It feels as though my experimenting is mostly done. It was, in the end, very much an exercise in learning what I did not want in my closet or on my body. I tried many things which have not all been shown on the blog. I experimented with colours, styles and fabrics and I have also learned a great deal about what is actually available to me locally. There are significant limitations not only to what I can find new in retail but also in what shows up in the second hand shops. I have been through an extensive process of binging and purging, accumulating clothing in order to experiment but continuously taking things out to donate or sell and most of what came in went back out again. At times I worry that it has been a waste of money, but I try to look at it as a purchased experience. I have never been very keen on purchased experiences and always prefer to get something concrete for my money. So that in itself has been an interesting set of lessons.
In the proverbial nutshell (and I do like nuts), I have settled into a habit of wearing jeans with a sweater if I have no
intention of leaving home and creating an outfit I enjoy with a dress or
skirt if I do intend to go out, even just to the grocery store. This changes a bit in summer when a loose dress is the best thing for a hot day even at home. Although I want to look nice and wear items that visually appeal to me comfort is always first and for that I need things to move with me, feel soft enough and keep me at the appropriate temperature. On a moderately good day, a day when I am able to get up and shower and dress but spend most of the day sitting cross legged on the sofa, I will pretty up my jeans and sweater with jewelry and have lately taken to wearing a bit of eye makeup. I know! How odd. It grew from a desire to detract from the big dark circles I have developed. Looking your best can help psychologically even if it doesn't cure any illnesses.
Here are 25 things I have learned.
I do not have easy access to much variety or quality clothing to my
taste (quality pieces on offer here tend to be classic styles) but it is
worth paying for quality items new if I make a good choice. Even if
five dollars is spent on the wrong thing it is still five dollars
wasted. Experimenting with lower cost second hand clothes makes me more
confident now about what I am willing to spend more money on.
2. I generally don't do a preppy look but can sometimes take a preppy looking piece and use it my way. Has ironic-preppy been invented yet?
I like many styles but my personal preference has a
hippie/boho/lagenlook vibe only not everything that fits those
categories is right for me and I do not copy looks directly from
celebrities, stylists or designers. If it looks Victorian, Steampunk,
slightly Goth, Mori-girl, Lagenlook, Forest Fairy, like an Elf from Lord
of the Rings, from the 70s, Medieval or 20s-30s era, I will probably
like it but that doesn't mean it will suit me.
body shape is somewhere between soft hourglass and warped rectangle and
I do not wear the same size top and bottom. For an unfitted dress, US size 12
usually fits and if the top isn't stretchy enough sometimes I can cheat by wearing a layer underneath and
then not doing up all the buttons over my chest. I am closer to 14 on top and 10 on bottom which puzzles me because I don't think I look top-heavy.
5. I am happier with my look if I don't put too much volume on my top half
6. I must STOP buying things that do not fit perfectly unless they are fabulously worthy of being tailored to fit me.
I should only buy natural fibres or a mostly natural fibre blend or I
will not wear it. If it is velvet I will want it but must not let that
blind me. Cotton and linen are great because I will likely want to dye them or over dye them. I can soften denim in a vinegar wash.
8. I don't like the way black clothes look on me (Still can't part with a black velvet waistcoat I never wear-see lesson 7) but pewter and charcoal are usually great.
I don't feel right in crayon bright colours, neons,
geometric patterns, bold shapes, graphic shapes, sparkle, sequins,
metallic threads or blingy things. This fits both my personal colouring and my personality.
10. I prefer monochromatic or analogous (I love that word) colour combinations in soft, greyed tones; sometimes I will wear jewel tones if they still have a sort of dusky quality. I am often attracted to warm tones but cool tones suit me better. In all cases it is best if the colour is a greyed version, with the main feature being soft. If I would describe it as greyed, heathered or toned, I know I am onto the right thing. Mottled, imperfect and faded are also appealing to me and work for me.
11. I do not dress to be noticed; I do dress to look my best and to feel good. To me there is a difference and it's okay that I do not want to be noticed most of the time.
12. I consider myself very feminine but clothing feels wrong if I would have loved it when I was nine. Thus I would describe my style as feminine but not girly. There is nothing wrong at all with girly, it is just not right for me.
13. I really, really like 3/4 length sleeves and always have but they are admittedly a bit of a nuisance when putting on a coat. I will buy them anyway.
14. I am uncomfortable in structured clothing and that includes many jackets. Most of the time I will not wear most types of structured clothing. Vests/waistcoats are a likely exception as might be a formal ball gown if I ever need one.
15. I need fitted cardigans. I have been buying them too big. No more sloppy cardigans!
16. I could live in boots, preferably lace ups.
17. I love the idea of sewing things, upcycling/repurposing and altering clothing but I am not likely to do much of this. That's okay. I won't let go of the dream just yet as I have a stash of garments waiting to be dealt with.
I really like weight on the bottom of my outfit and feel agitated if I
don't have it. That seems to be why I am less comfortable in shorter skirts and it usually means I prefer layered skirts but this is a bit of a
problem in summer.
19. I have no body part I am
honestly interested in flaunting yet I like my body more now than at any other time in my life. This may not be saying much but it's a start.
I generally won't wear prints unless they are subtle or well blended but have a
higher print tolerance with summer clothes. I prefer prints in skirts
or scarves to anything else. I adore paisley!
21. I love hats but they are often too hot for me. I have a lot of hair..... or maybe just a hot head.
I love the look of maximalism more than the feel of it. I am finding
my own version of it, something sort of medium with fewer accessories if
I am just staying home. Even when I am sleeping I am wearing three pairs of earrings per ear, a nose stud and two or three rings on each hand. I don't think that qualifies as minimalist.
23. The goal to keep in mind for shape is soft, skimming, unstructured but close to the body, flowing, draping, slight movement with a suggested but not cinched waist.
I know what I want to add to my wardrobe and now I need to be patient
or more resourceful. Often I have pieces in my closet that I would like to pair style
wise but I don't like the colour combination. This gives me a clue as
to what I should be holding out for to purchase next. If I like something I am happy to have a version of it in more than one colour.
I may not be able to buy all of my clothes second hand but I will
always buy some of them that way. Fewer things but the right things is a
concept that makes sense for me but I have not attached a numerical
value to the term 'fewer'. (Update: I estimate that 70% of my wardrobe is second hand and that's better than I thought)
It is not that I will never experiment again. I know I will and there
are still a few items in my closet that are as yet unworn and are
awaiting their trial run. But overall, I feel I really know what will
not work for me and that eliminates much purchasing error. Knowing
what colours suit me best, what fabrics I prefer, the shapes that
flatter and how I want to put pieces together, will hopefully make it
less intimidating to sometimes spend the money on quality.
A peek into my closet looks like this: Colours are not totally accurate but close.
The top shelf has tee shirts, jeans and leggings on the left and sweaters on the right. I organise the sweaters more by bulk than colour just in order to keep piles from toppling over. Scarves are on the far right wrapped around the dowel.
I won't be able to end this post without an extra focus on colour, with which I am obsessed. I love most colours so it was particularly difficult for me to figure out which I looked best in because I couldn't see past just liking the colour itself. It was taking photos for my blog that helped me to really see the colour on myself and how it worked, or didn't, with my own personal colouring. Even knowing that I am best in soft colours toned with grey or shaded with a bit of black, I am still inclined to make the mistake of falling for and purchasing colours that are too warm to really flatter me. Yes, I could wear them away from my face, but then I have to have something to wear on top that looks good with them so I am trying to keep them out of my wardrobe to make things simpler.
I played around with some dabs of watercolour paint, trying to make sample of the colours that work for me and the ones I am attracted to but need to avoid. It's not perfect but it does give a bit of a visual idea.
Natalia. I always love the colour combinations she creates but I do not love them on me so instead I will enjoy these colours vicariously. I like to use them in my art too. Softening these colours with a bit of grey makes them more wearable for me, but warmer tones are still not my best. With the in-store lighting not always helping, I am still inclined to err in this direction, especially with greens and browns. I love a mossy green. When I am falling for something in green or brown I need to stop and think about whether or not it is a bit too warm to work for me.
The colours that fill my closet now and which I want to focus on look more like these.
If you are a follower of personal colour analysis, my colours are from the deep soft summer palette.
They are generally toned with a bit of grey, and I can wear a deeper version and a lighter version of them but tend to look best in the mid-tone range using two or three colours or combining mid and deep or mid and light of the same colour. I can wear a very cool lemon yellow but am not particularly fond of wearing it.
Finding greyed or muted versions of colours is challenging so not everything I have is as muted as I might like it to be. The right off white is quite a challenge too but when I do get it right I love it. It can't be too cream coloured or it looks like warm yellow on me but also not a stark optic white. Ivory, off white, winter white and whites that are almost blush coloured work. I find it useful to keep a small piece of white computer paper in my purse to use for checking a white's undertone when shopping.
Everyone has colours they objectively look better in but whether or not you care about yours is a personal choice. For me, it matters or I feel uncomfortable, just as wearing the wrong style or the wrong size feels uncomfortable.