Steph, thank you SO much for this! What a generous, kind, and thoughtful analysis you have provided here. Not to mention extremely astute.

All my life, when I have thought about this issue, I have thought in terms like this. What I want, I might say to myself, is a kind of uniform that is NOT a uniform. What I want is basic pieces with extras for flair.

So I knew it...but had no real idea how to get it, or how to grow and evolve it once I did get it!

What you say about scale of pattern is a revelation to me. I had no idea that one could use markers like the size of eyes or palms to determine whether a print would feel "right." I tend to steer away from prints that are either huge or teeny tiny in the first place, but this gives me so much added information to help in making choices!

I love your idea of creating an inspiration file. You had mentioned this to me before in response to one of my very earliest posts...but I confess I hadn't started one yet. I think the reason was that I was so overwhelmed at that point that I didn't even know yet what my true inspirations might be! Now I'm starting to feel as if I might be genuinely ready to start doing this. I would CERTAINLY love to find designers or stores that reliably work for me; alas, so far I'm not having too much luck with that, on the whole. But I haven't given up the search. And I'm hopeful that some shopping trips outside my small city might expand my horizons.

I LOVE what you say in your penultimate paragraph. This idea of creating the base and then playing with the third layer to determine the level of "dressiness" or formality rings absolutely true to me; it sounds like "effortless" dressing, as I understand it, which is precisely what I would love to achieve.

Thank you, again, Steph. This was very helpful to me . Not only is it a real confirmation of some of my own intuitions, but it also provides some step by step direction for what to do next.

I have enjoyed reading this thread and feel this whole issue (finding my "style", that is) is what brought me here in the first place.

What I find amusing/interesting about myself is that I have been able to embrace a definite decorating style in my home, but am not all confident in my clothing. For instance, my home is filled with lots of color and things I have found on trips that I knew immediately "fit me." My basis for decorating is mid-century modern but do not limit myself (can't afford it!) to only that era. I love the occassional whimiscal piece balanced against what I see as "classics". Why can't I do this with clothing?

Does anyone find that expressing themselves in their home choices is easier than clothing?

Thanks for putting into words what I have been feeling!

This is such an interesting, formative read! Thank you Steph for you generous teachings.

Dawn, I definitely find this is true of myself (easier to figure out the home decoration than the clothing.)

Having said that, I was just saying to my husband that one thing I miss in our current home is our mix of contemporary and antique pieces. This house is smaller than our last house; when we moved in we had to get rid of quite a few of our more clean-lined modern pieces. Not all, but many. We still have a mix (and most of our art work is very contemporary) but in our 19th century house our antiques can feel too "twee" for me. So things are not perfect even here!

Having said that, the environment does feel comfortable, functional, and home-like to us both, which is more than I could say about my wardrobe!

Suz - and Steph - I loved reading this thread.

Suz, your writing is a pleasure. ^_^