Because of my profession, I pay a lot of attention to fashion news, books and blogs. I see quizzes and suggestions all the time that try to help women find their authentic “style.”
You know how it goes…you answer a bunch of multiple-choice questions about your lifestyle and personality and it’s assumed that one of the options they provide will immediately resonate as “that’s me!” Most of them seem to take the approach that all women can be put into some kind of style category – bohemian, classic, natural, romantic or preppy, just to name a few. I don’t know about you, but I usually find that NONE of the choices fit me, or the opposite, I’m such a mix of them that no gleaning can come out of the quiz.
One of the most amusing things to me is that no matter how you answer these questions, there are always recommendations from “the experts” on what every woman needs to have in her closet to look stylish. Here’s a list from one article I read recently:
- A little black dress
- Black blazer
- Crisp white button-down shirt
- Black pants
- Knee-length black skirt
- Classic beige trench coat
- Black leather bag
- Dark denim jeans
- Pair of black pumps
- White cardigan sweater
- Black cardigan sweater
- Set of pearls
- Diamond studs
I don’t own any of these items! Why? Because I’m warm in coloring and look pale and sallow in black and white. My personality is easy-going and relaxed and my lifestyle in Maine is casual so I don’t wear pearls and my 5’3″ Pear-shaped body doesn’t look good in cardigan sweaters that land at the hip. The advice is absurd.
Most women I work with can’t wear or don’t need these items either. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that simply doesn’t work. Every body is different. Everyone’s coloring is different. Everyone’s lifestyle and personality is unique.
There’s a big difference between fashion and style.
Fashion is an art.
It’s what the designers say is “in” and has absolutely no bearing on how people actually look in the clothes or where/how they live. It’s art for art’s sake. When I see patterns and styles in the clothing stores or online, I frequently wonder who they’re designing for because the styles are completely impractical, ugly and look ridiculous, even on beautiful models. No one would wear these!
Style is something you develop according your your personality, coloring and body type.
What you wear should be appropriate for your lifestyle and express a bit of your personality while harmonizing with your coloring, accentuating your physical attributes and camouflaging areas that need a little diminishing. The clothes should work with your features, not against them!
Determining Your Style at Any Phase of Life
No one can tell you what your style should be, and your style will likely change over time with different phases of life. If you’re a professional or working woman, you need work clothes as well as home clothes whereas stay-at-home Mom’s or retired women tend to need more casual clothes overall. And everyone wants to be comfortable, particularly since we’ve gotten used to wearing stretchy exercise or sweatpants after COVID.
That said, casual and comfortable does not need to mean sloppy and unflattering. Women tell me all the time that they feel frumpy and unattractive but in the next breath say they “don’t have time” to figure it out. I usually find that the real issue is that these women don’t know what to do, so they get frustrated, give up and act like they are too busy to spend time on how they look. The irony is that once I give these women some direction and tools to use, they suddenly have time and are very enthusiastic about developing their style!
Looking good doesn’t and shouldn’t mean sacrificing comfort. It does mean taking a little bit of time to understand your features and learning how to buy clothing for them, regardless of what the fashion trends say. For example…
- Are your skin, hair and eyes warmer or cooler in coloring? Where colors that harmonize with your features. Check out my blog for tips on determining your coloring.
- Where is your body wider and narrower? Learn what clothing shapes work well for your body shape (Pear, Apple, Hourglass, Rectangle). Check out my blog for tips on determining your body type.
- Within this shape, what are your proportions? Are you big or small busted; short or long waisted; short or long-legged; tall/short)? All of these impact the styles that are recommended for your shape, so changes may need to be made.
- What is your face shape and has time altered any of your features? Learn what accessories, glasses and hairstyles flatter your features. Check out my blog for tips on determining your face shape.
- What about accessories? Adding a flattering scarf, necklace, earrings or hat can make a simple outfit, even sweatpants, look chic.
Look at this photo below.
Where does your eye go? This woman clearly wants to be comfortable (and who can blame her!) but she is drawing everyone’s eye to her bottom area. She’s not a heavy woman but it’s not exactly a good look for her. A more flattering option would be to have a longer sweater so that it covers the top or better yet, a shorter top because she is relatively short and a cropped top and sweater would give her length.
Bottom line: We all need to wear clothes, so why not purchase clothing that work for your features instead of against them? Spend a little time learning about what shades harmonize with your coloring and what clothing shapes flatter your body type and lifestyle, then infuse your personality into it by choosing designs and accessories that feel like you. Investing a little time learning about these things will save time overall, making it easier to select clothes when you’re shopping plus make you happier when you look into the mirror!
Want More Specifics About Your Particular Body?
Our Perfect Clothing Fit service will give you the tools and information you need to flatter your body shape and proportions, including clothing patterns, lengths and styles as well as fabrics. In addition, our Color Analysis service identifies the best colors for your skin, hair and eye coloring, giving you a palette of 40 colors to take shopping. Contact us today to learn more!