And WHY NOT, Gryffin. Individualism will become a Classic.

For me wild cards are things that at first I'm not sure I'll wear that much and sometimes wonder if I should keep.Two in mind are the olive skort (I never wear skirts) that I've enjoyed a lot and a newer sleeveless flowy blouse that I thought had the wrong colors for me, but ended up being really good (I prefer to semi-tuck it for a little structure). Another one is the KUT shorts in white that I feared might be "too young" (ie too short, frayed edges) ended up being a favorite enough that I ordered a duplicate so I could wear them frequently.

Angie - that's the wonderful thing about "the now" that there is a feeling of freedom to wear what is appropriate but also individual!!

Texstyle - well done!! Those are lovely pieces. Picking pieces outside of your comfort zone and having them become favorites - that's a real "know thy self" situation and trust your feelings. Kudos to you for recognizing the right fashions for you!!

For me wildcards are "I know it when I see it" items -- the kind of things that jump out at me on racks, and are extremely difficult to find replacements for if they become workhorses and get worn into the ground. A good example would be a cotton button-front sweater vest, Barney's brand, that I found at a thrift store. Royal purple and black rugby stripes, perfect fit. Such a great layering piece with virtually every black or denim bottom in my closet. And now it has holes in it! I've not found a suitable sweater-vest replacement, but it looks like this Boden sweater would satisfy the color need (slightly bluer than the vest, but that's probably a fine thing).

Most of my dresses, come to think of it, are wildcards -- low risk since they need fewer coordinating pieces. And when I'm looking for a dress, I can never find one, so when one does grab my attention, I go all in.
Wildcard skirts -- those have not worked out so well for me; too many other pieces of the puzzle, so they often end up orphans. I've learned to stick to nice subtle skirts -- black and grey...

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Gryffin, you're right -- it's all in the details, and I might indeed find my version eventually. I do like dress over pants if the dress is a loose sack or shirt dress and the pants don't have lots of hardware at the top and they are crops so I can show some skin at the ankle. I don't mind surrendering the waist a bit. The weather for wearing that type of outfit is limited where I live but I do enjoy it! So there is something about proportions that is key. I just don't like the proportions of me in tunics because I'm opposite to you -- shorter legs. I love love love the idea, though, so do keep hoping!

Suz -- I love the look of tunic over leggings and wore it a lot, for years. Then I started taking outfit photos. Oops. But didn't know why those outfits looked so bad until you pointed it out--it's my little Dachshund legs!

Warning - essay ahead!

I have had a lot of confusion about the whole wild card concept, so I've been reading the comments to Angie's post and then this discussion with a lot of interest. I think I've finally figured out what it means to me. And I also had an epiphany about where my personal style comes from.

A wild card:

(1) Is a deliberate risk. It can end up being a mistake. Not all mistakes are wild cards.

(2) Has to speak to us strongly. A wild card appeals at a gut level. People said:
* it calls to me (Kaelyn)
* splurge of a very emotional nature (Peri)
* expression of the shadow self (Laura G)
* the shadow self that lives on the edge of fantasy (gryffin)

(3) Is an outlier. This is why it is wild. It can be impulsive or planned. I like the variety of expressions:
* shadow style (Jenn), undefined or unrecognized (lisa p)
* wild swing in a new direction (cindysmith)
* items that feel costumey on others (smittie)
* a style touchstone for inner style preferences (Gaylene)

The comments about a "shadow style" and "shadow self" really clicked for me. And lisa p got it right: it was unrecognized, until today. It's very much fantasy, and has nothing to do with lifestyle. As a child I collected images, long before I cared about clothes. At first it was illustrations of fairies and medieval ladies in old books. Later, I discovered the pre-Raphaelites (1-2), and JRR Tolkien (3-4). My shadow self lives in a Waterhouse meadow, and in the plains and forests of Middle-earth.

Recently I stumbled across a video of the Spring 2017 Couture show for Dior. All flowing long gowns, set in a vivdly green fantasy forest maze. Mesmerizing. It brought me to tears. I don't do that easily.

And then there's my costuming hobby. Because it's A Thing, and I'm with other people, I can wear the beautiful colors and fabrics and long, flowing gowns in public. I can even picnic and pick flowers and fly kites and run around in meadows and climb trees in long skirts without looking entirely off my onion. (5-11)

Like gryffin said, it's fantasy - I'm not buying for an imaginary lifestyle. But I can see how it has shaped my actual style. Obviously, dresses. Fitted waists, no tight skirts. Clean lines, but not sharp. Color! With very few exceptions, black is limited to support acts. I've created a style similar to the 1940s, in mostly modern pieces, and the moniker Duchess Next Door. I don't do minimal, and I don't do kitchen sink. I don't do blazers or trousers, which are also 1940s style types. Retro is not my shadow self.

The shadow style surfaces in elements that don't fit into the 1940s wheelhouse. This draw to outside things really puzzled me until now.

  • I'm incredibly drawn to a certain romantic details. Bell sleeves, the right embroidery, lacing, very fitted and very flared cuts, long flowing skirts, long hair, soft slippers and snug tall boots. (Tidbit: I didn't know about the New Romantics until I found YLF. Yet it does not appeal.)
  • Boho tormented me Until today! I never understood why I *almost* love the boho aesthetic. Or why 99.5% of it doesn't flatter me. Turns out it stems from the same shadow style, but goes in a different direction. Too much earth tones, too waist-surrendering.
  • This black eShakti dress last fall was a successful wild card. It's black! Why did I want it? I love this dress and wear it as often as I can. The fit thrills me, and the embroidery, and the sleeves. And the black is the right choice for this piece.
  • Once in a blue moon I find a boho piece, like the Glamorous maxi dress, that I simply adore. I only considered it because it was a piece worn by Duchess Kate, but it's very much a wild card that speaks to my love for color and flowing yet fitted garments.

Sorry for the essay! But I've been puzzling over this since Friday.

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La Ped - I agree wildcards are often totally unique. My embellished belts are like that. I am a notorious duplicator so if something is within budget I've been know to buy 2, just so I don't have to worry about putting something into high rotation. God, I know the great dress thing!! So hard to find. You are one smart cookie to take them right into protective custody!! Well done!!
Suz - agree totally. Clothing as Chanel said is a matter of architecture. I think every "body" has a golden mean for various items. The trick is not only realizing what it is but then finding what you are looking for that meets those criteria!! I so hope you find your leggings/skirted leggings. If you did, I think you'd have such fun!!
Laura - all I can say is...."more for me"!! LOL!! But there is plenty I absolutely can't wear that the rest of your rock!! It all evens out in the end!!
Ginger - wow, "know, first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly" Epictetus would be proud!! That's so incredibly insightful That's what I love most about YLF, the discussions which make me understand why I like what I like, and how I want to express that in my personal style. Wild cards, shadow style, help us unleash and reveal the fantasy of who we want to be in a tangible way. We are all too complex to be pigeon holed in a single style, I think in wild card we free those buried and complex parts of ourselves so they can live and flourish too!! "I am large I contain multitudes."

Ginger, WOW! Those are amazing costumes, so beautiful, and you look stunning in these styles. No wonder they hold such deep appeal. Such lovely photos, too. Medieval romanticism. maybe. Hmmm.

Gryffin, thank you! And thank you for starting this dicussion, which has clearly led to so much thought for many of us.

Ginger, that's a great synthesis!
I understand why boho isn't quite right for you, but almost is, given the romantic looks you like.

Ginger - I know this is not quite right but do you know about prairie underground? https://www.prairieunderground.....die-black/ There is something very ancient in the line of some of their pieces. Part is my shadow style is a combo of ren faire, highway man, I'm still searching for my perfect frock coat. I actually tried on the Guinevere hoodie, it wasn't quite me. I'm not sure it's you either, even lounge you, but the seaming and details on a dress which is modern but incorporates elements might be. Just a thought.

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I don't have any totally unique items because I don't shop at thrift stores and my mom no longer sews for me. I used to have a lot of unique dresses thanks to my mom. Still, a wild card may not be unique to someone else, but can be unique to me because it's something I wasn't looking for and is totally different from anything I've worn before. It's stepping out of my comfort zone to try something different.

BC - but that's absolutely a wild card. Something unique to you. Very few things are totally unique. To someone who always wears skirts a simple pair of straight leg jeans could be a huge wild card.

Looks like we may have an audience here that would appreciate this:

Finds didn't work, but this catalog has quite a few pieces with a historical-fantasy vibe.

I have enjoyed this thread belatedly, I do not know the "Not so Small House" book but it does sound interesting and in line with my approach to decor and design.

WRT fashion I am good at wildcards. I see them, I know I like them and I tend to wear them. For me my faux fur coat (more OTT) than usual, my silver shoes (I don't really go for much glitz and shine) and recently some new flared jeans (three wears in two weeks so far and I have just started!). Also a bikini last summer was a wild card that I wore and loved.

I resonate with the shadow style and the moving forward aspect of wildcards.

My mistakes can happen with wildcards, but are more likely to happen with essentials that just miss the mark in fit or shape.

Thanks for the great thread.

Laura - omg!! I love that catalog!! They used to send it to me. It's soooooo expensive so it was for drooling only. There's a pull over maybe alpaca parka w fur trim on the hood belted (I don't wear fur!!) and I just gape at it. Yes frock coats, velvet, lace all w alpine overtones. It's so beautiful. And yes I think ginger and everyone who hasn't seen it, with a love of period clothes, will go berserk!! Thanks so much for thinking of it!!
Sal - sounds like you've really nailed your wild cards!! That's so awesome!! I'm still waiting to find a fantastic faux fur coat. I'm so jealous. I tried on a couple but the vibe was snow beast no glam. Silver shoes sound wonderful too and who does not love the perfect boot cut. So glad they are all working out for you!!

Thank you for starting this discussion, gryffin. It's been so beneficial! I've been on YLF for several years now, and I remember being very confused by style adjectives and modifiers, and monikers. I think you're right, that the complexity makes it a lot harder to put in a pigeon hole. And that's just fine!

I forgot about Prairie Underground! Sally McGraw had a pink long hoodie that I loved. It's still pretty pricey, but the Long Cloak Hoodie is something I do want to try. It would need to be in a pretty color, though. There's a coral one on ebay right now.

Suz, medieval romanticism is a great way to put it. It's something I don't dare to actually do in real life, because of being soooo costumey or bad renfair.

smittie, YES. I don't know how many times I have been agog at an Anthropologie lookbook and ended up searching the entire website, and finding nothing I actually would wear. So mystifying!

Laura G, that Gorsuch catalogue is amazing. Very highwayman, gryffin! I'm a bit more on the Robin Hood side, myself.

When I think of my wild card purchases, some of the following finds come to mind. These are things I had not planned for and had no "need" for, that jumped out at me and in some way seemed outside of my usual wheelhouse. Often these seem to include styles I usually write off as unflattering on me (waist surrendering, etc), or things that are seemingly too bold, or not versatile or practical.

Some of my wild cards are indeed shopping fails (as much as I like those two-tone Gap jeans, I have to be having a body confident day to wear them, and with my weight back up, those days are few and far between). But some are items I love and am so glad I bought! Many of my wild cards are not terribly frequently worn, but the happiness factor I get from their use is worth keeping them in my closet. Some, like the Anthro tee dress, the blue backpack, and the patterned long jacket, become workhorses.

I think my ultimate wild card is the Philip Lim vest -- it pushed my comfort zone, and I can't feel like a shrinking violet wearing it, and I love it! It brings out another level of my style, which I think is what a really successful wild card does.

Janet - you do pick the most stunning pieces. Your PL vest is amazing. Perfect for you as an artist!! I am still kicking myself that I did not try on the CE jacquard jacket - it would probably have been too much pattern for my happiness level but I'll always wonder. Might be the wild card that got away....sign. When you put those pieces together I'm feeling tropical breezes, like the photo for the dress, but I don't picture you in my mind's eye that way. Very interesting...

Ginger -- Your Glamorous Maxi Dress would be right at home in any of the paintings you shared!

I have a whole collection of what I call "Robin Hood" outfits. Slim brown bottoms, voluminous belted green tops, slouchy brown boots. All I need is the hat and quiver.

I have the same push-pull relationship with boho. It's not the earth tones (see above!), it's the waist-surrendering. And something else...color, I think. I love color, and a lot of boho clothes look washed out to me.

Wild Card sounds so...wild and spontaneous, but I think this kind of analysis (ongoing) leads to more wins when you actually go for one.

Gryffin -- now that you've followed the Gorsuch link, you'll be treated to Gorsuch images on every web page for a while. At least I am...

I think I'm actually going to spring for one Gorsuch jacket, but not for a while. Emily K posted in another thread today about how the best wardrobes aren't bought whole, they're built and refined over a period of years. And this thread (thank you!) is further confirmation of the kind of introspection and analysis that leads to "fantasy" purchases that end up being actually worn. Since I've only been at this three months, I'll drool and wait...

Laura - I think you and Emily make a super important point that great wardrobes are the "labor of ages". By patiently refining, knowning your own tastes, understanding fit and flattery and our individual life style needs and how the items we own can work together we can create the best wardrobe for us. There just aren't any real shortcuts. The goal is to keep the process as enjoyable and productive as possible!!

Laura, I blame you for taunting me with the Gorsuch links -- I'd never heard of them before, but wow, there are some fabulous jackets there. I'm drooling. Gorgeous but so expensive.

Janet - don't look!! It's the downside. The blazers!! They have such gorgeous things and you might as well take out a mortgage to afford them!! Just look at all those long blazers!! So beautiful!! Let me know if you get anything!!

The Thalia jacket...oh my. Might have to share that link with hubs for Christmas shopping!

IKR!! That's actually the one I would get. I have an evening dress that color. I don't even care that it's not black!!