I’ve been thinking a lot about style story lately. What kind of styles do I like? What kind of styles would I prefer to avoid? And how does this mesh with the contents of my current wardrobe?
Wearing Lover lace top (old but love this version and this is a gorgeous option), RUBY zip skirt (old but similar here and this is a black version which is on sale), Charlotte Olympia kitty flats (affordable version here), Celine trotteur bag (affordable option here)
A look back through my archives will tell you a lot that you might want to know about my style story. The key pieces that are repeat offenders in daily looks, to the wardrobe mistakes which are left to languish in the back of my closet, the journey to ’perfecting’ my style has been filled with twists and turns, and a few revelations along the way.
I looked up to bloggers like Rumi Neely, Lulu Chang, Jane Aldridge and Aimee Song, and you could see how their influence clearly punctuated elements of my style. Shopping became a pastime; something that I did for fun or as a means of escapism, neither of which I’d consider inherently healthy.
This will probably come as a bit of a surprise, but I didn’t always have the same love of fashion that I have now. As an adolescent, my daily outfits were dictated by my mum, so I never developed that passion for putting together an outfit, purely because I didn’t have the opportunity. My spare time was spent playing outdoors, reading, or developing storylines for my extensive collection of Sylvanian Families.
Fashion may not have been my first priority, yet I still managed to have a well stocked wardrobe. Growing up with grandparents who had immigrated to New Zealand following World War II, there was a huge emphasis on using and wearing what you had. The vast majority of my wardrobe was lovingly hand made my by Yiaya (who worked for many years as a seamstress), and supplemented by oversized sweaters and leggings that made the perfect companions when climbing trees and clambering across school playgrounds.
Looking back now, mum was always someone that I looked up to growing up; not only was she my biggest role model, but I always admired the elegance of her outfits, which became a huge influence over how I dressed as I grew older. She put a lot of thought and consideration into her daily appearance, and I think it’s safe to say that those are qualities which have rubbed off on me.
It wasn’t until I started intermediate school that I started to have a little bit of an interest in fashion. Mum no longer picked out my outfits, and I found myself expressing parts of my personality through what I was wearing. There was the phase where I wore snap pants and a Janet Jackson tee almost daily with a pair of silver platform sneakers, followed pretty quickly by a phase that saw me wear baggy ‘skater’ pants with oversized skate shoes. It was a look, and I didn’t stray from it; now that I think back on it, I had a pretty strong style uniform, which was based around a few key pieces that I wore on rotation. Mostly, I think I wore whatever it was that my friends were wearing. As a young teen, there’s a lot of pressure to conform and fit in, and as someone who was subjected to an inordinate amount of bullying during those early teenage years, I wanted to blend in with the crowd, and my style was a way that I felt I could do this. And what I wore was pretty basic. Little singlets with dark wash denim and converse sneakers.
It was during that transition from college to university that I really started to experiment with my style. But while I worried less about what others thought, I seemed to be in a real hurry to grow up. My wardrobe started to fill up with items that would form the foundation of a good work wardrobe; classic white shirts, high waisted black skirts, blazers and peep toe heels. Practicality clearly didn’t factor into my outfit choices, given I was a Political Science student at a university known for its steep hills.
As I wrapped up my university years, and moved into full time work, I truly started to find myself experimenting more with my style, whether that was with colour, silhouette, texture and trends. I was living at home, and was being paid a decent wage, a lot of which I was putting into my closet. Not only was I experimenting more, but I was starting to ‘invest’ in my wardrobe, with contemporary brands like Karen Walker, Lover, 3.1 by Phillip Lim, Isabel Marant and Carven. It was a case of quality and quantity, though items were coming into my wardrobe just as quickly as they were leaving it. Simply put, I liked experimenting, but there was no real longevity to the items that I was buying, regardless of how much I’d actually spent. Many of my friends on the other hand, didn’t quite share the same interest in fashion as me.
The biggest contributor to my (ever-growing and ever-changing) wardrobe had to be when I discovered eBay. I started to buy items just because they were a good deal, or because I’d set out to create an archive of items from labels like Lover and Karen Walker. It was also a time that I started to become a little more conscious of what others thought of my outfits, particularly as I added overtly feminine or saccharine pieces to my wardrobe, which were a departure from the previously ‘classic’ style I had focused so heavily on.
And then while looking for new blogs to read, I discovered Dead Fleurette, and slowly as I sifted through the archives of her wardrobe journey, my own attitude towards my wardrobe and style started to shift. Her wardrobe became an example to look up to, of what a minimal closet could look like, and I started to take a much more analytical approach to my wardrobe – more so than ever before. I made lists of what the perfect wardrobe would look like, and started to cull anything that didn’t fit within that vision. My shopping habits hadn’t exactly changed, but what I was shopping had. I started to develop a rather unhealthy obsession with dressing like a Parisian (which I want to delve into further in another post), but often I found that many of the items I was buying which fit the style I was trying to emulate, weren’t quite right for my body. During this phase, I found that I was frequently leaving the house in outfits that I thought I should be wearing, even if I felt uncomfortable wearing a certain silhouette.
Perhaps the thing that still continues to surprise me is just how much my style seems to have evolved in the short time that we’ve been living in Sydney. I sold up a lot of my wardrobe before we moved here, narrowing my colour palette further to focus firmly on neutral tones, which without question, make getting dressed each morning easier than if you had a closet full of colour. I tried out capsule wardrobes, and made an effort to shop with more intention, and be less vulnerable to trends.
In that time span, my lifestyle has changed tremendously. I’ve gone from working in a corporate setting to a creative environment, and from weekends spent shopping or eating lunch at a local cafe, to pottering around at home with our three pets. With that, the needs of my wardrobe have changed. As have my attitudes. I’m less concerned with keeping up with current trends (though I am partial to the odd one), instead choosing to appreciate what isn’t right for me from afar. I’ve put less of an emphasis on investing top dollar in your wardrobe, as I’ve come to realise that price doesn’t always dictate quality – a shift in thinking which has really seen me gravitate towards brands like Everlane and Grana.
Though, if there’s one thing I’m still trying to figure out, it’s where my style story will lead me to next.
During my 20s, I’ve developed a lot more confidence in the way I dress, and knowing what is and isn’t right for me, yet there still seems to be a disconnect between the way I’d like to dress, and the way I’m currently dressing now.
How has your style evolved as you’ve grown older? x