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Personal Style | Comfort and Confidence in Your Clothing

a woman wearing a khaki green sweater and a peach floral skirt with a collage about confidence in your clothing

Continuing with my PERSONAL STYLE series, today’s post is about the importance of keeping comfort and confidence in mind, while you create your own unique wardrobe. Click here for Part One (about creating your own unique style description) and click here for Part Two (about using colour theory to create a signature colour palette). 

Dressing For Who You Are & How You Live 

As I’ve been thinking about personal style lately, I’ve been realizing the importance of not just liking a particular style, but also feeling comfortable in what you wear. By this, not only do I mean physical comfort, but mental comfort; or in other words, confidence in what you wear.

Finding comfort and confidence in your clothing can look completely different for each person. Once you have narrowed down your ideal style vision and filled a scrapbook full of beautiful editorial images, it’s not going to be of any help to you if you aren’t going to wear those sorts of garments in real life. You need to also keep in mind the physical comfort of an item and how you feel while wearing it…and what is comfortable for one person to wear, might be just a fantasy wardrobe for another. And while dreaming up your fantasy wardrobe can be fun, it’s not very useful for creating a closet that truly reflects your personal style on a daily basis. Figuring out the clothing styles that you like to wear, and that make you feel good, is an important part of creating your ideal wardrobe.

So what do I mean by considering the physical and mental comfort of an item? For example, consider an outfit of sweat pants and a t-shirt. While we would consider that to be a physically comfortable outfit, I personally would never wear that because it’s not mentally comfortable for me. It specifically makes me feel very conspicuous and un-confident, and so it turns out to be an uncomfortable outfit.

On the flip side, another example could be wearing a bold statement piece, such as a hat. I love hats and when I wear them, I feel more like myself so, for me, that is a comfortable outfit. And while a hat may not be physically uncomfortable, many people wouldn’t wear dream of wearing a hat because it would make them stand out from the crowd and for them that would be exactly the opposite of comfort for them.

a woman wearing a vintage 1960's style pillbox hat and a woman wearing a straw boater hat

When choosing clothes that you both look good and feel good in, you need to keep in mind both of these types of comfort. Here are some of the things I have helped me see not just what I like, but what I actually wear on a regular basis, and then making sure that the things I wear are also things I like– those two don’t necessarily go hand in hand!

One thing that has been helpful is determining my body type. I had never heard of the Kibbe or Style Essence body typing systems until I stumbled upon them last summer, and I found them to be a helpful tool while going through my closet. There are several different body typing systems out there, which all feature a spectrum of body types, and while I can’t really figure out which type I am for certain, it doesn’t really matter. None of us fall into exactly one “type”, so as long as you get a general idea, it can be helpful. Like seasonal colour theory, I would recommend that you take or leave whatever works for you, and use it as a good starting point.

I haven’t been professionally typed, but I did a quiz and found this website, Truth Is Beauty, to be the most helpful for me. I fall somewhere in the Classic/Soft type, with a more rounded and soft silhouette. This wasn’t “news” to me, but it still was helpful. While I’ve generally always known which pieces I liked on me for silhouette (mostly through trial and error) I actually found this kind of body typing to be incredibly positive and helpful for how to dress your best. Instead of focusing on your body as something that needs to be tweaked and molded into the “ideal shape”, these systems focus on each body type as having their own strengths and unique qualities. There are specific styles of clothing that suit each body type particularly, so (rather than trying to squeeze into one specific fashion trend, doubtless ending in frustration and feeling bad about yourself) wouldn’t it be better for us to all suit the clothing styles to our bodies, rather than the other way around?

katherine helpburn, audrey hepburn and sophia loren

For a Dramatic body type, for example, there are the straight, angular pieces such as blazers and tailored pants like Katherine Hepburn wore.

For a Gamine, you have the classic Audrey Hepburn cropped boyish look that always looks undeniably chic.

And for the Romantic body type you have the elegant and sensual Sophia Loren silhouette.

(There are more body types than this, so make sure to check out the links at the end of this post if you want to read more!)

When you realize that each body type has its own strengths, it is freeing to embrace the garments that particularly suit your own body shape and make you look fabulous, instead of trying to force yourself into garments that would look good on someone else. It is incredibly liberating to realize that just because something works on everyone else, doesn’t mean it will work on you…and you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself for that!

One of the particular examples that body typing made a difference for me was when I thought about plaid. I absolutely love plaid, but I don’t always like it once I put it on. I realized that, of course, putting a straight line on a curved body isn’t going to look as amazing as it would on a dramatic body type, but if I turn my plaid on the diagonal, it doesn’t feel like I have a line drawn around the widest part of my body (and the same goes for stripes).

Knowing which garments particularly suit your body type is a very helpful tool for building your wardrobe because you aren’t going to end up buying things that end up at the back of your closet. And when you wear clothes that suit you well, you are automatically going to feel more confident and comfortable. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t wear things that fall outside of your body type; of course you can! At the end of the day, if I love something I am going to wear it. For example, both these coats are boxy swing coat styles and they are are two of my favourite vintage pieces. Even though this boxy shape isn’t a recommended silhouette for my body type, I absolutely love these coats and there is no way I’m going to stop wearing them.

a woman wearing a 1960's swing style coat

On the other hand, sometimes even when things do physically fit you and suit your body type, you might not feel amazing in them. Just because something looks great on you, doesn’t mean you have to like it and wear it. My Gramma told a story about how she once complimented a bank teller on her burgundy suit, and the lady said that she always got compliments on it, but she didn’t like it herself. Perhaps she couldn’t afford to replace her work clothes, but wouldn’t it have been nice if she could have gotten something that she looked nice in, but also felt confident in? Many of the pieces of clothing that I have gotten rid of over the past year have been pieces that just felt a little off for me in some way, and I didn’t feel confident in them for some reason. Once I came to the conclusion that it was OK to not like everything the way I thought I would, it was freeing to be able to pass those pieces on to others, and look forward to creating a wardrobe full of pieces that I do feel comfortable in and love to wear.

In your wardrobe, when you find those pieces that you love to wear, the ones that always make you feel like a million dollars, stop and take a moment to think about why you like them. For me one of those pieces would be my circle skirts. The silhouette is a good one for my body type, and it always makes me feel great.  Knowing that I like this silhouette of skirt helps me as I add pieces to my wardrobe, since I can narrow my search down to pieces that I already know are tried and true winners, rather than having to sift through everything I come across.

On the other hand, for those pieces that you don’t wear very often, why don’t you like wearing them?

As I’ve taken this closer look my closet and evaluated why I like some things, and don’t like others, another realization has been that I don’t like wearing anything too fussy. I don’t want to have to fuss and fidget with things, because then I am automatically not comfortable- I’m too busy wondering whether my shirt is coming untucked!

Or maybe some items don’t fit you the way you like, or there is something you wish you could change about it. Can it be altered to fit you better? One of the downsides of off-the-rack clothing is that it is not made for you specifically, and as a result many of us are walking around in ill fitting clothing. It’s amazing how something as simple as hemming a garment can make a huge difference in how it fits and how comfortable it is.

collage of different garments hanging from a peg rack to illustrate personal style

Also, don’t forget to take time to think about whether the items you have in your closet actually fit into your lifestyle. While I do have those fantasy pieces that I never wear but will still never part with, these pieces are not the majority of my wardrobe.

For everyday wear at home I prefer to wear more serviceable cotton rather than delicate fabrics (when I’m working, I don’t want to be worrying about whether my clothes will get ruined) but I still do like to look put together. The majority of my closet is full of simple skirts and tops (and my favourite harem pants!). They might not make regular appearances here on the blog, but I am wearing them most days, and they do still reflect my own personal style more than the aforementioned sweatpants!

When it comes to creating your dream wardrobe, you want to make sure that your closet is full of items that you find not only physically comfortable, but that you feel good in and excited to wear. Your wardrobe should be full of pieces that make you feel like yourself, and you want to make sure that you are wearing your clothing, not having it wear you. The great thing about fashion and personal style is that you are the one who gets to choose what finding that confidence in your clothing means for you!

Have you looked into the body typing before? Which Style Essence are you, and do you follow those guidelines in how you dress? And do you have any favourite pieces that reflect your personal style and give you a boost of confidence every time you wear them? 

You can read more about the Kibbe body typing system and the Style Essences system here.

Five Garment Care Tips For Your Spring Wardrobe Transition

woman looking into her closet

Now that Spring has officially arrived, it is time for the seasonal wardrobe transition! I always enjoy the changing of the seasons, and all of the things that go along with that… packing away my cold weather garments and then pulling out my warm weather ones always makes for a rather fun afternoon task- it’s kind of like opening presents! Switching your wardrobe around for a new season does take a bit of time, but it is also the perfect opportunity for a bit of garment care and maintenance as well. Here is how I go about switching around my closet, as well as some of the tasks that I like to do each season to keep my clothes and shoes in good condition.

Depending on where you live, transitioning your wardrobe might not be very drastic, and if you don’t live in a climate with four distinct seasons, it might not even be necessary. (Or if you live in the Southern hemisphere, you’ll be pulling out your fall and winter clothes) Here in Alberta we definitely do have four seasons but, while it is now officially spring, we certainly will have some cold days left, so I am not doing a complete wardrobe switch.

There are some etiquette “rules” that I like to follow for my closet, just because they make sense for me and the climate where I live. According to Miss Manners, here are some seasonal wardrobe rules:

Straw should not be worn before Easter nor after Labour Day. 

-Velvet should be worn between October 1 and March 1.

-Furs should not be worn between the months of March to September

-White should not be worn after Labour Day, nor before Memorial Day. (This one is rather archaic, and a better rule to abide by, rather than colour, is judging the weight of the fabric you are wearing. Gauzy white linen is not appropriate for fall and winter, depending on the climate of where you live, of course, but a white wool coat or stockings is a completely different matter!)

clothes laying out ready to be packed away

I moved my strictly winter garments, such as my fur collars, winter coats, berets and lined boots into storage and then rotated my lighter spring and summer items into my closet. While I might not wear some of them right away, because we do still have cool days ahead, I brought them out so I have something to look forward too! I most likely won’t wear my straw hats until Easter, but it’s still nice to take them out and hang them up too. I also don’t have that much space, so I have to trade the items in and out, to fit them all back into my closet. I keep my in-season clothes hanging in my bedroom closet, and put the out-of-season clothes in a suitcase.

I did leave some of the more “seasonally ambiguous” items in my closet, such as my brown Oxford pumps. Rather than moving them out with the winter wear, I decided to keep them in since I might be able to wear them while the days are still cool.

straw hats hanging on a peg rack

Before I put each item into storage, I made sure to look it over and see if it needed any cleaning or other repair. There’s nothing worse than pulling your shoes or clothes out in six months for the next season, and then having to wait to wear it until you can repair it, or even worse than that, it has become irreparably damaged from sitting. So, here are five of my garment care tips to do before packing your winter clothes away for the season.

Doing Laundry

handwashing clothes in a basin

Depending on the soil level, I don’t wash my clothes after every single wear. Some garments can be worn a few times before they need laundering, and if your clothes are delicates then they will actually benefit from less washing. Before you pack the clothes away, though, make sure to clean them so they don’t sit with dirt or odours for months. Dirty clothes in storage can attract moths or other pests, and any light stains on the fabric might set over the months and become a much bigger issue for you later on.

If you have “dry clean” items, you may be able to spot clean them yourself. I don’t like dry cleaning my clothes, because it’s not actually really cleaning and the chemicals are so pollutant and unhealthy. Thus, I prefer to do most of my own washing, though sometimes dry cleaning is a necessary evil. You can often spot clean your wool or hand wash delicate items. If you do decide to wash a woolen item, and it ends up wrinkled or out of shape, you can take it to the dry cleaners for a “press only”. I have done this before with pleated skirts and they come back looking so much better than I could ever get them to look with my iron at home. Once you’ve cleaned your items, make sure they are completely dry before storing. If you are storing your out of season clothes in bins or boxes, you can also add in cedar sachets to keep pests out.

Brushing & Shaving Your Woollens

brushing a wool coat with a lint remover brush

Brushing wool is a new habit for me, and I learned this from the book How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. She talked about brushing wool clothes rather than washing them in order to clean them, and I had never heard of that! So, I have ordered myself a clothes brush with natural bristles (that is what she recommends in order to not damage the fabric over time) and once it arrives, I plan on brushing all of my winter coats before putting them away.

In the mean time, I will go over my coats with a velvet lint brush, as well as a pill remover/shaver. It’s amazing what a difference a brushing and shaving can do! A clothes brush works so much better than those sticky lint rollers, to take out the dust and dirt that collects. This is a good practice to get into a regular habit of doing, to keep your clothes in good condition, but it is especially important to do before you store your clothes.

Cleaning & Polishing Your Leather Shoes

cleaning your leather shoes

This is such a simple thing to do to keep your leather in good repair, but it’s the one task that I always neglect. I am trying to get better at doing this more frequently, but I always seem to procrastinate and put it off for far longer than I should. (This is probably because shoe polish smells like death…and probably brings you closer to death as well…?) Every time I do get around to polishing my shoes, though, I am amazed at the transformation and vow to do it more often! I haven’t tried any of the more natural leather conditioners yet, but I’ve ordered one to try on my purse. I think it’s a natural wax that doesn’t smell as bad as regular shoe polish, so maybe I’ll use it more often!

shoes ready to be polished

Cleaning and polishing or conditioning your leather is a good thing to do regularly, but is also very important to do before your put your winter shoes away. Salt stains from ice-melt burn leather and if left untreated can ruin a good pair of shoes (I’ve had that happen before!) and other stains will only get worse over time.

First clean your shoes with a leather cleaner and a soft rag. (I clean mine with a suede cleaner solution since that is what I have on hand, and it works well.) Once your shoes are dry, you can polish them with either a cream or wax polish in a matching colour. I’ve heard different cobblers recommend both options, so I’m not sure which is better!

polishing and shining shoes

I’ve also just started using a shoe brush that we got from my Grampa, and I have no idea why I was using just a rag before- the brush gives such a nice polish! I like to finish the shoes off with a little sponge for a nice shine, and then they are done.

polished black high heeled shoes

In the image on the left, the shoe on the left is unpolished, and the shoe on the right shows the difference that polishing makes! The final result is in the photo on the right.

For any shoes that need more serious repairs, you can take them to a cobbler for fixing. I am so hard on my shoes, and have really done a number on some of my favourite pairs (such as ripping the finish off the toe of the aforementioned Oxford heels!) but it’s amazing how cobblers are able to restore them back to – almost- as good as new!

Storing Your Shoes 

shoeboxes with shoes wrapped in tissue paper for storage

Once all of my shoes are polished and clean, I put them into shoe boxes with tissue paper in between to keep them from leaning on each other, and then put them back in my closet. I stack all of my shoeboxes on the top shelf in that inconvenient corner of the closet that you can’t quite reach, since it isn’t useful for storing things you actually need to access on a regular basis!

shoes in fabric shoebags

I don’t have quite enough boxes for all of my boots and shoes, since I only keep the shoeboxes with aesthetics. There were a couple of pairs of boots and shoes that I didn’t have boxes for, so I made some fabric bags to store them in, to keep the dust and dirt off, and they work just as nicely as boxes do.

Using Garment Bags

garment bag over coat hanging on a peg rack

Coats can get so dusty while hanging in the closet over the summer, so I put a garment bag over the top of them- especially after having gone to the trouble to brush them clean! It is important to use cloth garment bags, not the plastic bags that come over dry-cleaning, because plastic can trap in moisture and cause your fabric to get musty. Instead of purchasing garment bags, I made some for myself out of vintage pillowcases. I’ve been using pillowcases as garment bags for a few years now, but had never gotten around to actually sewing them into the proper shape, so I decided it was finally time to do that.

tracing a hanger to make a garment bag

To make your own, all you have to do is take a pillowcase and sew it into the shape you need. Pillowcases are easily found at thrift stores, or maybe you even have a few extra in your linen cupboard (or you can, of course, sew a rectangle of fabric to the width you need). Trace the hanger you will be using onto the wrong side of your pillowcase, and make sure to double check your tracing with a ruler, so you don’t end up with a lopsided angle. Curve the seam where it meets at the sides.

sewing a garment bag out of a pillowcase

Sew along the line, then open a little hole in the seam at the top, for the hanger to go through. I hand stitched the top edge around that hole to keep it from unraveling, and then trimmed off the excess fabric with pinking shears. Flip it inside out and pop it over your coats, and that will keep them nice and clean until next fall!

Once I finished these garment care tasks, my seasonal wardrobe transition was done. Doing these tasks adds some time and is not as much fun, but it is worth it! Keeping your clothes and shoes in good repair will reduce your wardrobe costs over time, since you won’t have to replace your items due to damage. And, not only will it save you money in the long run, but your clothes will look better too; wearing a pair of freshly polished shoes is always going to elevate your outfit!

Do you switch out your wardrobe seasonally? What sorts of garment care or maintenance do you do for your clothes each season?

Personal Style | Creating A Signature Colour Palette

painted signature colour palette

Continuing with my Personal Style series, today’s post is about how you can use colour theory create a signature colour palette for your wardrobe, that is perfect for you.

To read Part One, all about creating your own unique style description, click here. 

USING COLOUR THEORY TO PERSONALIZE YOUR WARDROBE

Partway through last summer I really got into researching colour “seasons”. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of this method, since it’s been around since the 80’s, but basically it is a theory that each person falls into a “season” or colour palette that compliments their natural skin tone, hair colour and features. The seasons are Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, just like in nature, and each of those four seasons are further broken up into “Light”, “Soft”, “Bright” and “Dark” categories.

I’d never given it much thought before, but decided to look into it further after I had gone through my past blog posts and started thinking about why I didn’t like some of the outfits today, even though I had liked them at the time. That got me thinking about colour theory and whether I should go about creating a signature colour palette for myself.

Now, I have not actually gotten “typed” by a professional, nor have I actually put all of the results of my colour theory self-quiz into action. I have simply used these guidelines as a useful tool to help me create a wardrobe that I am excited to wear. Of course the great thing with fashion is there are no rules! I’ve used the colour seasons advice to help me filter out all of the excess and figure out what I want my own personal colour palette to be.

To begin with, as I was looking through some of the older posts that I didn’t like, I realized that part of the problem was certain colours I had chosen. After looking into it and taking a self quiz, I discovered that I am either a Soft Summer or a Soft Autumn. I can’t decide which, so I chose to put myself right in between both! Either way, you can “borrow” from neighbouring palettes, so it doesn’t really matter, and the most important takeaway for me is that I am a Soft season. This series of posts by Anushka Rees (the author of The Curated Closet), is really good for going over the different Seasons and I also really like the blog posts by Elemental Colour for vivid descriptions and examples of the Season colour palettes. I found their posts to be the most helpful in bringing the ideas of colour theory to life.

colour palette for "soft summer" season

So, what does it mean to be a Soft season? Well, I have very low contrast between my hair, skin tone and eyes. If you were to turn a photo of me into black and white, it would be mostly greys instead of clear black and white tones. How this relates to colours means that the Soft seasons look best in a soft, muted and earthy palette rather than in bold, clear colours. I always used to say that I liked colours that had “a bit of mud in them”, and it turns out that those are actually the best colours for my skin tone and hair colour. For example, I wouldn’t wear Kelly green, but I often wear olive. I’m not drawn to fuchsia, but I love desert rose. I hate royal blue, but love smoky blue…ok, you get the point.

I think that I fall a bit more towards the Soft Autumn palette, because as I looked back through my favourite outfits on my blog, I realized that some of my colour choices need to be a little bit warmed up. One of the reasons why I loved or didn’t love certain outfits was because of the colour combinations; while those colours would look great on someone else, it wasn’t great for me. For example, if I’m wearing navy, I need to warm it up with cognac, instead of pairing it with black accessories or other cool toned colours. If the outfit is too dark or too cool toned, it’s going to wash me out. Here are two such outfits, below, that aren’t my best. They aren’t terrible, but I think that these pink and navy shades would look so much better on someone with a Winter or Spring colouring.

vintage styled outfit

However, I don’t think I fall completely into Soft Autumn either, because some shades of yellow and tans with a yellow undertone make me look yellow. So, even though I love mustard, there are certain shades that don’t look great near my face. I can’t bear to get rid of mustard completely, but I have now relegated it to accessories. Also, I need to keep in mind the contrast of an outfit. In this outfit below, for example, the black and yellow are simply too bold for my muted, low contrast colouring. This particular outfit never really seemed right to me, and I think it is because of that high contrast. Instead of pairing two strong colours, I should have paired the mustard sweater with brown or olive and it would’ve looked a lot softer and I think I would have liked it a lot more. Also, the pink of this dress is so strong on me, as well as being cool toned, and it would look so much better if it was a bit desaturated and a slightly warmer shade of pink. This shade brings the pink tones out of my skin and as a result I look a bit pink while wearing it.

vintage styled outfits with a vintage dress and a sweater and skirt

Figuring out the “rules” of colour theory has really helped me to weed some of the things out of my closet that I wasn’t wearing regularly. Instead of approaching colour seasons as hard and fast rules, though, I have used them more to help me understand why some things weren’t working for me. Rather than going to my closet and saying “this isn’t in my palette, so I need to get rid of it!”, it’s been more of discovery of why something wasn’t working for me. As in the case of that mustard sweater, I had only worn it twice, and both times my outfit didn’t come out quite right. Finding out that dark yellow isn’t in my colour palette was more of an “aha!” moment for me to realize why it wasn’t working, rather than just deciding to get rid of a beloved piece of clothing. Of course, arbitrarily removing things that aren’t “correct”, just because someone said you should, is the exact opposite of how you should approach your closet! You want to love and wear the pieces in your closet, and if your Season isn’t one that makes you excited, then you should completely disregard those “rules”.

There are few examples of where I have disregarded these rules. One, this brightly coloured summer dress, below, that doesn’t go with anything else that I own. I only have one pair of white shoes to pair with this dress…and that’s it! I keep wondering if I should pass it on, but I actually do really enjoy wearing it. So what if it’s a bit too white and bright for my colouring and I can’t mix and match it with anything else I own? Another example is that I am, apparently, not supposed to wear black with my low contrast colouring, but it’s actually one of my favourite colours, so I just keep wearing it. I’m not going to go and get rid of my favourite sweaters and skirt and coat, just because they aren’t in my Season.

two photos of different vintage styled outfits

All in all, I mainly used these findings about colour Seasons to help me create my own signature colour palette. In the past, I wasn’t very interested in creating a colour palette for myself, however it can be a really great tool to use as you plan future purchases or sewing projects for your wardrobe. Anushka Rees, has a series of posts about creating a colour palette and Audrey Coyne, who has a really lovely YouTube channel, also talks about the benefits of creating a personal colour palette, and I’d definitely recommend that you check them out for further reading/watching.

Creating a personal colour palette can help when you shop, because you will have a starting point and can easily filter out whatever doesn’t fit in with the rest of your wardrobe.  Even though it might not be possible all the time to find those colours (really, why does every season have three colours to choose from, when we obviously don’t all look good in them!?!) this will keep you from getting distracted with clothing that won’t end up fitting in with the rest of your wardrobe. While I like lots of different colours, sometimes the fact that they didn’t coordinate with each other made it really difficult to mix and match my wardrobe and come up with new outfits using the same items. In essence, the more items of clothing that you have that don’t coordinate with anything else, will result in fewer combinations that you can wear.

For example (to pick an arbitrary number) if you have a 30 item wardrobe, and each item coordinates with the colours of the majority of the rest, you will end up with a lot of possible combinations without repeat. (This is the idea behind capsule wardrobes. I’m not very good at math, so I can’t figure it out, but I know that the number of unique combinations or “permutations” is ridiculously high if you actually do figure it out… )

However, if you have a 30 item wardrobe, but you’ve got a group of 10 items that coordinate, another group of 10 items that coordinate and a final group of 10 items that coordinate, but none of those groups of 10 coordinate with the other groups, then you are going to have a significantly smaller amount of combinations. You actually won’t be able to create as many unique outfits with this wardrobe, as you would with the first example, even though the number of items is the same.

Obviously, if you have lots of clothing, and you don’t want to limit yourself, then you totally could create 3 different coordinating wardrobes of 30 items each, but this isn’t something that I personally have the space for, which is why I initially started on this whole closet evaluation.

Of course, even with creating a signature colour palette, you still don’t have to confine yourself. Like everything else when it comes to fashion, you get to choose the rules you want to follow and which ones you want to break. I haven’t set a hard and fast colour palette for myself, but as a starting point I created this palette of nine colours, using the guide that Anushka shares in her blog post, in order to create a more versatile wardrobe for myself from this point on.

For my colour palette, I chose two neutral tones that I can pair with absolutely anything in my closet and ended up with Brown or Cognac and Cream.

For main colours I looked at which colours I already wear a lot of and chose Tan, Navy/Blue and Cinnamon.

And for accent colours, I ended up adding in the rest of my favourite colours that still coordinate and chose Black, Olive, Ochre and Buff/Peach.

my signature colour palette of 9 colours

I figured out which colours my neutrals were by planning a few outfits, as though I would be packing for a holiday and seeing which accessories I would put with all of the clothes I had picked. I realized that for almost every outfit, I would add either brown, tan or cream. I was a bit surprised to learn that, for me, black is actually not a neutral- it is a colour. Since I wouldn’t pair black with a lot of my clothing pieces, because it would have been too contrasting or too cool, it wasn’t a neutral for me. I ended up moving black into my accent colour section, which does make it a lot harder to shop, but I know that what I want to finish off my outfits with is brown or cognac. For example, when I was looking for my new everyday purse, I knew not to look for a black one because it wouldn’t end up going with the majority of the clothing I have, and I ended up finding a beautiful rich copper brown that coordinates with almost everything I own. (Except for that one bright dress of course!)

Of course, your “neutrals” don’t necessarily have to be neutral colours and could be any colour that you would pair with every item you have in your wardrobe. For example, someone might have a red purse and red shoes, and those would become their neutral; able to pair with all of the other colours in their wardrobe.

To figure out which were the main colours to include in my palette, I went through my favourite outfits again to see which colour combinations I liked from the past, as well as which colours I am naturally drawn to. Personally, I love neutrals, as this palette reveals! Whenever I’m browsing and I see an Autumnal hued or Neutral toned outfit, I fall completely in love with it. So, for me, choosing my three main colours of tan, cinnamon and a touch of blue was easy.

Finally, I added in my accent colours of even more neutrals with a hint of colour, including black, olive, ochre and buff/peach. I decided to move black to my accent colours, because over time I had fallen into the trap of accumulating way to much of it, which was making it impossible to mix and match. (A black skirt + a black shirt + a black coat + black boots is a little much…) Moving brown and tan into my main colours will definitely result in more versatility of the individual pieces in my closet.

Settling on this palette gives me a lot of different colour combinations. For example:

Cream + Brown + Peach          Brown + Tan + Navy          Cinnamon + Olive + Black

colour combinations for my colour palette

You don’t have to stick to certain number of colours in your palette either. Because I now have an idea of which colours look good on me, I can easily look at colours from outside my specific palette, and decide which others to bring in. As long as you are able to pair it with the neutrals in your current wardrobe, it should be good. For example, I have some lovely soft mint coloured wool in my fabric stash. (it’s not too bright of a colour of mint, so it will work for my Season). Mint isn’t in my personal colour palette, but I know that it will work well with brown and cream, so I am going to keep it, especially since I already own the fabric.

Also, don’t forget that, while it’s great to know which colours you look good in, you also need to choose the colours you like the best. It turns out that the colours and styles I was always drawn to the most often, really were the ones that suit me the best. Go figure! But just because a colour looks good on you, doesn’t mean you have to add it in. For example, grey is a good colour for me, but I’ve realized that I don’t particularly love it, so I’ve removed much of the grey from my closet.

Conversely, if you a love a colour that’s not great for you, keep it in your wardrobe and wear it however you like. I mentioned that black is apparently not the best colour for the “soft” seasons, because it’s too harsh. I, however, have black glasses and I do wear black a lot, and I really like it, so I have no intention of taking it out.

one 1970's outfit and one bookish styled outfit

About 7 years ago, I had a really good colour scheme in my wardrobe. It was filled with lots of neutrals, browns and blues, but then I started wondering whether that was too boring, and I started adding in other colours. In the end, though, I just ended up with a bunch of clothing that didn’t particularly suit my colouring or coordinate well with the rest of my wardrobe. I have gotten rid of so many of those items over time because, while I did like them, I realized that they just weren’t “me”.

There are certain colours that I am drawn to over and over again, and I realized that there was no need to try and reinvent the wheel; I had subconsciously chosen a combination that really worked. Instead of trying everything that you come across, knowing which colours work really well for you can help to clear out the distractions and focus on building a wardrobe that is a true reflection of your own unique style. At the end of the day, however, the most important part of colour theory is in knowing what you love and not getting bogged down in what you “should” or “should not” wear. But if you’re looking to create a more versatile wardrobe, creating your own signature colour palette can be a great tool to simplify things and help you focus on building that wardrobe that you will love to wear!

Have you looked into the colour Seasons before? Which Season are you, and do you follow the guidelines in how you dress? Have you ever created a signature colour palette for your closet?

Creating Personal Style | A Wardrobe You Love To Wear

a flatlay of various vintage styled accessories and fashion images related to personal style

Today I am starting a new series of posts all about personal style. Personal style can be a tricky thing to hone, but once you’ve figured it out, it can be a great tool to use to create a wardrobe you’ll love and wear.

Like many other people around the globe, I spent much of 2020 working from home. To my surprise, because I wasn’t going out most days, I realized that much of my wardrobe wasn’t suiting my lifestyle anymore and as a result, I was sticking to a very, very small “capsule” wardrobe, while the rest of my clothing was left forlornly in my closet. (It wasn’t really a capsule- that just sounds fancier than saying I’ve been wearing my favourite harem pants and a t-shirt most days…)

I realized, as time went on, that my “personal style” was maybe not as representative of my lifestyle as I thought it was, so I took 2020 as an opportunity to finally start going through my wardrobe, evaluating it and deciding where I wanted to direct it from here. I read “The Curated Closet” by Anushka Rees several years ago, but had never followed through with a closet evaluation, so I decided that this was finally the time! I also referred to other online resources, and while I don’t want this post to end up being a repeat of what many other talented bloggers and YouTubers have talked about, I thought that I would share the process of how I took these principles and used them to create a better wardrobe for myself. 

I have broken this into several blog posts that I will be publishing over the next while and first up today is how I came up with my personal style “mission statement”, for lack of a better way of putting it.

 

CREATING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE STRATEGY

When I was first getting into vintage style years ago, I used to buy or sew whatever clothes struck my fancy…if it was a vintage piece and I found it at a thrift store, I would most likely get it. If I saw some pretty floral fabric and a vintage reproduction pattern at the fabric store, I would buy it. I didn’t necessarily have any clear idea as to how those pieces might fit into my existing wardrobe, but I was always excited to find something new, especially if it was a great bargain! It’s not as though I ever bought things that were “ugly”; I was always drawn to them in some way or other, but that didn’t always result in pieces that went together or were good additions to my closet.

This method was actually really great in some ways, since it gave me an opportunity to experiment and try out new things (especially if they were lower priced items from the thrift stores -remember those days when you used to be able to find reasonably priced vintage?) but it also resulted in a LOT of pieces that I didn’t wear very often. My closet looked full, but many of the items hanging there were unwearable or un-pair-able for one reason or another.

Thankfully, time has helped me to better figure out what I like and I’ve come to the realization that just because something is cute and vintage, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “me”. So, while I wouldn’t say that purchasing all of those clothes over the years was a waste of energy and money, it was time for me to move on with a better plan for the future of my wardrobe.

So how do you get from that point, to actually creating a wardrobe that reflects your unique fashion sense and lifestyle while not limiting it and ending up with a boring closet full of what the magazines call “basics”?

Taking a moment (or a lot of moments) to evaluate the “why” of why you wear some pieces and not others in your wardrobe is a great first step because, not only can it help you to figure out your personal style, but it also prevents you from buying similar things in the future that don’t actually suit you.

wearing four of my favourite outfits: a vintage christmas look, a fall outfit with a cape, a simple outfit of a skirt and t-shirt and a winter look with a vintage dress and fur collar.

So, in order to figure out the new direction that I wanted to take my closet in, I first looked through my own blog (it’s very convenient to have a photo log of my past several years of outfits!) and took notes of which pieces I already wear that are my favourites, and are in regular rotation. For example, these outfits above are some of my favourite outfits of all time, and I would wear them again in a heartbeat. Actually I have repeated some of them several times (don’t underestimate a good Tried and True outfit!)

While I was looking back through to see which outfits I liked, I also took note of which ones I didn’t like anymore. I wanted to discover the reason as to why some of my outfits made me feel like a million bucks and others were a bit “meh”. These outfits below, are ones that I don’t think really fit my style today, even though I enjoyed them at the time.

wearing two vintage looks: a gingham pinafore with a peasant style blouse, and a Dior New Look 1950's style dress and accessories

Once I had finished looking through my favourite outfits, it was time to go to my closet. I pulled out the items that I both love and wear.

The key in this is in separating out the things that you are actually wearing semi-regularly, and not just pulling out things you like, but don’t actually ever wear.

I then evaluated the reason I why I liked those pieces. Maybe it was the fabric, the cut, or the colour…?

I then looked at anything I hadn’t worn for a long time, and figured out why I wasn’t wearing it.

  • Was it because it was for a special occasion or out of season?
  • Did it not fit?
  • Did I have nothing to pair with it?
  • Or, was it just because I didn’t actually like it anymore?

Answering these questions helped me to figure out what was already working in my closet, and what wasn’t, which really gave me a foundation to now move on to planning the future of my wardrobe.

Now it was time to daydream as to what my ideal closet would be like. I looked through my fashion scrapbook and images I had saved on Instagram etc., but Pinterest would be a good tool here as well.

I wrote down some random words that I thought described pieces I already own or would like to incorporate in, and came up with descriptions such as “earthy”, “Jane Eyre”, “50’s”, “cotton”, “lace”, “comfortable”, “elegant”, “classic”, “Beatrix Potter”, “floral”, “skirts”, “Bletchley Circle” etc.

personal style collage of inspiration images including vintage skirts, Miss Potter costume, Bletchley Circle costumes, fascinator hat, vintage lace and a pile of fabric

As you can see I took inspiration from many places as this is quite a random list! It’s also quite a mash up of different style aesthetics, but once I narrowed down why I liked each of those things, I was able to blend them together into a sense of cohesiveness.

  • For example, I like the muted tones and simple un-fussiness of Beatrix Potter’s costumes in Miss Potter.
  • I like the silhouette of the 50’s, but I also want the clothes I wear to be comfortable, so I am not thinking of New Look, but rather more casual.
  • I am drawn to the colour palettes and patterns of the costumes in The Bletchley Circle, and I like how wearable the clothes are.
  • I love floral prints, especially historical/vintage ones.

I also narrowed some of my current likes and dislikes:

  • I like skirts and dresses instead of pants.
  • I like to finish off my outfits with hats, but I don’t like it when I have too many accessories.
  • I like fitted garments, yet I still want them to be comfortable to wear.
  • I prefer feminine outfits, but not when they are too fluffy and frilly or too delicate.
  • I like classic elegance, but with a bit of a twist…
  • I like historical touches, but I don’t want to stick to one era.
  • I like fit and flair silhouettes, but don’t like skirts to be too wide or bulky.

It can be really helpful to think through and write out the things that you do and don’t like.

For example, when I have those clearly defined in my mind, and I see a gorgeous pair of cigarette pants, I’m not tempted to get them because I already know that I don’t like wearing fitted pants, even though they look amazing on the model.

Or when I see a beautiful floaty 1910’s Edwardian gown, and am inspired to add those details to my wardrobe, I will know to simplify it a bit, because I don’t like too many frills and ruffles that get in the way. Perhaps instead of adding the 1910’s to my wardrobe via lace and chiffon, I would instead be more inspired by the “college girl” look with wool and tailored details in the same silhouette.

Instead of limiting you, having these parameters for your wardrobe can actually help to filter the good stuff out of all the inspiration that comes your way. And what constitutes “the good stuff” is different for each of us.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t be inspired by new things, or discover different trends you’d like to try out, but when you want to try something new, you can adapt it to fit into your personal style so that you know you’ll love wearing it and it won’t end up buried at the back of your closet. When you know what your own personal style is, it is much easier to adapt those trends to fit yourself, rather than creating a wardrobe that looks perfect…for someone else.

So what did I discover about my personal style through this process?

I came to the conclusion that as much as I love vintage fashion, I don’t like it when I limit myself to only vintage styles. This post that I wrote a few years ago still easily describes my style today: “Modern Girl Goes Vintage”. I love fashion, and from pretty much any era in history I will be able to find something to love. However I don’t want to channel myself into any one particular era or genre. I am definitely still a “Vintage Mixer” as described in this post by DeniseBrain.

woman wearing a vintage and modern styled outfit of a tan circle skirt, navy blouse and a silk scarf turban.

Before I ever loved vintage style, I loved Fashion. That doesn’t mean I always had good style (because I definitely didn’t!) but I loved it. Thus, most of my favourite outfits have been ones that are not too historical. They definitely have that vintage touch, but with a little bit of a clashing element. Maybe it’s a modern styled shoe (such as above) or a piece of fair trade jewelry from India, or mixing a 1960’s style hat with a 1940’s dress…the options are endless.

I’ve also realized that, for me, paring back is best. Some of my past outfits that I didn’t really like anymore was because there was way too much going on. While for some people “more is more”… for me not so much. I don’t particularly love it when I wear outfits with a matching hat, shoes, gloves, purse etc. I do love to make a statement, but I’ve realized that I am actually more drawn to a more classic style than I thought.  I like this quote by Coco Chanel; “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”.

Also, I like things to be timeless. Some of my favourite pieces are ones that you aren’t quite sure if it’s an authentic vintage piece or not; it doesn’t look quite new, but then it doesn’t look quite old…it falls into a bit of era ambiguity. I guess in a generation of “trends” that come and go almost each week, I’ve never really been one to follow them.

I used to think that creating a style manifesto would be too narrow of a window, that it would limit my wardrobe and take away the fun, but going through this process made me realize that it can actually free you to focus on what you love and filter out all the rest!

I am not very good with coming up with descriptions, but the one I came up with for my style is:

“Unconventional Classic, with a Dash of History”

Your personal style statement could be anything that you are interested in and want to incorporate into your wardrobe.

woman wearing a gathered skirt, straw hat and black lace blouse, standing in a wheat field

How about “Audrey Hepburn at College” or “1930’s Lord of the Rings”? It can be a lot of fun to brainstorm and come up with a description that perfectly encapsulates your style. Of course it can be anything you want, and the best thing about fashion is that it always changes and evolves over time as we change and grow and discover new things. We can always add in new things and take out old things. For example, I used to have two pinafore dresses and I wore them all the time. However, I recently moved both of them out of my closet, since I realized that they no longer reflect my style…and that’s totally OK.

Creating a personal style mission statement is a great step to creating the ideal wardrobe for YOU, not based on what other people like. Coming to an understanding of your own personal style can be extremely helpful in creating your ideal wardrobe and avoiding all the trends and marketing that are thrown at us every day. If you have your own unique style, you can avoid looking like everyone else, and truly enjoy getting dressed because you will feel like yourself.

And if you succeed in defining your own unique style, and you truly love each and every piece you have, you can pull just about anything out of your closet and come out feeling happy!

Have you ever gone through your wardrobe and taken time to evaluate your own personal style?

Have you read “The Curated Closet”, or do you know of any other helpful resources?

How would you describe your own unique style? 

Using Accessories to Change Up Your Look

1970's inspired summer look

I rediscovered this guest post that I wrote for Jessica of Zella Maybe back in 2016, and decided that I would like for it to have a home here too. Someday it would be nice to do an updated version of this post with new outfits and photos, but in the meantime here is the post from nearly five years ago!

One of the things that I love most about vintage style dressing is that it really is as varied as the people who lived before us. Within the vintage subculture there are so many vastly different and wonderful styles- from pinup, to rockabilly, to 60’s mod and so on. . . I have never been able to choose one signature style for myself though. There are just too many styles and eras to choose from! Seldom a week goes by where I am not being inspired by something different and deciding I need to dress more like a 20’s flapper or a 40’s land girl, then the next week it is the 1950’s movie-star or a 60’s housewife. . . (Maybe this is really just a clue into how indecisive I am?) However, with something as fun as fashion- why choose only one style?

The best way to wear all of the unique and different vintage styles you encounter would be to have a wardrobe the size of Barbie’s, with dresses and outfits and accessories for each occasion. Unfortunately, I do not have a wardrobe to rival Barbie’s, and I doubt that you do either. However, accessories are a great secret weapon! Some garments lend themselves well to being styled as different eras, and it is amazing what changing your hat, scarf, shoes, makeup or purse can do for completely transforming an ensemble. So today I will show you how I took three different outfits as starting points, and by switching a few pieces was able to create an outfit with a completely different look and mood.

The first outfit is this one, consisting of wide legged navy trousers and a hip length mustard yellow cardigan.

1920's inspired outfit

The wide legged trousers are a great starting point for a 1920’s inspired look as trousers first really came into fashion for women in the 1920’s. (They were quite a scandalous style for the “modern woman”!) I don’t have the figure for the straight willowy 1920’s ideal, but by pairing the trousers with a long cardigan I get the illusion of that silhouette. Tucking in my silk top shows that I do, in fact, have a waist, while the blowsy fabric gives softness. A pile of sparkly necklaces, earrings and an exotically wrapped turban results in the classic 1920’s feel. Of course no 1920’s look is complete without makeup, so I added a dark burgundy lip, smudgy eyeliner and gold eye shadow.

1940's WWII style outfit

Keeping the trousers and the sweater, but switching out the top for a collared cotton patterned shirt instantly turns the look into a 1940’s style. Here I have tied a turban from back to front with a large bow, for a Rosie the Riveter/ working-girl look. (See- I even have a massive wrench!) Lace up boots, minimal jewelry (just ear studs), and a natural makeup look with a hint of pink lipstick gives a softer, minimal look perfect for the era. I have curled my bangs here as well, for a more 40’s style hairdo- as my hair is quite short and that is pretty much all of it I can style! It is amazing how simply switching out the accessories takes this trousers and sweater set from “flapper” to “make do and mend”.

1940's ladylike styled outfit

For the next set I have a navy crepe dress with pearl buttons at the neck. This is a 1940’s reproduction pattern (Simplicity 1777), but it is really one of the most versatile garments I own, as almost everything goes with navy.

I first styled the dress as 1940’s, by adding a black straw saucer hat. Tilt hats were quite popular in the 1940’s, and if you have long hair, curling it or adding a victory roll would be the perfect touch. I can’t do that, so I tucked my hair back to make it look a bit more styled, and again curled the bangs. A small black patent handbag, and black suede pumps with a classic cuban heel, coordinate nicely with the hat, and for a ladylike look like this, gloves are a must. (No lady in the 1940’s would consider an outfit complete without her gloves!) For makeup, a natural face, with a sophisticated red lipstick gives a classic 40’s look.

1960's inspired outfit

Now I have opted for an early 1960’s take on the dress. The early 1960’s is one of my favourite periods as it was so fun, yet still elegant. It retained much of the style of the 1950’s New Look, while losing a lot of the stuffiness. I mean, what is not fun (or funny?) about this ridiculous 1960’s hat? It is like wearing a tulle cake on your head. The bodice on this dress is a bit more fitted than would have been popular in the 1960’s, but by adding a boxy cashmere coat, the silhouette suddenly becomes straighter with a more secretary/twinset look. Classic peep-toe pumps in navy, and a navy “Kelly Bag inspired” structured purse are a perfect match. By teasing my hair into round shape, adding lots of mascara, blue eyeshadow and a paler coral lip, I get that iconic 1960’s look. (Although you can’t really see my makeup in the picture.) A bouffant or beehive hairstyle would also be classic 1960’s, and false eyelashes would be perfect touch for the wide-open eye makeup style of the era.

1940's style picnic outfit

For the last set I have this navy gingham pinafore dress. (Originally this dress was a horrific 1980’s baggy housedress that I refashioned into a pinafore.)

Pinafore dresses were quite a popular style in the 1940’s and the slimmer gathered dirndl skirt on this one suits the style of the 40’s “make do and mend” better than the 50’s pinafores, which usually had fuller skirts. Peasant style tops were also very popular in the 40’s, or as an alternative, you could wear a short sleeved collared shirt. A large stiff-brimmed straw sunhat, a small straw handbag, and white peep toe heels coordinate perfectly. Again, I have rather minimal eye makeup and a tawny coloured lipstick. All ready to go on a summer picnic; 1940’s style!

1970's inspired sundress outfit

And now for something completely different, I have this 1970’s outfit. Gingham was very popular in the 1970’s too, and pinafores swung back into style, with the resurgence of the romantic, prairie girl look. Pairing the pinafore with a sleeveless tie-neck blouse makes the pinafore looks like a summer sundress. As headscarves were another popular style of the era, I have tied a scarf on my hair, and topped it with a floppy sunhat. The floppy soft brim of this hat makes this outfit so different than the 40’s look with the straight brimmed hat. Large hoop earrings, a patchwork bag with wooden handles, and a stack of gold bracelets give a boho look. And of course no 1970’s look would be complete without platforms- chunky wooden heels are perfect for the 70’s!  For makeup, I have switched to a lighter pink lipstick, darker eyeliner and soft light blue eyeshadow.

So, there you can see how I took three different starting points, and simply by switching the accessories, was able to turn three outfits into six different vintage style outfits. (You can also see that the 1940’s is a very easy era to replicate, as I ended up with three different 1940’s looks!)

Obviously we restyle our pieces all the time , but it is easy to fall into a style rut and always grab the same things over and over. I hope this has given you some inspiration, and that you can look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes to see what you can do to switch it up. If you are just really bored with your wardrobe, because you have worn everything in it a million times, then perhaps all you need to do is change your hat, add some gloves, or try a new makeup style. And, if you want to play with your style, the next time you think, “I wish I could do the 20’s or the 40’s or the 60’s etc”, all you might need to do is pair different accessories with the clothes you already own.

There is no need to commit to only one era. Fashion is really so much fun, and there are so many great vintage styles out there, so I hope this can inspire you to have fun choosing what to wear, and accessorize with each day!

1920's Inspired outfit