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all posts related to how to create personal style and other styling tips

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

Florals for Spring, From my Fashion Scrapbook

This is from a wedding magazine, but I would love to wear a floral headpiece like this for other occasions too! Isn’t it beautiful?

Florals for Spring may not be “groundbreaking” according to Miranda Priestly, but no matter how cliché they may be, isn’t there something so nice about reflecting the changing of the seasons in your clothing choices?

I think that Spring is the most anticipated wardrobe change of the year, since it is such a dramatic departure from winter clothing. After a long, cold winter, there really is nothing as lovely as wearing your floral pieces!

I do, of course, wear florals all year round, but even so, it is still nice to be “seasonally appropriate” from time to time.

After taking a look through this scrapbook the other day, I thought that it would be nice to share some of my favourite floral and Spring themed magazine tear-sheets with you all!

It’s at times like this, that I miss living in town, because my bicycle, sadly, isn’t meant for country roads!

I love the photography, and this jumpsuit, from this page from an old Free People catalogue.

I do love a good clashing pattern, like on the left. And that skirt on the right is all of my Spring/Summer dreams come to life.

This one was from a Vogue article about “how to wear Vintage”. I like the updated take on the classic 1950’s silhouette (though I didn’t agree with all of their “advice”!)

Another lovely image from this spread…

And another gorgeous Free People image. I’ve never actually worn a flower crown…but I’m beginning to think that it is a must-have Spring accessory!

One of my favourite ads, above! The retro, pastel colour palette is just so fun.

Which of these images is your favourite? Are you an all-year-round florals person, or do you wear them only for warm weather?

Fashion Scrapbook

fashion scrapbook, the artyologist

When I was about thirteen, I started saving clippings from fashion magazines- correction- at that time it was actually the Sears catalogue, but you get the idea. Ever since then, I’ve saved clippings of any kind of pictures that appeal to me in some way. Some have been from fashion magazines I’ve found at the thrift store, or newspaper advertisements, or even home decorating magazines.

Over time, my style has evolved, but there are still some constants. Earthy colours, nature and florals are all still present. Vintage styles are a more recent addition- I started changing my style to vintage in 2012. Before that I was very into eclectic boho romantic, which is reflected in the pictures from that time period. I saved some of these because the clothing, or the style appealed to me- others because of the photography or atmosphere is unique or interesting. Anyways, I was looking through the scrapbook the other day, and thought I would share some of these images. Maybe you’ll find them as interesting and inspiring as I do!

fashion scrapbook 2, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook wedding, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook dior, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 3, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 4, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook oscar-de-la-renta, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook free-people, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 5, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 6, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 7, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 8, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 60's, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 9, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 10, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 20's, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook finger waves, the artyologist

fashion scrapbook 11, the artyologist

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe

Creating a Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that these photos are from a couple of weeks ago because. . .  I’ve since cut my hair! I was going to post these before that happened, but time just got away from me. (I took at little holiday last week, when a friend came to visit and everything else kind of got thrown out the window, but it was a much needed break!) I still wanted to post these photos though, because as you know by now, I never seem to post “on time” lately anyways.

I rediscovered this peach skirt in my wardrobe a couple of weeks ago and have worn it several times since then. By “rediscover” I mean that when I moved into my new apartment last month, I decided that it was time to finally start “curating my closet”, and during that process I discovered this skirt again.

I’ve talked about my desire to curate my closet before, but I have never actually got around to doing it, so when I moved I decided it was time for a fresh start. There are actually a couple of things that I did to streamline my closet.

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe, shoes and bag , the artyologist

The first is that rather than going through my wardrobe all in one go, deciding whether each item was something to keep or get rid of, I am trying another method I’ve heard about. Because I actually do like all of things in my wardrobe, I don’t need to sort through, and pare down my closet because I have things I don’t like; I need to sort it because I’m not actually wearing some of them! So, when I moved into my new closet space, I turned all of my hangers around backwards. As I have been putting clothes back in my closet after wearing them, I’ve put the hangers in the correct way, which makes it easy to see which pieces I’ve actually worn. I’m going to be doing this until September, which is when I will be switching to a Fall wardrobe anyways. Of course, I’ve been taking into account seasonal items! (“I haven’t worn this down-filled parka all summer!”)

It’s looking a bit messy right now, with the hangers going all directions (only another month to go!), but it is definitely making it easy to see which pieces aren’t getting worn. As I’m doing this experiment, I am trying to determine why I wear some things, and pass over others. And, when I am getting dressed, I look at the items I haven’t worn first and decide whether I can wear them instead of the same three things I always turn to. If I wear something and I decide I don’t really like it for some reason, then I know that it is time to pass it on!

Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

Another way I have made my closet a bit more streamlined, is by moving all of my Fall/Winter garments out my closet and packing them away in a suitcase. I used to have quite a large closet, and so I stored all of my clothes in there. The problem I had was that when I went to get dressed, it looked like I had twice as many clothes, but I actually couldn’t wear half of them, because they were out of season. I also moved all of my old clothes out of the closet and put them in a separate drawer. (By “old” I mean, worn t-shirts/pants which are perfect for painting or doing chores in, but not for wearing in public!) Having all of these extra clothes in the closet was making it difficult to get dressed for work, because it looked like I had so much to choose from, but actually a lot of the pieces were unwearable. By moving them to a separate area, I can easily see what I have to wear.

Creating A Well Loved Wardrobe, vintage skirt, the artyologist

By doing this closet experiment, I decided to try this peach skirt again, since I’ve tried wearing it before unsuccessfully. I sewed it last summer, but never really liked it. I felt frumpy in it for some reason- the gathered waistband perhaps? Maybe I was just in a bad mood? Maybe I was pairing it with the wrong top? I don’t know what it was, but I’ve tried wearing it again this summer, and I love it! I’ve worn it several different times- once with my black Hell Bunny blouse, once with a black drapey rayon top, and once, here, with this sleeveless ruffled cream top. I’ve even worn it with both heels and flats, and I like it both ways, so I guess this time around, the skirt is a keeper! And seriously- the pattern is little people dancing, so what’s not to love about that? I guess it’s a good thing I am sorting through my closet, or I wouldn’t have come across this outfit combination.

Have you ever had a piece of clothing that you didn’t like, and then tried it again with success? And have you tried this method of wardrobe organizing/curating?

hydrangea-side-view, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, the artyologist

stonecrop, the artyologist

peach hat detail, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, peach skirt, the artyologist

Well Loved Wardrobe, hat and purse, the artyologist