This is the second part of the “Style Transformation” series. The first part is the story of my husband’s style evolution that spurred me into action. You can find that post here.
When my husband set out on his style journey, he did a stupendous job educating himself about the nuances of men’s dress before he started purchasing pieces. He worked up a vision and executed on it. Similarly, I decided to make my first step research. I thought I would find a magical recipe for how to be a stylish, well-dressed woman. Instead, the world of women’s style and fashion turned out to be terribly overwhelming. Where were these rules that husband had found regarding what, when, and how men should dress? Didn’t the same thing exist for women? There were too many silhouettes, embellishments, and fit options to name. After consuming a number of blog articles and books, I felt a lot like I was lost in the wild west with contradicting recommendations from “experts.” To get a handle on it all, I decided my first goal was to simplify the problem by narrowing down my choices with a few self imposed rules.
My goal was a cohesive wardrobe (not just a collection of cute outfits) that would flatter my look and body to the best of clothing’s ability. My initial three areas of focus were: Vision, Color, and Silhouettes
A few chosen styles (and a few to avoid)
My affinity for different styles often leaves me feeling as though I have “nothing to wear.” You could easily find preppy, rocker, country, bohemian and an array of other styles in my closet when I started. I knew my quest for a cohesive wardrobe would go more smoothly if I could clearly define my personal style. There are so many guides out there that try to give you hints, tips and tricks for finding what your style is. I think the most important question you can ask is, “What is the story I hope to be telling about myself?” While clothes do not make the woman, they are our ambassadors. Your presentation is the first thing a person will assess about you. I spent many hours watching people wander the streets of my hometown wondering, “What story are you trying to tell me with that outfit? How did those boots make you feel when you bought them? Were you feeling particularly bookish when you purchased that tweed blazer?”
Everyone’s story will be unique. The important thing is: to know how your story goes. Now as I look at new pieces, I ask if they fit into mine. Long story short: I am a bit preppy with an equestrian flair and occasionally, a hopeless safari adventurer (in a proper noun this is my version of Lady Lara Croft).
A cohesive color palette helps ensure everything can be mixed and matched more easily. The right neutrals and 1 or 2 accent colors. This rule was supposed to be easy. There were fairly solid guidelines regarding what will look best with your hair, skin and eye color. Unless of course, your skin is a neutral tone (as mine is). After so many vein inspections, natural light tests with scarves and jewelry, my chosen color palette was Deep Autumn leaning into winter. With this decision, I made a color board and went through my closet and put aside everything that didn’t fit the palette. Surprisingly, most of clothes in the pile were things I already knew weren’t the most flattering. Perhaps, it was their color after all. Nothing new was allowed into the closet unless it was a color on the palette. It made shopping quite a bit easier. I just filtered on color and only considered the pieces that showed up in the results.
As part of the second phase to the color palette, I took a trip to the salon and tried to enhance the colors in my hair to both flatter my skin tone and my chosen wardrobe palette. Followed by minor makeup upgrades to eye-color enhancing eyeliner and shadows.
One of my most helpful resources in determine what color palette I should adopt was Into Mind. You can find more at: http://into-mind.com/blog/2014/08/25/how-to-choose-a-versatile-colour-palette-for-your-wardrobe-incl-36-sample-colour-palettes
Lastly, I had considered dressing my actual body. It was a two step process. In step one, I set out to making rules regarding what style or cuts such as necklines and embellishments would suite my body shape best. The contradicting advise regarding what’s flattering for body types made this particularly difficult. In the end, there’s no substitute for your own eyes and a trusted companion’s opinion. I often find it helpful to take a photograph for a boost in objectivity. Somehow, what is seen in an image can be very different than what we choose to see a mirror.
The second step was to create a few formulas for ensembles. For instance, husband has: trousers, shirt, blazer. In the past, I didn’t vary into to many pieces. I had pants and a shirt or a dress. I decided it was time to add skirts and shorts. In doing so, I tried to figure out what shapes went well with others e.g. button up shirts with flared skirts. Although I was increasing complexity by introducing skirts and shorts, I was still trying to keep it manageable by determining the pairs beforehand.
I am by no means done building the perfect wardrobe. I have however completely redefined my approach on how a wardrobe should be managed. In doing so, I have found quite a bit of bliss in “shopping in my own closet.” With a few guidelines to enforce a certain cohesiveness amongst my collection of clothes, I know there are outfits that are “so me” that I haven’t even happened upon yet.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Style Inspiration where we’ll tackle the support refining our wardrobe to the perfect fit & presentation.