Saturday, August 23, 2014

Defining your style

Defining your style is a lifelong process of fine tuning your wardrobe with your lifestyle and your self-perception. I was quiet clueless at the beginning of my own journey, my style swaying from one extreme to another greatly influenced by trends and peers. It took me a lot of time (and wasted money) to get to the point where I can define a style that suits me.

Defining your style will help you identify more easily what fits you and what doesn't. You'll avoid falling for trends that weren't made for your body type or your lifestyle and fill your closet with brand new tagged clutter.

It may seems overwhelming in the initial steps through this adventure, but there is a simple exercise you can do with your own wardrobe to get you started.

Here it is with my own thought processing as an exemple.

1.  Choose your favourite items

I think pulling out five of your favourite items from your closet is a good way to start defining your ideal wardrobe. Those favourites are items you have own for a significant amount of time (at least a year) and that you wear  regularly enjoying them each time. There are the items you will first reach to when you get dressed in the morning.  With these favourites you will be able to create your cardinal outfits. If your work wardrobe differs significantly from your weekend one, I suggest selecting two difference sets of items for each situation.


Weekend favourites
For my weekend wardrobe, I pulled out Levis skinny jeans, a white cotton t-shirt, a dress I bought travelling in South Africa, a pair of Frye skimmers and  a pair of white ( not so white anymore) canvas Keds.

Work favourites

For my work wardrobe, I picked a white cotton shirt, a Bailey 44 blazer, a Nolita grey skirt, straight pleated black pants and my Coach flats.

Once you selected these items, create 1-2 outfits with them.

2. Identify what makes them favourites

That is an existential question. The toughest exercise in style defining is making the unconscious conscious. You know you love them, but not necessarily why, but to avoid making the same mistakes and to create your perfect wardrobe inspired by these favourites you need to know why you cherish them so.

"They are comfortable, I feel good and beautiful in them and they are well made." was the first answer that came to my mind, but you need to go deeper in the exercice to make it successful and effective. Analyse each item. Look at its colour, its shape, its brand, its fit. Which attributes doesn't it enhance? Your tiny waist? Your generous forms? You sleek androgynous silhouette? Your fair/dark skin? etc.


My first weekend outfit was my Levis jeans with a white t-shirt and the Keds. I dress like that all year around to do my everyday errands and I never get tired of this outfit. I love skinny jeans because they are simple go with anything. Levis'ones are sturdy, well made yet affordable. I like white t-shirts because their colour complements my skin tone and they go with everything giving a relaxed yet clean effect to your outfit. Plus it doesn't show as much when you sweat....Keds are comfortable and feminine walking shoes. I like how they make my feet look smaller. They can be worn with anything. I like the overall casual filiform shape of this outfit. It can be easily dressed up or down with the right shoes and accessories.

My second weekend outfit was composed of the summer dress and the Frye skimmers. It is my go-to summer ensemble when I don't feel like wearing jeans. I think my dress' hues of burned orange complement well my skin tone too. I liked its shape: form fitting at the top with a defined waist and a flair skirt. It is feminine and sexy, but not provocative. The colour of the skimmers looks good on my feet too. They have a comfortable and delicate cut.

The first thing that what drew me to my work wardrobe favourites are their hues of black and white : I find this colour combination clean, sophisticated yet simple. I think a white shirt makes any bottom look professional. I like my waist to be defined and my work skirts to be flared too. I like wearing flats and loafers at work because I spend most of my day on feet and they are more bearable then heels and just as cute.

I noted that there is no high heel shoes, extravagant jewelry or evening dresses. So I try to stay away from these in stores even if they look beautiful on the shelves. Since they don't appear in my go-to outfits, it is unlikely that I will use them often, so I am more difficult and pragmatic when I have to buy such an item.

3. Pick an accessory that will complement your look

That accessory must be used often too. It is the cherry on the sundae that will personalized your look.

My tassel handmade leather bag

For my summer dress outfit, I picked my tassel handmade bag. For the jeans and t-shirt outfit, I chose my aviator glasses and for the work wardrobe, I picked my everyday watch.

4. Define your style criteria

Now that the reference outfits have been picked and their defining accessory added, sum up the key elements of your outfits as followed: colour scheme, silhouette, style. These elements will be the reference point that will help you pick your future items so that they fit the defining criteria of your wardrobe and become themselves new favourites.

The style can be defined easily by bringing together the feeling you get from (or looking for in the outfit (casual? sophisticated? whimsical? chic? gothic? minimalist?) and a character that would wear this outfit (cowboy? exotic queen? wall street banker?)


The summer weekend outfit
Colour scheme : mustard yellow, burned orange, brown
Shape : high waisted flared skirts with fitted tops
Style: Understated bohemian

The winter weekend outfit
Colour  scheme:  blue, white, black, grey
Shape : skinny bottom, relaxed top
Style: Casual minimalist french artist

The work outfit
Colour scheme: black, white, grey
Shape: high waisted flaire skirts or skinny pants with white shirts
Style: Austere chic librarian

VoilĂ !

Basically I identified three styles I can always relate too. When I am buying new items, I like them to fit these schemes to  make sure that my new items blend in with the old ones keeping my style cohesive and avoiding falling for trends that won't last in my wardrobe.

But of course swaying away from rules from times to times is a good thing. Fashion rules are made to be broken...

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