Finding a style that suits you and your life

This is the second part  of a two part series. Here’s the link to Part 1: Is your style still working for you? Are you sure?

I have always considered myself a good dresser, but that’s not the same as knowing your own style.

For me, defining my personal style was a part of a bigger process. The cosmic colonic was about stream-lining  my life. I got rid of what wasn’t working to clear space for the things that do work. In order to find the true me hidden beneath the shlumpadinka facade, I went about defining my personal style and then cleared out my closet to reflect that person back to me.

After the jump, some ideas and suggestions to help you find your own style. It’s not about spending money, it’s about getting rid of what’s not working in your wardrobe so you can easily access the stuff that does.

Your style should suit your life

Style is the outward presentation of the inward you. It takes time to grow into your style, because it takes a lifetime to grow into yourself.   Your style should fit your life. I am an active person, I walk, dance, chase kids and cover a lot of ground on any given day. I like to look dressed and put together, but I can move quickly and easily in everything I’m wearing.

I have no patience for constrictive or restrictive clothing. I love skirts, but I wear them with sneakers. All my heels are purchased with the understanding that I will have to navigate downtown Seattle in all  its hilly, rainy glory. Because for me, as soon as the clothes are on, I’m over it. I’m just ready to get into whatever I’m doing.

Your style should emphasize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses

What is nice on you? For me, I have a nice shape that is curvy and feminine. I have good posture and broad shoulders. One characteristic of my style has been to emphasize my silhouette. I have always looked more athletic than I actually am. A BFF once described my college look as preppy meets hip hop and sporty spice. I laughed my head off, because she nailed me on the sporty spice.

My style is an under-stated, classic look with a bit of an edge. I like to mix current favorite pieces with well-cut basics. I always have one or two items I LOVE and I wear the heck out of them. Last winter it was a green stripped sweater and a killer pair of brown boots I got for Christmas. One fall, it was that turquoise blazer and silver ballet flats.  This summer, it was those black wedges and the navy skirt.  This winter, it’s going to be the black equestrian boots I just purchased. Everything in my closet goes with everything else. I can mix an match everything around whatever top, accessory or shoe I want to wear. I like to mix high end with low end, I always have on something that was purchased used, but you’d never know.

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This took time and reflection up front but has paid off in spades over the long run. Not only do I look better most of the time, but I rarely suffer from outfit trauma anymore. The fact is, I always have something to wear because everything in my closet works together, works on me and makes me feel great. It allows me to spend a lot less time worrying about how I look and a lot more time living the life I want to lead.

Five tips to make your closet reflect your style

1. Try to define your personal style by summarizing it in three words. Think about your favorite outfits over the years, what do they have in common?

Think about whose style  you admire, it may give you some insight into your own tastes. It would surprise you not at all that I admire:  Kate Winslet, Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham, Gwen Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Gwen Stefani, Rihanna.

2. Take a hard look at what you have. Try everything on, get rid of anything that is ill-fitting and that’s not your taste. If clothes do not  feel good on, then they aren’t your size or they aren’t cut for you. Either way, they need to go.

I do keep larger and smaller sizes in my wardrobe, every woman waxes and wanes over the years, but I don’t keep them all in the closet. The larger and smaller clothes are stored. I can get to them if I need, but I’m not looking at a closet filled with clothes from size 6 to size 12. And yes, clothes in all those sizes have fit me in the last three years. That’s life, ya’ll.

3. The only clothes that should be left in your closet are the clothes make you feel good and look good. It’s okay if there’s not much, I’d rather have one great pair of jeans, than three okay pairs. Plus, there’s a 99% chance you have way too many clothes in your closet. I’m sure that even with some ruthless weeding, you will have plenty of clothes left in your closet.

4.  I only shop when I need something and I only buy what I am looking for. I have been looking for black boots since last March when I had to retire the pair that I had for years. I am a patient shopper. I look until I find exactly what I want at a price I can live with. This takes time, but no money is wasted. And when I do purchase something, it gets tons of use, because it is exactly what I want and need.

5.  Change the seasons of your closet. It keeps the visual clutter out of your closet and forces you to naturally reassess your wardrobe every six months. I give everything a good once over when I switch the seasons out. I repair little things such as scuff marks or missing buttons.  Shirts that are looking ratty or worn, gets downgraded to sleep shirts. Pants that haven’t been worn in three summers get passed on to a friend. Shoes that look rode hard and hung wet, get retired. The beloved ones get archived, the rest get donated.

Related posts by Bonita Applebum

Is your style still working for you? Are you sure?

Return it!

A little bit, every day

The journey of the cosmic colonic begins

Clearing space


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ophelia
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 20:09:39

    I love that you listed Gwyneth Paltrow as one of your fashion influences. I’ve always adored her style–it’s seemed to me very fresh and casual and fun but with a certain classic elegance as well. (Victoria Beckham is high on my list as well, for similar reasons–she manages to be impeccably turned out but still somehow relaxed about it, as though she doesn’t let her clothes get in the way of her life. It’s impressive.)


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