StyleFILE: Finding your Style – Perspective

StyleFILE: Perspectives in STYLE

Finding what styles speak to your personal tastes and how to dress to impress for any occasion.


There are four main issues that we wrestle with when building an outfit and wardrobe.

1. What fit do I need?

2. What colors look good on me and how do I incorporate color into an outfit?

3. How can I dress well within my budget?

4. What is my personal style?

We often confuse fashion, style and look – fashion is current trends and comes and goes.  Style is the foundation of your soul – and is something you can build upon – it speaks to your character.  LOOK is the fashion you are going for in a particular outfit.  Often when magazines talk about ‘style genre’ it refers to LOOK.  Look is an element of style – I see it is as a bridge between fashion (trends) and style (foundation of your look)

The more I work in fashion the more I realize trends come and go, and style is a one room house you’re boxed into.  While many designers cultivate lines around style genres such as classic, preppy, modern…at the end of the day – you build your own style – your brand is your soul and what speaks to you and what clothing looks the best on you – to let your spiritual light shine through.  So shake off the urges of materialism and logos when defining style, rather look inward and take inspiration from people and places you love.  Listen to your gut instinct – on the flip side = don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism.  You may love the way something looks on the rack, but if it doesn’t fit you then you have to learn to cut ties.  If it doesn’t look good on you – it is not something you need to wear. (You don’t need it in your closet either #messycloset/cleancloset)

Before we get into the genres of style – I think it is important to take an inventory of your closet:

What do you wear the most?

What is your favorite article of clothing?

What do you need for your everyday professional wear?

What do you need for weekend, leisure fashion?

These are some of the questions to think about as you evaluate your wardrobe (and clean your closet)

What articles of clothing you need to invest in and how much you pay really depends on your lifestyle.

When I lived in Montana – our frigid climate left me wearing a lot of Patagonia, Columbia and other brands designed for practical fashion to combat harsh winter – i.e. ski and hiking gear…in NC I wear a lot of dressy casual and professional clothing for work, on my off time I’m Americana or Yoga pant girl.  What I invest in my wardrobe has completely changed since I’ve moved to a different climate and changed careers.

You want to invest in at least three really great work outfits.  I have five and I alternate and mix and match.  I wear a lot of black and navy pants and add in bright colorful classic shirts and sweaters…In men’s clothing a good suit is a must.

You also need a variety of lifestyle wear for your interests and off duty needs.  Denim, shorts, active wear, hiking gear…swim trunks, tee shirts…what do you need the most for your lifestyle.

Less is more – I love fashion and creating outfit ensembles, but with limited storage and only so many days in a week – try to invest in pieces that are interchangeable and can be worn over and over again and incorporated into several different styles.  I love outfits that can be dressed up or down.  It makes life simpler, while maintain the beaux/coup color to stand out.

I’ve noticed a huge shift in men’s and women’s fashion to comfortable clothing that can dressed up or way down.  Designers are listening to consumers demands for clothes with movement and comfort – quality without paying a second mortgage.  There has also been an internal shift in fashion houses to adopting the European colorful and modern minimalist style –  the European cuts are super slim – ideal for models and a mannequin – but in my experience American shoppers do not like the rigid slim cuts unless they are teens or twenty somethings on the move.

I have spent the past week brainstorming and researching parameters of Style Guides – many LOOK books offer their catalog picks by ‘style groupings.’  In Belk’s new LOOK book, Ralph Lauren has a spread on New Prep – their brand mission for their roots as a company and their fashion forward approach to classic clothing.  Other styles included Team Player for Activewear and Islander.

I make this point because as I address some basic style molds, I want you to be inspired by varying style niches, if you are squarely a classic Brooks Brothers suit and tie guy – fine – work on refining that.  That being said – don’t feel trapped into one style nook – the trick is building outfits that come together in a theme that speaks from your heart and looks good on you.  I am a debutante born and raised in the south – I love bright colors and rich textures – I gravitate towards a lot of ‘prep’ styles – that being said I also live to camp and hike and go kayaking…I enjoy back-country trekking gear too…I’m a history and arts lover who cannot get enough of vintage prints and Americana new Cowgirl fashion…I am kind of all over the place with my personal style…the trick is to dress for the occasion – in a style you love and is part of the fabric of your personality.

So I’m going to an Oyster Roast at the beach – I might aim for a Vineyard Vines look or a Lily Pulitizer…I also could stick with colorful chinos, a Vera Bradley and white tee shirt…

I’m going to a concert in a downtown club: I’m wear dark denim, boots, a patterned silk shirt and jacket

Going to a rodeo: Lucky jeans, a peasant tee and boots…

You get the idea…all of these styles are branches rooted in my personal style.  Don’t be boxed in.

I also recommend that you be willing to step out of your personal comfort zone and try other fashions.  Don’t compromise your true self, but it is okay to listen to your significant other when they pester you to try on new pair of jeans you think are a little too hip – try it – if you hate a piece and it ends up not being for you – well as I told you in Messy Closet/Clean Closet – there is always Goodwill

While there are a few hard and fast rules about style (yes plaids don’t mix and you don’t need to wear a speedo with a blazer, tank top and army boots) – Style is also about defining our own unique fashion sense.  Our society is so fixated on the material – keeping up with the latest trends – get over that and look at fashion as a utility and creative outlet.  We need clothes so style has to be practical, it also is creative – a way of communicating who you are.

“Clothing is maybe the single greatest form of self-expression. Whether you’re fashion-impaired or fashion-inspired, I urge everyone to take a few extra minutes every day to contemplate the message you’re sending to the world.” – Kenneth Cole

In the next StyleFILE I am going to brief you on men’s style genres…this is just a reference guide as you create your own style.  We will expound on these styles while also emphasizing transitional style/crossroads style in future reports.

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