I *loved* reading all the answers here.
Lately I've been thinking that my love for clothes and admiring possible outfits that I create in my head is what prevents me from making the right options.
It helps me to shop the right items when I think 'how I would feel very confortable and stylish in this skirt/shirt/etc'
Currently the question I put myself when I buy clothes or assemble outfits is:

'If it was today that you would meet the love of your life just by chance would you like to be caught wearing that? '

I know, very dorky

Hmmm, in getting dressed this morning I've realized that yet again, I have to dress for a professional office situation that limits my choices given what I want to wear. Could this be part of the problem?

Thiere is so much invaluable information being shared here - Vix, I am going to look for that book and then take the cheatin' path if I can't get through it all. Thanks for being my role model on shortcuts.

Suz, my version of Aida's list is here:


I couldn't find the thread that she originally posted it in, because I'm bad at searching and I'm sure she didn't refer to it as "Aida's list"!

Thank you, Una! That does a huge amount to get me started.

I'm not sure if this is the "Aida's list" link you are looking for, but maybe it is:


Seeing all these lists is inspiring me to make my own. After a closet purge, daily YLF perusing, massive 3-month shopping spree, and consulting the Style Statement book I think it's time to see what I've wrought!

Una, that is *totally* part of your style challenge. Professional and polished dressing does not light your fire. Yet, your job requires it - at least half the time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I have seen and read, you also have a cupboard full of clothes for a so called imaginary climate and lifestyle. This prevents you from feeling like you have honed in on your style.

This is, to me, the CRUX of the issue here.

It's back to a basic "needs analysis" for you. If you were my client, this is precisely where we would start - and end - the next leg of your style journey. I hope that makes sense.

Yes, I totally agree with Angie (no surprise there!) that the core challenge is to appeal to your funky/edgy/RATE side while still dressing for your work role as an attorney. I have a similar challenge in terms of my different stylistic sides, so I can relate. There is only one solution for you: Fly Angie up to Alaska and get down to business :)!

Angie and Jonesy, lightbulb moment!


How did I get myself into this fix? Why didn't I pick a career that let me express myself in my clothing choices!?! MaryK is a great inspiration, but her climate and mine are so different.

Una this has been an amazing thread, I have LOVED reading everyone's responses! I think Angie is right about what the key issue for you is (I know, hard to believe ).

This thread has made me think a lot about what comprises one's wardrobe. I think it's safe to say most of us want to fill ours with items we love, and there is a lot of desire to have small wardrobes. The latter doesn't interest me at all. I am fine with having, and indeed want to have, a larger wardrobe which I want to fill with both pieces I love AND pieces that play well together. Variety is the spice of life and all that

To use your buffet example from way back, I am one of those who DOES get different things when I eat at buffets; while I may have staples, I do always try new things. But to get to this point in my wardrobe, I need to have those staples defined and set in place; I don't have this right now, and I think this is where my personal frustration has been. I can see clearly that this is the part I need to focus on, so thank you for helping me realize this

The reason I share this, I think you may be similar to me on this; except that you have the constraint that you need to get your professional wardrobe core sorted out (primary objective!) AND have a separate casual core as well. You seem to be much more energized to experiment with your casual outfits than your professional ones, which leads me to believe that the core of your professional wardrobe may need tweaking.

(Suz, a couple other links to those "Aida's lists" other member's posted:
http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....on-journey (the post where I initially posted about my list strategy)
http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....ction-long (my own list, as revised after being on YLF for several months)

I swear I'm not THAT engineery -_- )

You can still express yourself stylistically in your work life!! Think about your favorite work outfits: they all combine these elements of your style and somehow look like you, while still looking professional. I have to say that I think you oftentimes look better/more chic than you think you do...Your confidence in your style choices (or something along those lines) doesn't seem to have caught up with the evolution of your style skillz :). Sometimes you post a look from a fashion blog and seem to compare yourself negatively, not realizing that plenty of YOUR looks can go head to head with these fashion blog looks! Srsly. Put you outside with some fancy camera work, and you are ready to go!

How's that for a pep talk :)?

This is a fascinating thread and so thought provoking! I feel like neanderthal here comparing to you all. I don't even always know what I like- even though I have a better idea what I don't like. I guess I am pretty good on knowing what suits my body and coloring but beyond that it is a complete fishing trip every time. I guess my main criteria for dressing is to avoid boredom and have something new or unexpected.
I try not to expand my wardrobe too much because I want to update it every season. I did a major overhaul last year replacing around 85% of it but now I am trying to restrain myself. On the other hand having a smaller wardrobe leads to a game of remixing on a regular basis. That was the most enjoyable part of last season dressing for me: coming up with new combinations and making old clothes feel new and unexpected.
I guess I am lucky to work in a environment where almost everything goes - from super casual to business casual so I have some freedom in expressing myself.
And honestly Una, I think you are too hard on yourself and over-analyzing things. You like to try new things and you make some mistakes in trying - and this is much better IMO than being stuck in some safe and tried outfits! I live seeing your posts and get a lot of inspiration from you!
Una, I tried to get to do Aida's list but it did not happen yet.

Thanks Sveta! It's hard to believe you ever struggle to look put-together from your photos!

Aida's list was hugely helpful for me. It was one of a few obvious learning moments I've had when it felt like an anvil dropping on my head.

As far as being hard on myself, I think it goes in spurts with me, just like with cleaning the house. I go a while feeling just fine, and then suddenly I'll have this urge to dismantle the toaster oven to get every LAST crumb. I'm just in one of those spurts. Hopefully it's a growth spurt! I do feel I've learned so much here, and I want to make fewer mistakes now.

Doesn' it mean that your style is evolving if you are not satisfied with what you have so far? I think it is a good thing and after all - what fun is it in knowing everything before hand and not making mistakes? Style is a journey, not a destination, so embrace it and have fun...even with mistakes!

I finally feel I am connecting more consistently with my true style. This has come after finding YLF and doing lots of experimenting, which is what you may be doing. I now limit the blogs I look at, as they can be inspiring, and sometimes overwhelming, and the looks mostly just do not work for me. Looking at photos has been a big eye opener to see what works and does not work. If you photograph an outfit you love, what are the defining characteristics? What outfits are the most complimented? You may start to see common threads. My closet is not yet filled with 10s, but it's not an overnight process. When I go shopping I ask myself, "Is this really me?" "Is it a killer piece that will elevate my wardrobe?" "Is there anything about it that makes me feel as though I am settling?" I am super, super picky and focused on what I know works for me. Simple, clean, and bold with an occasional fashion forward twist. I found all the experimentation awkward and confusing...but ultimately it has helped move me closer to a defining my style. I hope you are feeling inspired and heartened by all the wise ladies who have shared.

High five, Jonesy, Aida, Sveta, Kyle AND UNA!

Una, you are constantly looking at all sorts of spunky and edgy blogger outfits hoping to emulate at least part of their style. Inspiration is one thing, but "the comparison aspect" can be harmful. Plus, most of their outfits do not fit your climate or lifestyle. This is NOT a disadvantage. It's an opportunity. An opportunity to make Una's style the one that counts.

And this is where the discipline comes in that I was talking about earlier. You have to marry your climate and lifestyle with your style sensibilities. It can be done. You are on the right track for sure - but I am going to be strict with you! From now on I will pull you back.

Your first homework assignment is to take a good long look at your career wear. We will help you every step of the way

I think you should look into AllSaints suiting... I feel kinda bad thinking of a solution that is basically "buy more stuff," but a killer edgy suit that can be mixed and matched might be the ticket. And no, I am not *just* trying to live vicariously through you, although I can't say that doesn't factor in. If I ever get hired, I plan to reward myself with one of them crazy suits.

I am enjoying this thread so much, as it epitomizes much of the style journey that I've been on myself the past year since joining YLF. It's been all about trying to figure out how to feel myself while developing a style that fits with my body, work, climate, and lifestyle. I love Jean's style so much, but I know that as a science professor, my students/colleagues would think I was over the top if I showed up to class in a leather jacket, whereas leather jackets fit so perfectly with Jean's artist life. Similarly, those high-waisted wide-leg pants that she sports so well would look ridiculous on my small short-waisted frame. So much of YLF for me has been about coming to terms with what sort of style works for ME, given MY life (and I am certainly still working on that). I think that is what Angie is pushing you towards doing for YOU, Una. I'm excited to watch you on this next phase of the journey...

Uh-oh, homework... I am onto it! I have very few true career pieces in my wardrobe right now. But you have absolutely pinpointed my current problem and I see my work cut out for me! Anyone else want to make this transition with me?

Rae. that is a BRILLIANT idea. With all the returns I've made, I think I could justify an Allsaints suit. It's just figuring out the sizing.

FWIW, I wear an AllSaints 10 on top. 34-inch bust. Found their "body measurements" section of the size chart to be spot on, even though the size conversions are terrible.

What do you mean by "transition"? Professional-izing?

Oh, what a fascinating read!

Thank you, Una, for starting this conversation, and everybody else for joining in. I feel like I'm in the *exact* same boat as Una. I'm starting from scratch with my wardrobe and my head is spinning.

Right now, the things I'm clinging to are:

1) my colors. I have warm coloring and look best in "Autumn" colors (to reference the old Color Me Beautiful book). The good thing is I LOVE these colors and they would be my first choice anyways. I've always found it more difficult to shop in the Spring/Summer and I'm in heaven come fall when all 'my' colors are in all the stores. Can I just say I can't wait to shop the fall collections this year?

2) my body shape. I'm a rectangle/IT like you, Una. This was a huge discovery for me, as I always thought I was more of an hourglass or pear (how on earth could I have been so off?).

So, not only am I trying to figure out my 'style', I feel like I'm learning a whole new language by trying to shop for a new body type. I must say, I really like having these 'rules' right now. I'm sure a time will come when I'm so comfortable dressing myself that I can bend or even *gasp* break the rules, but they are my crutch and compass right now.

So, Una, I totally get where you're coming from and I think your list is brilliant! I'm going to work on my own. I'll be watching your journey with much interest b/c I have so much to learn.

Nancylee --

You are a Style Statement trouper! I have a total avoidance thing about blank workbooks/journals. Did I miss what your 2-word phrase is? [Feel free to start another thread about it hint hint....]

Alaskagirl --

I completely agree with Angie that you have a lot of "homework" to do around work clothing, and also with Jonesy/others that you can absolutely find ways to bring your style into your professional life as a lawyer.

[I have seen a lot of what you are wearing to work, and let's face it: you ain't in Boston big law, Dorothy! You have a lot of flexibility.]

I'm going to say something, though:


Since you did make the mistake of asking how I got to where I am, I'm going to try to articulate something here. Please bear with me.

As an analytical but lazy/non-organizationally-inclined person, it is was -- and is -- VERY hard for me to deal with "The Closet."

However, even if one is a magical creature who knows exactly what one's style range is (no matter how narrow or deep) I think ya gotta know:

1. What's in there -- in terms of color palette, seasonal appropriateness, proportion, lifestyle need, "on-trendness" etc

2. How what's in there works with other closet pals, which means lots and lots of trying things you own on with the distinct goal of finding out how or if Item A can be part of a [Professional] outfit

3. Approximately where and how anything new will play with other closet pals

I know you have been "communicating" with your closet, ha, but I kind of have the feeling you do a little bit of #1- 3 and then back away, dig back in, then back away, etc.

Understandable, because I find the whole closet thing takes lots of time, stamina, and emotional energy.

However, in the midst of this off/on analysis you seem -- and I could be wrong -- to be bringing in batches of thrifted clothes as well as bigger-ticket "statement items."

So I don't really know HOW you can get a grip on what's in there, and what works perfectly with what in your eyes, and how what's in there can express what you want to express with that going on.

Can you stop, breathe, and put shopping thoughts on hold for a bit? Because if I may be so bold I don't think an All Saints suit is going to be the brass ring...yet, anyway!

Instead, can you try to create 2 to 3 weeks of seasonally-appropriate work outfits you love from what's in there right now?

And if you get close but think, "oh, this would be better with X vs Y" write it down for later and keep trying to create from what you have until you reach whatever: ONE great outfit, or 5, or 25.

To me it seems like the folks who have a large number of items in their closets do best when they have their core silhouettes and colors (many of which they seem to repeat with new purchases, IMHO) that they use to create "go-to" items/ensembles. Then the rest is just icing for experimentation, boundary-pushing, etc.

My .02, worth price charged!

Ooh, great thoughts, Vix! I share some of Una's dilemma's as we've both mentioned. I think I have a large closet but that's relative for everyone I guess. I have 158 items from every layer tank to the last overcoat (not counting shoes or belts, just clothing). This is less than I used to have a year or two ago! But I did start honing in on a basic color palette. I thought it would be limiting but it's not. It's more limiting to have so many colors that half of them don't work with each other! So, the colors and then the situation specificity of clothing next was a biggie for me. I'm not saying I have things figured out by a long shot! But those 2 were biggies in getting things under control and more manageable. Trying really hard to not pad the 'fantasy closet' and instead buy for who I am, what I do, and where I go regularly. Anyway, I'm loving this thread. Keep it coming!

Not that I really NEED to add to the above, but:

There's a reason a fair number of my blog posts are tagged "Closet analysis" -- it's part of my attempt to muddle through figuring out my style preferences AND have a wardrobe that works FOR me.

And as I couldn't be any less of a spreadsheet kind of person, snapping photos of items on hangers en masse helps me understand what's going on.

Which is how I saw in fall of '09 [Pic 1] that I had a very small number of color-color items that were remotely wearable in fall/winter...

and how I saw in early spring of '11 that 373 days of shopping [Pic 2] had been fairly balanced between neutrals and color-color...and incorporated lots more prints and patterns!

I really think you could do something similar by pulling out ALL your possible work clothes and snapping them by category and/or color range and/or "this feels like me-ness."

YES IT IS WORK, ha! But you can do it.

xpost with Mo -- Mo, I agree completely about the color palette thing. I actually started trying to buy/get custom clothes in a limited color range each season to maximize flexibility. [Also discussed ad nauseum on my blog.]

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Vix, can I just say...I want your closet?

Aida, thank you SO much for those links; I am following them, reading, tracing the history of this conversation and the associated ideas. VERY helpful.

Una, thank you again for raising this!

Everyone: thank you for chiming in.

There is so much smart advice here--this has been a wonderful read.
I am still getting my own wardrobe sorted out, but a couple of thoughts on the subject: one, sometimes it can be good to have limitations. For example open-toed shoes aren't practical for me because I can't wear them to work, and I spend most of my time at work. I sigh at all the pretty open-toed shoes, but passing them up also gives me more direction. Having no limits can also mean having no cohesion or form. I also find it helpful to have a kind of guiding totem, similar to what Vix is saying. But mine isn't as funny.

I keep coming back to this thread to read the great advice/considerations going on in here.
I'm learning so much.
Thank you for starting this Una.

So I went off to our cabin for the entire weekend, where I'm sorry to say I wore gear and did not change (skivvies aside) from Friday night through this evening. And I was quite happy about it! I needed a tiny break.

And now I've come back to some even MORE incredible and insightful advice to ponder. What a gift. I will have to post a complete reply to everyone, especially Vix with some mildly stinging but truly spot-on points!

For now, off to shower...
Rae, by transition, I meant hopefully moving on to the next step in my journey (from knowing what I don't like to only wearing what I DO).

Oh, and a question for Angie - what do you mean by "take a good long look at your career-wear"? Post it here for consideration? Or were you suggesting some other strategy? I am stretching out in preparation!

Welcome home - glad you got to have a nice fashion time out.

Stopped in again to say that I didn't mean to condone any skipping of homework with my idea... might be a nice topper once the looking/considering/purging is done is all.

Rae, too funny! I was hoping you'd write me a note, actually.

What a fascinating thread!

Just thought I'd share where I am on the journey... I've overhauled my closet and altered/donated quite a bit as well as buying a few key pieces in the last 18 months.

What I have now is basically good, ie they suit my lifestyle and body shape and I am enjoying new trends in moderation. I have hit a frustration point where my outfits are not as fab as I would love them to be, although once in a while I seem to hit my stride!

I've been wondering why recently and have come up with 2 reasons, as talked about above.
1. Not all of my clothes are exactly right - I realise that the cut isn't perfect or the fabric or the colour etc. I think that this part may be impossible to perfect without a certain amount of trial and error (without help!).

2. I don't know enough how my clothes look together and don't spend enough time on this. I spent a few hours a couple of months ago trying to style some summer dresses. It was the most frustrating and time consuming experience and at the time I felt it was not getting me anywhere. In the end, though, I learnt a *lot* about why things weren't working - I posted the pics and suddenly understood a lot of things in practice that I'd read about in theory. Again, part of getting it right seems to be getting it wrong first!

Interesting, since that little play in my closet I've started to think more about how my clothes work together and, at last! when I'm shopping I am starting to look at items in the context of my closet and how I would wear them. I can now imagine my way to only buying the perfect item to fill a gap, and perhaps after that imagine buying things without trying to fill a gap but just because I know subconsciously they will be good.

I can also at last *get* how Angie spends time trying out new things with everything in her closet as soon as she gets anything (that's right isn't it?).

Love reading this thread!