Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Defining My Style

To me, this post is kind of the crescendo of my entire Fashion Adventure.  I started this whole process because I realized that I had a closet full of clothes I bought on clearance that didn't fit me and which I didn't like at all.  My goal was to find pieces which I loved, that fit well and made mixing and matching outfits easy.  I think like I've done a good job of that and other than a few wardrobe holes, I'm quite happy with my wardrobe now and feel that it's fairly complete.

A big part of this learning process was defining my style.  I would say that three to four months ago I couldn't have told you a thing about my style.  Maybe I would have defined my style as jeans and a T-shirt?  But it that wasn't how I wanted to dress, it was more like the easy default outfit because it didn't require any real thinking.  I couldn't have even told you what my favorite shirt was, because I pretty much hated them all, which is a little sad.

Now I can pick out about three to four shirts, pants, skirts, and accessories that are all favorites.  I believe that because I love my work clothes now, it's easy to transition to weekend by wearing the same thing with jeans or leaving an extra button or two open.  I find myself wanting to get dressed in the morning because I know I'm going to feel good in what I'm wearing and that also makes me feel better about my body and myself.

I thought it would be fun to share the items that I love now and which define my style.  These are the items that I would choose to wear on the weekend or for work.  (I know that I wear trousers to work a lot and they may define my work style, but they are not something that I would personally choose to wear on the weekend.  Therefore, I will not be including them.)

Button Down Shirts
I think I used to be kind of embarrassed about liking button down shirts.  Like maybe I felt that they were too stuffy or boring or something and therefore I shouldn't like them?  I don't know.  But now I don't care and I know that I totally love them.  Button down shirts are versatile.  You can wear them to work and look put together and polished.  You can roll up the sleeves for a more casual look or when the weather heats up.  They are great to layer, both over or under other items.  They come in every color, print, sleeve length and fabric imaginable.  And button downs are usually very flattering, since they are made out of fabrics that often have structure if they are form fitting, or are loose without looking over-sized.  Button down shirts of all types are definitely one of my closet staples and pieces that define my style.

Now I've been well aware of my obsession with cardigans ever since I moved to Florida.  These button down layering pieces are perfect for the Florida weather because you can throw them on over your outfit in the morning when it's chilly and if the weather warms up, you can easily take them off.  At one point, my entire work wardrobe consisted of tons of cardigans in different colors, lengths, and thicknesses.  However, at that same time, I also had about 8 different white shirts that I rotated and wore under the cardigans.  How boring!  Now I've pared my cardigan collection down to a few key ones.  Neutral colors go with everything and can easily be added to any outfit without changing the feel of it.  A cropped cardigan can work amazingly with a dress or a tank top in summer.  And I still keep a few fun colored ones to spice things up.

Since I like cardigans so much, it was an easy transition to blazers.  You may laugh at this, but I actually had a cognac brown corduroy blazer in high school (bought at Goodwill, of course) that I loved.  I wore it all the time in the fall, with turtlenecks or long sleeved shirts and jeans.  I don't even remember what happened to that blazer but my memory was jogged back to it earlier this year.  I was nominated for Teacher of the Year at my school and all of the nominees had to do an interview with a panel of teachers, administrators, and parents from our school.  This was before the closet rehaul, so I had nothing to wear.  The whole time I was sitting in that awkward interview, I kept wishing I had a blazer to wear.  So after my next paycheck, I went out and bought one.  Then I was hooked and many more had to be added to my wardrobe.  Funny, my favorite one I own now was also purchased at Goodwill!  (The army green one shown above!)

Skirts With Pockets
It's so funny to think how much I love skirts these days.  In January, I owned only one skirt and I had only worn it once!  There was a time when I was younger that I loved skirts.  When I went on the insulin pump in 2007, I found that the easiest place to hook it was onto the outside of my pants pocket.  Since many skirts don't have pockets, I just kind of stopped wearing skirts because there wasn't any where to put my pump.  Enter skirts with pockets, and I love wearing skirts again!  And as a Florida resident, skirts are comfortable year round, especially on those super hot days when I can't wear shorts to work.  I also find that skirts are more versatile for me than dresses.  As a super petite person, dresses don't always fit me correctly.  The waist is in the wrong place, sleeves are too far apart, and the hem is too long.  With skirts, I can usually alter the hemline to be the perfect length for me and I can mix and match the other parts of the outfit to dress the look up or down.

I especially love the Merona Doubleweave Pencil Skirts from Target.  The entire top row of the collage above are that type of skirt.  They are fully lined, have pockets, and come in a wide range of colors and patterns, from classic to fun.  I buy them at Target (not petite size) and full priced they are only $23.  I think that this is very affordable for a fully lined pencil skirt, but they are almost always on sale.  I just picked up the navy blue polka dot skirt for $18 and I bought the bright orange one on clearance.  I have to hem both the skirt and the liner, but it's nothing that I don't already know how to do and I hem them myself, so it doesn't add anything to my cost.  If you are petite and don't want to hem them, petite sizes are sold at Target.com but shipping is usually additional.

The next row are from various stores but I love that they all are slightly more casual so I can dress them up for work or wear them with a T-shirt and sandals on the weekend.  The bright green one in the middle is this skirt from Target.  I've actually used the shape of it as sort of a pattern to create lots of different colors and patterns of skirts for myself for summer, except that my pockets are hidden on the inside of the skirt.  I posted some pictures of the ones I'm working on yesterday on Facebook.

I've found that having a versatile collection of belts can not only help make your clothes appear to fit differently, but can also change the whole feeling that an outfit portrays.  A belt with a bow adds something sweet and one with patent leather or buckles can be more edgy.  Belts can add color, shape, and interest to an outfit.  They are generally inexpensive and easy to find.  Above a just a few that I like.

Statement Necklaces
Oddly enough, pretty necklaces were something that I've always had in my wardrobe but before January I didn't ever wear them.  I didn't know how to work them into outfits and had a hard time deciding which necklaces would work with which outfits.  Like I mentioned in my post yesterday, using Go Chic Or Go Home has helped me to be able to utilize the necklaces that I already had and which were versatile.  It also helped me to see which ones I needed to donate because they just didn't seem to go with anything I already had.  Now I have a collection of necklaces that I like and wear often because all of the ones that I have go with other items in my wardrobe.  And just to throw this in, I hardly ever wear fun earrings.  I used to have tons of pretty earrings but I have very sensitive earlobes that get sore and painful from cheap earrings.  I tend to pretty much stick with my high quality, small diamond studs that my husband bought for me several years ago.  They go with everything and they never irritate my skin.

When I was student teaching back in 2006, the only shoes I ever wore to teach in were these beautiful high heel wedge penny loafers (very similar to these).  They were super cute and professional enough but when I got a real teaching job in Florida, I quickly realized that heels were not going to cut it for 40+ hours a week on my feet.  When I was twenty-two and student teaching, I was embarrassed about my height.  As I've mentioned before, I'm only 4'11" inches tall (150 cm, for my metric friends) and even in heels, people were always mistaking me for students.  Now, at nearly thirty years old, I've grown very comfortable with my height and I'm not upset at all when people think I'm years younger than I am.  I think everyone should embrace the way they look.  I am short and adorable and why should I feel like I have to be something or someone that I'm not?  Just like tall girls shouldn't have to always wear flats just because they are tall, short girls shouldn't always have to wear heels.  To be honest, I am more confident and myself in flats.  Sure, there are times when a great pair of heels makes me feel sexy and confident but for the most part, I feel clumsy and awkward in heels.  And they hurt my feet!  So I have a few pairs of heels for special occasions but I have lots of flats.  I wear them to work, shopping, date nights and everywhere in between.


  1. Great post! I've been my style evolution follow the same path as yours. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thanks! I hope you're as happy with your new style as I am!

  2. I don't think I've ever commented here, but I've been reading for several months, ever since I found your blog through Beauty Broadcast. These posts have been so interesting, and even inspiring, though our styles are different. Thanks for sharing - I really enjoy your blog.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Donna. You really made my day!