When I began blogging 2007, I was feeling very adrift with regard to style, and disconnected to what has happening in fashion. My workplace had become (much) more casual, and having turned 50 I no longer knew how to dress my body or find clothing that expressed my sense of self and aesthetics. Over the past few years, I feel as though I’ve honed in on what works for my shape and life at this stage. I’ve built up a good wardrobe of basic pieces, and have developed a few formulas that make getting dressed in the mornings (and putting together travel wardrobes) relatively easy.
What’s not always easy sorting out my style voice from influences, both past and present. I remember my mother telling me that when deciding between items of clothing (or home decor) to always go with the simpler, more classic choice as you’ll tire of it less quickly. One of the reasons that I think that the idea of “French” style (a few timeless pieces in classic styles, combined ad infinitum) has resonated with me is because of that early training. When assembling the basis of a wardrobe, I still believe it has validity.
For the last few years I’ve aspired to a very simple, minimalist, restrained, “elegant casual” kind of style. It’s worked for the most part, and helped me hone in on the basics that suit me. But going back through my favorite outfits for 2015, I realized that the ones I liked most in retrospect were those where I’d pushed the envelope: went for that one extra bit of drama or color or ignored one or more “rules” for dressing my shape. The truth is I’m having more fun with style now than at any point in my life, but looking at the majority of what was in my closet, you’d never guess that. Sorting through and culling brought home that I over-buy “basics” and have a tendency to play it safe. (I’ve also culled a few of those “must have” pieces that I bought and never wear, which will be the topic of a follow-up post.) I recognize that a lot of this accumulating and holding on is fear-based, and that’s something I’m working on too. Yes, it sometimes makes sense to buy a “back up” or multiple colors of a favorite piece, but I do this too often.
I’ve recognized for some time that there’s a playful, magpie part of me that doesn’t get expressed with a more restrained and minimalist basic wardrobe. I’ve always been drawn to the sparkly, the funky, the selectively over-the-top. That’s part of my style that’s often been neglected or mistrusted, and that needs to find a place at the table. As it turns out, there’s a Casual Glamourpuss here (to use Alyson Walsh’s “Style Tribes” taxonomy from her fabulous book, Style Forever) who wants to come out and play sometimes. No, I’m not overhauling my wardrobe or starting over, but for the basics, I’m covered. Now it’s time to quit buying more of the same-old-same-old and focus on those pieces that add some verve to the mix.
I think it’s natural for our style to shift at times as our life changes, or even just seasonally with our moods. The beauty of a well-honed basic wardrobe is that it should be able to accommodate some “tweaking” to change up the look. A different shoe, color, or mix of proportions is sometimes all that’s needed to refresh a wardrobe and create new possibilities with the same core pieces. And thanks to the “Jennafication” of style and fashion in recent years, mixing high and low, dressy and casual, soft and structured elements is now all on the table, which allows a certain degree freedom to experiment and take your basic pieces in different directions.
How do you accommodate style shifts? Do you rely on accessories and accent pieces or do you invest in different basics?
MORE CASUAL GLAMOUR…
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