Defining A Personal Style


Once upon a time, I thought I lived for fashion.

By which I mean, I let trends run my life. I ran myself into debt chasing the latest and coolest. Not only could I not afford to keep up, I was purchasing the fast fashion versions that would last me all of two wash cycles. Rarely, I would spring for the original if I found it on eBay.

The shoes were never comfortable, the pants never quite fit, but the stream of compliments felt great.

One night, I found myself awake at 3 AM (again) looking for an ‘affordable’ version of my obsession for the moment. That’s when the change started happening. I stopped to think about my last late-night victory, and wondered if I’d ever even worn it. My closet had become a museum – full of interesting things to look at, but nothing I could use.

This was during the height of my previous blog’s life, and I hit a wall.

What would I write about now? Would I still be relevant if I didn’t dress this way? What will I wear to fashion events if I’m not “on trend”?

Clothing can have so much power over our internal and external image. If we’re comfortable, it projects as loudly as when we feel like impostors (more on this in a later post).

It was time to grow up and get comfortable.

I focused on building a cohesive wardrobe with a few easy, fun, and sometimes painful, steps.

Step 1: Throw yourself a Dress-up Party

Make a pile of all your clothing and put it on, piece by piece. Invite some friends over, then ask yourself (and them) 4 questions:

  • Do I love this?
  • Does it fit?
  • When was the last time I wore it?
  • Is it hanging on by a thread? (pun intended)

If the answer to either of the first two is “no,” or it’s falling apart, it has to go. Your choice whether to donate, trash, or swap with a friend. If it’s been six+ months since you wore a piece, put it in the 3-month pile. This eases the pain of letting it go immediately, but gives you a rule to follow.

Step 2: Craft a Uniform

Not a literal uniform where your wardrobe is five of each piece in rotation, that’s a different system. Mine turned out to be variations on a “suit”: pants/skirt, jacket/cardigan, top/tee. I also aim to balance neutral & bright solids with at least one patterns.

Step 3: Fill in the Gaps

By this step, you’ve gotten rid of the noise and figured out what your perfect outfit formula is. But no wardrobe is complete without a few basics to tie it all together. Invest in easy, reliable pieces that can be worn for any occasion:

Dark Jeans in your favorite fit (more on this later, too!)

Fancy Flats

Comfy Light-colored Tee

Neutral Sweater /sweatshirt

Solid Boots /Booties (based on your climate)

Some optional staples are:

  • Solid Black Pump/Wedge
  • T-shirt Dress
  • Neutral Tights

Now get out there and get comfortable!

Have you had or are you having a similar experience?

What’s your definition of style now?