My personal style:
(pants are H&M, a couple months old, can’t find them online!)
I think about my own personal style all the time. Obviously 😉 And everyone else’s too…if I’m being honest. I love to observe style and try to figure out what a person is saying with their clothing/accessories. Unfortunately, most of the time it looks like people throw on whatever is clean and go on about their business (keeping in mind I don’t go to an office job everyday, so my observations are a bit skewed), and I’ve also found that personal style is also very geo-specific.
Here in the Dallas-area, there are a lot more labels, bling, and top-stitching (ugh) and in Austin it was all about vintage (sometimes to the point of being silly), hipster (ALWAYS silly IMO) style, and hoodies. Honestly, no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve never really observed or found anyone else who shares my particular style (except one friend; when we shop together, we always buy the same things).
Which leads me to trying to identify what exactly IS my personal style. I tend to think it is minimal, but I don’t really even know what that means. Is my style minimal in terms of few colors or monochrome? Yes. Minimal in terms of shape? Not exactly, I do tend to wear unconventional shapes. Minimal in terms of number of items? Definitely not!!
I also sometimes think my style is boho because I love long flowy dresses, hippie style (within reason), and clogs. I appreciate Rachel Zoe’s look with flared jeans, fur vests and loose, flowy caftans, but I don’t always feel like me when I try to dress like that. I walk into Free People and tend to want everything, but when I try it on, or think about how to incorporate pieces in to my wardrobe, I end up with nothing.
Obviously, I gravitate towards all things James Perse, so what does that mean? I’m a California girl at heart?? And Splendid. Both those brands are California-based. But I don’t really identify in general with “California-style” – I’ve always felt I have more of a New York look, like Helmut Lang & Vince. But maybe I’m wrong about that. Helmut Lang, Vince, Rag & Bone, are all more “structured,” fitted, and edgy, things I think are characteristic of a more east-coast look, and James Perse & Splendid are more casual, without any edge at all, really. They’re more slouchy and laid-back. Is that really who I am?
But I like to THINK I have edge. Doesn’t my Alexander Wang bag give me edge? Do my Harrow booties give me edge? My Vince sneakers? My Veda leather jacket? I don’t know…maybe it’s wishful thinking! My look in general is softer than all that, but I like to collect things that have edge. And then I love looks that are both edgy & feminine, like a long chiffon pleated skirt with a leather biker jacket with lots of hardware; I DIE for that look. The juxtaposition is what I aim for, the balance between girly and masculine, or hard & soft. It’s not easy to achieve or pull-off; I’m not even sure I’ve tried it, but that is perfection in my opinion.
I mean, I think I understand my style, I think if I stick to a few designers I really love, I’ll be good. I think I know what shapes work well on my body, and the types of clothing that fits into my lifestyle & budget. And then, I get heart palpitations when I see anything with the tiger print by Kenzo. Or I smile when I see this gorgeous printed Mary Katrantzou dress. Then I think WTF?? Who am I? Why do I want to add these things to my cart RIGHT NOW, to hell with my personal style?
Browsing the Net-a-Porter sale this morning is what brought all of this up, the questions, the analysis…and I ended up concluding that if I had crazy money, I could have a few things that don’t necessarily fit into my “everyday” style, but that I love anyway. Things that I can have around for special occasions, or when I feel like wearing something crazy in a WAY out-there way (harem pants are “crazy” in an understated way, I think).
I would NEVER be able to save and spend money on those things because they wouldn’t meet my requirements for cost-per-wear, and ultimately, they don’t fit into my personal style. Am I stifling myself? Am I holding back because I’m afraid? I’m actually very stingy with my money, which is why I only ever purchase things I know will get a TON of wear, and fit seamlessly into my wardrobe. I do spend a lot of money on clothing/shoes/accessories, but only on things I will wear the second I get them. Do I love them? Yes, I do, but do they make my heart skip a beat like the tiger Kenzo print? Not always. It’s more of a practical love, a subdued love. Which if you know me, you know that’s how I am; I’m always tempering my excitement.
How can I stop doing that? Can I have print and some color and still live within my means? I don’t know. I really don’t think so. I just don’t WANT to spend my money on things I won’t wear all the time. As I said, if I had crazy money, meaning enough that I didn’t have to worry about spending a couple of thousand dollars a year on purely emotional purchases, then I could do it, but I don’t see that happening. And being the practical person that I am, I don’t think that would happen ANYWAY. Even when I receive a gift of money I use it on practical things.
Ultimately, yes, of course your personal style is dependent on your financial situation. I mean, I don’t know anyone who can shop with abandon, just buying things that catch their eye, or that they love, no matter the price. We all have to make decisions about what to buy based on our budget. It’s inevitable that unless you have crazy money (so much, you will never have to worry about anything) you have to make choices about what to spend your money on.
I/we could just stash away a few dollars here and there into a savings account until it really adds up, then take it shopping, but what would happen then? As I said before, I’m still not sure I’d be able to spend it on “fun” stuff; I’d probably just end up buying more basics, and practical wardrobe items. But maybe not. Perhaps I should try it. I can’t tell you how often in the last couple of weeks I’ve wished I had a savings account with a couple thousand dollars in it at my disposal to buy all the amazing sale items I’ve found. Maybe that’s telling me something…
What do you think? How do you balance buying basics and fun stuff? Do you have a personal style? Do you ever shop outside your own personal style? Have you ever created a savings account for sale shopping?