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Confession: I'm Not Fashionable

Updated: 5 days ago

I have a strange confession to make as a stylist:

I'm not fashionable.

No really, I'm not! And I am ok with that. But that doesn't preclude me from being stylish. There's a big difference.

Fashionable is the behavior of following the latest instruction on how to be current, wherever it may come from: the catwalk, high end department stores and high street shops, influencers, magazines, or even the outlier kids who make a quirky trend popular. Fashion is the newest, the latest, the look of the moment, and it's constantly evolving, especially as fast fashion now has 52 seasons a year. (Seriously. Some of those turn-and-burn stores put out a new line every week.)

For me, trying to keep up with that is mental gymnastics - do you have the right collar? Bag? Shoes? Is my shirt tucked in (or out) right? What about cuffs or length or waist height of your pants? Skinny or wide leg? Narrow straps or wider ones? Mini, midi or full length skirts?

While yes, you do want to look like you're part of the current culture, it costs a fair amount to do so (or if you're not paying much, are you worried about contributing to the fast fashion churn?). The other aspect is how to make each of those trends play nicely with each other: you don't want to have to chuck everything out each season and start new. So where's the balance between looking "with it" and being true to yourself?

It's actually quite simple. It's style.

As Clinton Kelly puts it so succinctly:

Fashion is what's available in the stores. Style is how you wear it.

Ah - there's the key. Style is what you do with each of those pieces you buy, how you put an outfit together, how you accessorize. It sets you apart from others, and if you're particularly good at it, someone could recognize your style without you actually wearing the clothes.

Think of Queen Elizabeth - a cartoon of her hat, coat, and handbag is still identifiable as her, even if her face isn't drawn. That concept made her - technically - the world's most stylish woman. Iris Apfel was another. Depict just the glasses and layers of necklaces, and you'd know exactly who you were looking at.

Your friends might do this at a shop - they hold up a piece and say, "Oh, this is so you!" They're recognizing your style. This isn't to say you need to have a uniform, but they're seeing a piece and know that it fits your aesthetic, sensibilities, and character in a way that aligns with what you've previously worn.

This should never stop you from trying something new, though! You never know where your next evolution may come from, the next piece in your wardrobe that might just be the piece you wonder how you ever lived without! One wonderful lady in Springfield - she's in her 70's - confessed to me that she bought her first leather jacket last month and it's been a go-to ever since.

Your style will change and shift and grow, just as you do. I mean, I'd hope that the clothes you're wearing today are as different as you are from the you in your 20's. But they will continue to reflect you, to make a statement to those around you about who you are.

I find that the pieces I absolutely love in my wardrobe are often timeless, classic styles. While they were very current at the time I bought them, they've managed to transcend that particular trend and continue to serve me well today. I like that - it means that I have a good foundational wardrobe that I can supplement with new pieces easily and I spend a lot less on clothing that I used to. It also helps that I know my three words (learn more about that here!) so what I buy has a consistency to it, and the occasional outlier is just something fun to play with for a little while.

Here's a good example: The jacket is White House Black Market circa 2009, the boots are Enzo Angiolini from 2001, and the dress is Ann Taylor Loft from 2020.

The thing is, this is what works for me. For you? Try different things, embrace current fashions or head to the vintage store - whichever you find suits you best. There's no right or wrong answer here, but however you dress, that's your style!

How would you define yourself?

  • 0%Fashionista

  • 0%Stylish


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