Globe & Mail columnist Karen von Hahn provides this observation in her November 15th column Globe & Mail column, "Fashion is abut the clothes, style is about ideas."
"... given everything that is going on out there in the scary world, there is no better time for taking on the task (of finding one's own 'style trademark') than right now. If we can acknowledge that the mindless consumption we have numbly submitted to is over, isn't there a hidden opportunity in being able to take a good hard look at who we really are and what we really want, and start nurturing our own personal style?
Moreover, style is essentially optimistic. As (a recent article in) Psychology Today observed, it "presumes you are a person of interest, and that the world is a place of interest, that life is worth making an effort for."
I wanted to read the Psychology Today article she (barely) references, but got her best stuff from; it's "How to Have Style" by Hara Estroff Marano. Marano, in a short, piquant piece, describes style's inherent verve, originality, intelligence, diversity and another quality she calls 'aristocratic'.
The best tool I've found for uncovering your personal style: Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte; it's a workbook, emphasis on work- but you can approach it in chunks. The analysis of your preferences, dreams, dislikes, inspirations and mistakes yields a style description that will inform your choices for the "stuff" of your life- not only clothes but also friendships, giving and working.