The Cultivated Life: Personal Style

I am not a fashion blogger and certainly don't intend to move in that direction, but I do love to talk about fashion from time to time. Again, as with my post on home decor, I am no expert but I do want to share what has worked well for me.

Over the years, I have really come into my own style. It has been a process that's taken quite a bit of time and effort, but I am proud of how I present myself day in and day out. I would say my clothing style varies little from my home decor style which varies little from my blog design style: Clean, classic and colorful.

For a couple years in there, I began to think that I could only dress stylishly if I had a lot of money. I'd see something on a show or on pinterest or on a blog and think, "If I had more money, I'd dress like that." Simultaneously, I was gaining weight. I've never been a thin girl, but I am at the heaviest now that I've ever been. This only compounded the issue. I then began thinking, "If I had more money and were thinner, I'd dress more stylishly." At some point, I just had to decide that I don't have more money and I'm not thinner, so I've got to be content with what I do have and how I look.

From there, I've made some changes to how I shop and how I approach my personal style. Here's what I've come up with:

1) I look at Pinterest as a way to gather ideas, not as a style book to copy looks from. I pin whole looks or individual pieces I like and then search for common elements. I look at colors, cuts, styles and see what these pins all have in common. I've come to see that I'm drawn to clean, pulled together looks and to pieces that have unique details and feminine touches. Pin a bunch and then look for  common elements that you're drawn to. Go shopping with those elements in mind.

2) I don't buy it unless I love it. I found I was settling for "I like it" and "It fits". This led me to start dressy like a preppy tomboy, which I'm not. I'm learning that just because I like a style doesn't mean I need to wear it. If I don't absolutely love the piece and it doesn't fit into my style, I don't buy it.

3) Being on a budget, I have to pick and choose what I buy. That said, I invest in key accessories. Accessories are wonderful because they always fit right and they can completely transform an outfit. Many of my tops and bottoms are quite inexpensive. I choose to spend my money on classic bags, shoes and accessories that can be mixed and matched and that will last over time. With the right accessories, your basic jeans and white tee can be a perfectly styled outfit.

4) I found my style icons. I love the styles of Audrey Hepburn and Blair Waldorf and I love the Kate Spade brand. While I'd love to just steal Blair Waldorf's wardrobe and buy all things Kate Spade, every piece doesn't necessarily work for me or fit my budget, so I find ways to make it my own. But having style icons gave me a place to start from and a way to easily verbalize my ideal style to others.

My cousin/twin Maddy and me
5) Lastly, I spent some time experimenting, trying different styles and colors and combinations of styles and colors until I found a style I was comfortable with and that made me feel good about myself. I heard somewhere (wish I remembered where!) that your style is whatever you put together without thinking. I agree, but it takes time to get there. My go-to look is a blazer, bright shirt, skinny jeans, flats and accessories (as pictured above). That's what I can put together without thinking and what makes me feel good about myself. Find your go-to.

With these changes, I've been able to find my own style. I think sometimes we (I?) start to feel that if an outfit (or body?) isn't Pinterest-perfect, it's not worth spending the time on. And that just simply isn't true. Each morning, you have the opportunity to feel good about yourself and how you present yourself. And you don't need more money or less weight to do it.

That said, I leave you with the words of my fashion hero, 
Iris Apfel, the queen of accessories:
"I say, dress to please yourself. Listen to your inner muse and take a chance. Wear something that says 'Here I am!' today."

In case you need more Iris wisdom, I've added some great videos of her on my Facebook page! And if you're interested in what I've been pinning lately, you can find me on Pinterest here.

What's your style? What have you done to feel good about how you look?

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