Hi, what a great thread, these are the conversations I have so missed!

Personally, I also am more concerned with well-dressed (i.e. groomed, etc.) over stylish. However, in my world, well-dressed is a nice fitting casual top and jeans, so I don't know if this qualifies for everyone's definition of well-dressed!

I also agree with those who think it is possible to be well-dressed from a Target - of course you will not have the longevity you might find at a higher-end store, but in terms of being able to look polished and put-together, yes, I think it can be done. I am picturing a beautiful Auntie of mine who was always impeccably polished in my book, although she bought most of her clothes from discount retailers (i.e. lower end than Target) due to their family budget and priorities. It's almost a little unfair to assume that people without the budget for the quality stuff can't be well-dressed (I know no one had a negative intention here, so I hope I don't sound like I'm pontificating ... definitely not meaning too ... hope you understand what I mean! ).

Long story short on the Target question, I think taste will get you a thousand times further than budget, although I'm sure the best-dressed women have a tidy helping of both!

Stylish, fashionable, well-dressed--why am reminded of this quote from Alice in Wonderland...

""When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all.""

Ah, yes, am I master of my words? Or do I relinquish control to another person, or even an arbitrary third party like a dictionary. Is Alice right in thinking subjectivity leads to anarchy--or, at least, long-winded discussions that trail off into all kinds of dead ends. Do we need to park our own experiences and thoughts at the door and accept a definition that is imposed by a single authority? Easier said than done when I suspect my half-stocked, half-hearted version of a Target here in Canada in not in the least like Rachylou's Target. My Target or yours? The classic, aristocratic frump of my Milanese ladies, the fashion-forward, trendy-frump of the Olsen twins, and the "I have better things to spend my money on" frump of a classic dresser who shops only at Walmart--are they equals when it comes to applying the "well-dressed" label? Does my wanting to reserve the "well-dressed" label to only certain categories just indicate a narrow-minded attitude to fashion and style on my part?

Rachylou, have you pushed us down a philosophical rabbit hole with your question? Are you laughing in the background? And people wonder why I love this forum--it's not about clothes or fashion, but a place to ponder the big universal questions in life.

I'm also enjoying this conversation thread! Great brain buster, Rachylou!

One of my favorite philosophies that never fails is, "When in doubt, over-dress." I equate this with Team Polished/Well-Dressed. Wherever I go, whether it's Trader Joe's or a networking event, I'm going to create the most polished, put-together outfit that is a level higher than expected. That's not to say I'm wearing an evening gown to buy groceries, but when I leave the house I'm dressed up. You won't catch me wearing sweats outside the house. For me, as a style consultant, I am a "walking billboard" so clothing is like my work uniform. But I tell all my clients that it pays to look polished everywhere you go because you never know who you're going to meet! That's just how life works. You don't get a memo telling you ahead of time that the CEO of the company you've been after is going to be waiting in the Trader Joe's checkout line behind you.

Re: Target shopping to obtain a polished look, I think it's totally possible, but I agree with several Forum members who pointed out that the fabrication quality and seaming of the clothes at Target is not high so you have to be discerning.

Re: Being stylish, I equate style with many of the European women I see when I travel. They make style look effortless and chic. Simple, clean lines, with the added flair of a beautiful scarf and a delicious leather handbag is the definition of style. To me, style is a formula that each of us calculates and expresses individually. What may be stylish for me would not work on another woman with different coloring, body shape and personality. I think what I'm realizing is we can't separate style from being polished/well-dressed. A polished look expresses your personal style!

Perhaps we should ask Humpy Dumpty what he thinks defines a well dressed woman. I quite liked his simplistic style.

Rachy, these days, I'm just happy to be dressed at all! Truly, though, when I please myself, I prefer to be well-dressed. When I want to be approved by others, I want to be stylish.

I love the feel of exquisite fabrics, and, as an erstwhile sewer, I feel luxurious and special when I wear beautiful textiles in well-tailored garments. Knowing my hair looks terrific; that my nails are buffed and my jewelry is tasteful and high quality? That would feel amazing, but I'm afraid I would appear too frumpy, and that I would never have enough money or leisure time to make this kind of polish possible.

So, why do I want to look stylish to others? I imagine that being stylish will make me seem younger, thinner, and more, well, relevant. The downside is feeling like your in a rat race that you're bound to lose.

Tie your head around that one, Rachy: Lol. Angie slam! Lol. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Am *totally* off chewing on that one. May have to go away and come back next year. Because that is so true: no one ever says a stylish person is badly dressed.

More chewables: Ok. Deep, peeps, very deep. Have to make a list and take it up the mountain to a cave. Things to be contended with:

  • Having a style that isn't stylish, is it still stylish?
  • Being so unstylish you are therefore not well-dressed
a place to ponder the big universal questions in life: Me too, Gaylene. And my brain is continuing on the eating metaphors, but YLF is very satisfying because you can, frankly, there's something to sink your teeth into. We're talking life the universe and everything here. And it's friendly!

re. Humpty Dumpty: I take Humpty seriously. Hehe.

re. the Olsen Twins: I have to pick up on this one, because I find them hugely inspiring... and they are women I'd offer up as examples of "stylish but not well-dressed." They often look like they're just hauling a bunch of raggedy blankets around, but they do it with such flare. Like, I don't know, letting them hang off one shoulder... (omigosh, I'm cracking myself up, but it's true...)

re. Target: I have this belief that given ten minutes to rush through a store, it would be easier for me to come out of Target looking stylish and easier to come out of Nordstrom looking well-dressed/well-groomed.

re. Well-cared-for: I actually think this is a whole other category, and of higher status than well-dressed.

re. wants for the self, wants because of others: Beth Ann, I think that's a really really interesting observation. I feel the opposite maybe - stylish for myself, well-dressed for others (... oh, maybe I'm Wheat after all, 'cuz I don't give in that much).

Confession: I'm not sure if Kate Middleton is *stylish* or *well dressed*. Mostly I feel her clothes are beautiful...