Sunday, September 1, 2013

See You in September...Defining your Style Part 2 - When Life Changes Begat Style Changes

Ah September...

September is the month of song and in my mind and they are all melancholy.  You know - the summer is ending, your boyfriend is going home, you are getting old, it's getting colder, blah, blah, blah.  I say this only in jest - I am a sucker for September songs and all of the melancholia...

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on my overall Life Style Statement.  I followed that up by defining my fall colour story and what I actually wore this past summer.

I promised to talk about my transition and about colour, so am starting some posts about both, beginning with this one. 

One of the challenges I have had since leaving my job and embarking on this new life is that most of my old wardrobe does not work.  Some of you may not have experienced this, but I have had several transitions in my life that required style changes - going to work, having children, gaining weight, losing weight, moving up the corporate ladder and now working from home.

I have always loved clothes and my work clothes were nice.  Very corporate, very buttoned-up.  I treated them kind of like one would treat a costume in that I bought very nice and expensive clothes for my job but almost none of them were "me".  But they were completely appropriate for the job I had and thus, met the requirements.

Over the last year I have made quite a few mistakes.  I have bought things because I thought they looked nice on someone else or in a magazine.  I was buying some clothes for a big city life but guess what - I don't live in a big city!!!

I was all in a dither trying to sort out what I wanted to wear now

You remember the questions I decided I must ask myself before buying something:

1) does it fit?
2) is it comfortable
3) is it flattering?
4) do I love it?
5) am I actually going to wear it or have I just seen someone I like wear it or a jcrew/anthro/whatever label model wear it and think I need it to?
6) does it fit with my style statement - which in the end should be linked to #4....

And my style statement says that I am creative/nostalgic, but here is the truth: I LOVE A LOT OF THINGS so question #4 was only so helpful...

So I need to winnow this all down so I can put together a work from home wardrobe that I love and which is me...the real me...

I turned back to my boys Jesse Garza and Joe Lupa and their wonderful book Nothing to Wear.

I used this book quite a few years ago when sorting out my more corporate style and putting together a corporate wardrobe.  The book still holds up.  I know I needed to use it again to fully define my new 50-year-old-Wendy-who-now-writes-from-home-writing style.

On their website and in the book, they have a great quiz.  They also ask you to define your "arena" - are you in the working world, a stay-at-home mom, retired, do you live in the suburbs, the country, the city?  I knew it was time to redo the quiz as that would help me further sort out how I want to dress - both from a style and a comfort perspective...And by comfort, I do not simply mean physically comfortable, I mean psychologically comfortable with what I am wearing.

Style Type Quiz (my answers in blue..)

1. If we opened your closet, what color palette would we mostly see?
a) black and neutrals
b) basics, such as navy, white, khaki, charcoal, or brown
c) earth tones
d) a rainbow of colors
e) black with touches of bold color

um Jesse and Joe you would see a lot of colour...D

2. How would your friends describe you?
a) playful and spirited
b) relaxed and liberal
c) sharp and direct
d) traditional and proper
e) innovative and forward-thinking

I am pretty sure they would say A.

3. Given a chance, which would you rather do?
a) throw on a pair of jeans, T-shirt with funky accessories
b) step out in a fun floral dress or bright mixed prints
c) put on a sleek V-neck top and modern-cut pant
d) grab your favorite jacket with interesting and unusual details to wear with a black pant
e) get comfortable in khakis, a collared shirt, and your cutest loafers

This changed a lot from when I was working.  It is now a definite A.

4. If someone gave you $500 for clothes, how would you use it?
a) spend it on a cashmere wrap
b) buy a couple outfits at J.Crew or Banana Republic
c) add to your accessories collection with a slouchy suede bag
d) buy a dress that makes you feel smart and unique
e) splurge on anything that catches your eye

I had to think about this quite a bit.  The honest answer would be E now.

5. When you walk into a crowded room, what would you prefer to do?
a) stand out
b) blend in
c) be in control, exude power
d) seem natural and easygoing
e) by zany and animated

A year ago, the answer would have been A.  Now the answer would be D.

6. When you have the urge (or need) to go shopping, you are more likely to do which of the following?
a) purchase practical basics for all seasons
b) head to the flea market for some great “lived-in” and funky finds
c) get something with a splash of color to brighten your day
d) find that unusual piece to add to your wardrobe that no one else will have
e) buy high-quality, smart pieces that are sure to be in style

Again, last year it would have been A or C.  Now it would be a B or C. Probably C.

7. When you flip through pages of fashion magazines, which is most likely to catch your eye?
a) that little black dress in the “special occasion” section
b) peasant blouses and denim
c) multicolored bangles for spring
d) a story on the new designers from Tokyo and Belgium
e) a Ralph Lauren lifestyle ad

Last year it would have been E.  I would also be looking at B. Hmm - It would be Ralph for inside the house, B for clothing now, so I guess I will pick B.

8. Which of the following best describes the decor of your home?
a) minimalist, architectural, and sculptural (think the Jetsons)
b) comfortable and traditional (think the Cleavers)
c) fun, kitschy, and unorthodox (think Alice in Wonderland)
d) lots of rugs, earth tone, and floral prints (think 70s)
e) streamlined, tonal, with clean surfaces (think Tom Ford)

Definitely C, with a small touch of B.

The letter you circled reflects your dominant style identity as revealed by your answer to that question. Tally the number of times your response reflected each style type, and the high score represents your dominant style identity, your true fashion personality. The second highest score could indicate your combination style.

1. a) Chic b) Classic c) Bohemian d) Whimsical e) Avant-garde Whimsical
2. a) Whimsical b) Bohemian c) Chic d) Classic e) Avant-garde Whimsical
3. a) Bohemian b) Whimsical c) Chic d) Avant-garde e) Classic  Bohemian
4. a) Chic b) Classic c) Bohemian d) Avant-garde e) Whimsical Whimsical
5. a) Avant-garde b) Classic c) Chic d) Bohemian e) Whimsical  Bohemian
6. a) Classic b) Bohemian c) Whimsical d) Avant-garde e) Chic  Whimsical
7. a) Chic b) Bohemian c) Whimsical d) Avant-garde e) Classic  Bohemian
8. a) Avant-garde b) Classic c) Whimsical d) Bohemian e) Chic  Whimsical
Total Classic:  _0____
Total Chic:  ___0__
Total Whimsical: ___5___
Total Bohemian: ___3___
Total Avant-garde: __0____

Oh wow - when I did this 5 years ago, I was Chic with a touch of Whimsical.  How interesting!  Obviously, I needed to be a Chic due to my job, but my heart was more in the Whimsical and now I am able to play with my Boho side.

The fellas describe whimsical as:

Whimsical style is playful and appears to be “thrown together” but is actually a thoughtful combination of colors and patterns. If you’re whimsical, you’re usually young at heart and you’re look is ethereal and romantic.  Their style icon for whimsical is Sofia Coppola.  I will take that!

The website helps with descriptions and style muses.  The book itself is a gold mine - helping you sort through building YOUR wardrobe.

This explains why I didn't wear a lot of what I bought this summer - I was buying for an old life.  When I was in Saint John on Friday, I bought a few things (which I will share tomorrow) that were truly me. 

I am saving a very few classic/chic pieces in my wardrobe for those events that require that, but to be honest, I will not be going back to those clothes (though I reserve the right to revisit this at 60 and 70 and 80 and 90!).

I already have a lot of things that fit this style - it is now just a matter of letting that side of me come out completely. The other stuff is going to be going to the JCA exchange or consignment. 

Yesterday, I wore an outfit that was quintessentially my style and I felt so comfortable and happy in it - it was very casual, but still nice:

$12 winners tshirt - how cute, huh? jeans and black kiki ballet flats from J Crew

Not the best pictures of me, especially the top one, cause I had just spent an hour in a hot kitchen making a Vegetable Tian and this awesome blueberry pie:

It is the best blueberry pie I have ever made - held together perfectly - no goopy berries!  Yay me!

I wore the outfit above out running errands with my little ivory cotton vneck cardigan from J Crew and the bag I bought yesterday, which when you see it, you will go - oooh - sooo Wendy....

This week - how Wendy will really be dressing this fall (i.e. the new and authentic uniform), colours, my trip to Saint John, a review of the new JC floral tee and floral wool scarf....

Hope you are having a great Sunday and stay safe out there!  am heading out to walk off the blueberry pie!



  1. Wow, that book looks very helpful. Even though I'm really not going through a "transition" right now, I've gotten a touch of shopaholic-shiny-object-syndrome lately. Wonder if it would at least help me narrow down my purchases to things that are truly "me"?

    I think you look lovely in the pic! Loving the tee shirt. And now craving a blueberry pie!

    1. Hi Danielle,

      For me the shopaholic shiny object thing is usually a sign of a) stress or b) being attracted to things, not wearing them and then still needing things that actually fit my lifestyle! So you might well find it helpful. The tee is so cool! The funny thing is that I bought that tee, my daughter bought it and so did son's girlfriend! it was so soft and so perfect. We are thinking of forming the "Love Paris" bowling team...

  2. Can't wait to see your new bag. Your outfit is so cute and so you. Love these posts. You always make me think.

  3. Love the outfit on you and you look so happy in it.
    Your posts always inspire me about my purchases and what things are "me" pieces.
    Keep those posts coming!

    I think i am closer to my style than i was ever before and all the blogs(like yours)really help me figuring it out:)

    Enjoy your sunday!

    1. Thanks Ina - I think you really have your style down - I can tell an Ina outfit a mile away now! Even when I see girls around here with that same style I think 'there goes Ina!"

  4. What a fun post to read Wendy! I think you've really narrowed down what's you. Can't wait to see your recent purchases!

    1. Thanks Rose! I am getting there! I think it, and my budget are forcing me to think long and hard...

  5. That is so interesting! Do you have a link to the web site? I don't have the book but I want to see what my style type means (and who my style icon is). I was all over the place, with Boho (3), Avant Garde (2), Classic (2), Whimsical (1), Chic (0). Love your style posts! Good job on the blueberry pie, it looks amazing!

    1. Hi Cate, if you click on the word quiz up in the paragraph above you will get there or got to:

      that is where the book is helpful! You can be more than one (like I am Whimsical-Bohemian) but you may want to read it all and then think about your answers again - it is a lot of fun to do!

    2. Thanks! So first, Kate Moss is my style icon? Wahhhhh! lol! She always looks like she never showers. Also, I am about as far from the Avant Garde description as you can get. I am not sure how that snuck in there as a close second.

  6. At your suggestion, I got this book from the library. Apparently, I am a Classic. Sounds so boring, doesn't it? I really wanted to be an Avant-Garde. :)

    1. MW - I think Classic is lovely! You are with Grace Kelly! I always want to be classic and now and then I try to go there, especially for "events" but in the end, I am not there. there is a reason I leave Lauren Ralph Lauren in my closet - I need his cowboy line I think!

    2. Whimsical and Bohemian seem to fit you to a T. You are definitely the creative type! Thanks, by the way, for mentioning this book. My wardrobe is down to its bare-bones, and it will be nice to have a cohesive look when I build it back up.

    3. and you are in such a great city to build it back up in! and think of those fall fashions and the need for coats and boots!

  7. Wow...found that so interesting! I think it's important to remember that we can morph through various styles for our various roles and stages in life! As a Gemini I am constantly changing...even as a young girl I would sometimes change three or four times a day, depending on mood, activity, or location I would be doing my activity. Loved the quiz...I was all Classic, apart from a dash of chic and boho! Now...I am about to head to India for 2 1/2 months and think I'll just buy a whole new wardrobe whilst I'm there!! ('d rock the RL cowboy!)

    1. Rebecca! I am so jealous you are going to India - you will have to share when you get back please - love India and have never been!

      You will find amazing colour - I am pretty sure I must have been Indian in a past life - all pinks and blues and yellows!

  8. Gee, I was 4 Classic, 3 Bohemian, 1 Chic (can't believe I got that one but I'll take it). So I'll go with Classic-Bohemian which kinda goes with my Genuine-Ease from the Style Statement. BTW, Hunter and I are having a great week end. Went to movie, dinner, and skinny dipped in the pool - forgot we had cameras so now our naked asses are on film!

    1. Oh that is so funny! What did you go see? I am trying to get to the Butler today... Classic-Boho - it is funny how it lines up doesn't it!

    2. Saw Elysium (Matt Damon). Wait for video is my opinion. I still want to see The Millers and the new documentary about the killer whale. We are smoking Labor Day tomorrow...ribs yum!

    3. Oh good for you! Guess the empty nest thing is not so bad!

  9. That outfit is your perfect style, because your smile is the perfect accessory. Noting is more becoming than an outfit that is comfortable and makes you feel good, regardless of it's style. Can't wait to read the rest of the weeks posts. Enjoy your weekendWMM.

    1. Sorry, autocorrect with the apostrophe....

    2. well I never notice that stuff and I am a writer!

      It is fun to sort it out through this next phase and honestly, I think it has taken my 8 months, which kind of makes sense as I think I was still mentally in the corporate world...

  10. I was all over the place with that too, I just made into classic with three, the hardest one was the home question, I have no idea how to describe my interior style.

    Great looking ie and I like the new relaxed WMM and co - ordinating wradrobe.

    1. Oh your interior style is high glam! Maybe the bastard child of Tom Ford and whimsical? A lot of funky british style, even if it is very classic, is whimsical for sure. cheeky almost. I always think that I am moving towards the SOfia end as opposed to the Betsey Johnson end, but not always...

    2. Yep there is a quite a bit of whimsy going on in my house! It's not at all classic.
      I am so crushed, I wanted to be able to say my wardrobe is mostly white as I love that shade, but I have so little, turns out I'm brown and camel tones with a soupcon of sludge.

  11. That is funny tabs! I thought I was many things, but when I looked - not so much....

  12. Hi Wendy, this was a great post and I'm looking forward to the rest of your autumn style posts. I tried the quiz too - I got Classic 2, Chic 2, Boho 2 and Whimsical 1. I'm not so sure about the results; for a lot of the questions I'd have preferred different choices for answers.

    I really, really like your t-shirt and jeans outfit - it's so much more than the sum of the words!

    1. Patricia - I struggled with some of the questions, too. (see my response to Tabs above)

      Then I took the essence. 8C would be a good example. My house does not look like Alice WOnderland BUT it does not really like traditional as there are weird touches here and there that take it off kilter, so I chose C, though some of my house is akin to the Cleavers!

  13. QUIZ SHOW WMM, I never know whether to adore or abhor September. There's the good, jacket weather, feeling of brisk accomplishment in the air, and the grim, always reminds me just a tinge of going back to boarding school, getting ready for colder weather, donning tights and layers again, responsible versus carefree.

    Your pie looks perfection and no gloop is an accomplishment with blueberry. You won't believe it, but I plumped for that floral scarf with the latest discount. My very first hint of wardrobe pink in about 30 years, aside from the piping on one pair of JC yore shoes. No kidding!

  14. Well GF - we are rubbing of on one another!

  15. Great post Wendy! I think you got it now, whimsical and bohemian thats so you and I love it about you, your style makeshift smile. I am pretty consistent, 5 chic and 3 avant-garde, I always wanted to be bohemian but I suppose I don't have that in me, but now I can live it vicariously through you. Funny how are almost going opposite direction in our self discovery, still meeting in the middle I guess...

  16. Your style makes me smile, no makeshift lol

  17. Ha! I tried to figure out makeshift smile - thought maybe it was polish for lopsided!

    I knew you would chic/avant-garde - and I like watching others's journeys as well cause I can wear the odd avant-garde outfit, but it really isn't me!


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