How I discovered my style

death-by-elocution-sweater

If you are reading my blog, you probably, like me, enjoy reading about other blogger’s thought processes when deciding what to wear.  It helps me think in new ways about my own style.

What I’ve noticed is that I think much differently than I used to (in my 20s).  When I look back at my old shopping habits, it is astonishing how little thought I put into how I spent.  In my late 20s- early 30s, I slowly dug my way out of debt.  Part of my debt was due to being in school for so long, but a big part was also due to my terrible shopping habits.  I was spending a little each time, and spending a lot overall.  I ended up with a closet full of clothes that was frustrating and didn’t last the test of time.

I didn’t really start to think about my shopping habits until I started reading about how other bloggers shopped.  In this post, I want to share a story about my old shopping habits; not to beat up on myself but to simply reflect on how I learned valuable lessons that allowed me to be more free to be me.

Four years ago, I transitioned from spending most of my time in the classroom to spending most of my time at work in a professional environment with certain rules and expectations of what I should wear.  To prepare, I went on a one day shopping trip into Manhattan, and chose Uniqlo as my one stop shopping destination.  I found a shirt that looked like it matched the ideal standard professional long sleeved button up shirt in my mind, felt the price was right and then bought it in 5 different colors.  I did the same for work pants.  I spent about $300 for a full week of outfits.  Success right?  Nope!

I never actually wore these shirts.  It wasn’t me.  I hadn’t asked myself, would I actually wear this?  Does this shirt feel like Me?  Am I naturally drawn to this style?  Does every part of my body feel comfortable in this outfit?  I wasn’t mindful of what I wanted and then like I was on autopilot, I didn’t wear these shirts and I didn’t reflect on why.   It was a mistake and I kept making similar mistakes until I started actually thinking about what I truly wanted.  These shirts collected dust because they didn’t speak to my core self.  They weren’t really Me.  They were reflective of some ideal professional woman that I imagined I would become, and not reflective of who I was in that moment.

So last year, I finally donated these shirts to Goodwill and felt a little bit lighter and more free to be me.  Have you experienced something similar?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

image credit: death by elocution

6 thoughts on “How I discovered my style

  1. I sometimes have a terrible habit of treating shopping like nesting…maybe an important life change is happening (back to school as a teacher, post-maternity anxiety, etc.) and I will stockpile things I deem essential without really consciously considering whether they represent me. I’m in a fledgling state of consuming consciously. I also have a bad thrifting habit that I have streamlined in the last two months (lots of buyer’s remorse and a closet of other people’s identity crises). I have decided that I’m very comfortable and well-made, well tailored clothing, mostly slim pants, oxford button-down tops, and some kind of orthopedic clog or Birkenstocks. I do have some vintage doc marten that I bring out from time to time. But my former shoe fetish is catching up with me. I have a ton of shoes that just are not realistic for standing and walking all over the school all day.
    Thanks for your wonderful blog post! I’m curious, does any of this philosophy translate to other parts of your life, such as eating? Since I’ve become a more conscious shopper, I’ve noticed I started to worry more about what I put in my body. I’m not really sure how these two are connected–but this lightness is contagious and I have been trying to minimize everywhere including my lunchbox, which is a hot mess. I only have 30 minutes to eat between classes, so I have considered starting to just graze all day. I need some healthy minimalist ideas that will keep me full. Anybody feel free to suggest!

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    1. I love that line “a closet full of other people’s identity crisis”. You are so clever. The truth is we all have to find that right balance of fitting into your environment and being authentically you… It took me about a decade to find it; hope you find it too. To answer your question, this philosophy does permeates every other aspect of my life. I just happen to enjoy blogging about style because of the community online. As for food, I apply minimalism somewhat to what I eat too. I don’t fuss over it too much, have a high rotation of simple comfort foods that are easy to make, like japanese rice bowls (gyudon) and roasted vegetables with EVOO and salt, and never get my calories from drinks except coffee. I simply eat really satisfying foods and find that I generally don’t end up overeating. Thanks for your reply, I love reading your comments!

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  2. When I changed my job that requires less formal wear, I realized I don’t like, or ever feel like myself in formal clothes. As a result, I mostly gave away my formal clothes and replaced them with clothes that feel like “me”. And you’re right, I enjoy reading about other people’s thought processes and I also enjoyed yours!

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  3. i’ve been trying to understand why some ‘classics’ aren’t working for me and this exploration is really interesting to me. I bought a button down to try as I like the look of them but the fabric was too stiff for me and it felt very formal so I’m thinking perhaps in a drapery fabric; I then bought a plain white v neck tee shirt as this is on all the lists (!!) but it was too plain for me. I rarely enjoy wearing plain tops and have just figured that out so I now think that either a detail, like a drape or a pattern is what I prefer.

    The other aspect of my shopping I am paying attention to is how I feel about the item in the changing room. I tried on a black 3/4 sleeve linen jacket and I just loved it straight away, I’m going to look out for this feeling when I’m trying clothes on rather than buying something because I should.

    Thanks for sharing your thought process and how freeing following your own style can be!

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