Finding My Style

“Fashion changes, but style endures.” -Coco Chanel

I’ve always been a clothes horse. When I was a toddler, my favorite things to do, according to my family, was to pull all of my clothing off the changing table, put on as much as I could at once, then put on a “fashion show” for my parents. They should have known then they were in for a treat!

Fast forward a few years, and I still love my clothes as much as I did then, though thankfully I have grown out of wearing everything I own at once. I’ve never really had a distinct style though. I have flitted from punk, to preppy, to hippie chic over the years. That’s probably normal for women in their teens and early twenties, to try on different styles and see what fits.

Now, however, I am a wife and mom. I have limited funds for shopping, and even more limited time. I can’t just spend hours going from store to store aimlessly trying on random pieces. Even more so since having Maggie, I feel a very real need to define my style. I want, no need, to have a harmonious and cohesive wardrobe of things that fit well, and work together to create polished outfits that I don’t have to think too hard about in the morning. That’s the goal, anyway.

I’ve only really been thinking about (read: obsessively reading everything I can) how to find my style for about a month or so, but I have a few suggestions which are helping me to hone in on just what kind of wardrobe I want to have, and what I want my style to say about me.

In case you’re wondering like I am, how to be a mom in something other than yoga pants (which I love and do wear often!), I thought I’d share a few things I picked up that have worked for me. (Major h/t to the book Just Try it On: A Month-By-Month Guide to Shopping and Style by Susan Redstone)

1. Be Consistent!

What personifies you? Is it your perfume? Your kohl rimmed eyes? Do you always wear heels or always wear flats? Are you a hat girl? Over-sized handbags or sunglasses?  A certain shade of lipstick?

Find one thing (or two, max) that you love to wear, or something that you love to do with hair or makeup, and make it yours. Own it.

For me, it’s my purple glasses. And flats. I love to wear flats.

My glasses are have a slight cat-eye frame, and they are purple. They even have two tiny purple rhinestones on the corners. They basically rock. And they’re my signature item. I wear them all the time. They are part of my style.

What is yours?

2. Accessories, Accessories, Accessories. This is related to number 1, though they need not be the same thing. Claim a signature accessory you love and can always wear or carry.

For Jackie O, it was her enormous sunglasses, for Liz Taylor, those huge honking jewels.

For me, it’s two pieces. My engagement and wedding rings, and a pair of diamond studs that Atticus bought me for our anniversary. Diamonds will never go out of style, and they go with everything, even if they’re small.

It’s better to have a very small jewelery box filled with things you love, and which are timeless, than to have a hundred pairs of earrings from Forever 21 that don’t go with anything.

It could be a collection of scarves you wear with everything, or a certain color or style of handbag you always carry. If you love a certain color, but think it’s too bright to wear in a clothing item, there are always bags and shoes.

3. What year is it?

This is one of the best tips I read about. Basically, pick a decade and time of day that fits what you want your style to be. It sounds weird at first, but here’s what it means:

Close your eyes and imagine Audrey Hepburn. Doesn’t just about everything you see her in scream middle of the day 1960’s? Or Marylin Monroe: 1950’s dinnertime, and beyond.

So the concept is to pick a decade and time of day (morning, mid-day, evening) that appeals to you, and most importantly, will flatter your body shape (aka, don’t pick Twiggy in the afternoon if you aren’t in fact, twig-like — is anyone?).

I’m still thinking about this, but I’m leaning toward early 1960’s, mid-afternoon as my time.

In addition to a decade and time of day, you can create a “style alter-ego”, who will help you hone in on, and create the style you want.

4. Style Alter-Ego

This is where you get to have a lot of fun! You can create a persona who will be the very epitome of the style you want. Once you create her, she can come with you into the dressing room, and every purchase should be made with her approval.

So how do you do it? Be very specific.

One of the “personas” in the book I read through (see above) that was so detailed it made me giggle was “aloof upper-class art historian”. That’s what I mean by specific.

“Classy society-lady meets Saturday afternoon in the park” is the working persona I’ve made for myself.

Who do you think yours would be?

I’m thinking of devoting a post to pictures of the wardrobe I am trying to create, and to the overall style I am going for. If nothing else, it’ll help me have something to look back on when I’m tempted to buy something that isn’t actually me, and maybe I can get some input from you lovely ladies!

I’ve been thinking a lot about style lately, and I wanted to share some things which have been really helpful for me. I hope it has been for you, and if you have any ideas to share about how you’ve found your style, please do share!


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11 thoughts on “Finding My Style

  1. A small closet full of quality, interchangeable pieces in good condition will go farther, last longer and ultimately cost less than a closet full of shoddy, cheap spur of the moment purchases.

    Unless you have paparazzi following you around no one is going to notice if you wear things twice in one week or have one go-to pair of shoes. What important is looking clean, well groomed and put together.

    I like idea of the style alter-ego and the time/time of day, I’ll have to work on that. I’d probably go with 1930’s in the early evening as some kind of “Homesteading librarian’s day in town.” Hm, actually I really like that.

    Also I’ve started keeping a style board on my Pinterest page for collecting fashion ideas, it’s great to see the things I like all together and makes it easy to weeding out looks that might be trendy but don’t match my overall desire in my look.

  2. This is a great list of suggestions, and is really inspiring me to pair down and focus my wardrobe with a style icon and signature time in mind.

  3. I will think about my alter ego and my style. I think I will go back and reread this posting.

  4. I was just fascinated by this post! I have to admit, I have not given much attention to my style over the years, and probably even less so since my daughter was born. But this post, along with some that Betty Beguiles has written and featured, really piqued my interest.
    I LOVE that your glasses are purple! I didn’t realize that! I agree: they do rock.
    Your advice about picking a year/time of day and style alter-ego appeals to me, too. Seems I have a lot of thinking to do, and this is excellent food for thought. 🙂

  5. This is so great! Thanks for sharing the tips you’re gleaning. I love the idea of finding a specific time period and time of day, but I feel like I’m not familiar enough with fashion to be able to do that – do you know of any good websites that could help on that front?

  6. I love this! I have these sorts of thoughts all of the time. I’ve gone through different fashion phases and recently I’ve been honing in on my style.

    Right now, I’ve decided I want to just dress more distinctly feminine in general….so I’ve ditched the tennis shoes, shorts, and most tshirts, and bought only dresses, skirts, and cardigans for the spring/summer. I’m on my way to a more definied style, and I like it! 🙂 Good luck on defining yours, I love your ideas you already have!

  7. Elizabeth – From my ex-costume designer days a great resource for about 1920-1960 is the collection of Sears catalogs. Search flickr for vintage photographs and vintage clothing websites for clothes reference. The Costumer’s Manifesto has some great links to historical dress!

    I’ve got boards for a couple time periods on my Pinterest site you’re welcome to peruse, and if you’d like to see a certain time period let me know the one thing a costume designer knows how to do if find fashion references. http://pinterest.com/molly_w/

  8. this was a great post! i always alternate between two distincive styles – bohemian, with long, flowing skirts and chunky jewelry; and audrey hepburn, with slim pants, flats, and minimal jewelry.

    lately it’s been more audrey hepburn.

    i’m going to study this … it’s definitely something to think about.

    and my signature accessory? watches … and the bigger the better:)

  9. I like the idea of categorizing styles by time of day! hehe… I think I would be the “ten o’clock schoolgirl” — running late to class in skirts and blouses!

  10. I love this discussion! Also, Molly you are like the fifth person who’s talked about how great pinterest is, I am going to check it out!

  11. This post describes the exact same problem I was having. I’m pregnant right now and it has me thinking alot about style. (especially now that I cant wear all the things I want). That being said, Im thinking alot about who I wnt to be (fashion wise) after the baby comes when I get new clothes. To be honest, my closet consisted of very little and it was all very inconsistent before i got pregnant and being pregnant it’s giving me alot of time to think about wat I’ll do and buy with my new found style after the baby… thanks to your tips. Thank you so much. Looked everywhere and finally found a real tip on what to do. 🙂

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