Saturday, December 27, 2014

Personal Style Evolution (Part 1 of Many)

Early this year, a friend and I were talking about fashion and style and she mentioned that she was especially fond of a more "effortless," but still feminine and polished personal style like that of Sofia Coppola. That was a little bit difficult for me to wrap my head around. Of course, Sofia Coppola is both fabulous and fabulously dressed, but I couldn't imagine it being a look that one could easily pull off in real life. As my friend pointed out, while the look appears "effortless," like any polished look, it probably is far from it. For a look like that, clothes have to fit perfectly (no small feat for those of us on a graduate student's budget) and good hair and the right makeup are a must (neither of which is easy for me, at least, even with the wealth of tutorials that are available on Youtube). 

via Elements of Style
For me, there are also some body image issues wrapped up in the whole mess whenever I start thinking about personal style. I had, at times, wanted to adopt a simpler, less frilly and fussy aesthetic over the ruffles and bows-inclined mid-2000s J. Crew look that I had wholeheartedly embraced from 2008 until very recently, but a lot of the elements of a more aesthetically minimalist look are not necessarily flattering for my body shape. I am short, though just tall enough (almost 5'3'') and with a long enough torso and wide enough shoulders that petite clothing is not always the best fit. I am also quite curvy, with a chest measurement that is, strictly speaking, three sizes bigger than the rest of me  on most American mall-brand sizing charts. It isn't necessarily as disproportionate as it sounds, given how arbitrary sizing is in general, but certain popular cuts and styles are still completely off the table for me (including but not limited to backless dresses, anything that's overly slouchy, dresses that aren't structured, etc. etc.). The button-downs and looser-fitting tops that accompany the "minimalist" look are, therefore, something that I must approach with caution. 

Even so, as the months went by, my style seemed to be evolving organically towards that more minimalist aesthetic. I started buying simpler, daintier jewelry. I decided to get a simply designed Everlane Petra tote for work in the summer. I bought a slouchy but not too slouchy sweater in the fall and wore that more than the cardigans I used to pair with ruffled or printed tops (though I still like bright colors and prints). 

via Pinterest
All this is not to say that these changes came from conscious choices. There is clearly a trend towards a more minimalist look and I certainly acquired a lot of my new preferences from reading blogs and looking at retailers' websites. The way that I am currently embracing or trying to embrace a more minimalist look might be entirely at odds with trying to live a more minimalist life if I do not think carefully about my consumption habits. Spending as much time as I do on figuring out my new style preferences and shopping for the items to make it happen might be inherently incompatible with my larger goals of living a less cluttered life.

I don't have any answers yet, not about my personal style nor about how I should approach shopping and fashion in the coming months or years. All this is a work in progress. 

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