Monday, July 24, 2017

Personal Style Quest | Starting With My Closet

My new job has reinforced my desire to change and define my personal style. I've been ruminating on this topic for awhile now but lacked the actual motivation and lifestyle to put it into action. I use to have a much more cute/retro look when I worked retail, and as soon as I wasn't working at the lingerie store anymore, all those items retired to the portion of my closet that I never touched. This also coincided with meeting my husband, who also has a super laid back style.

I had developed a "uniform" of sorts which consisted of a two bun hairstyle, graphic tee, boot-cut jeans, and converse. I've been wearing that for about a decade! I got really lazy and it was just easier to wear what I wore to work on my off days as well. My husband usually wears cargo shorts, sneakers, and a graphic tee so it made it feel weird to be too dressy.

The first thing I started to change was my hair, back in August of last year, before I was even interviewed for the first time for this job. I was about to turn 35, and I just felt like I was in a style rut that just wasn't jiving with my current headspace. 25-year-old Heather and 35-year-old Heather being two different Heathers in many ways. Though I am using clothes that I bought in my early to mid-20's! I'm just trying to update and bring new life to them.

Below are two selfies to help illustrate what I mean by the "new" hair for me:
Believe it or not, I am wearing makeup in this photo. That is as much as I know how to do (tinted BB cream, mascara, sparkly eye-shadow, tinted gloss, blush). Now, I do not do hair or makeup (even though these two things can really pull a look together), obviously, if my best attempt looks like the photo above. I guess I'm good at the no make-up make-up look?

Just for "fun" (that is in quotations because in case you haven't noticed I don't really post very many photos of my face and now I have posted two in a row, one of which is me wearing lipstick horribly, ahhhhh) here is a photo of me trying to wear red lipstick. Notice how one part of my upper lips is pointed and the other side is round, and the bottom lip isn't smooth at all?

I am terrible at this. And I refuse to post my attempts at eyeliner. It's so bad I can't even laugh at it. So although I would like my makeup skills to level up so I could look more polished, I think I am going to just have to focus on the clothes and hair right now.

And my hair is particularly trying as it's curly/frizzy and really not great for someone who has no patience or desire to work with it. One thing that has helped is growing it long, and the other was me getting inspiration from a coworker. One day she came in with a slight hair bump in the front, and I asked her about it since it was so cute, and it turned out to be REALLY SIMPLE. Like, my level simple. Just grab, twist, push, clip. The clip part was my making it even easier, she had used two bobby pins, but for me, alligator hair clips are where it's at.

I am a little concerned about over doing this like my two bun hair (aka the Princess Leia), so I have also managed to figure out (kind of) of putting my hair into two braids and doing a bit of a milkmaid look (I think that is what its called, I still haven't managed to make it look super clean yet). So that's three hair styles, guys, ha.

One thing that I noticed with my new hair bump was that it felt a little retro inspired. This got me thinking about how I wanted the rest of me to look like my "new" hair. Looking in my closet, a good amount of the clothing items I saved from working retail also had a bit of a retro feel, so working towards that as a personal style goal wouldn't be that hard of a change, more like a re-focus. I have saved a good amount of these items because I love them so it would make sense to use these as a starting guide. At least now I have a direction, however vague, to follow!

But gah, where to start? I decided to first focus most of my effort on what I already have in my closet because let's be honest, there's a lot of crap in there. I've done some closet clean outs before, where I took everything out and put each piece back one by one, but I wanted to approach this a little differently.  

One, that way takes a whole day and doesn't help with the fit aspect. And two, obviously this isn't the best way since I'm still unsatisfied with what I have. So this time I started simply by getting dressed every morning. I mean, I'm going to be doing this anyway so it's not anything extra. And instead of just throwing something on, I needed to start paying attention to a few things:

  • does this reflect my new personal style goal (this is the hardest!)
  • does it fit properly/the way I like
  • is it the right color (another hard one and one I'm not really working on too much right now)
  • any stains, holes, general wear, and tear?
  • does it match anything else in my closet
This way is slower but more thorough. Surprisingly, I've been tossing items that passed my previous cleanouts. I have designated a bin in my closet for these tosses, to keep things a bit organized so I don't end up with all these random piles. My idea is that once it's full, to go over the items once more for a final decision, maybe reflect on why these are fails, then donate.

I also have a few pieces I adore but have no clue how to style. These I need to figure out what I need to purchase to make them wearable. That is still pending, ha. I have a little notepad to take notes of what is missing from my wardrobe, but so far it's blank since those items are giving me trouble!

But I have learned a few things in this short amount of time:

  • I prefer scoop neck over V-neck or crew (I already kind of knew this but somehow I keep buying non-scoop necks)
  • I don't like long sleeved blouses
  • I need to stop buying blouses and sweaters from Abercrombie
  • I should not buy tees or cardigans from Target
  • I have already created a new "uniform" of hair bump, slim pants/skirt, tee, cardigan, and flats.
  • I wouldn't mind some more pencil skirts
  • My shoe situation is abysmal
This is definitely some progress! I'm very excited that this new approach is actually working! I've been struggling for awhile now to get this venture started so this was such a relief. I feel invigorated instead of blocked.

It was hard to toss these items because they had both pluses and minuses, which is why they had survived past wardrobe overhauls. But I needed to be more ruthless since I've been unsatisfied with my current closet. Any time any item was just not right, in any way, has gone into the bin. A few examples:

  • a lovely blue polka dot blouse that just hangs down too low in front and kind of rolls a bit and shows the lining underneath, and doesn't look right layered over a camisole. very sad toss because I loved the color and print and the fit for the rest of the top.
  • red heels I bought off target online, so uncomfortable. I broke my rule here: flats and heels have to be bought in person and this is why I HAVE THIS RULE.
  • dress from Boden: two reasons. the neckline again was too low, and the knot design on the front was being weird and looked like there was a tear where there wasn't one.
  • 3/4 sleeved blouses from JCrew: the arms were too tight, and I really didn't like the scoop neck in the back. I was always layering cardigans over these to cover the back, which then covered the cute button sleeves so what was the point of that.
  • yellow cardigan from Target: the sleeves were just too baggy (even if a random lady at Costco complimented the color, I do love it for the color but that just wasn't enough!)
  • floral print cardigan from target: again, just too baggy and the print was already fading despite being washed as delicate.
  • blouse from Abercombie: I liked the mandarin collar and the cute butterfly print, but the sleeves were ugh and the fabric was ugh.
I just wish I could figure out what to call my dream aesthetic. Something a little more concrete than "retro-inspired and non-costumey with a modern fit with cute interesting prints", that's not exactly easy to search on Pinterest. 

I mean, ideally, I want to dress like Katie Findlay's character in the show Man Seeking Women or a little bit like Audrey Thorne from Twin Peaks. I think that is the closest that I can find that matches what I want. But I can't seem to find too much info online about the wardrobe for Katie Findlay! Her clothes are much cuter in the show than google images would suggest. Also, I just found out that Man Seeking Woman was canceled and I'm super bummed.