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

Archive for the tag “challenge”

Learning about style didn’t make me a fashionista

When I started this project I thought as a result, I would become more trendy, more on top of current fashion.  I tested that out a bit but as far as I could get was obsessively following fashion blogs and magazines.  And after obsessively following these blogs, I’d end up in an emotional exhausted heap realizing that I just couldn’t keep up, nor did I really want to.  Since fashion sense doesn’t seem to come naturally and I don’t have the dollars to pay someone to drum it up for me, I could only chase after these things.  At the end all I manged was a lot of comparing myself to others.  That’s it.  I didn’t come close to mastering the arm party and didn’t end up with one pair of ultra-trendy shoes.  Boo.

Trying to be someone else is tiresome.  It took me awhile but I’m grateful I finally figured that one out.  It’s me or nothing, folks.

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Learning about style didn’t make me any cooler

Spending the last 11 months learning about style has taught me a lot about myself.  But it also didn’t do a few things.  First up?  Blogging about style didn’t make me any cooler.

I’ll admit it – I’m always on the lookout for ways to be a little more cool.  In fact, I’ve always had a mental list floating around in my mind about things that aren’t and things that are – cool.  I’ll keep the list private just in case my “not cool” things happen to be someone’s “cool” things.  You never know.

But I was really hoping I’d get a little cooler, more hip, more together by learning about style.  Nah – didn’t happen.  No one, not one person, came up to me over the course of this experiment to comment on my increasing cool-factor.

So I’m not the coolest girl on the block.  But I’ve come to realize that “cool” is what other people might label me as and I’d really rather be the one to define me.  I don’t want to work so hard to have someone else maybe or maybe not give me the thumbs up of approval.  Eh, too much effort there.  And more seriously, it’s not the way life should be lived.

So I didn’t become a super-hip-master but I’m starting to shake the need for that approval from others.  Not bad.

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.

What I Learned About Style by Running a 10k

I ran my first 10k on Saturday.  It was awesome.  I was so incredibly proud of myself.  I couldn’t believe that I stuck with running long enough to fall in love with it.  Great weekend.

During Mile Two when I was still breathing normally and could think clearly, I couldn’t help but notice (and admire) all the different types of people.  Runners, walkers, tall, short, fat, skinny, curves and angles.  And not everything I saw was what I expected.  One speed-walking man shook his hips like a woman as he strode his way through mile two.  A woman running at top-speed, her body defined by very serious-looking muscle, was on her way to the finish line as I was just starting – way to go!  Another woman’s bottom wiggled and jiggled as she jogged down the course.  A young child made up of knobby knees and long legs ran along after his dad.  We were all different.

And yet the same.  Everyone on that course brought something to the race – a goal.  Some just wanted to encourage a friend running a race for the first time.  Others wanted to beat a past race time.  My friend conquered the physical pain she’s been dealing with by not giving up.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could rise to a challenge and stick with it long enough to complete something.  We brought our goals and offered them to each other.

And in these observations I felt such joy in the beauty of humankind.  We all have unique characteristics that we love or hate.  We all bring something and have it to offer.  And I’m realizing, it’s in the loving of who we are, the bringing of something to give, that we find our main source of style – the foundation piece that everything else rests on.

Another “Make it Work” Moment

I’ve been putting this post off for a week now because I haven’t been sure I can communicate my latest learnings without sounding a bit whiny.  Wish me luck.

The main truth I’ve learned in my style adventure is not about style at all.  It’s about finding places in my life where I am uncomfortable and moving through those things.  I’ve had a few situations, other than style, to do this in and each experience has been quite rewarding.  But I wasn’t necessarily looking for more discomfort to work through.  It may be rewarding and all that, but it’s never fun when I’m in it.  Blech.  It’s tiresome, obnoxious and hard work.

Recently, I had to give back something I love.  Something that defines me.  A creative outlet.  A tool that helps me express a serious passion of mine.  Now, this tool isn’t lost forever, but at the moment I don’t have the cash to by a new one. (I’m talking about a camera – don’t roll your eyes!).

I gave it back for all the right reasons.  After five years of borrowing this camera (aren’t mother-in-laws great?) she needed it back if she was ever going to break through some uncomfortable places of her own.  I didn’t have to return it, I could tell.  But I wasn’t going to be a part of someone’s excuses.

And now I’m left using the most hilarious, little joke of a camera.  It’s ridiculous.  It can’t be depended on.  And it hurts my ego.  I’m so embarrassed to be holding this piece of junk.  Oops… I’m getting whiny.

Once the camera was gone, I felt a little depressed for a few days.  Kinda freaked out.  How was I going to shoot my daughter’s first ballet performance?  How was I going to continue to update the motel’s website?  What about this blog?  Well, the blog dilemma was easy – I’d just quit. You can’t have a decent blog without decent images, right?

And then I realized, I was in another uncomfortable place that simply needed to be worked through.  Simple?  It doesn’t feel like it.  And yet I’m already anticipating what I might learn as a result of all this.  And feeling just a tiny bit excited about the possible outcome.  But only a tiny bit, mind you.  I’ve still got a bit to work through.

The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them. Woodrow Wilson

It’s Not Perfect and I Love It

One of the excuses I made waaaaay back at the beginning of my challenge as to why I shouldn’t learn about style was I didn’t want to turn into someone totally preoccupied with my looks.*  I didn’t want to put in the energy of trying to look perfect.  I feared that by learning about style, I would start worrying about hair, makeup, and clothing all the time.  Is my hair the right color?  Did I get my eye-liner on right?  Are these pants out of season?  Exhausting.  And a bit too perfect for my taste.

Today I looked down at my hands and laughed.  I managed to paint my nails a few days ago.  I must admit, I’ve come to enjoy adding a touch of personality by painting my nails (that’s a new one for me).  But real life gets in the way and my nails end up smudged and chipped and crazy. Talk about being not-perfect.

Now that I think about it, I realize I had nothing to worry about.  I didn’t stand a chance of getting in with the perfect crowd.

Thank goodness!  Because it’s being not-perfect that I’m learning to love.  It’s real.  It’s messy.  It’s honest and open and forgiving and generous and silly and chipped and smudged.   Not only is it right, I’m realizing it’s true style.

*By the way, I’ve since learned that having a sense of style and a preoccupation with looks have nothing to do with each other!

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.

He Said, She Said: Sven Goran Erikkson

The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure. – Sven Goran Erikkson

I’ve had fear stop me in many places in my life.  If I don’t think I’ll succeed, then I just won’t do it.  Fear of failing.  You know what’s funny about that?  If I don’t try something new, I fail.  If I do try something new, I might fail but there’s a very good chance that won’t.

Starting this style challenge has taught me so much more than how to pick out an outfit at the Gap.  So. Much. More.

I suppose I still fear new or hard things but I’m much more willing to try them out anyway.  And just based on the action of trying something new, I’ve succeeded already.

Isn’t that so cool?

What are you fearing right now?  What are you too scared to try, to admit, to want?

No More Regrets, I’ve Got My Red Blazer

Back in November I picked up a vintage red blazer only to return it – I doubted that I was able to pull of such a bright color. Even though I liked the blazer, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it.

Fast forward five months.  Looking through today’s images, I realized that I was wearing a red jacket.  Without even considering whether I could or not.  When I pulled it out of the closet it just seemed like a natural extension of who I am.

Well…almost.  Now that I think about it I may have had a hesitation or two when putting this red jacket on.  Is it too bright?  Are the buttons too large? BUT I put it on anyway.  I thought, “what the heck I’ll just give it a try.”

And that’s what matters.  The just going for it.  The disregard of whether I’m doing it “right” or not.

How’s that for a little style improvement?

The Count Down Begins

Just returned from our annual spring vacation.  We spent the last two weeks in Victoria, BC.  We swapped homes with a local and lived in an incredibly comfy, high-end home (with the most amazing kitchen) just across the street from the stunning Beacon Hill Park.  We visited a new park/playground almost everyday and Beacon Hill was our favorite.  I can’t bring myself to put my passport away just yet – I’m ready to go back!

On to style matters…

I’ve got just four more months to go on this challenge of mine.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve managed to stay committed to learning about style.  And while very difficult at times (there have been some personal growth moments for sure) this challenge has been very rewarding.  My concern with what I’m wearing seems to have lessened a bit because I feel better about what I know.  My confidence in front of the closet has increased.  And I’m having fun with the whole thing!  It’s taken a bit of time to get to the fun part.  Glad I finally made it.

While I feel like I’ve gotten everything I wanted out of this challenge, I still have four more months.  I’m trying to figure out what else there is to learn about.  What have I missed?  What still needs to be discovered?  How can I continue to be challenged?

I was hoping you might be able to help me.  Is there anything you’ve been wondering about?  Anything you still want to read up on?  If you have a moment, and something to say, would you please leave me a comment below?  I love hearing from you and I’d love a little nudge in a good direction…

Counting down the next four months!

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