I think it is important that the way I dress aligns with my beliefs, my values, and my personality. The result is a style that is more true to who I am as a person. I have also found that it is much easier to manage and evolve a style that is authentically me. Whenever my style strays from this, it bites me in the bottom eventually.
Of course, our style-related beliefs, values and personality are unique to each of us. There are no right and wrong answers. Also, style is often intuitive and reasoning for choices hard to articulate. That’s OK too. If you trust your gut at this point in your style journey, go for it.
If you are feeling in an introspective mood, spend a little time writing down your beliefs, values and personality as they relate to your style. Here are mine.
- Grown-Up: I don’t want to look juvenile. Of course, what this means is very subjective to me. For example, you might perceive polka dots, Converse sneakers, and bright colours as overly young and unsophisticated looks for a person over the age of 50, but I perceive it differently. I’ve been wearing these items consistently my whole life, and they continue to feel dead right.
- Dressy: By today’s standards I am somewhat traditional and formal. I suspect my upbringing had a lot to do with this. I had a very dressy and glam mother, who was a role model. I have a father who is very polite and proper about things, and he’s a role model too. I wore a school uniform with shirt, tie and blazer for twelve years. I was also expected to dress up for occasions as a form of respect to others. As a result I almost always err on the side of dressy, no matter what I’m doing.
- Enclothed Cognition: This is about the psychological effect that clothing has on the way a person thinks, feels, and functions. I am a poster child for this. I’m less effective if I don’t dress for the task at hand. On the other hand, if I dress in the way that I perceive as appropriate for the task, I concentrate more easily. It puts me in a more positive state of mind. I am more productive, and I make better decisions.
- Balance: I strive to achieve an optimum balance between the different aspects of my life. I have a moderately sized wardrobe, despite being a fashion professional. I find my sweet spot between old and new wardrobe items, neutrals and non-neutrals, trends and classics, outfit uniformity and variety, and caring and not caring about my style. I try to move with the times, but without disregarding the traditional way of doing things when it works just as well.
- Sustainability and Ethics: We have to save our planet so that future generations can thrive, so I make the most sustainable and ethical wardrobe decisions that I can manage. This is reflected in how I shop, where I shop, when I shop, which items I purchase, how I edit and care for wardrobe items, how I pass on wardrobe items, and how I refresh my style. My decisions are by no means perfectly sustainable and ethical, but I work hard to find the best solutions while being true to my other style beliefs.
- I’m Worth It: My wardrobe is there for me to enjoy, and I don’t leave things for good. I get the biggest bang for my fashion buck by wearing my pretty and dressy items daily. I don’t feel guilty about refreshing my wardrobe seasonally, as long as I stay within my budget and allocated storage space, and am thoughtful and organized about my purchases. Growing older is about enjoying the life we are given, and doing things sooner, rather than later. Because if not now, when?
- Modesty: I have always been a modest dresser, even as a child and teen. I choose to cover up rather than expose. I don’t wear items that are very tight or revealing. Apart from when I’m sleeping, I always wear a well-supported bra. My tailored fits are more fluid than the norm. Hubs Greg, who has known me for decades, says, “covering up is your thing, and part of your look.” Enough said.
- Practicality: I like to wear dressy clothes because it makes me feel fabulous and pulled together. I like glitz, luxe fabrics, white wardrobe items, polish, and lots of refinement. But I am as practical as I am dressy, because life is about getting on with it, and not about being precious and uncomfortable in an outfit for the sake of looking good. I have zero tolerance for footwear discomfort, which is why I wear fashion sneakers most of the time. I keep my hair very short because the wind and rain in Seattle can be relentless. I lead an urban walking life across four seasons, so if my outfit doesn’t allow me to comfortably work with clients and run errands on foot with Yorkie Sam, it’s not worth wearing!
- High-Low: Our home decor, the food we eat, the services we render, and the way we travel is a mix of high and low price points. We pay higher prices for some things, and much lower prices for others, depending on the value we perceive. Often the very best things are the least expensive, and the most expensive things sometimes have very little value. My wardrobe reflects this too.
- Exuberant: I do not have a quiet presence. You know when I’m at home, because I’m an extraverted chatterbox. I speak and laugh loudly. When I was a little girl my quiet, introverted Dad would remark that I found it impossible to whisper and that “Angélique is a great talker.” I haven’t changed much. My more maximal style suits my exuberance.
- Energetic: I have a lot of energy, and I’m greedy for more. It allows me to accomplish a lot in a day and get stuck into what life has to offer. I wear lively outfits because they match my energy levels, but also because they give me energy. I get a boost from bright colours, patterns, pattern mixes, bright whites, and high-contrast looks, which is why I wear them so frequently.
- Bold: Although my outfits are modest in terms of coverage, they are also bold. I’m not a shy person, and my outfits reflect a boldness that feels authentic.
- Structured: I crave a good amount of structure in my life, and in my outfits. It’s a way of keeping my world disciplined and organized. As soon as my outfits look and feel too loose, I have to temper the volume and bring back some order. I feel more attractive and confident when my outfits are fluidly structured, because those proportions work well with my slight frame.
- Playful: It’s become important to me to wear outfits that are or have light-hearted, creative, soft, amusing and fun elements. This keeps things positive, and also reminds me to not take the fashion and style world too seriously, and to do my own thing.
- Sentimental: I can be very sentimental. I will absolutely purchase and wear an item with extra joy if it pulls on my heart strings for sentimental reasons. Like if the items have dogs and horses on them, or remind me of my favourite fashion decades like the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I hesitate to pass on items that have extreme sentimental value, and will wear items that were given to me by loved ones with a very happy heart.
- Detail-Oriented: I am very tuned into visual details. I will nitpick about the lengths and proportions, quality, precise colours, and how well wardrobe items match or work together in an outfit. The same holds true for our home decor, and the way I cook and present meals.
- Soft and Strict: I can be as soft as a puddle, and as strict as a sergeant major. I can be very patient with some things, and have zero patience for others. In my style I’ve married these opposing attributes by wearing soft, romantic and pretty silhouettes, but with some sort of structure and sharpness to them.
- Neat and Tidy: I’m innately neat and tidy, which is why it’s an easy and organic fit for me to sport a polished style. It would take a lot more effort to sport a style that is fashionably “rough around the edges”, and I’d feel self-conscious about it. I’m sticking with what comes naturally.
Over to you. If you’re in the mood to do some self analysis, have a go in the comments section, or start a thread on the forum. Don’t take it too seriously — it’s all in good fun. Once you get into it, you’ll probably find it quite easy to spot the ways that your style reflects your beliefs, values and personality.