When I scroll through my social media feed, it feels like every other woman has it all figured out, style wise, at least. Like they even look good at home and have their wardrobes curated to the point where I’m pretty sure they don’t know what sweatpants are. While I scroll through on the couch wearing my 3 day old sweats after I’ve finally gotten my toddler to bed, it can be pretty deflating sometimes. Then I wake up, put in the effort to get dressed and do my hair the next day to leave the house looking like a human, and, while I do feel incredibly confident as a result, I look around and realise that the reality of women around me (at least in my city) are pretty casual and I need to cut myself some slack. However, it’s the confidence part I want to keep when I get dressed but without the associated effort. I am figuring it out though! And I want to share with you my formula for finding a “forever clothing item”, or a wardrobe essential item. Grab a cuppa and enjoy these anecdotal lessons and I hope they help you find your personal style.
The Style Evolution
I was always the quirky one in the family and growing up, I kind of always looked like I’d gotten dressed in the dark without a mirror, but I’m glad I was allowed to express myself. I remember feeling my first fashion crisis at about age 8 when my mum would buy me all the same style clothes as my older sister and I just never felt right in them, but I didn’t exactly know what I’d rather she bought me instead. I was always a shoe and bag girl though, very confident in that department. I had a weakness for black patent leather (I now know it was shiny black plastic) shoes and bags. I had one particular circle black backpack with that 90’s yellow smiley face on it that I wore til it fell apart and boy, did I feel cool.
In the early 2000’s I found my subtle emo calling (you wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but once an emo always an emo) and I discovered I felt much more comfortable in feminine clothes if there was a rock n roll edge. Or boyish clothes with feminine details. But it was the early 2000’s and all the other girls were trying to dress like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, so even though I felt great in my style on a personal level, being a teenager just meant kind of wanting to fit in so still not fully embracing how I wanted to dress.
In my early 20’s I moved to London and I found myself very quickly trying to assimilate with what I felt the girls in London were wearing. The style I saw wasn’t a particular style, but it was loud, confident, colourful and trendy. I was trying to make friends so I headed over to Primark and H&M and loaded up on pieces that I could afford but unfortunately, had to replace often due to the low quality, or the fact that the trend had passed and I didn’t really love the items. I soon became caught in the fast fashion trap. I was working as a receptionist in an office with loads of women getting deliveries from boohoo.com and Missguided and similar shops on a daily basis. They’d gather round and open their packages in front of each other and I was soon ordering new clothes on a weekly basis to also have something new to wear to staff drinks or whatever other occasion I was attending that I didn’t particularly care about. I remember one summer I bought 6 new bikinis for my upcoming holiday to fit in with the other women who had purchased a similar amount of bikinis for theirs. 6 bikinis for a country that sees about 4 days of summer a year. I obviously got use out of them for my 3 week holiday but I would have had more spending money on the holiday if I hadn’t purchased at least half of them, as well as all the other clothes “for my holiday” that I purchased. I realised on that trip that I’m the kind of person who likes to travel with an empty suitcase and go shopping on holiday. So I vowed after this to stop thoughtless purchases and start shopping wisely.
You do you! Don’t fill your wardrobe with pieces you aren’t obsessed with to fit in with a particular crowd or lifestyle. It can become really overwhelming trying to keep up with the Jones’.
Add up all that money your spending on clothes so suit other people. Because you don’t want to repeat the same outfit too many times. I bet if you put all that money aside, you could buy one thing you love and you’d keep forever but tell yourself it’s “too expensive”.
My Introduction to Luxury Fashion
I began with trying to find a way to wear the same thing all the time without looking like that girl who wears the same thing all the time (my attitude has changed now, I’m an avid outfit repeater because finally I love my clothes). My clothes were too loud. Too colourful, obvious, trendy, noticable. I decided to find some style influences and copy what they were doing. I don’t remember how, but I first stumbled across Josie @FashionMumblr who was at the time purchasing a lot of high street fashion but in very timeless and elegant styles. Through Josie’s channel I found many more influences who were similarly elegant and followed them all. Now, they’re all beautiful and intelligent when it comes to fashion so I basically just copied these women in white. Before I knew it, my wardrobe was full of cream and white sweaters and broderie anglaise (if you followed Josie in this era, you know what I’m talking about). Now Josie, she looked beautiful and because it was true to her style, she really pulled it off. Every time I wore something from my new wardrobe, I felt like a stuffy old woman. I still had my emo heart – don’t forget – I needed some edge but I didn’t know how to incorporate it in my new “investment” way of dressing. The problem is, instead of having a wardrobe full of colourful and trendy clothes I didn’t feel authentic in, I now had a white wardrobe I didn’t feel authentic in. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s always place for a broderie blouse and a cream coloured sweater, but nowadays I like to mix and match these types of pieces with something a little more masculine or grungy to balance it out. I must say, however, that I’m grateful I came across Josie’s YouTube videos because I learnt a lot about what makes a piece a quality item, I just had to discover my own style, which I’m still doing. I found other amazing YouTubers such as Emma Hill who preach a similar message to Josie, but with their slightly less feminine style and slowly, I began realising I can dress authentically to my personality while still focusing on acquiring investment or long term pieces to my wardrobe.
Find a wide array of inspiration, not just one type of fashion influencer. Elegance doesn’t have to mean the same thing for different people.
Find influences who dress in a way that is also practical to your lifestyle. If it’s an everyday battle to dress a certain way, chances are it’s not your style.
Learning What Suits Me
One lesson I learnt along this style journey is that if I want to look elegant, which is something I’m interested in now I’ve reached my mid thirties, I need to wear what suits me, not what looks elegant on other people. For example: the all white, cream and beige wardrobe wasn’t elegant on me but stiff and ageing. What does look good on me is black (making my emo heart fulfilled haha). But I’ve realised through looking back at tonnes of photos that I look good in black. I can wear white, and I do. The White Button Down is on heavy rotation in my wardrobe. And I can even wear it with white jeans. But it will have to be an oversized, masculine white shirt with wide or straight leg jeans and black accessories. I need to have something masculine to balance out the white or I just don’t look right. However, put me in a feminine little black dress and I don’t feel the need to add any masculine details because the colour is enough.
So how do you find what suits your body type and your skin tone?
I recommend taking lots of photos. The amount of times I’ve thought I looked good or bad in the mirror and completely changed my mind after seeing photos, or even better – had the feeling confirmed!
Take note of what compliments you get. If anyone and especially a stranger compliments you, take note of what you’re wearing and add it to the bank of what probably suits you!
Notice how you feel. Sounds a bit gooey but really, notice when you get dressed and you’re feeling like you look great and you’re confident – that confidence is what makes you look good and makes you magnetic! Go with that! Equally, if you don’t feel confident in something (even if you’ve received a compliment) then trust yourself above all others.
After having a wardrobe I didn’t like for so long and wasting so much money, I’m now incredibly fussy when it comes to adding things to my wardrobe. I ditched the fast fashion about 3 years ago and I’ve been curating my wardrobe properly for about 12 months now. I’m not saying I no longer make mistakes, because I do and I will. The mistakes are so rare, though. Because I now know what I like and what my purchase criteria is, I really don’t purchase much at all because it’s so difficult to find items that fit my requirements. For this reason, I still own a lot of old clothes that I don’t love because otherwise my wardrobe would be pretty empty and I need something to wear on wash days! But as I’m adding to my wardrobe slowly, I’m getting rid of things too. And the cool thing is that when I pair an older item with something that now does fit who I am, I can kind of blend in the old piece and turn it into something I do like. I’m learning how to be creative with what I do own.
Write out a checklist of criteria and deal breakers for your wardrobe additions and stick to it.
Check out Style page for some articles of pieces to get your wardrobe started.
I’ll be sharing my criteria and dealbreakers for my wardrobe so make sure to follow me so you’re notified when it’s posted.
Til next time.