Authentic Style

Dame Vivienne Westwood. Source.
Dame Vivienne Westwood. Source.

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are. – C.G. Jung

One of the privileges of reaching a certain age is that I no longer feel obligated to suffer fools gladly. 🙂 Another is in recognizing and cultivating what feels authentic to me in all aspects of life.

LPC, the astute and witty author of the blog Privilege
LPC of the astute, witty and always thought-provoking blog Privilege

Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else. – Judy Garland.

Life is too short to spend faking it or trying to live someone else’s version, whether it be your career path or who you love or what clothes you wear.* Trying to lead an inauthentic existence takes a toll, and consumes precious mental and emotional energy. It’s like trying to swim laps while holding a beach ball underwater.

Jane Birkin. Source.
Jane Birkin. Source.

When it comes to style, my “authentic” may be quite different than yours; that’s the beauty of it. What feels authentic to any one person may land within narrow or broad parameters, and can shift over time. Authentic style isn’t something that can be calculated on paper; it has to be felt. 

Bella from Citizen authentic original.
The gorgeous Bella from The Citizen Rosebud…an authentic original.

The authentic self is soul made visible. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Authentic style doesn’t (to me, anyway) rule out hair dye, makeup, or any other alterations to appearance. Authentic doesn’t necessarily mean “natural.”

I may not be able to define precisely my own authentic style, but I know it when I slip it on. It feels like a powerful second skin. I enjoy experimenting and trying new looks, and in that process have learned that I’ve hit my authentic zone when it never feels like trying too hard.


Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde


*with the caveat that sometimes we must dress in ways that are appropriate for the venue or occasion. When we choose to do so out of respect, it doesn’t diminish our authenticity.

What does authenticity feel like to you? Do you feel that you’ve developed an authentic style?


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  1. I once read that if you immediately change your clothes when you get home, you are merely dressing in costumes, not clothing that is really you. I’m not certain about this, but do know one thing–I have an easier time with fall/winter fashion than summer ensembles which, in my area of the country, tend to be very casual due to the heat.

    And, while I love your pointy toed heels and have them myself, I only wear them when I am going “somewhere” and not on a regular basis.

    If pressed, I would have to say that my Eileen Fisher items of clothing come to the closest to being part of an authentic style for me. And yes, they are clothes I can wear anywhere and leave on when I come home. I like her more fitted things though and the layering idea she espouses does not work in our hot climate in the summertime.

  2. Excellent post! I can’t say I’ve reached that point yet but it’s my goal. I don’t even have very clear guidelines but when I’m closest, it’s effortless as you rightly say and I feel wonderfully confident and ‘bien dans ma peau’. I love those pointy flats!

  3. Although late in mid-life, I have finally realized what works for me. I don’t always get it right, but can tell rather quickly when something is a little off. It is hard to get rid of relatively new pieces that didn’t work out, but I have gotten to the point where these pieces simply feel uncomfortable. I shop less often now, but make fewer poor purchases. Tailored pieces, a little edge on occasion, not a lot of print and certain favorite colors mixed with my basic pieces–so easy! Wish I had discovered this a long time ago.

  4. While I find it easy to label others fashion-style, i.e. flower child, fashionista, biker chic, etc. I’ve never been able to come up with a label for myself. Why is that?

  5. I am completely honored and pleased to be here in such wonderful company and with your wonderful readers. Thank you for the great post. You are certainly no fool:).

    xoxox to all. It’s just too much work to present as someone that you’re not. Sometimes you have to grow into who you want to be, sometimes you have to reshape your presentation to fit your real self, but it’s all the most valuable work I know.

  6. It feels so liberating when one gets to the stage of life where one knows their authentic self. I like not having to follow trends and to wear what suits my figure and fits in with my budget.
    These women are all so attractive in their unique ways…
    I love those black patent shoes.

  7. I love that women of a certain age are recognized for their style. It is quite liberating to be able to dress authentically and to wear clothes that suit our figures and lifestyles. These women all look wonderful and their beauty is unique.
    I love those black patent shoes!

  8. Ahhh… authentic style… to me one of the gifts worth pursuing as i grow older. I agree completely with your sentiments on the subject… my favorite quote… ” authentic self is the soul made visible “.

    I do feel I am well on my way to developing an authentic style… i go by how items feel when worn now… and how I Feel wearing them. I ask more out of my style choices these days… than just feeling ‘pretty’. Your post is an excellent one … as it leaves me pondering putting my authentic style to words. Thank you for that.

  9. Hmmm – I’m in accord with the others’ comments. A few years ago I came up with some descriptive words and had them engraved on the back of a silver disk: simplicity, refinement, serenity, and courage. They represent ideas that are important to me and when I am shopping for clothes or for our home, I ask myself, “Is this thing that?” From hair and makeup to clothes and accessories, it’s all so much fun. But when I have finished dressing, I’ve gotten it right (authentic) when I can forget about my appearance and enjoy my friends and family.

  10. What a wonderful thoughtful post, Susan. At the risk of misquoting Justice Potter Stewart, I know it when I feel it – authenticity that is. Some days it’s full-on makeup, jewels and scent. And some days (today), fuzzy hair, Chapstick and sandals. Love all your marvelous examples!

  11. Brilliant post, Pseu! I think we all need to be reminded that fashion rules don’t always apply. If you’re true to yourself in your wardrobe choices your confidence becomes your most beautiful accessory. I’m grateful to have the support and feedback from so many wonderful ladies when I put my “authentic style” out there on display 😉


  12. Great post. I’m still seeking my authentic, but I know that forcing something always feels wrong, even if it’s to meet the demands of a particular Occasion. I love your choices of authentic women here.

  13. As much as I love this post, the responses are equally inspiring. Susan’s point that, if you change immediately when you get home, your clothes are a costume couldn’t be more true. While I enjoy wearing dressier clothing to work, I love my uniform and find it is these pieces I wear most, whether to work or on weekends. Leslie’s purchase assessments are a good principle, similar to the Style Statement that Duchesse introduced readers to awhile back. I like this explanation of authenticity, far more than a recent NYT piece in The Stone series, which I found insulting and snide. We should celebrate our selves as the unique individuals we are, and extend that celebration to honor others, too. What a world it would be if petty judgment and rules for no other reason than to control others were finally boxed up and stashed away, far out of harms way?

  14. Style is when your clothes aren’t made out of the same material you use to wipe down the kitchen bench.

  15. Great post! I had to go through my phases in my early 20s when I was trying to sort out my style but I know what it is now and I am pretty faithful to it. I always feel like such a faker when I step out of that zone, like I’m trying to be someone completely different than who I am. I love YOUR style Deja, and those pointy flats are pretty wonderful too! XO, Jill

  16. A beautiful post that resonates with my process. Blogging has helped me find my authentic self and the confidence to fully embrace my style. And appreciate the diversity of the continuum, which makes life interesting. Love your examples! And the quotes!

  17. I told the Privilege readers that I’d comment over here on why I think this outfit choice you made for me illustrates your point so well.

    1. Comfortable shoes. Say no more.
    2. Field/utility jacket from J. Crew. J. Crew is my go-to mass retailer. Preppy with some style indeed.
    3. Experimenting with color by layering fuchsia on olive – that’s my new if not terribly bold adventure.
    4. Loro Piana cashmere scarf I’ve owned for a decade, in a color I was told 30 years ago looked good on me:).
    5. Bootleg cords. No skinnies, right?
    6. Gray hair pulled back for ease. Another choice I made after a decade of the various alternatives – easy, but also a political statement of sorts.

    So there you have it, the legend to your chart. Thank you again.

  18. Although I write about fashion and show pictures of clothes, accessories and jewelry, I´m not in love with them ( fashion ). I know what I want = few good quality, comfortable clothes.
    I have no desire to experiment on different styles.
    As I have mentioned before, I never go shopping, But if I ” happen ” to bump into something of interest, I act fast ; ).

  19. I love this, including your caveat about dressing appropriately for certain situations, and how that is showing respect, not being untrue to yourself. Dressing in a way that you love and that you are comfortable in has always been really important to me.

  20. Although it was not intended as such your words and quotes on being authentic speak ever so strongly to those of us in the transgender community. Thank you

  21. Although I’m not familiar with some of your blogging examples, I was brought over here by the beautiful Bella, whom I admire greatly. I love the quotes you so wonderfully interjected and it’s a pleasure to read the comments. I often feel I’m all over the place with my own style, but after googling my blog and clicking on images, I was amazed to see a collage that actually looked almost cohesive and representative of where I’m heading. Now I just want to get even more adventurous and creative, more “me”. Thanks for the affirmation!!

  22. This is such a strong message you share here and it gives me hope that we can all find the strength to always be authentic, or at least recognise when it’s time to stop living another’s existence. xo