I have never been very good at dressing myself. Let’s just put that out there. For as long as I’ve been able to dress myself, I’ve pretty much just worn jeans or leggings and t-shirts and called it a day. When I was 3 my favorite t-shirt was pink with a sparkly graphic of The Little Mermaid and I wore elastic-waist acid wash jeans. In high school and college I wore a lot of American Eagle jeans and American Apparel t-shirts. And these days, the t-shirt in question is usually a solid color, and then I tend to find a pair or two of skinny jeans that I love and wear them until they fall apart.
I don’t particularly like shopping (it runs in my family apparently, as my mom and I have spent several hours over the past few years encouraging one another to go shopping and actually buy things instead of going shopping, trying some things on, and then talking ourselves out of it, which is what typically happens), and despite my best attempts, my wardrobe today is pretty much just a slightly updated version of my high school wardrobe. Skinny jeans instead of boot cut ones, flowy polyester or chiffon short-sleeve shirts instead of cotton ones (but cotton ones too, so, y’know). And more or less the exact same selection of footwear: a pair of brown leather Rainbow flip flops, a pair of basic flats, some brown boots, and sneakers. I’m 27 and I would say that this “uniform” has pretty much followed me through my entire life, and it hasn’t been such a bad gig.
But earlier today I read a post from one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers where she discusses the process she’s gone through trying to define her personal style. And it got me to thinking, is that really all there is to my style? What else am I missing?
This question has also come up recently as I’ve tried to judicially distribute my limited clothing budget towards a functional maternity wardrobe. So far I have failed miserably outside of a few pieces I loved from a recent maternity Stitch Fix (highly recommend!), and have pretty much just been wearing leggings for the past month, with 4 more months of legging-wearing looming ahead of me. Which is not so bad, really, but it has brought into focus the things that I miss and don’t miss about the wardrobe that I have created over the past decade or so of my life.
At the prompt of the aforementioned blog post, I looked into what she describes as “The Pinterest Disconnect.” She talks about pinning all sorts of one style, but then always trying to buy another style, asking, “Why did I go for one thing in the abstract, but another thing all together in the stores?” So I looked at my own Pinterest collection (which is rapidly approaching 9k pins… I know, I know), and identified a lot of consistent style patterns that I apparently love in theory but never seem to actually purchase. Trends that most notably fall into this category include layering pieces, stripes, and the concept that it’s ok to have more than 3 pairs of shoes in regular rotation. I find I am also very drawn to what I would describe as “updated basics,” i.e. tailored, grown-up-looking (aka probably expensive) versions of jeans and t-shirts.
Based on these revelations, I think that if I had to define my “style rules,” they would be as follows:
1. I want to look put-together, but casual. Like I put some time into it, but nothing too outfit-ey.
2. Colors must either be super neutral, or almost ridiculously loud.
In a nutshell: black, grays, whites, blues… neons.
3. Prints are suspicious. Stripes, polka dots, and plaid are about as far as I’ll go.
4. All tops must be able to be worn with a sports bra, and must go with jeans.
5. Oh, and if it has to be dry cleaned… it probably is never going to get washed.
That’s about as much as I’ve been able to get so far, but it’s a start. And I guess it might be time to invest in a pair of maternity skinny jeans.