Looking Ahead – Part 2

2010 was another banner year of sartorial experimentation pour une femme.  I twisted my classics, and rediscovered minimalism.  I joined the navy and found that nautical is nice.  I played with color and swooned over the Mid-Century style revival.  I tried on (and bought) some pieces that pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone (HELLO pencil skirts!). I culled the wardrobe, and then culled some more.  I challenged myself to make do with less.  I learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t, what I like in concept that falls short in the real world, and that you can never go wrong with a pair of great shoes.

I’d been pondering how to sum up what I’ve gleaned from all of this hopping about, then Make Do Style beat me to the punch.  Her post really encapsulates up so much of what I came around to toward the end of the year, that all I can do at this point is add my own thoughts to her comprehensive Top 10.

Here’s where my style compass points as we begin 2011.

  • Go with the gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, right away, no talking myself into it or letting the sales associate talk me into it.  I’ll only be adding it to the donation pile in 8 months.
  • Stiff is out.  Fabrics need to drape and give, and not poof out or bunch up.  Tailored pieces especially must have some stretch or bias cut styling.  I refuse to wear anything that makes me feel like I’m walking around in a cardboard box.
  • And speaking of boxes…I will always love the look of little boxy “lady” jackets, but have come to accept that with my shape, ’tis better to admire from afar. 
  • Hold out for quality.  This doesn’t mean high-end or designer necessarily, just good fabrics, good construction, good fit.  Be picky.
  • Or not.  I don’t need to spend big bucks on items like white tees that I replace yearly anyway.
  • Simplicity.  This year’s experiments have reinforced that I don’t like a lot of embellishment on garments, nor a lot of superfluous construction details or frippery.  Clean and streamlined design is what most appeals to me.
  • Embrace inconsistency.  My style has Multiple Personality Disorder.  Some days I’m Coco. 


Others I’m Colette. 

Often I’m Audrey.  Relax and go with it. 

Which brings me to the most important bit.

  • Listen to my own voice.  And you should listen to yours.  Keep yourself open to new styles, but ultimately dress to please yourself, and if someone else thinks it’s boring, inappropriate, too young, too old, too bright, too drab, too outdated, too trendy, too MUCH…well there’s just no pleasing everyone.  There will always be someone out there ready to p*ss on your style parade, but isn’t it a brighter, more interesting world because we don’t all like the same things?  Educate yourself as to what colors and cuts look best on you and then with that knowledge in mind, wear what makes you feel formidable.  (And in the same vein, learn to admire and appreciate others’ style without feeling the need to have to imitate it.)  Our style should express who we are, not who someone else thinks we should be.

Where is your style compass pointing in 2011?  Any new directions?

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  1. Oh I really want to join the navy too!
    This year I’m going to invest in my flat shoes. I rarely wear heels now and never ever during the day, so I want to build a little shoe stable of Lanvin flats – simple, no logo, perfect.

  2. Fascinating how Part One was about wise consumption and Part Two about making choices. (If one can;t choose wisely, one just keeps buying in the hope something will work.)

    Second your list! Would add:
    – Resist age talk and fat talk, they will lead you into buying clothes too “jeune fille”
    – Buy real (gold, pearls), save for it. Real turquoise or citrines are better than glass “ruby”.
    – If “cute” is the adjective you apply to a piece of clothing, it is not going to look chic. (But if you are going for looking “cute”, that’s another story.)

  3. It hit me recently that I get into this rut (especially in the winter) where all I wear are pants because I feel the need to feel covered and warm. Not like I couldn’t wear a skirt and heavy tights and feel warm enough, but I get into this black/dark brown pants/top/sweater/scarf thing. Very low energy. Sort of drab. I’ve decided that I have to make the effort with at least a nice skirt – and I have some nice wool ones and something a bit more vibrant in terms of a top – even if I’m wearing it under a sweater and all I see is the neck or something. Today, I’m wearing this black/grey/lavender herringbone wool skirt with a grey sweater and a purply top. Still not startling but definitely a step up from the uniform.

  4. I want to be a little bolder — I have a style that really works for me (simple shapes, knits, scarves, great shoes) and a solid capsule wardrobe, but I want to find a way to add the plus-1 factor to it.

    My insight so far is that I can do more with my accessories (and wear more of them at one go) — even though my accessories are a little funkier, and hers more classic, I have been getting a lot of inspiration over at Mai Tai’s Picture Book. (Interestingly enough, our capsule wardrobes are almost identical, even though our shapes are not!)

  5. I feel like we are on the same journey…I too have been embracing minimalism of ornamentation on my choices of garments.
    Spending more on fewer pieces and dressing in softer fabrics which are comfortable and flattering.

    This is a great post…it is speaking to me.

  6. “There will always be someone out there ready to p*ss on your style parade.” Love this! It’s so sadly true. You have to figure out what works for your body and makes you happy and run with it.

  7. I am trying to always know exactly where and when I will wear anything. Buy for the life I lead. Best-dressed sofa sitter anywhere:).

  8. This post was just for me !
    Right now I am in a evaluation process.
    Trying to buy better fitting garments and if not just having them tailored ( i just got a fantastic taylor!)
    I am also picking my closet for items that do not flatter me or that I have to pull, tuck or pin to make work.
    I need simple items that make me feel and look fabulous…. is that too much to ask for ?
    Nope, it’s just not as simple as it seems… 🙂

  9. Great advice for everyone! Once again, my goal is to buy less, get more. I´m hoping to add two more colors to my wardrobe. In small doses

  10. Love it…and my favorite ladies you mention herein. I indeed have a classic style all my own and I love it. I am also trying to do more with less a la my inner french girl. A wonderful blissful New Year to you and your wonderful blog!

  11. Kalee – and not just your body but your personality and aesthetics. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s OK if someone doesn’t approve…

    Tabitha – oh, LOVE the Lanvin flats! Great choice.

    Duchesse – YES about avoiding age and fat talk! “Cute” has often led me astray, and I tend to avoid it now.

    Toby – your new combo sounds great. Have you ever thought of trying some subtly patterned tights? They’re everywhere now.

    Marsi – succinct and right on the nose as always. Yes.

  12. Rubiatonta – yes! The capsule is great but I’m also feeling the need to turn up the interest just a notch, one piece at a time. I love how Mai Tai makes very timeless pieces look chic and fresh.

    hostess – I’m glad this resonates with you. (I think we have very similar tastes.)

    Lorena – it’s true, it’s really not easy to find those timeless pieces that are of great quality and that fit well. But bravo to you for getting things altered!

    Miss Janey – I think a strict minimalist look is hard for anyone with a sense of humor to pull off. I see you as mostly classic with a glam and whimsical edge.

    metscan – you’ve really inspired me to try to be more discriminating and choose fewer, better pieces.

    LPC – buying for the life I lead has been a hard lesson to learn. Sometimes I have to learn it all over again.

  13. Beth In My World – classic looks never fail to inspire me. The trick and challenge is to keep classics looking fresh and current. Hope your New Year is also a fabulous one!

    WendyB – yes, I think I am! Wonder where I got that from???

    Style Crone – so true. You seem to have mastered the art of clothing as self expression!

    Cupcake – thanks!

    That’s Not My Age – thank you! It’s taken me a while to accept the inconsistencies, and is a relief to finally do so.

    Jane W – love it!!! Thank you.

  14. My wardrobe exhausts me, and that’s just wrong. In 2011 I plan on making myself a capsule of clothes for each season, and not migrating out of it! All winter I’v e been as happy as a clam in this uniform:

    Cashmere pullover or turtleneck
    Skinny J Brand Jeans/Jeggings in black, blue or black cord
    Tall black boots
    Big gold Roberto Coin hoop earrings
    Simple makeup, clear skin
    A gorgeous watch and
    A choice of three awesome handbags.

    Boy is this simple dressing. I am so LIGHTENED from my longings when I dress in really good things and use them OFTEN. The craving for all the fluff and fill-ins just melts away when I pull on a good fitting, quality piece. My shopping is way down and I have time for the important task of raising this crazy family!

    Karen K

  15. Karen!! – “I am so LIGHTENED from my longings when I dress in really good things and use them OFTEN.”
    Oh, I can SO relate to this!! It really is freeing, isn’t it? Hope you and your family are well, and Happy New Year!!

  16. I am still struggling with wardrobe and ‘look’ … I don’t have trouble with buying too much, but I do have trouble with shopping. I’ve decided to treat it like work – think about it, research widely, then get it done. Always remembering, of course, not to buy it if I don’t love it! Panic shopping is my downfall, the feeling that I will have totally wasted my time if I don’t take something home, even when I don’t LIKE anything.

  17. I keep finding that if I buy/own fewer items, I have more energy to make a nicer outfit. Sadly, I seem to need to learn this lesson over and over, as I lack discipline in the accumulation department.

  18. tiffany – your plan sounds like a good one. I think we all succumb to “panic shopping” sometimes.

    Frugal Scholar – I think it’s also tough not to accumulate when one finds the kind of bargains that you seem to! Hard to pass those up. I like Mette’s approach though I couldn’t be quite so disciplined: for everything that comes in, something goes out.

    Faux Fuschia – I know you’ll find a way to look fabulous, and yes, those accessories will be lifesavers. I was reading that some people suggested Isabella Oliver; I’ll keep my fingers crossed that works out for you. Hang in there with all of the rain!!

  19. I so agree that stiff is out for me. I bought a jacket (short) this fall that is very cute–but not comfortable at all. I seldom wear it. No more of that!

    I would like to find some easy, but very cute dresses to wear—just barely below my knees in length. I actually found one last spring–by Lafayette 148. I keep hoping they will have another candidate this year.