Despite our Facebook Group being a friendly and welcoming place, it takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable to share outfit photos, especially when you aren’t sure about the outfit you’ve cobbled together or are looking for constructive feedback. I appreciate all the members of the group for how supportive, encouraging, and kind they are when someone puts themselves out there.
I know, Elaine, this month’s Facebook Group Member of the Month well because she is among the members who take us along on her journey of style development by posting looks regularly. When members are this active, it’s easy to feel part of the experience and like you really know them. It seemed fitting to want to get to know her better. So what do you say? How about we hear what Elaine has to say about her personal style?
Location: Palatine (Chicago suburbs), IL
Q: What do you like most about being a member of Bridgette’s Facebook Group?
A: Being part of a supportive encouraging group of women of varying ages and styles is wonderful. No one pushes her style at the expense of yours and I have yet to see a negative comment from anyone.
Q: The biggest benefits you have received from being a Group member
A: Friendly support and encouragement! I am always amazed when the group members see your style – sometimes before you do and cheer you on. I don’t have any local friends or family with whom I shop or discuss style, so the group helps fill that void.
Q: What would you tell women who haven’t joined The Group yet?
A: We’d love to have you join us! Social media, especially fashion, and beauty can be a viper-pit, sapping your self-confidence. I think women need a safe place to build each other up. This group is that safe place.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: In transition. I’ve always considered my style to be sporty and classic. I don’t work, so I can dress as I wish. I don’t want to change constantly for my activities, so my clothing needs to be flexible and adaptable. As an avid amateur photographer, I may sit or lie on the ground to take a photograph. I may suddenly decide I need to weed the garden or go for my daily walk; my clothing needs to deal with that. Lately, I’ve been exploring a more playful or edgier look. I’m trying to learn where my balance falls: playful but still serious enough, edgy but still soft and welcoming, youthful, age-appropriate but not matronly. I’m not even sure there is a word for all of that!
Q: How did you discover your style?
A: I don’t consider myself to have fully discovered it yet – I find my style is evolving. The biggest factor was cutting my hair short, which brought out a whole new aspect of my style. I’m constantly trying to live up to my haircut!
Q: What advice do you have for others trying to find their style?
A: Take a daily selfie. Your emotions strongly influence your mirror image – photos are much more objective. The accumulated record of selfies is an invaluable tool; by scanning back through a number of your selfies, you start to notice the colors and styles that flatter you the most.
Listen to your own instincts (allowing for social/cultural/professional guidelines).
Q: What fashion issues are you currently struggling with?
A: Shoes. I am taking medication that creates severe problems with my feet, so I need to find comfortable shoes that I can actually walk in. It would be even nicer to find some that look stylish.
I want to find a leather fanny pack/waist bag / whatever you want to call it. I’d love to get rid of my purse.
Q: What are the most versatile items you have in your closet?
A: Scarves, lots and lots of scarves! Contrasting or triadic color contrasts suit me well, and scarves let me bring those elements of color to my outfits.
Jeans. I would be lost without them.
Q: If you could go back and change the way you dressed in the past, what would you change?
A: Growing up in a home that de-emphasized fashion as vain and frivolous, I never paid all that much attention to the way I looked. I wish I had known fashion is a tool and it’s ok to study the way it works for you. Being tall and large-boned, I often bought larger sizes to fit my shoulders or give me sleeves that were long enough. I didn’t understand the importance of fit and assumed I was stuck with what I bought., I would have listened less to others’ opinions on my fashion and would have trusted more in my own more.
Q: Is there a fashion purchase you made that you found more useful than you thought it would be?
A: My sheepskin bomber hat. My husband and I try to walk 3 miles each day, and this hat makes the windy cold Chicago weather bearable. It’s not stylish, but it is oh-so warm!
An inexpensive navy Danskin jacket. I bring it on every vacation and every camping trip.
My sheepskin slippers. Let’s face it, we’ve all spent A LOT of time indoors lately.
Q: What about a fashion purchase that you thought would solve all your problems, but didn’t?
A: A white blazer. I bought a fairly casual white blazer, which I never wore. So to solve the problem, I purchased a second white blazer, a double-breasted linen style because, well, I must have bought the wrong style! Neither fit into my very casual summer lifestyle of shorts and tees. I never wore either.
Q: How do you envision yourself when you look your best?
A: Free of pet hair and tissue lint. Seriously.
My target words are approachable and joyful, polished and sporty, intelligent and creative.
Q: What are your biggest fashion goals for the year?
A: To continue defining my style and to work through my wardrobe with purpose and vision.
To explore comfortable colorful shoes.
Q: What is the best fashion advice you ever received?
A: It’s not you, it’s the clothes. Clothing can and should be tailored to best suit you.
Allow yourself the freedom to grow and change; don’t lock yourself into a set of fashion rules or an older vision of your style.
Q: The first thing you take off when you get home?
A: My shoes. I live in my slippers, which is why my Facebook group selfies don’t include shoes.
Q: Favorite color(s) to wear
A: SO many! I love deeply saturated colors that seem to glow. Red, red-violet, rust, deep purple, navy, deep blues, greens, teal.
Q: Favorite stores to shop?
A: I adore thrift stores and am deeply committed to the idea of giving a garment longer life and slowing the waste of fast fashion. I am able to explore a greater variety of brands and styles at a fraction of the price. My favorite brands are J Jill, Talbots, Jones New York, Loft, and L L Bean. That said, Old Navy is my go-to store for jeans.
Q: What makes you happiest?
A: My faith and my beloved family (including those shedding pets). I love nature and being active. Being creative and exploring my artistic side by playing music, knitting, sewing, cooking, and taking photographs are all important to me. My husband and I are historical reenactors and you will often find me camping in a corset, hoopskirt, dress, and bonnet. I also love volunteering for the Boy Scouts of America and helping other leaders to better serve and inspire youth.
Oh, and cashmere.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Finding beauty and joy in the everyday world around me. The patterns of bare trees against a winter sky, the extravagance of flowers, the patterns and shapes of tree bark, ice, water, fungus, and other things many people ignore always inspire me. If I am feeling down, I grab my camera and go outside to explore. I always come back energized and revitalized.
I like Nordic patterns and nineteenth-century East Indian fabric prints.
Q: Use One Word to Describe Your Style
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