16.8.17

REDEFINING MY PERSONAL STYLE

I guess I have a few reasons for writing this post. One, because lately I've been feeling unsatisfied with my personal style. I started dressing a bit more "professionally" (i.e lots of button-down blouses and midi skirts) when I started teaching, and a couple of years later I went through a really horrible stage of depression where  it was enough of an effort just to get dressed in the morning, let alone find something cute and colourful to put on. Moving countries with a couple of suitcases full of clothes, taking a job where beautiful vintage dresses just weren't practical (which left me unable to wear a lot of what I packed in those two suitcases), and then having to figure out how to dress a pregnant body only exacerbated the problem and left me feeling kind of lost in regards of which clothing actually makes me happy to wear. 

And the second reason I had for writing this post is that I'm 38 weeks pregnant, bored on maternity leave, and can finally start thinking about what clothes I can wear post-baby. I wanted to look through my old outfit posts both as a reminder of how my style developed since I started the blog and to remember how much fun I used to have with dressing up. So, here goes, a little round-up of some of my favourite and not-so-favourite outfits of the past eight or so years.


So these were some of the first outfit posts I ever did, around 2008. It was when I was just getting into reading style blogs - in particular I loved Gala Darling, Style Rookie and Kingdom of Style - and experimenting with my personal style. I actually still own the Leona Edminston dress from the photo on the left; it was  the first 'designer' dress I bought and it's held up really well over the years (although I don't wear it with the big belt anymore!). The red shoes from the second photo have also stuck around, although they've accumulated a lot of stains from various pubs and parties, and I kind of wish I still had the tuxedo-style jacket had as well... 


This is deep into the Zooey Deschenal phase - all the dresses are vintage except the last one, which was a Modcloth one called The Deschenal Dress (the obsession was real). Once I discovered sites like Etsy, my wardrobe quickly became filled with gorgeous - if impractical - vintage and vintage-inspired dresses. At this stage I worked in a boutique where we had to wear all black to work, so outside of work I tried to pack in as much colour as possible! 


And here's the first time I dyed my hair... I loved the red at the time but to be honest I'd rather still have gorgeous healthy hair rather than the slightly frizzy straw I currently have growing out my noggin. Anyway! No vintage clothes in this set at all, for a change. Obviously still figuring out how to wear separates (hello, outfit three), which is still something I just can't seem to get right. I either get the proportions way out of whack (again, hello, outfit three) or just end up with the super-casual jeans and a tee, which never feels quite put together enough. The other three outfits are all cheap'n'cheerful chain store pieces which surprisingly did not last much longer after these photos...


Another unnatural hair colour! I loved dyeing the ends of my hair different colours and loved the purple (but hated the upkeep). Even in 2011 I was still working out fit issues with my clothes, for example the second dress (that I never could get to button up over the chest) and the last dress (still can't find a dress with built in cups that actually sits in the right place on me). I ended up taking the Liberty print dress with me to Paris and, while I didn't think it would get a lot of wear, it made a fantastic maternity dress! Looking back at these photos I also wish I'd taken my mum's hounding advice about brushing my hair every once in a while... most of the time hair and makeup is still an afterthought for me but it's something I'd really like to get better at. 


I feel like this is when I was finally really comfortable with my personal style; while I was still experimenting with different shapes and colours, most outfits followed a formula of nipped in waist with a flared skirt, preferably with a crazy print thrown in somewhere. I got rid of most of the cutesy printed items of clothing when I went through a bit of a manic Konmari phase, but I still have the op-shopped skirt from the second photo - one of my favourite op-shop finds ever! 


Around the time these photos were taken, I was lucky enough to participate in Perth Fashion Festival's Restyle challenge, so I added a lot of op-shop pieces to my wardrobe (like the incredible find on the far right). For a few years my weight fluctuated quite a bit so while I loved the clothes themselves, I just never felt quite right, or really very confident in them at all - I wasn't comfortable with myself and my clothes would fit, then be slightly too tight but not enough to give away, then fine again. Also wish I had taken more time to really iron out the little details in my outfits (i.e not worn stockings with a huge hole in them!). At least my accessorising started to get a little better during this period - not as many huge cheap cocktail rings and dangly earrings, but more dainty pieces by local designers, like the little ceramic cat necklace in the second and third photo. 


And finally, some more printed dresses! As much as I loved the dress on the far left - another Modcloth find - I ended up giving it away because the print just felt too young for me. I still would wear the second outfit, although the dress under the jumper, never buttoned up properly and it wasn't exactly cheap, so ended up being a waste of money. The third outfit is very ~dramatic~ but one of the problems I had around this period was putting together an outfit I loved and then just entirely skipping any effort with hair or makeup, and then choosing mismatched accessories. And finally, the fourth outfit is another ill fitting piece (the skirt that never zipped up all the way) paired with a sheer Miu Miu knock off which was the unfortunate victim of a rogue cigarette burn that ate through half the polyester. I've since learned that sheer clothes are also a waste of money for me because I never can find the right things to wear underneath them, so they just end up looking cheap. 

So did I learn anything from this little nostalgia trip? When I got to Paris I realised I hadn't bought many clothes that actually went together. I'd bought some gorgeous vintage dresses - including, for some reason, a 1940s evening dress that I last wore to a wedding - but no clothes that were casual enough for work, and really no clothes that were good for day-to-day wear. So I hit up the European chain stores like Pimkie, Zara and Bershka and panic-bought a bunch of clothes that were cute enough, and actually worked as some kind of capsule wardrobe, but that didn't make me very happy to wear. So at the moment I'm trying to find a happy medium between clothing which is functional but still fun; clothes that are still colourful and a little bit different but that don't make me feel like a children's TV presenter. 

I'm thinking that, for me, the prints and "quirky" items of clothing look better when they're higher quality. The cuts aren't quite as young and you're less likely to see the same pattern on five other people whenever you leave the house. Fit is also something I'd like to focus on (especially after spending the last few months in leggings paired with increasingly sack-like tops); from what I've admired of that elusive French style, the fit of clothes makes a huge difference in making even basic items look like a pulled-together, deliberate outfit. 

I know that motherhood will also play a big part in redefining my style; for the first few months I doubt I'll really care about the fit or print of my clothes and will be a little bit more concerned about how boob-accessible it is... but I'm looking forward to the time in the future when I can take all these new facets of my personality and project them into a look that feels like, well, me!

I'm curious to see if anyone else has been through a personal style overhaul lately?

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