Thoughts on my style direction (long!)

As many of you know by now, I've been wanting to really step it up a notch and further refine my style. I've been slowly working my way there over the last few months, and last couple weeks especially, but I have three distinctive directions that I'm (still) working on mixing successfully: Euro-chic + punk/urban + vintage elements. It makes me feel a bit schizophrenic.

First: I adore ADORE Euro-chic looks. I find the intrinsic boldness and simplicity so appealing. But I feel that perhaps this type of look on its own is a bit of a sham for me, because I am not the naturally elegant person these looks often convey; I'm loud, forward, klutzy, goofy, rarely think before talking. Which brings me to the second direction.

Second: I am, and always will be, a punk at heart. Leather, distressing, hardware, black, military, androgynous looks, all that tough stuff (I wouldn't say I'm super tough or anything though). I also spent ages 14-24 in a punk/ska band. And that brings me to the third direction.

Third: I get some of my biggest fashion inspirations from the 40s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. These are by far my favorite fashion decades, but especially the 70s and 80s; I often had a lot of rockabilly or retro elements to my looks when I performed way back in my band days which I still enjoy.

So thinking about all this led me to question, do these styles fit ME as a person, and not just my fashion aesthetic? I found that, separate from the above brief thoughts on these styles, they ALL actually fit aspects of my personality fairly well:

- Euro-chic: I have been slowly converted to quality over quantity over the years (my husband is 500% team quality), I am equally happy with finer things or simple experiences, am easy going and uncomplicated, a fairly warm and patient person, well educated, and detail oriented.
- Punk/urban: I will always question everything, I am a firm believer that we should never stop learning, am creative and artistic, am interested in politics and economics, I'm a pretty strong person who is fairly opinionated, while warm I don't "put up with crap" (not sure how to phrase more eloquently?), and absolutely always prefer music that Rocks \m/ (some interesting, though abridged, info on punk ideologies).
- Retro/Vintage: I have a hard time letting go of things, prefer to wait and find things that fit their purpose perfectly rather than be "close enough", LOVE historical homes and decoration, and (don't laugh!) as equal-gender-rights as I am I only work part time because my husband can support us just fine on his own even though our income would dramatically increase if I worked full time AND not with the family business :)

Somewhat to my surprise, these were the same styles I was drawn to 2.5 years ago when I started revamping my wardrobe, but you'd never guess if it you saw what I was wearing! And even up until the last few months I was being too wussy about wearing styles I liked. Too much dipping, not enough diving; now my toes are wet enough :)

AAAAND that brings me to what I need to be doing NOW to get closer to where I want to BE (whew!). Step one: do above analysis (check). Step two: re-do my list (check, posted directly below). Step three: clean closet to remove items that are hindering this style refinement (in progress, I'm bad at letting go of items). Step four: replace removed items with items that are a- supportive of my style aspirations, b- high quality, c- perfectly fitting, d- less sloppy/casual (so.... more wovens, less t-shirts).

The last step is interesting. While I generally prefer quality to quantity, in terms of fashion I have been buying cheap (and in larger numbers of styles) because the whole thing has been experimentation to find what is "me". I've now got a pretty good idea for fall/winter stuff and will be making NEW purchases with a much more discerning eye, and of higher quality so the items last (don't worry, I'll still do plenty of experimenting!). But spring/summer is still confusing to me so I hope by next season I'll have a better idea of how to shop quality; for this season, I'm trying lots of stuff.

So that is what has been brewing in my brain for a couple years, and finally in a more articulate form since the start of this year. Thanks for reading; I hope some of you made it through and are willing to discuss! :D

EDIT: Here are some specific YLF links I found really helpful while sorting through all this!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

30 Comments

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    ----------------------------------------------------
    EURO-CHIC URBAN
    ----------------------------------------------------
    -------- COLORS --------
    PRIMARY NEUTRALS: black, gray/charcoal, white, navy
    SECONDARY NEUTRALS: chocolate brown, tan/taupe, ivory
    MAIN COLORS: red/burgundy, purple, blue, turquoise/teal, dark green/olive
    ACCENT COLORS: rich camel, mustard, berry, coral, peach, aqua
    DON'T WEAR COLORS: orange, yellow, pink, lime
    METALS: pewter, silver, gunmetal, bronze, copper, brass (and gold occasionally)

    WEAR: neutrals, brights, muteds, high contrast, low contrast, dynamic color combos
    DON'T WEAR: pastels

    -------- ELEMENTS OF LOVE --------
    [[[PUNK/URBAN + VINTAGE + EURO-CHIC]]
    40s, 70s, 80s
    Milan and Paris street style
    clean silhouettes
    androgenous/masculine elements
    military
    chains/studs/hardware
    metallics
    distressing
    leather
    leather jackets
    blazers, tailored jackets
    black/gray skinny jeans
    jeans in general
    sweaters
    turtlenecks
    boots
    high heels
    simple accessorizing with dramatic accessories
    belts
    scarves
    snakeskin
    stripes
    plaid
    abstract/geometric patterns
    ----------------------------------------------------
    ----------------------------------------------------

  • nicoleb replied 8 years ago

    @_@ this is amazing and so thought out. It makes me feel even more scatter brained than i already am lol.

    Well i love seeing your outfit posts and your pretty pictures and i look forward to seeing your next steps in your style evolution as well!

  • Kristine replied 8 years ago

    This was really interesting Aida! I can see you merging the three styles pretty well. Euro chic has a bit of punk, punk has a bit of 80s (or vice versa), etc.. I think you're moving in a good direction and I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    Aida, this is terrific and giving me inspiration to think through my style goals in a similar manner. Thanks for sharing.

    Interesting that you are drawn to a punk aesthetic, as am I. My music career was never as a musician, only a DJ, but the influence on me has prevailed as well. It's a challenge to keep a touch of that attitude as I enter my late 40s, and beyond, but I'll figure it out!

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Nicole - Hehe thanks, I've been working on it for quite a while actually! I'm scatterbrained until I write stuff down ^^

    Kristine - Good point, that's a great way to look at it. I don't think I quite made those direct connections yet so thank you! This should help me in my further analyses!

    Janet - I had been keeping my punk influences more subtle, but I'd like to (re?)incorporate more of it and hopefully find a good balance between the tough punk elements and the other more sophisticated elements; my overall goal is to look more chic than tough. As you said, attitude is a big part of what makes that punk aesthetic work as we get older. It's hard to wear punkish things without having confidence, but I think the attitude also needs to be there for it to really come off as authentic.

  • annagybe replied 8 years ago

    Ok this is way more analytical than my style. I'm more like "Oooh pretty/cool/edgy/interesting!" I surprise myself how cohesive my style can be at times.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Anna you're fashion instincts are enviable! When I do that it looks like a big mish-mash of failure :( I'm just happy that I've gotten to the point where, on very small levels, I can do the "Oooh pretty/cool/edgy/interesting!" and have it work, but in the Grand Scheme Of Things I'm just can't seem to get there. At some point this type of heavy analysis has to give way and I need to just trust my instincts, which I feel are actually pretty good now. I'm hoping that this was a good enough all-encompassing step so that I can just be more artist and less engineer from here out.

    EDIT: My biggest failing is selecting amazing items when shopping, instead of just OK basics. I need to improve.

  • rae replied 8 years ago

    Aida, I feel that the style you want is very, very clear. I think that if you go forward with your plan of buying higher quality items, the Euro Chic side will tighten up and you will be right where you want to be. Rock on!

  • Isabel replied 8 years ago

    What a great post ! I feel privileged that you would share that with "me". I am not sure that I have much helpful advice. This I CAN say, if you think that all European women are demure, you are mistaken. I am Portuguese and my hands fly all over the place when I talk - watch out. I also LOVE economics and politics ( you are my kinda lady ! ) Anyway, my friend from Sicily is NOT demure, but very Eurochic as is my friend from France and my Italian friend. You get the point. I don't think what you wear is a declaration of how physically execute yourself : it is an expression in and of itself...if that makes any sense. I think that you are on the right track in defining what it is from each look that you are attracted to. I also firmly believe that we don't always have to intellectualize something we love. It is visceral and emotional, it doesn't have to make sense. So why can't you be Eurochic ? Does being loud and opinionated automatically exclude you from the love of simple lines ? I say NON !

    Also, I once read that no one is one style : we have "sub styles" and "sub-texts". I like that. So don't limit yourself.

    And I agree that if you have some basic items that fit really, really well, that gives you a great canvas to start with ! Additionally, my favorite looks are the ones where items seem utterly opposed and contradictory but somehow just flow together.

    You go girl ! ( Boy am I looking forward to this ! )

    BTW can you tell I am a total philosophy geek too ?

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing. It was very interesting and enlightening. I am analytical by nature but somehow fashion feels more organic a process for me. Whatever works for each individual, right? :) Can't wait to see more of your refinement process as you come along!

  • Angie replied 8 years ago

    Your thought process was fun and interesting to read, Aida! I look forward to seeing more of your style journey in action. Make sure you have fun during the process - that's the only requirement :)

    I bet you're a T. Are you a T? (Myers Briggs). I'm an F so the thought process for my style journey is 100% Anna's method. I totally feel my way instead of thinking it. But I had to learn to teach the T way - your way - because many of my clients are like you!

    Your hubby and I are on the same quality page. He can high five Greg too.

  • Marley replied 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this Aida - I find it really interesting and enlightening! You have not only given me an "inside look" at you and your process - but you've given me much "material" to use in going through my own style progression/identification. I look forward to watching you evolve!

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Aida, I love this whole process, and I really feel you are further along than you think... I will be on the lookout for more Aida-like outfits that fit the new you profile! I am doing my best to follow along behind you.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Thanks for the support ladies! I would like to point out that I don't approach ALL of fashion this analytically, just wanted to articulate and share the crazy noise spinning in my brain. I came up with this analysis AFTER thinking hard about what I am drawn to in fashion for myself, not the other way around. The engineer in me may over-analyze all this stuff and seeks to explain why certain things work and others don't, but the artist in me is the one that does all the great experimenting and usually comes up with the best outfits :)

    Rae, so true! I'm just starting to notice this with some of my cheaper tees especially. Many of the outfits I try with the tees just don't feel up to par these days. Which means they need replacing...

    Isabel, it's not that I think European women are demure, just that the style I'd like to emulate makes those women look so chic and sophisticated and why can't I look like that? :) But you're exactly right: I can! (I loved your post, so much good advice in there!)

    Mo & Angie, I think I am 50-50 split analytical/feeling. Fashion used to feel like one of the least organic things to me, because I started this process thinking that it was something I just wouldn't be able to do naturally. But of course I can, and like I said in my reply to Anna above, I just need to start trusting my instincts because they've gotten pretty good now; I need to be more artist and less engineer from here out (I'm 50-50 there, too!).

    Marley, glad you find it useful! It's been incredibly helpful to write out. I'd be happy if any of my fuzzy thoughts are able to help stylish you become even more stylish!

    Una, I think you're also farther along than you think :) I'd definitely love to see any Aida-like outfits you find; always up for some experimentation!

  • Aunty replied 8 years ago

    Aida what ever you do you are going to look fab. You just have IT!!

  • JuliaInGermany replied 8 years ago

    I love to read all these lists and style stories! I think you'll be able to blend the three styles very well. I'm as un-punky as it gets, but through YLF I learned to enjoy the look on others quite a lot. You go, girl!

  • chouette22 replied 8 years ago

    I thoroughly enjoyed your style analysis and find your approach fascinating. It takes quite a bit of reflection to put one's evolution into words, I would imagine that this was not the easiest of tasks.

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    Angie, how interesting to connect this to Myers Briggs patterning. I have tested as both a T and an F, but I think the F has taken over when I'm out shopping, only to have T kick in when I get home. I have to temper that "Ooh pretty/cool/edgy/interesting!" tendency because it leads me to a closet full of clothes but not much to wear that makes me feel great.

  • Lynne replied 8 years ago

    Aida, this looks so coherent, obviously the mulling in your head had paid dividends! Can't wait to see further installments.....and I think it's good that 'experimented' with lower end items while you were getting to this point. I've made big mistakes in the past buying quality in a style that just never worked for me, thinking that if I paid a lot for it, it would look good on me. Big mistake :).

  • Jonesy replied 8 years ago

    Fascinating to read, Aida! It seems like you really know yourself and where you want to go next. I love the punk elements of your style and look forward to seeing more of that! I am definitely a T on the Meyers Briggs test, so I can relate to the pleasure of sorting all of this out like some kind of analytical puzzle :).

  • crwilson replied 8 years ago

    I love reading posts like this Aida - thank you for sharing. I'm a pretty analytical person, especially when it comes to...well, I guess when it comes to anything. I've learned a lot from your posts about your style evolution, and I look forward to seeing how all of your analysis goes into practice.

  • kellygirl replied 8 years ago

    You are definitely on your way, Aida. Good for you for defining your style and colors. What a daunting task. If I were you, I'd replace before removing so it's not so stressful. You have a fab style and just elevating your current basics with well fitting, quality replacements will make a world of difference--I think you already have a very Euro-chic and punk vibe. Good luck! I'm looking forward to see how you do this!

  • Heather replied 8 years ago

    Aida, this is a brilliant idea. Writing all of these thoughts down make them very tangible and your list becomes a reference for your new style direction. You are genius.

    I think you are a very cool person, and I am very excited to follow your new style direction. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all.

    p.s. I love that you were in a punk/ska band. Very, very cool.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    You guys are the best, thanks for all the great feedback on this :D

    Aunty, Julia and Christine, thank you!

    chouette22, no certainly not easy but absolutely worth it for me. Even if it did take a couple years ;)

    Janet, I'm the same while shopping! Except I always go for basic pieces, which gives me a closet full of basics and very few interesting items. Part of my goal is to change this so I have more balance. From what I've seen, you have a pretty fantastic wardrobe!

    Lynne, glad to hear some validation on the "experiment cheap" idea. I found it has been both good and bad; one the one hand if I don't like an item I didn't spend a lot on it so it's not a big loss, but on the other if I truly love an item then the lower quality usually means it won't hold up for long. Still, in the long run I think it was more helpful than not financially, and it has allowed me to experiment in ways I wouldn't have if I'd limited myself only to high quality items (because I wouldn't have been able to purchase as many styles to play with). At least now I can move up a retail level or two with confidence :)

    Jonsey, I must say it's a huge relief to have this fleshed out so clearly. I really feel like now I can move forward and let it be more of an artistic process because I have a good, defined foundation to keep me focused.

    Kelly, good advice and I do plan to follow it :) The trick while shopping will be to not think, "oh I have a black tee already (even though it's a cheapie and starting to become misshapen) so now I can get this other thing instead because I don't have one of those!" Which I totally currently do ><

    Heather, well thank you! I'm glad that my brain musings are inspiring to others; if you told me that this would be the case a year ago, I'd never have believed it! (I don't think the band has any music up online any more but if I find some that is I'll post it. I still do music stuff on my own, but do very little these days. Starting to set up my mini-studio again, though!)

  • CocoLion replied 8 years ago

    I find I shop and style myself on instinct. But this has lead to a lot of duplication in my wardrobe, so I now am also finding the need to be more analytical. What I am doing now, to better hone my personal style is this. I take daily (or almost daily) WIW pictures. Many of them never posted here. Then I go back and select the outfit photos that I felt best in.

    What you've inspired me to do, Aida, is give words to why I liked that look. I think articulation will bring me some new insights and will save time and money in the long run.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Denise, I have a lot of duplication as well! I've been slowly working on weeding them out. Glad to hear the daily photos are helping you, I swear by them. I think the combination of having done this for over a year in addition to having a large inspiration folder on my computer full of looks I love is what mostly helped me to see the common threads. I hope you are able to articulate your thoughts on your style; if you feel comfortable enough to post them I would love to hear what you come up with :)

  • O replied 8 years ago

    What a great read. It's getting late here so I'm logging out, but I'll come back to this again. You are so inspiring Aida and I love your analytical side!

  • Patty replied 8 years ago

    Aida--your persona just screams for those three styles! And the cross overs you can create!

  • Scarlet replied 8 years ago

    This was really interesting to read, but man are you analytical! One can sure see the engineer side to your brain. Somehow I use up all my analysis for my work and have none left for myself at home.

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Thank you very much, ladies!

    Scarlet, honestly I wouldn't normally have gone into QUITE this much analytical data but I just felt like my style was progressing way too slowly and inconsistently. Now that it's all hashed out, I'm not really thinking about it much when dressing; it's just in the back of my head, a sneaky little guiding voice. This week's outfits have come about very organically and I'm pleased with how they're turning out :)

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