It’s a crazy title – of course we look like ourselves, that’s who we are. Everyone else is taken, credit Oscar Wilde. When it comes to clothing, if we take the time for self-discovery and experimentation, we can also look like “ourselves” through our style: hair, clothes and accessories.
Remember the famous Barbara Walters interview question, that was so roundly mocked: “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” I kind of like it, though. Are you a tall, willowy tree, that bends with the wind, or a sturdy oak, with no frills, or in my case, a slender palm with a riot of fronds on top?
More seriously, there are lots of books, videos and exercises to help us identify our style. Exercises like What I Love/Don’t Love, and Moving Toward/Moving Away are helpful to complete. Studying other women’s style, and collecting looks you love on Pinterest are beneficial too.
One of the best discovery methods is experimentation. Try on all kinds of clothes when you shop, or as you’re shopping your closet. Don’t limit yourself and don’t be afraid to try new shapes/colors. The best indicator of whether you look like yourself: When you look in the mirror, do you feel “ahhhhh”, there I am?
Some components of style to experiment with as you seek authentic self expression include:
- Color is probably the most important element. While shopping with Suzanne last week, it was funny to see our carts pile up – hers with color and mine with black and ivory! She feels most herself when wearing color and prints. And the most flattering colors for our skin tones really make a difference. I am mostly “cool” and look like death in yellow/orange/mustard. So play around at the shops, try things on, and uncover the colors that make you feel most “ahhhhh.”
- Silhouette is also crucial to feeling authentic in our clothes. There are no “rules” that matter much in real life, except that the ideal has forever been to look taller and thinner. Maybe looking petite and curvy is more your thing. I favor a loose top over slightly fitted skirts/jeans/trousers, or a fitted tank over a full skirt. That combo looks and feels like me, so I repeat it often. Experimenting is the key to success.
- Fit. Are you a close-to-the body kind of woman, or a free-flowing type? I like my clothes to not grab, wrap, or zip me too tightly, but I love that look on others.
- Textures and patterns. Do you favor solids, small repeating prints, geometrics, or waves of pattern? I look and feel better with patterns on the bottom, as most are too overwhelming for my pale skin and hair.
- Accessories. This could be a whole book, and it is in fact a comprehensive course taught by Sylvia of 40-Plus Style. Shoes, jewelry, scarves – they’re usually the most affordable way to change how you look and feel. A bold vs. a dainty necklace can reinforce how you feel about yourself that day.
Stay yourself, which is to say, stay fabulous,
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I so agree about experimenting! You never know what you will find if you step out of your box. I’ve found things I would have never tried on that have completely changed the way I think about myself and my style.
I’ve always liked that quote from Oscar Wilde. My clothing preferences have matured over the years, but my love of edgey, solid colour pieces with unusual proportions and details remains. I gravitate more to the less body conscious pieces now as my body gets softer around the middle, but I will still wear a clingy dress now and then as I did when I was in Vancouver with Mel.
I couldn’t agree more about experimentation. Although I stay away from anything white in general I’ll try on just about anything else that strikes my fancy. I like to be surprised when I put something on that I thought would look terrible and it turns out to look pretty good. Challenging our own preconceived ideas about what we can or cannot wear stretches our minds to see ourselves differently.
yes, let’s stay experimental until we’re in our rocking chairs! I love shopping with you; you have a great eye. xo
What a deeply-smart post. Your break-down of our external appearance is analytic and sound. You confirm my belief that there’s so much more depth to social appearance than commonly understood. We define ourselves, for society and ourselves, by how we present our physical bodies in public.
thank you Ally, for your thoughtful comment. xo
Love your fashion share, nice post
Giana | http://www.missygowns.com
thank you Giana!
Great post. I’m currently following the wardrobe architect programme on the Colette patterns blog, they originally ran it in 2014 and it helps you to think about each of the elements, style influences, shape etc. I’m finding it so useful to help me.
thanks for the recommendation – now I have already spent two hours at that site, it’s terrific. xo