn't working- that nothing is working. That's because to copy wholesale is to try on a costume. There is much to be learned from trying on a costume, but it's important to remember that it is a costume until you've drawn in other elements and tailored it to the particulars of your beauty.
3. Are you asking for feedback with a closed mind?
One of the things I see happen commonly, is someone posting as if they're asking for feedback, when really what they wanted was to share a look and hear confirmation that it is well done. The opposite happens as well, where something they think is awful is shared, and they're frustrated when the audience disagrees. If you share a look, state clearly whether you want feedback or not. If you do want feedback, maintain an open mind, and ask for honesty.
Honesty is very important in guiding yourself or others (when they've asked for it) toward authentic beauty. It serves no one to blow smoke. Honesty can be done kindly. One of the best examples I've heard was something along the lines of, "That ____ isn't good enough for you." Isn't that a great way to say that something looks bad? It can be hard to find a way to say that something looks bad, because we know the person themselves to be beautiful, and it can falsely feel like telling the person they themselves look bad, rather than the thing looks bad/isn't serving to enhance their beauty.
It can feel painfully personal to have our style critiqued, because it is to a degree a reflection of our identity and self-expression. This is the very reason that honesty is so important. We want to do a good job at both expressing and enhancing ourselves in a pleasing and authentic way to visually communicate to others, and we need to know what is truly effective to do so. Being kindly honest is a gift for us to share with one another. When you hedge your honesty or dilute it too much, it becomes a disservice- exactly the opposite of what you had intended.
4. Are you inspired by style that doesn't enhance you?
This point can be brutal. It's hard to admire a look that perfectly enhances someone else without also wanting to have it for yourself, but stay true to what enhances you. Once you know your authentic beauty, it's easy to come to touchstone words that describe what enhances you. If a touchstone word is quirky, but you have an obsession with classy, you will have to be very very careful of how you try to bring your love of classy into your own look. When best looks and lusted after looks are really far apart, the more you can leave to admire on others who do it well, the better.
There are ways to bring elements into your best look from styles you love. The closer the admired style is to your own authentic beauty, the greater the elements you can borrow; and the farther apart, the more carefully they need to be handled. If quirky admires classy, she will have to bring classy in in ways that that still read as quirky- using classy elements in a surprising and unusual way- a blazer with an unexpected print or a strand of pearls in a fun color or with size variation. There is always room to play, as long as you're staying true to your best.
Have you noticed other pitfalls? What do you encounter the most?