I’ve been thinking a lot about personal style lately and what makes ME happy when it comes to personal style. What makes me feel amazing? What do I relate to style wise and how to I use it to my best advantage? I’ve discovered something recently when flipping through all my magazines that I get in the mail on a monthly basis: they make me feel inadequate. I see the new Spring trends, I look at the pictures of all the pretty things and it makes me think that what I have isn’t good enough. It makes me think I need more. Which is completely the point of a fashion magazine, they are doing what they set out to do. Sell things to those if us that read for inspiration and pleasure. I realize style blogging works in much the same way, yet I feel different about it. I love seeing real women in clothes that come from stores that I shop at. I love seeing how they interpret the trends and how it lets me visual how I may look in something. Sometimes it is complete fantasy and sometimes it is something I can incorporate into my daily life, but it all makes me happy.
As I’ve gotten older (eek!) I’ve discovered that my personal style isn’t about anyone else. I don’t dress to make anyone happy but myself. Clothing, though is seems so meaningless, has the power to make us happy. If you have on something that feels right it puts a skip in your step and you hold yourself a little straighter, right? I think happiness as a mother, wife and woman starts with me. I need to take care of myself and keep my spirits up, show that I am important, that my needs are important. For myself that starts with a good amount of alone time, time to read and write, and creating a style that speaks to me on an inner level. With that said, here are some ways in which I break down how I feel about my own personal style, how I make style decisions, and how I go about purchasing things for myself.
What is YOU versus what is IN?
There are so many blogs and magazines that try to influence you towards a certain product and style. I am guilty of seeing
everything something on a favorite style icon and feeling like I need it right now. I’m generally what you would call a want monster. I can always find things on a daily basis that I feel that I need. Now. How do I fix this? I wait. I clip it out of a magazine, pin the look on Pinterest, or walk by it continuously in the Target store aisle. I take some time to figure out if what I want is because this really cool blogger has it and I want to be her, or is it something that I truly like. Sometimes the answer is yes, and I buy the item(s!) and it fits into my life, and sometimes the answer is no and I’m happy I waited for the shopping induced lust to pass over me.
Ask yourself, is what is new and hip and cool YOU? If it is, then go for it. If not, congratulate yourself on wearing what works for your lifestyle and staying true to yourself.
Don’t try to be someone else.
This is hard for me. I love the obsession of watching a movie and wanting to be the heroine in the story, or reading books and magazines and finding alternatives to who I am. I’ve been periodically obsessed with Sienna Miller, Sydney from the Daybook (who isn’t?) and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Not even a little bit obsessed either, more like crazy stalker like fangirl obsession. You see someone and envision their perfect life and style and want a little bit of that for yourself. It’s a fantasy of sorts and can be really fun, but where is YOU in there? I have no problem trying things to see if it fits into my personality and life, but wanting to be someone else completely isn’t an honest way to live. Truly, I feel that this didn’t occur to me until I reached my thirties. I then started to become more comfortable in my own skin, my own style and what makes me happy style-wise. I may borrow an idea or vision from an inspiration source, but I try to make it work for me. Which leads me to…
Trial and error is normal, and necessary.
Finding your own personal style means that you will inevitably make mistakes. My own look has changed drastically in just the past few years, which is pretty evident by looking through my blog archives (yikes!) For every couple of outfits that I love there are a couple thrown in there that
are hideous don’t work. I experiment a lot and try new things, or sometimes fall into the trap of buying stuff that is trendy and new for some unknown reason, and find that it isn’t me. I’m okay with this. This is how you find out what you DO like, what is truly YOUR personal style. No one is born knowing exactly what they like, or coming up with flawless, perfect looks daily. Take some risks, mix something together that your normally wouldn’t, and leave the house in it. You may be surprised by the what you discover about yourself.
Personal style is eliminating what isn’t you.
Through all this trial and error you will discover what isn’t you. I know that I don’t feel myself when I am all matchy/matchy, or if my outfit doesn’t have something “off” about it, or if there isn’t some amount of funkiness or edge to a look. I know this because when I wear what isn’t me I don’t feel good in it. Look through your closet and find the pieces that aren’t you and take them out. Think about what look you’ve worn lately that makes you happy and replicate it. My “formula” of sorts is to have a pair of fun pants (stripes, polka dots, camo, whatever), and pair it will some ankle boots and a fun, tunic-y type top. I may add a hat, necklace and throw on some accessories, but this look is my true comfort zone. When I wear this look I feel like ME.
Trust your gut. Choose things that truly speak to you, say something to you, and make you feel special.
Have you ever put something on and instantly felt blah? Yet it’s on sale, or you saw someone cool wear it and you think you can make it work somehow, so you buy it. Yet you know that it isn’t you. I often have a gut reaction to clothes. I either love it and have to have it and wear it to death, or I’m ambivalent and wear it once, then let it sit in my closet forever. Learn to trust this gut instinct inside you. Look through what you have and really test it out. Do you LOVE it? Would you die without it? I’ve eliminated excess in my closet and ended up with very little because I only keep what I love. Do I make mistakes buying things? Of course! I donate stuff all the time that I shake my head at and wonder what in the world was I thinking, but that is part of the trial and error aspect of personal style. It takes time, and discipline and trusting your gut instinct.
Pare things down to what truly pleases YOU. Analyze that shapes, colors and aesthetics that draw you in. I love black and white graphic shapes (stripes, polka dots), with bright colors and simple shapes (tunics, skinny pants.) I love the boho look in Summer and a edgy pieces in the Fall and Winter. I like an element of surprise (rain boots with a fancier dress, undone hair, lots of mixed patterns), and being a little different. This isn’t for everyone, but it is ME. If you know what you like, create a closet around that aesthetic.
Be you, unapologetically YOU. Don’t be afraid to wear what you like, whether others like it or not. True happiness didn’t begin to happen with me until I let go of what others thought and did what felt was right for me style wise. I spent way too many years wearing things that I felt were appropriate, or made me feel older, or fit a vision of what I thought I should be. Now I dress for the person I am, and that has made all the difference.