Do you find yourself juggling multiple styles? Though my own sartorial swings were much more pronounced in the past, I currently tend to move between two style personalities which for the sake of brevity, let’s call Modern Classic and Minimalist Bohemian. For years I believed that I had to choose between one or the other, when in reality both are “me” depending on the day and my mood.
Or perhaps you work in an environment with a dress code that’s light years away from how you’d choose dress on your own time. Either way, the need to accommodate multiple styles can make it hard to build and maintain a cohesive wardrobe. By “cohesive” I mean a wardrobe without closet “orphans” (those pieces that never seem to be worn because they just don’t work with anything else) and that doesn’t require a quadratic equation each morning to get dressed and out the door. The individual pieces in a cohesive wardrobe relate to each other by style, color, and season.
It’s not necessary to have a cohesive wardrobe of course. Some people maintain one wardrobe for work, a second completely separate one for off-hours (and for those in a very strictly conservative workplace or who need to wear a uniform, this may be necessary). Some women love the imagination and creativity of putting outfits together from an eclectic collection of unrelated pieces. But I find that to maintain sanity I require a certain amount of order in my life, including in my closet. (I’ve joked that some mornings I need the grown up equivalent of Garanimals.) So over the years I’ve found some strategies for bridging my disparate style personalities and even finding wardrobe items that will work for both.
It helps of course that some of the old rules about what items “go together” have been tossed out the window. Currently we’re likely to be inspired by those who mix different types of styles: edgy with classic, tailored with bohemian, modern with vintage. It also helps that my two style personalities have a lot of elements in common: an avoidance of visual clutter, and a preference for a streamlined, often long-over-lean silhouette.
I’ve also learned to build my core wardrobe around simple pieces in neutral colors that can be closet chameleons. A black pencil skirt, for example, can lean classic with a blouse and pumps, or go edgy with black tights and motorcycle boots. So often, it’s how we style and accessorize wardrobe basics that really creates a distinctive look and expresses our personality. (And this is also a great strategy for those who are trying to build a work wardrobe on a budget: buy a few good quality basic pieces and use accessories to express personal style and keep your look up-to-date.) Sticking to a relatively consistent silhouette has also helped me merge styles. I can wear most of the tops in my closet with most of the bottoms, which also makes getting dressed in the morning less of an ordeal.
I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a quandry, but rather an opportunity to dress to express various facets of ourselves. Building a wardrobe that expresses our various facets can be challenging, but it can be done.
Do you find you have a consistent style or do you have Multiple Style Personalities? How do you build a wardrobe that accommodates all of your style moods?
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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-six, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, Une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.