What's Your Style?

I have trouble defining what my personal style is. I asked one of my friends once to help me define it and her response was "old lady." So there's that. I'm not too conscious of having a style but apparently other people can identify it. My husband remarked the other day that another girl (woman, whatever) at our swing dance class dresses like me. I like how she dresses so I was happy with the remark, but I don't particularly think we dress similarly. Perhaps this is because my ideas about how I dress are layered in swathes of memories, of how I dressed in college, how I dressed in high school, etc.

Anyhow, all of this is simply to introduce my take on the new Colette book's (which I don't have) advice about creating a "thoughtful plan" before you sew. She (apparently) writes about identifying what you like to wear in your existing wardrobe and working with those insights to create new garments.

I got the idea for this post from Toferet's Empty Bobbin. She chooses 5 favorite items from her wardrobe and then analyzes them in terms of her style. The idea is to pick 5 items that you regularly wear, that you enjoy wearing, and whose look you really like. These are garments that make you feel and look good. Now, to determine, why?

I would say I have two styles: work and non-work. Non-work consists mainly of jeans, with some skirts, combined with cute blouses. I'm not so into t-shirts anymore. I feel like I have too many grey hairs to really pull off the standard t-shirt look anymore, so I'm not comfortable wearing them. This doesn't mean I don't wear jersey tops, just that they are a little fancy, with ruching or a shawl collar or something which fancies them up. Non-work shoes generally consist of flats.

Work shoes also generally consist of flats. And I also tend to wear separates to work: again, blouses, but this time paired with slacks or a skirt. I've begun wearing dresses more often. But for both the dresses and the skirts I generally go for knee-length or longer. If I have to bend over to pick something up I don't want all my students seeing my undies!

I would say that my work style finds its way into my non-work wardrobe, but not vice-versa. For work I dress modestly (no deep v-necks without camisoles) and I tend to dress in layers (shirt + cardigan) to cover up any sweat circles under the arm! I do tend to work up a sweat while teaching so this is important! :)

So, here's what I chose as some favorite pieces from my closet, both me-made and RTW.

#1 This is one of my favorite all-time shirts and I don't wear it much for fear of it becoming threadbare. It's both work and non-work style:

I really, really want to find a sewing pattern with a similar silhouette so I can replicate this look! Any ideas?

#2 This skirt is also both work and non-work, but more on the non-work side:

This is a wrap skirt that I bought in Sevilla and I wear it all the time in summer. Obviously I have it styled here for non-work. :) I would never wear that top to school! The shirt plus this skirt also demonstrate my love of green...

#3 My palazzo pants, which can also be styled for work or non-work:

This was a photo I took for Me-Made-June, styled for work. I have paired them with a tank-top during summer for a non-work look.

#4 Probably my favorite dress, a shirtwaist dress (?) made from seersucker, J. Crew:

This is more work style, but I will wear it out even on a non-work day. I threw this on just to take a picture, obviously it hasn't been ironed! But the photo does represent how I normally style it: with flats and a belt.

And finally, #5, a cardigan:

This is one of two that I purchased from Banana Republic 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 years ago (the years blend together!) and I wear them to work all the time. While these can be styled for non-work occasions, I think they definitely belong in my work style. They are classic, sober pieces. I like a little more funk than that outside of work.

From all of this I have learned that I like brown and green, and that I dress "classically" for work and my non-work style is a little bit more hippy-dippy. Apparently I really like garments that can be worn comfortably at work and that can also be worn on a weekend without making me feel too overdressed or too old or too boring! Filling all those categories can be a challenge.

I try to funk things up a little with my shoes. Right now my shoes are fairly boring, but I used to have some nice polka-dot flats and some nice red flats. I wore them to death. I need to find some replacements because they really brighten up a dull outfit.

My other funky element - at least in autumn and winter - is paired with my skirts and dresses: colorful tights. I have a pretty good collection of tights: green and blue plaid, blue, blue with a design, and then your basic brown, grey and black. But I could add a nice merlot red pair and it wouldn't be too much ;)


  1. I love your items that you've chosen! Bravo for trying to define your style. Colorful tights are a great addition to any outfit and really help expand your wardrobe to last all year - I may need to borrow this tip from you :)

  2. I really like your favorite garments! And colorful tights, cardis and shoes are so wonderful for spicing up an outfit! One of the reasons I've been looking for cute blue or red fall/winter boots... :)
    I also have problems defining my style - possibly because I like "dressing up" in different styles sometimes, and I'm not quite sure if quirky-cute polka-dot surfer-girl granny-chic is an actual style... ;)

  3. @ Meg: thanks! I thought what the other gals wrote was interesting so I forced myself to do it - and I think it helped me a bit actually. :)

    @ Alessa: I would LOVE to red or blue boots! How cool! I think your description of your style is totally legit ;)


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