After around 20 years of working on it, I can safely say I feel at home in my personal style. I started caring about my wardrobe around the age of six when I had one non-negotiable requirement: That everything I wore from head to toe had to be some shade of green. I also insisted my name was Angela and if people didn’t call me that, I wouldn’t respond to them. One time I got three goldfish and tried to name them all Angela until my mother convinced me they would have existential crises without their own distinct identities and so I conceded by naming them Angela, Tangela, and Rangela. I had a lot of problems, is what I’m saying. But with those problems came strong sartorial convictions that have persisted to this very day. I know what I like.
Still, another set of problems can arise when what you like isn’t actually practical for your lifestyle. It really comes down to your preferences in how far you’re willing to push the social envelope, but also what actually impedes your functionality. What does “practical” mean to you? What compromises are you willing to make? I for one have no problem being the most dressed up girl in the room, or wearing blue lipstick to the grocery store, but I refuse to wear six inch heels to walk around the city. You need to find a middle ground, a compromise.
Here are six things I finally gave up:
Clothes that are too much “work”
For me this includes anything that needs to be altered or dry cleaned. I’m 4’11 and drawn to the bedazzled, so for a long time I lied to myself about the amount of effort I was willing to put into my wardrobe. But no more. Even if it makes my options more limited, I no longer have a pile of clothes that I never wear because I’m “waiting” to get them taken care of.
Doing anything fancy to my hair color
I’ve had black hair since I was fifteen, with a brief sabbatical of two years where I had returned to my natural auburn. When I see other people with brightly colored locks or artfully integrated natural highlights I find myself wanting to do the same. It just looks so fun! But I am a student on a budget, and bleaching black dye would not only damage my hair but cause me to go bankrupt. Even when I tried to have an ombré, it was the biggest pain. The truth is I don’t like hair that requires a lot of upkeep. I have a ten step skin care routine, that’s enough for me. And to be honest black hair goes best with my wardrobe, looks the best, and aligns most closely with my concept of self.
While I was never into the seemingly torturous sort of bra that’s padded and push up and feels to me like a little breast straight-jacket, even my lace and underwire barely-a-bra bras started to feel restrictive. I have those midsize boobs that look pretty big in some outfits and absolutely non existent in others. To compensate for the latter category I would always wear a bra. But I found myself less and less excited to wear those outfits that “required” one, opting instead to reach for leotards and sundresses that made me fee uninhibited. One day I had finally decided to donate my bras and get some pretty bralettes, and I feel so much better! I am literally always comfortable and have come to appreciate the more natural silhouette, even when my boobs are completely lost under layers of sweater.
They just have no place in the wardrobe of a person who walks four to nine miles a day. I love the look, I like the extra height, but it’s just not going to happen. Poor foolish high school Kristine, you were never actually convincing people you were tall. At the time my feet were so damaged from ten years of ballet, foot pain just seemed to be a fact of life. Not I know that wearing comfortable shoes just makes your whole day better. So I opt for flat sandals or platforms in the summer, which give me a little height without being uncomfortable. For the colder months I wear flat boots or ones with a very low heel.
I used to love trying the latest foundations, but as I got older my skin changed and now gets very angry with me if I wear any kind of full-coverage makeup. While I enjoy the look of a flawless canvas on other people, it’s just not worth how much it wrecks my skin now. I am prone to irritation so I mix a little Tarte Maracuja concealer with moisturizer or oil and pat it on any redness like a tinted moisturizer which seems to work just fine. I compensate with a bunch of highlighter which is sheer enough to not give me hives. I’ve given up on the idea of having the completely even, flawless-looking skin foundation gives you and I feel ok about that. I’ve even started enhancing my light natural beauty marks that used to be covered by foundation with a little eyebrow pencil.
I tried. I really tried, but it’s just not my thing. I bought so many pairs because of how great they looked on other people but couldn’t ever make them work with my style. I kept thinking I just hadn’t found the right top yet, or the right accessories. Blue jeans are supposed to work for everyone after all. Switching to black or colored denim made much more sense in the end.
I’ve seen them look amazing on other people but I just cannot be bothered learning how to apply them. I would live in fear of them falling off in my soup or something. I even save mascara for special occasions and instead tint my eyelashes black, curl them, and call it a day.
Sometimes focusing on what you don’t want can be a less intimidating place to start. I’ve noticed that people are often quicker to have negative convictions than positive ones. How often do you see negative reviews start with something like “I’ve never posted a comment before but this tie rack was an offense against all that is holy and I just had to speak up”? Human beings are a little fucked in the head … but you can use that! I’m convinced that half the battle is not buying things that sit in your closet. So if your style tastes don’t feel strongly developed, start with a list of what you know and loathe. Or at least know you can’t be bothered with. The focus on saving your resources for things you love.
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Kristine Rose is a make-up artist, esthetician, and writer. She strongly believes in each individual’s right to express themselves through style, make up, and body modification (or lack thereof). Beauty writing is her one true passion and she intends to revel in it until her untimely death, crushed under the weight of her own jewelry. Follow her on Instagram: @vanityarchitect and @glitter_or_death.
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