Monday, 22 January 2018

Personal Style

Did you think I would never write about personal style ever again?  Hah! Once obsessed with a topic I rarely completely abandon it. I am endlessly fascinated with learning as much as I can about line, texture, pattern and colour and how those features in clothing relate to my own body ( or anyone’s )  The premise is that they should relate, usually that they should replicate one’s body.  The difficult part is learning to see these lines in your own body and some of us don’t really do that consciously we just recognise which clothing lines are working without knowing why.  If a subject interests me I am highly motivated to understand the whys and the why-nots.  The perfectionist in me is determined to learn as much as I can so that I can perfect my understanding and thus simplify my execution.

 I look at other bloggers and some internet celebrities who are amazing in very complicated, colourful, layered, patterned and textured outfits, colourful makeup, piled on accessories, and admire how they look but I now know it’s not for me.  Once I wanted it to be.  But then, I also look at skydiving and think, 'oh that looks kinda fun'.  Skydiving is also not for me. 

The five people who read my blog know I am not a believer in the anyone can do anything they want to mantra.  It’s a reasonable motivator if you like motivators.  I generally don’t.  I like realism and the reality is that we don’t all suit the same things, whether that is a simplified monochromatic outfit or a complicated and multi-coloured one.  We don’t all decorate our homes the same way, enjoy the same hobbies or possess the same skills, interest and ability levels.  It’s more than just personal taste.  We come in different shapes, sizes, colouring, with natural aptitudes, interests and abilities.  Thus I am also not a believer in the idea that you can wear anything you want to and with confidence it will look great.  But I do suspect  confidence that really shines might come from hitting on the right outfit formula because it just feels right.  I also suspect that when a person looks very harmonious, when their outfit seems like a natural extension of them, we perceive them to be more confident and competent.

Most of us have some experience with admiring an image of someone, perhaps in a magazine, or on Pinterest, and attempting to recreate their look ourselves.  We might imitate the hairstyle or the outfit and then we find we don’t look like way we expected to because we haven’t taken into account that we don't have the same hair, face or body as the person we are trying to emulate.  Nearly every woman I know has the experience of finding out that a certain hairstyle they admire just won’t work with their hair type and head shape.  Either it can’t be created at all or it just isn’t the most flattering result. 

It’s got nothing to do with wanting it badly enough or trying hard enough.

Clothing is a little different from hair styles but still, what I discovered was that some of the looks I admired didn’t flatter me.  They were maybe okay, maybe not awful, but you saw clothing first while I was in the background.  I quickly look either lost, undefined or frumpy.  I don’t dress to be noticed and I also don’t dress to express myself creatively or show my artistic side but it isn’t totally true at all to say I don’t care about my appearance or how people respond to it.  I think that it is accurate to say I realise that not being flattered by how I am styled could make me stand out as much as wearing a flamboyant outfit could and I don’t want to stand out via either method because neither feels like me.

I think it’s possible that what I want is to be competently and appropriately dressed, rather than creatively dressed.  By appropriate I mean dressed in what is right for my body lines, colouring, personality and occasion all combined.  Do it right, move on to other things. 

There were new things I needed to learn about what was most suited to my shape and colouring because I’d never had the opportunity to learn about it before, not thought about it much or had no access to resources.  I was easily distracted by all of the things I like, and had difficulty filtering them out to find what actually suited me. 

I Like does not equal Suits Me

 I had been doing okay all along with my personal style in terms of what felt like me, what was comfortable for me physically and emotionally.  It only needed tweaking but I didn’t know that. I thought it needed to radically change.  I read fabulous women saying they love bright colours and piles of accessories and fun things and more more more and I thought OH NO I am BORING! 

It took awhile for me to remember that I don’t care if I am boring to some people but I was also in the process of healing from the effects of a relationship where I had constantly gotten the message that I was broken/defective/wrong.  I wasn’t aware at first about the extent of the damage psychologically.  My self-esteem had been greatly undermined but I didn’t even realise it.  I had lost my sense of self and my confidence in who I am and what I needed was to find it again and to find acceptance somewhere.  I needed to know that it was only one man’s opinion that there was anything wrong with me.  That’s not something you sort out overnight.

It’s astonishing to me how much my journey with personal style has taught me about myself as part of the process of healing from a toxic relationship.  I immersed myself in images of people who offered a visually appealing and inspiring personal style, and got caught up in the opinion that  beige is boring and less is not enough but more is what makes you really something.  The lesson I should have taken from them is to be true to yourself, embrace it, assert it, but instead I took them to be experts in confident womanhood and mistakenly took up the idea that there was only one way to have personal style and that was to embrace flamboyance and abundance. 

So much about personal aesthetic is subjective but it’s difficult to escape negative language, and easy to slip into using it when trying to assert one’s own taste. Thus, a certain outfit might be elegantly simple or boringly beige, depending on whom you ask.  It might be colourfully creative or gaudily clownish.  The difference lies in who is wearing it and how well it works with what that person already is naturally.  It seems to me that most people tend to be attracted to what suits them without necessarily realising it and I think that the fact that I am attracted to so many things really confused me.  Perhaps it’s both a gift and a curse to see the beauty in all styles, shapes and colour combinations.



The real lesson, the important thing to remember, is that a strong woman is true to herself.  It’s not better to look or be one way or another.  It’s better to go with what is right for you.  I’ve got a little room to explore still, but I know mostly what works for me and what doesn’t and exploring isn’t high on my priority list. 

I know that I need warm colours (I love warm neutrals)  simple, clean and slightly structured seems best for me.  Those words might not give someone else a clear image of what I look for when I shop but they work for me because I have a much larger understanding in my mind backing it up.  I am very content with uniform dressing.  I have a simple lifestyle and prefer comfortable elegance, such as straight leg denim ( I like men’s Levis ), a cream coloured tee shirt with a camel co loured cashmere sweater, gold earrings in a simple shape, a man-style watch and tan coloured oxford shoes.  There are other things I wear but this is most typical.  There are other things I would wear if I found them in the right colour and at an affordable price but I’m not going to spend my time searching. 

A minimal wardrobe works for me, so does a moderately minimal outfit but this approach certainly isn’t right for everyone.   I will continue to admire and enjoy the style of others who dress differently from me. I see many personal styles represented in blogs, on Pinterest and on women in my offline environment and nobody is wearing exactly what I wear but there is always something to admire or learn from all of them, whether or not I like or would wear anything they are wearing.

If I have anything to teach anyone it’s not about how to find your own personal style.  You can do your own experimenting and Google searching just as I did.  If I can offer anything it’s the knowledge that while a strong woman can be broken and lost, she can heal and find her way again.  It’s difficult to look back and see how damaged I was, how my self-esteem was so undermined and I was confused about who I am, who I should be, and how to get there.  I found my way back.  I re-built and I re-built stronger.  I used more than one strategy but surprisingly perhaps, much of my recovery came through an exploration in clothing.  I’m not fabulous because I have the confidence to wear flamboyant outfits; I’m fabulous because I have the confidence not to and because I know that any woman can be amazing, just being herself.



 

4 comments:

  1. Oh come on, we are not 5 , we are many and we love you :D
    I absolutely agree that I like, does not mean it suits me. I like so much glossy crap that just doesn't work for me.
    I'm thinking of been a bit more minimal like yourself.
    I appreciate your struggles and feel your pain, I've been lost as well, but these all made you into the human you are today, and the today human kick ass, so it was all for good in the end!

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    1. I agree, our experiences shape us and since I love where I am now I wouldn't change a thing! This kick ass human adores a certain other kick Bulgarian human. xo

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  2. Yes, strong woman indeed!
    Your if I like it doesn't mean I'll suit it, reminds me of my aha moment...if I'm good at something doesn't mean I have to do it.
    I'm still finding my way stylistically. I rather want to go minimal in colouring to simplify things, but last year I became really bored. So having another try with neutral basics and colourful accesories. The magpie in me is too strong and I end up with no coordinating colours. Then I try to do the flamboyant thing which works ok, but I feel too hot and over stimulated. There is a middle ground in there, and I'm determined to find it!
    I'm so pleased you are feeling stronger emotionally. xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. Yes, your Aha moment makes a lot of sense. It's difficult too when other people can't understand why you might ignore or throw away a gift. My son is a gifted musician but not passionate about it and I do find it difficult to understand on some levels. Or perhaps I just find it a bit sad.
      Unlike you, I don't get bored and I don't have a magpie instinct. I am sure that if I did I would feel a bit more scattered about my style aesthetic. Like you, I totally understand what it is to be driven to figure it out. I will collect all the facts, try all the things, synthesise what I know and create a solution. I think that there is a place for wearing a more dramatic look to special events and saving simple for the everyday. At least I suspect that would work for me. xo

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