Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Journey to a true Personal Fashion Style



For 25 years, I worked in the corporate world.

My uniform was simple - suits, pumps, subtle jewelry. I had almost no casual clothing; I couldn't afford it AND the higher end suits and shoes I was buying, so something had to give. I think I had one pair of jeans, an old jacket and some boots.  And I was too busy to be inspired or inspiring. (I exaggerate here, but only just).

Don't get me wrong - I wasn't a complete disaster or anything, but I was too busy to think much about fashion beyond throwing myself at my favourite local sales clerk, money in hand, telling her to "pick a bunch of stuff that looked classy and business-like."  She dressed me well in Theory, Elie Tahari and Michael Kors.

And then the world changed.  I left my job and in a 180 degree turn, found myself neither needing nor wanting the old corporate clothes, but having no idea how to dress for a casual/sometimes dressy life. And I had a whole lot less money to spend on clothes.

And thus began my style odyssey.  I hadn't even heard of fashion blogs until three or four years ago, and tripped over a bunch when I followed Michelle Obama to J Crew in 2007.

And while those blogs have been wonderful, they have fed my fashion confusion, as I tried various incarnations to determine what my style would be.


beautiful blouse - not me....
 
Boho Wendy - not me....

Nope - not me....
Me - simple, with a wee bit of pearl and sparkle....

Sometime around February, I was sick of it. I had bought lovely clothing - expensive and less expensive - and too much of it remained unworn, despite my attraction to it when I had bought it.  I had less money for clothing and yet I found I was wasting more of it, so uncertain was I of where my sartorial home really was.  And I felt an obsession about clothing I had never had before, and I didn't care for it.

Now and then I would discover a "hit", but never know quite why it was a hit.  I was frustrated and bored and to be honest, I no longer trusted style opinions, most of all my own. 

Enter Jennifer from A Well Styled Life, who took pity on me and shared her considerable experience and expertise as an image and style consultant.

How Beautiful is Jennifer?

I'm not going to lie; I had my doubts.  But then Jennifer sent me a bunch of questions to consider before we talked.  And they were hard questions actually, because they were things I had never thought about before as it related to my wardrobe. 

And during our nearly three hour consultation, in which she lovingly advised, tweaked, held herself back from mocking, and helped me understand why I was making the same fashion mistakes over and over again, it was as if a light came on.

Not only did I understand which kind of cuts would be most flattering, from a body perspective and in keeping with my style preferences, she explained why in great detail.  She told me what to look for when shopping and what to avoid.

And it has changed my life. 

First of all, it gave me permission to let go of things, since I understood that nothing she or I did was ever going to make that thing "right" for me.

Now when I do shop I happily smile at the clothes that mesmerized me in the past, and which still mesmerize me today, but which always end up either consigning or giving away in the future.  Instead, I focus on the 5% that will actually suit ME.  By separating the sartorial wheat from the chaff, she has saved me money and heartache. 

In the last month, I have bought little, but when I did, they adhered to my new "rules" for me:


The Patent Loafer - Maple - Everlane $175 size 8
Everlane Loafers

 
J Crew Sparkle Sweater Skirt in gold
(which is really more of a gold-cognac IRL)
This was a purchase for Paris - the colour seems more September
to me than June and July

Joe Fresh Silk Tank
$39 - YES

One piece of advice in particular has stuck with me since our session. "You will think in the beginning you are dressing boring," she said. "but you will look and feel like YOU."

And she was right!

Each morning now I "shop" in my smaller wardrobe, a wardrobe almost devoid of pattern (save the scarves and jewelry). I feel lovely all the time. And while I adore pattern and certain prints and certain cuts, I know they are not for me, and pass them by.

Not everyone needs image or style services.  But I did. And Jennifer was able to do what countless books and blogs and articles could not provide - she honed in on me! Too often we admire someone's style and seek to emulate it, not sure what it is about it that is so appealing. Now I understand the appeal and can easily determine what must only be admired from afar.

So if you are thinking you need a little shake-up, or feel you are consigning/giving away too much too often, I highly recommend contacting her and engaging her services!

One of the simple exercises she had me do after our time together was to make a private Pinterest board, where I could collect and collate images that supported my newfound style type.  I have found this unusually helpful, especially since it was just for me.

In the future (and most days now), these are the kind of things you will find me in:


Amber Heard


fashion me now

 
 @kattanita in the Rain or Shine Draped Jacket #trench #olivegreen || Get the coat: http://www.nastygal.com/product/rain-or-shine-draped-jacket--olive?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=smm&utm_term=ngdib&utm_content=nasty_gals_do_it_better&utm_campaign=pinterest_nastygal

9to5chic navy jcrew dress 2


Jil Sander, Look #31

 Brunette beauty: Olivia Palermo oozed sophistocation as she attended a Carolina Herrera fashion show and gala in Mexico City, Mexico on Friday
Kultstatus | D I L E T T A N T E | www.kultstatus.tumblr.com | Miroslava Duma :: London

Weekend Chic.


I appreciate those of you who have taken this style journey with me.  I am sure at times it was as frustrating for you as it was for me!  I am no fashionista - I have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to be one. But now, I can be me, truly me, and that is a wonderful thing to be.

And to Jennifer - thank you! thank you! thank you!

xoxo wendy






 

36 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy, this was so interesting to read, and I also saw the post you wrote on Jennifer's blog. I have to say though, I have liked the vast majority of outfits that you have worn on your blog over the past few years, but if you don't feel good in them .... I myself just put aside for Value Village a few dresses that I've finally admitted to myself I just can't wear.

    Will you do a review of the Everlane shoes some time? I love the look of them.

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    1. Patricia - I will try and take pictures today and get them up. I loved the vast majority of what I wore, too, except that I would wear them once or twice and never touch them again, for while they were lovely, I often didn't feel comfortable in many of them, but couldn't say why. Jennifer helped me figure out why!

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  2. What a fun process! I love the classics like the all-black outfit in the top Pinterest photo. Yes, please let us know how you like the Everlane shoes. I'm addicted to their t shirts.

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    1. Jen - it was fun! I have to try their tees! I tried their silk cami, but even the large felt too fitted for my ample bosom and I was looking for a slightly looser fit.

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  3. Almost devoid of pattern! Oh Wendy, say it isn't so! Just kidding. I am happy you are finding what you are comfortable in. I think Jennifer could talk to me for the rest of eternity and I could never let go of my prints. Perhaps they are not as sophisticated, but I am always drawn to them. For me right style or not, if I am happy wearing something I smile and I think that makes all the difference.

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    1. Hi! Lest I misled you - jennifer didn't turn me from pattern - the reality is that I am tiny, busty and cute (yes I know...) and I really wanted to move away from anything that was making me too cute! Your patterns look smashing on you I bet; you looked beautiful when we met! And now I do have pattern in my scarves and even bottoms - I just have to be very judicious....

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    2. Wendy's style RX would not be like any other woman. Yours likely would include pattern. If you love them, are comfortable in them and they portray the message you want, then it's you! I didn't talk Wendy out of anything. She saw they were not sending the message she wanted, so opted to wear solids.
      Being happy in your wardrobe is the goal.

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  4. I am happy for you and it's great Jennifer helped you along the way. Finding ones second skin is like being happy in ones own skin. Takes time. I have made so many expensive mistakes but also I regret the wasted money I could have spent on something else... You sound really content to have arrived at this space and good on you!

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    1. Thanks Naomi - in many ways, it was fun to try things these past two years. Now that I know what looks/works best it is so much easier!

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  5. It really is all about you and not the clothes...and you look beautiful. Simple, well fitting clothes let that smile, that hair, those sparkling eyes really shine.

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    1. And she taught me so much! All those years I was working like a dog I missed some good advice I think or perhaps left it to the wonderful sales clerks who basically directed my shopping to those things that really worked and then had it tailored for me. I also realized that my favourite store closed right after I left work, so I also had no place to go for advice and as we all know, so many clerks want to sell you anything!

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  6. Wendy, you look fabulous. So glad to hear you have found your true style with Jennifer's help! I love the elegance and touch of sparkle in that last photo of you. I am also interested to hear your review of the Everlane shoes. I have been debating them but the shape of the toe box is holding me back.

    I am planning to write a post on my personal style journey as well. What helped for me was the hours and days spent sketching designs, looking hard at my own figure and thinking about what I liked and didn't like. 99% of what I see, I can easily pass by now and I have a small mountain of J. Crew clothing to get rid of!!!!

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    1. Louise - I hear you! Although I still find J Crew awesome for the basics - tees, cashmere and the odd bit of fun bling jewelry or shoes that are on trend but do not break the bank! The rest is just not for me, not matter how much I admire it on others. Something you - like Jennifer - understand so well is drape and fabric. Jennifer helped me understand the WHY of why a particular beautiful item was left hanging in my closet, even the simple items, and it was because for my size and shape, I need soft, supple fabrics! Someone is going to love my JCrew icon trench this fall! Can't wait for your post!

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  7. I love this post! You said many key things, especially figuring out why something works, an elusive concept for many. I remember the days when finding flattering pants was nearly impossible; then the scales fell from our eyes and we all realized it matters where a waistband stops.

    You look sleek and beautiful! Good fabrics and nice lines.

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    1. Thanks Lane! You are right! for me it was Jennifer helping me find the vocabulary for what I wanted out of my clothes and then it all easily came together!

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  8. Wendy, I agree with Blue Booby that your smile is everything! It is so important to feel like yourself in clothes. The confidence that comes with that is priceless. So glad that you have found your true style! I love the first pinterest picture and I definitely see you in that. I can't wait to see more of your looks.

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  9. Good for you Wendy. It sound like you enjoyed the journey and that you learned so much in the process.

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  10. Thanks for the mention Wendy! It was so much fun working with you and showing you how to find your personal style RX. I'm so happy when I help a woman have that aha moment about how she wants and can look. I love those Pinterest outfits. They are totally you!!
    xoxo

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    1. Jennifer - you are a goddess in my books! Plus, I learned so much! And it was fun!

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  11. Love your new simplicity you look so lovely in that wee pearl and sparkle outfit, it is really you.
    Sometimes you just need to say "That's not me" to narrow down what you feel is you - and ultimately its what you feel comfortable in, isnt it. I've had the opposite in a store when we first came here 12 years ago with someone saying "This is what you could wear to the PTA meetings" - and i wasn't even a member of the PTA so depressing.
    Im hopeless with clothes, I like too many different styles and veer all over the show.
    Love all those clean lines you're going for, awesome.

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    1. I have a bit of a chameleon in me as well, but you are so gorgeous and skinny I think you could wear a burlap sack and look like a million bucks!

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  12. I loved this post Wendy, and I don't think you're exactly the Lone Ranger on this issue. I suppose on some levels I find design (Interiors) a bit like this for me. I love colour, really modern stuff, really old traditional stuff, things that are whimsical… basically, a lot of stuff. The thing is I know I can't personally live with it long term… it just isn't 'me' (or my house a lot of the time). So what I end up with is something that is comfortable, and that works. Not necessarily exciting, fashionable or colourful, but (hopefully) chic, workable etc. I think your new found style is perfect - it's exactly the sort of thing I like to wear - unfussy, stylish without being trend driven, and while fashionable and pulled together not overwhelming of your personality. It's a hard thing to step away from the trends, but I think what you're doing with your clothing is fabulous, and what a great job Jennifer did in really getting to the bottom of your personal style.

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    1. I would love to know if this is an aging thing as well Heidi or that things just change? I went from loving dark deep wall colours to suddenly having a burning urge to paint everything white!!! I always love what you wear - so chic! And You are right - Jennifer helped me, all through simply asking the right questions, which I am sure is the same thing you do in your line of business!

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  13. Hi Wendy, I don't think it is an ageing thing (although I'm getting older along with everyone else) so much as each person's own internal evolution and I think times when we just want to simplify and really focus on certain strong preferences or priorities. Funny, I am a bit your opposite space. Was very happy in my three "uniforms." But since February have been trying out a few of the "trends" that are a bit outside my style space in a small way (belts, clutch bags, summer shoes - no big investments. Six months of the year we are so layered up in our country, summer feels like bit of time to play. Oh and another one for the Everlane loafers review please! Like Louise, I am worried about the toe box and sizing.

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    1. So funny! We are passing in the night! So long as we are having fun, that's all that matters! Just did up the review and posted!

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  14. I didn't know you had worked with Jennifer!! Isn't she great? She's honest and funny and knows her stuff. Love your choices and your style. I am down to these classic looks like you pinned! I need to do the same and just add nicer classics as I wear them the most! Sounds like a fun adventure doing this Wendy!!

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    1. She is amazing, isn't she Kim? And the fabulous thing is that it doesn't stop you from dipping in now and then for some fun pieces, but makes me more mindful for sure!

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  15. I'm still on the journey! A number of things you said resonated with me. I have to be flexible with my clothing as I provide it for my jobs, but it's not necessarily my personal style. I also keep a lot of things around "just in case." Many have come in handy, which is a mental deterrent when I'm trying to pare down. The two main questions I have for garments when I try them on are...is it comfortable right off the bat? and where am I wearing this to? Being honest with myself has gone a long way in making better decisions.

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    1. Well I here you, because I gave something away I kind of regretted later, but am trying to let that go... Comfortable right of the bat is key, I think. And I keep thinking George Clooney is going to come for me...

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    2. I've been debating whether to give a couple things away and I can't seem to let go. I was feeling selfish, but I don't want to have regret. I'll wait for now.

      Thank you for that!

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  16. Wendy, what a great post!!!! Thanks for sharing your journey!

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    1. Thanks Rynetta! It has been fun to see your journey as well!

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  17. Using pinterest boards to keep track of why you like has really changed the way I shop. Especially online. I refer to them before I purchase to make sure what I am thinking about is going to work with the aesthetic that I actually like and pin regularly.

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    1. Jane - I do, that, too! It has really helped!

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