For those of us who live for fashion — as in, get giddy at the sight of a quirky architectural heel or stay up at night thinking about the vintage denim that got away — having a signature "thing" we can always count on is way up there in our #lifegoals. It's that piece — the one that leaves us swooning harder than a Bumble right-swipe — that wakes us up to new style possibilities, becomes a beloved regular in our wardrobes, and ultimately sets the tone for endless outfits to come.
To celebrate these closet heroes, we partnered with eBay Fashion to tap four real women who all have that thing to thank for transforming their style. From a boutique owner that credits a striped shirt for creating her minimalist aesthetic to a brand director whose crossbody bag inspired her to embrace femininity, these women make a strong case for finding your signature piece and sticking to it. Get to know them — and the stories behind their style soulmates — below.
When did your affinity for striped shirts begin?
"It started right after I cut my hair short. I noticed a character in a movie with a similar cut wore a lot of striped shirts, and I just sort of fell in love with her and her style. I thought it looked very French and chic, but I also loved the combination of masculine and feminine."
"Before, I never really had a piece that felt classic but, at the same time, elevated and clean. My style was a bit more bohemian rocker."
In what ways does this look speak to your personality?
"I always say that my personal style is very classic and clean, with a playful feel to it."
How do you typically style your striped shirts?
How did you become a sneaker girl?
"I've always loved wearing comfortable shoes. I love to wear dresses, and I think they're a great way to make a dress more casual. I'm on my feet a lot, since I run my own business, so it's nice to have that flexibility and not feel like I always have to be in a heel to feel work-appropriate."
"When it comes to sneakers, I always go for something that's a little funky or playful, versus a functional sneaker. I think women generally wear things that fit their body type or their shoe size, and I really love the way these look on me. The fit is flattering, and I found them to be one of the only low-top sneakers that works for me. I still feel cute and cool."
What do these sneakers say about your personality?
"I'm really chill and super laid-back. I think these reflect that and show that I don't need to wear a pair of heels to feel feminine. I'm actually more confident when I'm wearing sneakers because I can just move around as I please."
What are your sneaker styling rules?
"I think if you're pairing them with a dress, it's nice to show a bit of skin. So maybe a knee-length dress or something off-the-shoulder. If you're going for a neutral-colored sneaker, like the Vans, you can pair them with almost anything."
Do you have a favorite memory in these sneakers?
"I was dating this guy, and he was really impressed that I wore sneakers on our date, as opposed to heels. I always thought that was funny. He liked that I wasn't trying too hard."
What was it about these vintage Levi's that caught your eye?
"I mean, vintage Levi's are impossible to resist — once you buy one pair, you really can't stop. I always gravitate towards high-waisted denim, so delving into vintage Levi's seemed like a natural progression."
How did these play a role in creating your signature look?
"These jeans fit into what my look already was. Basic. Easy. No frills. I suppose they were transformative in that they make me feel totally like myself and really, really good."
Have you always been a blue jeans girl?
"Absolutely. I feel at home in them. Don't get me wrong, I love wearing a fancy dress, but after spending an evening in one, I feel exhausted and totally ready for jeans."
What does it say about you?
"That I'm drawn to timeless classics that are easy and uncomplicated. Also maybe that I'm lazy. Or a creature of habit. Or both. A lazy creature of habit, if you will."
What's your favorite memory in jeans?
"I think I was wearing a pair when I was proposed to. I wear jeans so often that something amazing was bound to happen while I was in them."
What's your advice for finding that one transformative piece?
"Just be honest with yourself about what your style really is. Don't try to be someone else. Be patient and search tirelessly. It'll happen. You'll know it when it does."
What's the story behind your crossbody bag?
"I always strayed away from chain bags because I felt like they were a little girly and didn't match my vibe. But when I saw this bag, I liked that it was subtle and how different it was. It's black, it goes with everything, but it's also fun."
How did it transform your signature style?
"Accessories are what really make or break a look. I like things that are understated and have character of their own. This bag made me comfortable with adding a feminine touch to my look, which is something I do to this day, and opened my eyes to different types of accessories."
Have you had a big life moment with this bag?
"This crossbody bag is my go-to when I'm doing something cool or in a new environment and meeting new people. I always just feel really good when I have it. It was my first splurge bag, and that really meant something to me — because of the significance it held, not necessarily because it was expensive."
What's your personal style mantra?
"My mantra is comfy with a purpose. It's all about finding a good balance between the two. I also like to go with my mood. If I'm feeling a little spontaneous, I'll experiment with my look a bit more."
What are your tips for finding that one special piece?
"I think the best advice is to just go with what your gut feels. You have to make sure you're comfortable and that it speaks to you. Also, know that how much money you have shouldn't influence what you wear; there are always ways to make it work."
Photographed by Tiffany Dawn Nicholson; Styled by Carolina Orrico at Defacto Inc.; Set Design by Alex Brannian at Bernstein & Andriulli; Makeup by Yuui Vision; Nails by Rachel Shim at Artists by Timothy Priano; Hair by David Cruz at Art Department; Art Directed by Erica Gannett.