She Found Style

an attempt to discover my sense of style in one year and learning more about myself than I ever imagined along the way

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A Lesson in What Makes Me ME

So.  I’ve been giving myself style lessons, right?  I’ve been experiencing an increase in confidence.  I’ve been feeling like a truer version of myself.  Sometimes I even think I’ve figured it all out.  Nonetheless, I received a funny little lesson the other day.

I headed into Portland for a haircut.  I threw on some clothes I felt good in and that felt like me.  See?  I’ve learned something.  I walked into the salon.  And just like that it was all over.  Turns out, just because I’ve learned a thing or two it doesn’t mean I’m Wonder Woman all of a sudden – impenetrable because of all my supposed confidence.  Nope.  Have no doubt, Insecurity is still alive and well.

The receptionist was beyond cool, beyond.  The stylist she was talking to was exoticbeautifulsexy and if that weren’t enough, she was friendly!  And me?  Plain, boring, sloppy, dull.  I had to chuckle as soon as I recognized my feelings of insecurity hadn’t gone away just because I was experiencing personal growth.  My feelings of doubt, incompetence, and overall lameness were still there.

Now, I keep mulling this story over and over trying to figure out what the happy ending is.  The wise lesson I’ve learned.  The cheerful spin on events.  But I can’t come up with a single one.  Nada.

The only thing I’ve realized is that my successes and my insecurities, my shining moments and my dark ones – they are all me.  I welcome the accomplishments and I learn to laugh when I screw things up.  I need each and every moment to really be myself.  And without them, I’m not much.  Every experience – good and bad – is required.


Style on a Real Life Budget

I’m here to share that one doesn’t have to put off style just because the bank account is challenged.  For the last eight months, I’ve been working with a realistic budget.  A $75/month budget.

At first I thought I would have to scrap the challenge with such an impossible budget.  Not to mention that such a teensy-tiny amount was discouraging.  But hey – I was determined to keep it real (and I had little choice anyway!).

First things first, I had to stop subscribing to certain style blogs.  Many bloggers seem to have an endless supply of cash to support their fashion hobby.  I couldn’t relate.  I could only compare (nasty habit).

At the beginning of my challenge I had a loooooong list of things I thought I absolutely had to have in order to make it work.  But since I couldn’t buy everything at once, I had to make do with what I had and be thoughtful about what I bought.  Not a bad thing really.

Since I don’t have the money, I’ve had to invest my time instead.  Looking for a good deal on clothing can take awhile especially when it’s done on eBay or at the Goodwill.

Pinterest has played a helpful hand in keeping me focused on what items I really need.  I collect my favorite looks and pay attention to the pieces I’m missing.  When I do shop, I know just what I am looking for and there is less chance I’ll blow my few dollars on more t-shirts (I just can’t stay away).

With practice, patience and effort, I have managed to supplement my wardrobe with items I need and that complement what I already have.  My budget means that I wear the clothes in my closet often.  It means that I buy items I really, really like.  It means that I watch my waste and make do with what I have.  All personal attributes that are important to me in other areas of my life.  And now I’m seeing it surface in my style.  Very cool.

What started as a major obstacle has become just as much a part of my personal growth.  And personal growth is what it’s all about.

Does the dress make the woman or does the woman make the dress?

A friend recently posed the question to me, “Does the dress make the woman or does the woman make the dress?”

A dress can make a woman in a handful of ways.  A dress can make me look more beautiful to the viewer.  The right look can allow me to fit in with a certain group easier.  The right combination of clothing can tell everyone who I am.

On the other hand, a woman can easily make the dress.  My sister is a great example.  Often she’ll wear an outfit that, without her in it, would give me reason to wrinkle my nose.  But her charisma, her love of life, her willingness to risk with her wardrobe has the ability to completely transform her outfit into one I love!

The difference between the two?  Dressing to make others happy or dressing to make myself happy.  Which one am I aiming for?Thanks to Pinterest I can easily gather outfit ideas that I like and want to try out.  I have and I’ve found that by copying a look, just because it works for someone else, doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to work for me.  The biggest hurdle I have to get over is being consumed with what other people will think of me.  With the burden of those thoughts, it doesn’t matter how great the look is, I will never completely “make the dress.”

If I can just move past caring what you and you and you think then I begin to make the look no matter what I have on!

What I am learning about style is this: the point isn’t to look good just to look good for anyone who might glance at me*.  I mean if that is the case, I’m screwed.  I currently do not have enough money or fashion sense to make the peeps happy.

The point is to be ME.  To be brave enough to wear my opinion, who I am and what I love.  And in doing so, thankyouverymuch sister, we’ll encourage one another to do the same.  Forget finding the right dress to make me awesome (the dress is too darn expensive anyway).  It’s who I AM that  makes the dress.  And that’s the way it should be.

I’ll be me, you be you.

*How the heck do we stop caring about what other people think?  What is the deal with people-pleasing?  It just sneaks right into my heart and takes over sometimes!

I’m Finding It

You know how sometimes after you’ve been working at something for awhile you just plateau?  And you just have to wait around and bide your time until something clicks?  And then off you go again?

Well, I think it just clicked.  The advice and experience I’ve been collecting from so many people is starting to sink in. This week I stopped trying to figure it all out and instead just enjoy myself.  And I really did just enjoy myself.  What a treat!

In honor of doing something just because I want to enjoy myself, I whipped up this tunic with a piece of fabric my sister gave me a while ago.  All day, every time I looked down and saw those happy little birds, I smiled.  And isn’t that what wearing clothes should be all about?

Have You Seen It Yet? Pardon My French by Garance Dore

I just found this and had to share it immediately!  I’m hooked and if you enjoy fashion and style I’m certain you will be too…

Really? This Much Sun is Possible?

Yesterday, we celebrated Day Two of my San Diego trip by starting and ending my day with freshly made juice.  We hiked a ridiculous hill (should I admit I did it in my Frye’s?  I’ve got two blisters to show for it…).  We hit a few thrift stores.  I found the bag I’m looking for (haven’t bought it yet though…).  And ended the day at the Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market.

It’s official.  I think palm trees are my all-time favorite tree.

Sun, sun and more sun

My Top 5 Style Lessons Learned in 2011

I started my style adventure in the last part of 2011 but I managed to squeeze in a handful of lessons learned (It wasn’t really hard, I have SOOOO much to learn).

  1. It’s all about the accessories.
  2. Dressing up improves my sense of self.
  3. It’s if not fun, it’s not worth it.
  4. The dressing room is not my enemy.
  5. Stepping out of my comfort zone is life-changing.

Let me detail those for ya:

  1. Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, scarves, belts, headbands.  Just like a sprig of mint completes an entree by adding color, texture and taste so the added touch of a necklace, pair of earrings or belt completes a look, tying everything together.
  2. I used to dress up so others would think well of me.  Now I dress up because of how well I think of myself.  Yes, sweatpants are comfortable and UGG’s are convenient but they don’t exactly make me feel productive.  When I first began this challenge, I lived in sneakers, tank tops and hoodies.  I don’t anymore.
  3. Fun is essential.  And for me, any method of learning can be enjoyable (sooner or later).  However, sometimes it’s hard to head out the door in an outfit I think is fun because someone else might think it’s weird.  But I’ve learned that style is an outward expression of who I am inside.  I’ve got a handful of personality traits that people don’t care for and I’m okay with that, right?  So should it be with the items I put on.  It’s who I am and I wear them for me.  Simple as that.  (Waaaayyyy easier said than done).
  4. Oh Dressing Room, how I used to despise you.  Taking clothes off just to put them back on just to take them off again rooms too warm and making me sweaty clothes that are too big because I am too short clothes that are too small because I am in Forever 21 sales employees hovering outside my door trying to help price tags with numbers too high.  But that has all changed.  The dressing room is where I can experiment and observe and learn.  Before hitting up a dressing room?  Eat well, drink lots of water and bring a good attitude.  This is supposed to be fun!
  5. And the biggest lesson in all of this so far?  The personal growth I’ve experienced in pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  I have taken chances, admitted that I didn’t know everything (that’s actually a big one for me), and I’ve asked myself to not give up no matter how silly this whole challenge has seemed.  Whether the motivation is style or world peace, stepping outside of my comfort zone offers challenge and personal growth that I’m proud of.

I’ve got a growing list of things still to learn but looking back only increases my excitement to keep learning.  Here’s to the next year of my style adventure!

English Teacher Style

The other day I had to run a few errands.  And what is better than hanging out at Staples?  Dressing up to hang out at Staples, that’s what.  So I grabbed these green Esprit pants/culottes/?? that have gone unworn since I picked them up at the Bins a few months ago.  Mike was still asleep when I left so I didn’t get his opinion (good thing).

Of course, Holly loved them.  She likes anything unusual.

But when I met up with Mike for dinner that night and bravely asked him what he thought (just to see if I know him as well as I think I do) he stared at me for a few seconds too long and offered this up, “That sweater looks great on you.”  Yup.

Later in the evening Mike confessed that he had a high-school English teacher (of all things) who basically wore the same outfit.  Hey, I had the same English teacher (ten years later and in a different town of course – do they all dress the same?).  Mike’s young high-school disappointment with his English teacher’s wardrobe was that her shapeless skirts left nothing to the imagination.  In fact, just flat-out turned the imagination off.  Oh.  We can’t have that around here, now can we?

These culottes are heading over to my sister’s house were hopefully they like the English teacher look.

He Said, She Said: George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon

The style is the woman herself.  -George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon*

I’ve been studying style for a little while now and this is the thought I keep coming back to.  Who am I inside?  What makes me Me?  That’s where I will find my true influence of style.  Not in the latest trend or on the current woman I’m comparing myself too (wrongly so I might add).  But inside me.

I’ve got all the makings of a super-stylish woman.  So do you.

I believe it.  Now it’s time to go live it.

*actual quote goes like this “…the man himself.”  I changed it to resonate a bit louder with myself.  Hey, it’s my blog – right?!

Finding a New Direction aka Staying True to Myself

Jumping like a star for my buddy's blog,

When I began this little experiment I started in what I thought was the most obvious place – the blogosphere.  I added blog after blog to my reader and I started following them every day.  I thought if I watched what other people were doing it would give me a good place to start.  Any place would be a good place for me!

And it was a great idea.  I started to learn how other people define their style.  But what I also began to do was compare myself.  Silly and ridiculous but certainly something we all struggle with, right?  And not only did I compare myself with others who were completely different from me, I started to think I should do certain things that weren’t really me.

  • I don’t really care to wear skirts in cool weather.  But everyone else is (and don’t they look super?).  My husband wants me to.  My sister wants me to.  But I really don’t want to.
  • Tons of jewelry everywhere on everything?  I keep trying to pull it off but usually I feel overdressed and too jingly (I looked that funny word up – it’s real).
  • Makeup.  Ooo, I love a good made up face.  And I was sporting one for awhile (well, attempting to).  But during the last 12 days of my body cleanse, my face has never felt happier without all that makeup and I realize I would so rather go au naturale then anything else.

The funny thing is I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with all those things again some day.

All this to say, sheesh!  It’s really hard to figure out my unique style.  Watching others has been helpful but it’s not steering me in the right direction.  It’s almost as if I need to start learning some tried-and-true concepts.  Taking advice from the inspiring older set (a most brilliant video, by the way).  And just trying out whatever makes me happy.

The one thing I have learned so far?  If I can just remain true to myself, I’m on the right path.

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