Searching for my Style

What the **** is style? This has been a mystery to me, and of late, one that I want to solve. I make things and then I wear them. Sometimes I love it, but then its a “yawn” on and other times its just blah. Or worse, I made something that I have nothing to wear with. I don’t have what I would consider an overall style i.e. classic, modern, vintage, romantic, Naughty Librarian, French Chic, etc to guide my choices. I have struggled with this in my sewing journey and I don’t want to just copy a look and be a Jackie O clone. I don’t want to make clothes that fit well but really don’t “do it” for me. How do I really dress well? How does one really build a unique and flattering style? What does Google say?

Thanks, that helps. I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one thinking about this. Erica B’s blog post on Americans lack of dressing up and “The Lost Art of Dress” article she references both consider this question (and her shocking experiences with people criticizing her efforts to step out of her house looking gorgeous!). Notre Dame history professor, Linda Przybyszewski, is even writing a book about it (working title-A Nation of Slobs).

One of her beefs, and the impetus for her book-in-progress, is that fashion expertise is a lost art in contemporary society. One of her principle theses is that the disappearance of home economics from the American educational system has left generations of women unschooled and unskilled in the ways of dress. –quote from another interview

At one time American women did a great job making stunning clothing that was age and occasion appropriate. What happened?  Personally I never learned because my mom was a total tomboy who never wore make-up and wore black ponte knit pants, black polos and the same pair of black sandals ordered annually from the same company. She hated the mall, so my back to school shopping trips consisted of a trip to Wal-Mart. I never really learned “the girl stuff” while growing up. I remember I once bought lip liner and wore it as eyeliner until someone kindly pointed out it made be look ill (I was a teenager). Another time my aunt gave me translucent powder and I went to the cosmetics counter lady to ask how to put it on (again, a teenager). I was totally clueless about so many things and my small group of female friends weren’t entirely knowledgeable either.

This stuff used to be taught in school because its NOT easy! Now I am trying all these new things, some hits and some misses, but I really don’t feel like I have a cohesive “look” or even a great understanding of what I should be wearing, in the sense of what would work to make me look and feel amazing, daily.

Therefore I’ve decided to do a silhouette project. What does that mean? I am going to make a series of skirts, tops, dresses, etc. in various basic shapes to experiment with what looks good on my figure. Sheath, Shirt, or Shift dress? Empire, Natural or No Waist? A-line, Circle, or Pencil Skirt? Knee, Maxi or Midi length? Collars, Necklines, Sleeves? What is really flattering? I’m not starting from scratch because I’m going to do my homework.

I am then going to make a serious effort in pairings and accessories to make a “look” or cohesive outfit. I am counting on you, dear reader, to give me a final yeah or nay since my husband is not entirely honest, which is probably better for our relationship in the long run.

Once I have some building blocks, I can experiment more with style and color. Do I like romantic? Well when I see them in Burda Mag all I think is “yuck pastels” but put them in black lace and I like it. Hopefully with trial and error (and research) I can to come up with some “wardrobe fillers” and “fashion staples” with a few “trendy items” that actually look great on me and fit my lifestyle. I might even hit on a “style label” and be able to say “My style is …”

P.S. I don’t care how many times you tell me a white collared shirt is a staple, it isn’t happening! And Tim Gunn, a sweatsuit alternative needs to cover the legs as well as be easy to wear. Why? Not every woman shaves fanatically you crazy man!

13 thoughts on “Searching for my Style

  1. And here I am thinking I am the only one with this problem. I too don’t have a “style” and make clothes with no thought of it actually fitting in with my current wardrobe.

    Its the same here in Australia, home economics is not really taught – well not the sewing part anyway, cooking though is a different matter altogether (enough with the cooking reality shows). There is a trend for “vintage” clothes here which I think you have over there as well and a resurgence of people learning to sew. But you are right there is no-one teaching people how to wear clothes or style.

    I struggle with what suits my shape all the time (pear shaped) and still trying to work out what my style is and I am nearly 48… I think once you find something that looks good on you, makes you feel good, stick with it.. and bugger off anyone who thinks otherwise.

    Good luck with it all.


    1. Yes, women should tell others to bugger off more often! As for vintage, yes its making a come back in the US, but I made one vintage style and its never been worn out of the house. Its a sassy polka dot linen dress. I’m just not happy with it and I keep looking at going “well what do I wear it with?” It is like a lost child that wandered into my closet because it couldn’t find its way back to where it belongs. PS I suck at cooking and used to watch cooking shows =D My husband has gotten fatter because of it. But they are super repetitive so I’m over that stage. I have been surprised how long some of those shows have lasted!

  2. I have to totally agree about the white collared shirt – I look absolutely crap in collared shirts. I think I still have a few bought ones in boxes somewhere, but I should get rid of them because – I look crap in them!

    I don’t know if this gives you a starting point or not – but you look great in the white jeans you wore in the post that started my rant 🙂

    I think style is something you either have or don’t – it can’t really be taught. My best friend is the most gorgeous creature you could ever imagine (honestly – she’s gorgeous) but gets reprimands at work for not dressing “correctly” even though she wears corporate style clothing. She just seems to have a tendency for picking the “wrong” shoes and clothes that wrinkle. I have never seen her look anything other than fabulous, but the company she works for would obviously prefer her to wear polyester suits so that they don’t wrinkle.

    1. Oh those white jeans are good aren’t they? I keep thinking about using them for the Jeanius class over on Craftsy but I’m so worried that I’ll get all done and my new pants won’t make my butt look as great as the original. That and they would be unwearable until I actually got the new pattern made and I wear those jeans all the time! It is definitely on the list! As for your friend, I feel so bad for her. Does she sew? Has she tried poly blends so she can keep the natural fiber goodness? How is she handling it?

  3. What an ambitious project for you! Several times I’ve tried to pinpoint my personal style and I don’t know where I stand right now. But I know that my efforts will go towards fabric choices, think about what go together and looks nice, not just pick a single fabric that looks good but doesn’t go with anything.

    1. Oh that is so hard! I was just reading about fabric choices in our stash verses clothing choices over at Colette patterns. She is so right in saying we tend to buy fabric that doesn’t really fit with our wardrobes so we either have to shoehorn it in or leave it in the stash. Shopping for fabric is great, but being practical while shopping for fabric is hard! That is something my husband has been “helping” with: “Is that for the couch?” or “Where are you going to wear that?” He’s helped me pick up some great solids which I’m going to pull from for this project.

  4. A tricky subject – what is just right for one person is poison ivy for another. To take a case in point – collared shirts – what isn’t there to love about these IMHO? I love them and they work with my style, but obviously not with yours. As regards trying to find what works for you I started with a frank look at what I did with myself during the day and this was not what I sewed! How many fancy dresses and skirts do I need when I spend my time in trousers??

    I will follow your journey with interest!

    1. LOL for me its the buttons and the color. White is so impractical for me, mostly for my son, but even before that I’d always end up with stains, pen marks, etc. on light colored fabrics no matter how hard I tried to be neat. And I hate when buttons pull. Maybe its because I’ve never made one, so I’ve never worn a properly fitted button up blouse? I guess I should add it to the list before I permanently relegate it to the “never” category.

  5. I’m soooo with this post. Moving from the UK to NZ (18 years ago) I was shocked at how people dress. It’s not just the lack of choice, but the concept of making an effort seems alien. When in doubt – wear jeans! (The same pair for every occasion). It’s great that you are re-evaluating your style – we change as we grow and go through different stages of our lives, and, of course, fashions change. It may be tempting to wear what you’ve always worn, but a new look will re-charge your mojo in now time – I’m watching with interest.

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