Thanks so much for all of your kind and supportive e-mails and comments. I so appreciate them, and you. I’m gonna ease back into posting with a book excerpt today, a fun little tidbit that could give you some guidance and ideas for honing your style as we head toward 2014.
By now, most of you are aware that I released a book last June titled Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well. What you may not know is that less than 10% of the book was drawn from existing blog content! The book outlines a process that is very much aligned with everything I write here, but has never been described in its entirety on the blog. The book presents a highly customizable regimen to help you define and hone your own personal style.
I wanted to share another excerpt from the text with you. This particular tidbit focuses on doing some introspective writing to create an understanding of your current style, something that many of us eager to make change fail to do. It’s a practice that I make all of my clients undertake, and feel it’s an important part of jump-starting the style evolution process. This excerpt also introduces the idea of the Personal Style Journal, an integral part of the book’s process. (But also one that I knew some folks wouldn’t enjoy, which is why the Style Journal Workbook exists.) If you haven’t worked through this process already, it might be fun to print out the 17-question quiz and work on it over the weekend!
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Writing helps us crystallize our ideas. When we write, we are forced to articulate nebulous thoughts, define the parameters of our beliefs, assign details, and refine meanings. If writing isn’t easy for you, fear not. The writing you’ll do as you explore your personal style can remain private forever. But forcing yourself to do it will help you process and refine, distill and explore your thoughts about style, body, and self.
Invest a few bucks in a blank journal, notebook, or small scrapbook. If you’re a tech whiz, you could create an electronic document in the word processing program of your choice. This will become your Style Journal, the repository of your dressing-related ideas.
Start this new journal with a list of adjectives that describe your current style. Generate as many as you can, but aim for at least ten. Are you trendy, classic, arty, romantic, eclectic, or punk? Do you feel bold, soft, edgy, or funky? Are your clothes colorful, boxy, diaphanous, fitted, or retro? Try to be as specific as possible, and do your best to create balance in your list. If you believe that your current style is frumpy, outdated, or uncool, include those words but note some of the positives alongside the negatives.
Next, jot down and answer these style-centric questions in your journal, referring to your photo collage as needed:
- What clothing brands do you love to wear? Why?
- What clothing brands do you hate? Why?
- What’s your go-to outfit? (A tee shirt and jeans? A dress and heels? A sweater and slacks?)
- What styles do you love to wear? (Think in terms of garments: styles of blouse, sweater, skirt, dress, pant, shoe, etc.)
- What styles do you wish you could wear?
- What styles do you think look horrendous on you? In what ways do they fight your figure?
- What are your favorite colors?
- What are your favorite patterns? (If any.)
- What are your favorite fabrics?
- Are you a skirt girl, pants girl, or both?
- Do you wear dresses? If so, what style?
- What styles of shoes you like? Do you own shoes in those styles?
- Can you wear heels? Do you enjoy wearing heels?
- What accessories do you wear most often? (Scarves, belts, watches, hosiery, etc.)
- Which pieces of jewelry do you wear most often? (Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, brooches, etc.)
- What motivates you to shop? Do you enjoy shopping?
- Is there an era of fashion that you absolutely adore?
Write as much or as little as you’d like for each answer, but take a stab at every single one of these questions. They’ll help you sketch out the underlying structure of your personal style.
Compose a list of your most-worn items. Grab your Style Journal, head over to your closet, and peek inside. Which garments, accessories, and shoes are in constant rotation? Note each one and jot down some reasons why these favorites get so much use. Are they comfortable? Flattering? Versatile? Durable? Washable? What traits make these items your personal wardrobe staples?
Finally, assess constants and changes. What aspects of your current style do you hope to maintain? Have you refined your color palette? Do you know how to rock colorful tights? Are you happy with your overall preppy/minimalist/trendy vibe and hope to stick to it? It’s unlikely that you’ll want to overhaul everything, so take a moment to identify a few constants. Then consider which aspects of your current style you hope to change. Would you rather focus on skirts and dresses, less on jeans and pants? Do you need to expand your shoe wardrobe? Are you looking to dress more playfully?
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Keep that ball rolling with a copy of my book – available printed and for Kindle, iPad, and Nook.