Wholly Unfounded Style Advice

During a recent hang out sesh with two of my favorite people, I was asked to share the methods for achieving my personal style. Now, not only was this effectively one of the biggest compliments I've ever received, but it was also quite a shock as I did not know that I had a personal style. As I truly don't consider myself qualified to divulge such information (being unaware that I posses it and all), I will refrain from presenting a formal, go-to How-To. However, I can at least share some of the ascertainments I've gathered over the past few years in an attempt to achieve this very designation. Laugh, pity, ignore entirely...

- If you're not comfortable in it, don't wear it. The same goes for outfits or articles of clothing that require special undergarments. Just. Say. No. If it's fussy and you don't feel like you can move (or breathe) as you'd like, don't wear it. Your discomfort will show...as may a teet or some buns if you're in the danger zone. (Cue Mr. Loggins.) Confidence is sexy, and there is just no way to pull that off if you're consistently messing with your top. Not cute.

- Invest in timeless pieces, scrimp on trends. If you're really digging the neon, 80s-inspired garments circulating out there, have at it. But do so at Forever 21, Wet Seal, Charlotte Russe, or one of the other inexpensive retailers who stock trends en masse. Don't waste your money on something that will look ridiculous in a year or two. (I thought we sufficiently explored the shoulder pads and Day-Glo shades already, but fashion is cyclical after all.) However, when it comes to the staples (jeans, nice blouses, coats, boots, everyday tees, etc.), be willing to shell out the cash for quality. I am not a huge fan of replacing your wardrobe every season (which is not to say I don't switch out my closet, but that's just good practice for a tidy space), so by saving your shopping binges for just a few times a year, you can (more easily) justify spending a little extra. I adore Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Martin + Osa, and Ann Taylor Loft. They've got great textures, colors and fabrics from which to choose. But, obviously, they are in line with my aesthetic preference. May not help some of you. Moving on.

- When you see it done right, emulate and make it your own. I literally flipped through fashion/beauty mags, found some looks I thought were great and wouldn't look insane on me, and figured out how to incorporate those elements into my wardrobe. What did I already have to achieve that look? What pieces am I missing? If I'm thinking about buying said pieces, would they work with any of the other looks I've pulled? A great place to start is with accessories or color palettes you favor. Celebrities spend ridiculous amounts of time and effort being styled and preened for all to see. Why not save yourself the sweat (and tears) by simply learning from example? I personally started with Reese Witherspoon. Again, that's just me. Find your own style muse(s).

- Attention begets attention. If you expect someone to notice how well you're pulled together (opposite sex or just in general), take the time to put your best face, skin, nails, hair forward. (That doesn't actually make sense, but you know what I mean.) Wash your face every night, keep your nails manicured, pay attention when your hairdresser is styling your mane, play with your makeup until the brushes don't scare you (or result in residual dark eyeshadow all over your face), and be willing to put in a little extra effort now and again. Now don't get it twisted: on my "off days," my hair is in a messy bun and I've got nothing on my face but SPF. But when you're going out, even if just for a low-key hang out with the girls/guys, trade out the tee, run some heat through that hair, and put on your face. It'll give you a little extra hitch in your giddy-up, I promise.

- Pay attention. If you get a lot of compliments on a particular outfit or when you wear a certain color....um, yeah, you should do that again. If those pants make you look like a buffalo in pictures? Goodwill or bust. Asking friends is a good idea. In theory. But don't make them responsible for your pretty. Feel it out.

Disclaimer : despite how some of this advice may come off, looking nice is NOT about pleasing others. But, as fashion and style are essentially superficial constructs, it'd be hard to completely ignore this aspect. I don't think you should ever dress how you think someone would want you to dress, but gauging response to your style from those whose opinions you value is a nice touchstone. Not the only. But a good one. Capiche?

So there you have it, folks! Personal style isn't about wearing different versions of the same thing every day or failing to break out of a (figurative) comfort zone. But putting that extra effort into creating a look all your own results in a more harmonious wardrobe (which makes choosing outfits exponentially easier) and feeling pretty gosh darn pleased with what you see when you glance in the mirror before you head out. Plus, sometimes you get presents because friends will not be able to resist when they spot something that is "so you." And who doesn't like presents?


  1. You do have personal style, ma'am. But I cannot CANNOT abide by you advising people to shop at Forever 21. That place has the herp.

  2. I'm not necessarily saying people should shop there (as I am not really even a fan of buying stuff to follow trends), but some people are and should simply do so responsibly. Practice safe shopping, people. Wear a condom.


  3. I whole heartly agree with #1 up there. If you have to stand a certain way, suck something in, or only let people see the left side of your body..DON'T WEAR IT OUT OF THE HOUSE. If an outfit requires you to be on a "good" body day to wear it bring it to the nearest Plato's because let's face it we all have mostly "bad" body days.

  4. Ummm I need you to go shopping with me next time. I hear what your saying, but it doesn't make sense to me. If I dressed in what made me feel comfortable, I would wear sweats. Every. Day.

  5. I love Forever 21 and used to shop there a lot when I worked in cosmetics. They have all the copies of what's hot (and 5 times the price) at department stores. Plus, when it went out of style or unraveled who cares! It only cost $12

  6. Great advice! In addition, I've always wanted to know how to spell "capiche". :-D

  7. I'm a lil late to this post but still so right there with you! I agree on all these points. Not that I'm all that fashionable. I just wear what makes me feel good.