Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Develop Your "Look"

Ever since I got out of grad school, I started trying to create a "look" for the hip new professional person I am trying to be and according to conversations I've had with some friends and coworkers recently, it's working! If you're interested in creating your own "look," here's my suggestions.

1. Be Particular
Having a look starts with laying out what you want to get out of and put into your clothing. For me, what I want to get out of it is comfort, prettiness and uniqueness. What I put into purchasing clothing includes looking for brightly colored items, preferring skirts and dresses to pants and shorts, collecting hats that will look good with a variety of outfits, preferring natural fabrics, preferring vintage or used clothing and wanting to pay as little as possible (except for an item that will enhance my wardrobe too much not to splurge).

Those are my guidelines for clothes shopping and they end up simplifying the process, since I'm only looking for exactly what I want. Another unwritten rule for myself I have is that I won't sift through tons of clothes, but will only pay attention to things that catch my eye even from the rack.

2. Pay Attention
Ignore this one if you don't care about fitting in with current fashions, otherwise, my tips for being in style without repurchasing your wardrobe every few months are to:

  • pay attention to current and emerging styles - but pay most attention to the cut and shape
  • use whatever fashion trends merge with your existing preferences and ignore the rest
It's really easy, but just doing this can make your wardrobe seem cutting edge quite easily. Two of the ways current fashions intersect with my style are all those ballet-inspired shoes and pairing footless tights with skirts. Those both totally fulfill my ballerina requirements (more about that next) so I absolutely love 'em and use them in my dress a lot.

3. Mimic Your Fashion Icons
One way that helped me to develop my "look" was to think of the women whose style inspires me and to ape it. This can be famous women or the chick down the street whose style you admire. It's all about your personal inspiration. Women who inspire me are old film actresses (especially Mia Farrow), artsy/indie/hipster chicks and ballerinas (that last one is my inner child's influence - she always wanted to be a ballerina). These inspirations feed into the style, cut and color of what I wear all the time.

4. Be Rational
No matter what - be sure you're shopping within your means and buying pieces that you will actually wear. For instance, if there's an awesome shirt that is dry clean only and you never use a dry cleaners, you probably shouldn't buy it. Look for low maintenance items and don't let your fantasy erase the day-to-day necessity.

For instance, I bought this awesome fucking hat from Urban Outfitters because it was so Golden Hollywood Era starlet that I was head-over-heels for it:

I thought the all sorts of floppy brim was super cool at first, but now I just don't wear the damn thing because of it. It doesn't work as a sunhat because at the first breeze the brim is blown completely away from my face. It doesn't work as a formal hat (thought I did wear it once to a wedding) because the brim flops down and its like wearing blinders, not suggested for an event you want to see! And it doesn't work as a daily wear hat for the same reason. So I totally got burned on that purchase. It sits in my closet and I sigh every time I see it, because it seemed so great at first!

Otherwise, rationality includes not buying fabrics that wrinkle easily if like me you dislike ironing and basically making sure your clothes fit easily into your lifestyle.

And that's all the advice I've got. What about you?

Related posts:
Now and Then
Sex and Fashion
Skirting the Issue: Fashion and Fetish

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The DLC said...

Without really thinking about it, I have changed looks several times over the years. Older clothes evoke particular periods of time in my life and bring back interesting memories. So I guess my advice would be to avoid complacency in fashion. If you see something you like, even if it doesn't fit your current style, go for it.

Applecart T. said...

mail me the hat, please.

(a non-psycho request, i promise.)

May said...

I'll totally sell it to you.

Kris the Educated Vagabond said...

My look changes constantly and I love it. One day I'm bohemian chick in a pattern maci dress with my curls flying and a peace sign pendant. The next I'm in a vintage 50's sundress with bobby socks and a high ponytail. Maybe the next I'm wearing a black bob wig, jeans and a twinset.

I tried to settle on one look and never could. So I think now I have about four "looks" I have.