Style, Me Pretty
As you're reading this I'm close to pulling up to my grandma's front door, ready to visit what is affectionately called "The Burky Corner." We've called it that since forever (which is what time feels like as a kid) because grandma, several uncles, and one aunt all live within a mile of each other there. As a kid we had crazy amounts of fun tramping the property. There was a creek full of tadpoles, fields, woods, barns, animals, and peach pie reposing in some fridge somewhere for us to hunt down. It was wonderful.
We were all part of some plain church or another and all lived pretty much all the same. We ate the same kinds of things, wore the same kinds of clothing, and felt confidence in the fact that we all looked the same. When we left it was hard to find either confidence or personal style. That had always been decided for us. It took awhile to figure things out; when you come from a plain background you are taught to be presentable within church rules, and once away from the rules, scratch the old cranium and say "what is this, fashion, you speak of?"
It's confusing, and if there's one thing I've been hearing from women coming out of restricted backgrounds it is that the process looks daunting and overwhelming. Most of us really have no clue where to start.
I've been finding my way, and I'd love to chat about a couple of the things that really helped me.
1. CONFIDENCE FIRST
One of the most important and difficult things to learn is to throw away beauty ideals of other people and finding one's own. For me, I knew that if I didn't build my confidence on character and hope and values I would only ever be a shell to decorate. I have no regrets about this decision. The foundation must be strong or the first gorgeous photo of a Victoria's Secret Angel will knock all your security out from under you. There's no way to compete.
But there's no need to compete if you truly value your own worth and beauty as beginning in character. You will find your own confidence there and you will learn to look deeper on other women; there must be the belief that there is something greater than the external to ever be truly confident. Once this is in place, you are in a good place to start learning the style that will express your inner self. Otherwise, it is easy to end up as a mere mannequinn.
2. BUILD THE STRUCTURE
This will be the second hardest, but also rewarding bit. This is where you build your wardrobe with staples that will always make you feel like you have something to wear; the clothing that you will re-wear five times in a week vs. pulling out something you really don't want to wear. This is what my list looks like:
- Pencil skirt
- Dark-colored skinny jeans
- At least 2-3 versatile dresses, that can be dressed up or down.
- A few neutral tee shirts (mine are usually grey, cream, or something like a taupe color)
- Ankle boots for winter
- Pretty, comfortable sandals for summer
- Trench coat
- Black leather moto jacket
- Silk scarf
- Little Black Dress
These are my basics and they usually look quite boring. That's ok by me because I see this as the foundation of the wardrobe. Here is where minimalists stop. I take it one step further.
This part is so much fun. It's where you add that funky necklace, the hoop earrings, the quirky hat, the wild, floral dress, or the velvet red blazer. It's simply colors, textures, and patterns that bring you a flash of happiness to wear. For example, I have a yellow cardigan I love better than french fries. It doesn't go with everything and I care not the slightest. It makes me joyful to wear it because it's cheery and imperturbable. It says, "what ho! Away ennui! Begone doldrums! The sun is out!" Another matter of joy to me is graphic tees. I like weird brands and quirky humor. It satisfies the goofy part of my personality.
This part is all about your personal expression. You have your boring basics, that you must have in any wardrobe, and with this section of your wardrobe everything becomes fun, new, and interesting. We need both stability and spontaneity to satisfy our artistic sides.
For a more in depth look at this topic, buy "The Curated Closet." Really, do. It's fantastic.
P. S. Photo is by the talented, Grettagraphy.
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