The fall season brings out a whole heap of new trends to consider. It can get downright overwhelming, especially if you think your personal style needs a change. If you have been feeling frumpy, uninspired or dated, and you just want to ditch your entire wardrobe, take a few minutes to read this post before revamping your personal style.
Five Things to Consider Before Revamping Your Personal Style
#1- Don’t swing the pendulum too far
The longer the amount of time you have been holding out doing something about getting out of your personal style rut, the more likely it will be that you will go a little crazy when you do finally do something about it. Think of it like pent up frustration and finally acting out. The longer you keep your frustration under wraps, the greater the meltdown will be when you finally let loose and release it. Imagine it like trying to keep a beach ball underwater. You can only do it for so long.
I bring this up because I have seen this happen, many times. Often, when a client finally picks up the phone and calls me she is beyond frustrated with her wardrobe and has already tried to fix it on her own. When we’re lost, rarely do we immediately seek out an expert for help, be it to get in shape, eat better or learn a new skill. Instead, we run ourselves ragged and then come to terms wth the fact that outside help is necessary. This is when I get the call. My first visit to a client’s closet usually includes me finding these purchases hanging in there that my client explains away as their attempts to do something different and failing. These sad little items are usually way in the back of the closet with the tags still attached. Instead of solving the problem, the client has made it worse.
If you have been struggling for some time, I urge you not to grab your wallet and go shopping with reckless abandon. Clearly, you need to vent and make changes, but being haphazard out of desperation won’t solve anything. You need a plan and to strategize, not a place to vent your frustrations.
#2- What do you love about your current style?
Starting with a plan, the next thing you want to do is ask yourself what you currently love about your style. Sure, you may want a change, but not everything in your closet is a failure, right? When we want change, we tend to focus on the negative and what’s not working. Suddenly, everything sucks, doesn’t it?
Instead of looking at the negative, look to what’s working. Obviously, there are things that aren’t, but you’re likely very clear on those failures because you have been focusing on them so much. Yet, by taking time to look at what is working, you’ll be able to strategize your shopping solutions much more effectively.
Of course, one of the easiest ways is to take a tip from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and ask yourself what in your wardrobe “sparks joy”? This strategy worked for me (you can read about it here, along with tips on how to find a style that sparks joy) and it can really help you change your mindset from “everything sucks” to “okay, I’m inspired.” You will also be able to more rationally look at what you have been doing right, where you starting point is, while allowing you to smartly discard what you don’t need.
#3- Start with accessories
Even if you take a rational approach to changing your personal style, you may find yourself getting rid of most of your wardrobe. Even though I found the process of getting rid of anything that didn’t spark joy quite cathartic, I was left with very little after I was done. While I didn’t mind having less, necessarily, I did find myself repeating the same things over and over again. Oddly, even this didn’t bother me. But in my efforts to making what I filled back into my closet just as joyful as what I was left with, while also working with an average budget for doing so, I knew I had to get creative with how I got dressed everyday in order to avoid total boredom. One of the best places to do this is with your accessories.
Curating a good wardrobe takes time. In some cases, it takes me several seasons to get my clients’ wardrobes to the point that they envisioned when they started with me. Plus, wardrobes are constantly evolving. Rare is it that you’re just “done.” You’re always adding and taking away. Therefore, to look to your accessories as a place to start making a change is smart. By changing up your shoes selection, adding a few pieces of jewelry, a scarf or two, you’ll notice that you can make a more immediate style revamp while slowly and more mindfully building the rest of your wardrobe back.
Every time I have set my style on a new course I have started with my accessories. It has allowed me breathe new life into a very classic base of clothing. Suddenly, what felt frumpy looked new and interesting and I made a much smaller investment doing it. Accessories purchases are often more passion driven, which means you can also use these new acquisitions to help you notice where you style wants to go next.
#4- See stylish other people only as inspiration, not literally
Yeas ago, when I was working as a designer, I worked with this woman who was the creative director for the company. Everything, and I mean everything, she wore was amazing. As I would secretly covet her wardrobe, I used to watch what she wore and how she put it together. I wanted to copy her and became frustrated by the fact that it wasn’t so easy.
For one, she was at least 20 years older than me. She was several inches shorter and quite a few pounds lighter. She had that gamine Audrey Hepburn frame compared to my more Joan Harris, Mad Men body. Nothing about how she wore anything would translate well on me.
Inspiration is important. I encourage every client to show me inspirational images when we begin working together. Upon receipt of these images, it is my job to look at what they present to me and put it through the filter of their lifestyle, physical characteristics and personal style. If your personal style needs a revamp, don’t look at your inspirational muses literally, it won’t work. You will never be able to exactly translate it from them to you. Instead, drill down further and identify what is resonating with you. Is it the color, the combinations, the classic feel or the more modern look? Capturing the essence of what you love is the key to using inspiration as your guide.
#5- Make sure this is the change you really need
The last thing you need to be sure of is if your personal style is really the thing that is bugging you. Sure, a little tweak may be helpful. But is it really as bad as it seems or is it something else? Have you ever binge eaten? Are you really that hungry or are you just stuffing your feelings? Did you get that haircut because you needed a hair change, or because you were frustrated in other areas of your life and chopping off 6″ of hair length seemed like the easier fix?
When you have a pressing need for a change, it’s important to make sure you’re not just grabbing at low hanging fruit to deal with it because, after all, taking a credit card to a store and loading up a dressing room is certainly a lot more fun that getting honest with yourself and dealing with what is really wrong.
Yes, it can be fun to go shopping, to buy new things, and I certainly don’t want to dampen the experience by getting all psychological. However, craving new and needing new can be two vastly different things…or not. This is what you need to decide. And doing so can be the difference between loading up your closet with things you’ll actually wear and things you may actually regret.
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Interesting post. And I did start with accessories! You’ve been pushing them on us for years in your blog posts (I do listen). I started by challenging myself to wear a scarf or necklace five days a week. That started me on a longer journey to find out what I liked in my closet and what I didn’t. And this last month, I did a final push to eliminate everything I liked but didn’t like on me or had too many iterations (black pants comes to mind here). A lot of stuff went to consignment, friends and relatives and finally Goodwill. I’m making my final drop off at consignment today with all my dressy clothes that no longer work for the body I have.
I have an edited closet of clothes that work together with some pops of color and prints.I can pull an outfit in a minute and have something that makes me happy to wear. And I owe it to bloggers like you and my other BFF, pinterest. I explored a lot of looks there and pulled ideas together in a capsule wardrobe board.
Like you write in your post, it takes awhile to find your style.
Thanks for the comment, Patricia! It really does take some time and just when you think you have it down you find yourself craving something new. It’s always a work in progress!
The last one resonates, though probably many of us don’t want to admit it. An internal inventory is always a good thing before making a major change.
For the past couple of years, I’ve been writing down what I wear each day to work. After a while I started adding comments on what I felt best in, what I got compliments on, etc. I had no plan for what to do with this information, but now I do — I’m going to print them out, review them, and analyze whether there’s a consistent theme. That will be my personal style.
On top of that, I decided to experiment this month with Project 333 using mostly Eileen Fisher clothing. I have several EF consistent favorites that go back several years. So I think my personal style has evolved to be plain and simple, somewhat tomboy-ish (though I have a good-sized bust), with good draping fabrics that conceal or skim over my menopausal middle.