Monday, April 18, 2011

personal style wobblies

Lately I've been suffering from a slight loss of mojo regarding my wardrobe. It happens to all of us and during dry spells, I usually take a 'keep calm and carry on' approach and settle down for a flick through The Cheap Date Guide To Style which usually serves to re-inspire. This time though the spell has expressed a stubborness stronger than usual and I've found my go-to formula of New Balance, skinny cords and a rotation of faithful light knitwear and a sleeveless blouse a little lacking, as if we've passed the honeymoon period. In addition to this my head has become muddled by ultra-analytical questions about the definitions of style as a way or conveying identity. What follows are my extremely muddled and uncollated questions which by sharing has me teetering on that slightly unattractive first-person Carrie Bradshaw 'narration' style.

The little catalyst of a thought regards the references we have in our heads- our favoured aesthetics, the interests that define and inspire us and how these are shown through the way we dress-or whether they even need to be. I think it came from me feeling that my go-to formula had become too casual; lazy even and that it wasn't a suitable representation of the things that excite and inspire me. A sense that somehow because there are gaps in my wardrobe, a pair of shoes or a dress that I've desired but haven't bought, I'm not fufilling 'my own potential'. I say this all with a pinch of salt, firstly because although style is one of my great interests it's never something I like to dedicate all of my energy into and also because the thought of needing to achieve your own 'style potential' is quite frankly silly-besides, what does it mean? Still I thought it was an interesting concept, maybe even a thought that is embarrassing to admit to. 

Should the way we dress be an aesthetic representation of ourselves to the extend that when it doesn't exactly reflect our current sartorial preferences we're somehow 'letting ourselves down'? I don't think so, but it is something that crosses my mind on numerous occasions.I have friends who will put together a fantastic outfit, compiled of current objects of affection. A buttery leather clutch or some suede trousers-newly bought after watching a film whose heroine kickstarted a love of brown trousers. But deep down I know that I can't afford to be supplementing my wardrobe with every little thing that inspires me. More significant is the fact that a year from now I may not hold the same teenage-style pangs over my 'current favourites'. And so I tell myself that I'll hold off, that I can still love a pair or strappy sandals from afar and I can still love the old magazine clipping that initiated my love of said sandal without having to wear them. 

But then I come back around full circle, my mind clouded and starting to wobble under the weight of these questions that seem to be heading towards the dangerously elusive 'so then, what is the point of personal style if not to showcase what excites us?' or 'showcasing? does 'showcasing' suggest I am dressing for others rather than for myself?' to which I can offer myself a 'don't be so naive' retort something along the lines of 'but if dressing as a way of telling others a little about ourselves truly doesn't enter into the process, then why doesn't everybody find themselves in an eternal state of pyjama-dom?'

I think theres a bit of a stigma attached to having short love affairs with different trends or looks. I myself always admire people who have to a consistent style. I regard my own style to be pretty linear but maybe consistency is something that increases with age and experience. Still, being seduced by a little trend bubble is a perfectly natural event when you're interested in fashion and shouldn't be something to be afraid of. Trends can be like the lessons we learn at school, and in the same way that a history lesson at the age of 14 may establish a life-long interest in the French Revolution, a commercial peak in all things 'Nude' may encode a love of off-beige knitwear which will serve as a personal go-to for the rest of your days (aw). I'm not someone who flits between different looks a lot but I have found myself almost afraid of inconsistency as if it is a flaw.

I suppose there isn't a conclusive end point to these rambing questions. What started out as an innocent pondering over the temporary loss of style mojo has developed into a set of thoughts that have stumbled down into a neverending rabbit hole. This is more of a 'these are my unorganised and uncemeted thoughts-what do you think?' call for help. I don't think there are definitive answers about the extent to which our style should reflect ourselves; this is what makes individual style so fascinating and ambiguous and personal.. and ever so occasionally, so mindboggling.


susie said...

I appreciate hearing these thoughts. I know I over think similar things a lot, but I find this stuff fascinating. I think we can ask almost any sort of question and figure out potential answers through the material things we desire.

And I don't think we have to arrive at solutions. That's why I never write about or care to read other people's "rules." I have tendencies moreso than laws. It's in the process of asking and searching for answers that we end up forming those tendencies into the sort of consistent style that you mentioned. At least that's my hope.

Oh, and I also hope we can keep talking about things like this as we grow older, even if the "blogging trend" is said to expire with time like a Jeffrey Campbell platform.

Cassie said...

Style is definitely about trying to represent yourself or who you want to be etc, but to varying degrees with each individual. I'm always lacking 'wardrobe mojo', and I think there's quite a lot of pressure within the blogging community, and definitely within the fashion community!, to always have great personal style.
In my head I have a complete picture of what I'd like to look like and what kind of style I'd like to have, as well as a whole internal catalogue of inspiration, but then I'll head into town and think about the outfit I'm wearing and feel totally despairing that I don't really look at all how I'd like to.

Subsequently, I've just had a big wardrobe clear out, and am determined to be a bit more directional with what I buy and wear. Like you, I always appreciate people who have a consistent style and these tend to be the people I most admire, so it's something to aim for, right?

Emma said...

great post!!!

I totally know the feeling of "not living up to ones style potential"

I definitely try to have what i wear act as an expression of my personal narrative, inspirations and my opinions about clothes and fashion in general.


Katie said...

Great post, I think about this kind of thing alot.
I think the point you make about achieving your own style potential is something that everyone strives for and I think it should be just that - motivation to experiment and try new things (trends) because we want to achieve a look (hopefully for ourselves and no-one else) that is as intelligently put together/curated and styled as we wish to convey the same of ourselves. I think striving for something new is all part of the fashion system, but it should always be a fun form of motivation.
I also think the thing with trends is that it is fun to try them, if its a trend you do really like at the time, but I always try to have Coco Chanel in the back of my head reminding me that 'fashion fades, style is eternal'.
I have also found that watching videos of people from all over the world with their unique style has made me want to celebrate sartorial difference even more, so if you ever find yourself in another 'style rabbit-hole', maybe watch one of the videos and like me, you might feel alittle less concerned with the actual clothes, and more with how the clothes make you feel.
Great post again, I love these kind of debates!

Kirstie said...

Such a great post to read, I'm finding myself in the exact same predicament at the current time.

The way in which you talk about fulfilling your own "style potential" in a way I feel is almost impossible. Standards are set by others but most importantly by ourselves and once we reach them, half of the time they aren't satisfying enough or we still find ourselves striving for more.

As for a consistent wardrobe, it's rather difficult when you succumb to ever changing trends, and when all thrown together they can resemble a mockery. As much as I admire the girls who are dedicated enough to follow and experiment with seasonal trends, I find it takes away the "personal" element of personal style as it's all just a little too glorified and showy. I've come to realise, at least with my own wardrobe, that I need to ponder over these things with a long term mindset, now purchasing pieces that I will look at in a year's time and still feel a contentment and colours that will still be a somewhat representation of my more consistent style.

Anyway, I'm probably rambling far too much but generally speaking for the whole subject, I think wardrobe contemplation is both good and bad. It may help us realise our mistakes and flaws in our approach to dressing, but it makes our attempts of building a coherent and distinctive wardrobe prove to be that even more unattainable.

blue roses said...

thanks for your musings; i agree with the other comments, in that there is not concrete solutions or an overarching dogma attached to these questions. you seem to be doing a marvelous job exploring, and documenting your thoughts to share with the rest of us, so please continue!

i think your point on not spending money wantonly, on a whim, is particularly important; it is something perhaps looked down upon or ignored frequently in fashion and aesthetics, but the reality is, most of us need to be budget conscious.

Unknown said...

Interesting post. I find myself often thinking of the same sort of things.
I think sometimes in manchester, where there are so many people showcasing their own styles you can feel a bit jaded by it all. But essentially your personal style will always be evolving as you change and grow and get older. I find myself gettting drawn to slightly more classic looks, trying to figure out what shapes I like and only buying expensive (read 20quid or more!) things if I feel I will be able to use them for a long time .Any more immediate desires I try to find somethign similar through charity shops or make.
I hope with a little time you'll answer some of your own questions and that we'll get to see the process.

Elaina said...

i know exactly what you mean about 'inconsistency as a flaw' - i personally have a very inconsistent style. but then i think you have to view everything in your life as constant change (if such a thing is even possible) you have to have your trainers and trousers months and the dressed up months - because in the end that's the full breadth of style, and fashion. we wouldn't always eat at the ivy, but we wouldn't always eat kfc. you just have to embrace the variety i guess...

thank's for the reallly inspirational post :)

Michelle Goldie said...

we've all been there..
i think i've worked out my style by now. i've learnt to just incorporate new trends into it. if they fit, they fit.. if it they don't then it's at least there's a dozen to choose from at any time - and they disappear as quickly as they arrive.

that pic of linda mccartney reminds me of what a babe she used to be. :/ x

mode.ulation said...

You write really well, and I can relate to this post. It seems that there are so many pieces of clothes out there on the rack that can supplement and even patch up the gap in my wardrobe, but somehow I know I will not keep wearing it..there is definitely an expiry date to a piece of clothing we love, or a trend that will fade in time.