Some women find a definitive personal style early in life and stick with it. They may “tweak” around the edges over the years, but the overall look is consistent. I often envy them, but I have never been one of those women.
My Personal Style Journey
I began writing this blog in 2007. I’d just turned 50, and felt I’d lost my way with regard to style. Years of working in a semi-corporate environment had left me out of touch with my own taste and preferences. I hoped the blog would start a conversation about style for us “certain agers.”
Around that time, I found and latched onto the “dress like a Parisan” aesthetic. Simple styles, dark neutrals, and lots of restraint. That phase lasted for several years. It was easy, well-received, and worked nicely for the office and travel, but I always felt there was something missing.
When I left my corporate job, I began to feel freer to experiment again with style. But to a certain degree, I’d painted myself into a (neutral) corner. I’d been trying for years to add more color and personality to my wardrobe, but couldn’t quite find my footing. I decided to get some professional help and signed up for a color and style consultation with Red Leopard during our visit to London last summer.
It was a real eye-opener! It not only affirmed some of my color and style preferences, but provided a framework that I could use as a launching pad to create a more colorful (yet cohesive) wardrobe that better expressed my personality.
Over the last 15 months, I’ve been slowly rebuilding my wardrobe. I find that wearing color gives me a real lift, and usually plan my outfits around it. But color alone isn’t the only thing that makes an outfit feel like “me.”
Style Sweet Spot Attributes
Personal style should be an organic and authentic expression of ourselves. When you put something on and the immediate feeling is an unequivocal YES! THIS, that’s what I call the Sweet Spot. I’m much more likely to hit my Style Sweet Spot when these elements are present:
Simplicity. I don’t like anything gimicky, fussy or fiddly. I’m petite, so a lot of detail tends to overwhelm me.
Comfort. I can’t stand wearing anything that binds, pinches, or restricts my movement. I won’t wear anything that requires shapewear.
Softly structured. I feel trussed up in clothes that are too tailored, but anything too soft or boxy just looks sad on me.
A neutral foundation. Yes, I still believe in the power of neutrals to create a cohesive wardrobe. But now instead of mostly black, navy, and grey, my neutrals are brown, tan, ivory, and some denim. And leopard print, of course… 😉
Style isn’t a static thing. Our lives change, our bodies change, our perspective changes. And we shouldn’t feel locked into something that no longer speaks to us or serves us. Personal style can shift over time, and that’s fine.
5 Tips to help you develop, evolve, and refine your personal style:
Identify what speaks to you. Keep a mood board, or use Pinterest to collect images or outfits that inspire you. Is there a unifying theme? What keywords define what you’d like your style to express?
Be realistic. About your lifestyle, budget, and body. You may swoon over crisply tailored suits, or beautiful coats, but where and how often will you wear them? Think about how you can translate what appeals to you to your particular needs. (e.g. rather than a suit, how about pairing a sharp blazer with your jeans?)
Re-evaluate periodically. Has your wardrobe kept up with your lifestyle, taste, and priorities? Don’t be afraid to let go of what no longer inspires or serves you. It’s only weighing you down.
Get help. Sometimes we get locked into seeing ourselves a certain way. A fresh pair of eyes (whether a professional image consultant or a trusted friend) can help us break out of a style rut, and provide a fresh perspective.
Tools, not rules. Style guidelines are just that…guidelines. Take what works for you and ignore the rest. Don’t feel you have to buy or wear something just because it’s capital C-lassic or on someone else’s Must Have list. Learn to trust that “click” when you slip something on that feels like it belongs.
Has your personal style changed over time? How so, and what has helped you in that process?