I Would Wear It Just Like That, And Still Make It My Own

In one of my fashion/style books I found this advice for determining one’s personal style: Find five outfits you’d wear just as displayed, and think about why.

I don’t know if I’ve ever bought an outfit exactly as shown in a catalog or on a mannequin. I pick and choose pieces, like most women. But I’ve certainly admired whole looks and thought, I could wear it just like that, and still make it my own.

I remember a business trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 1980’s. I stopped into a boutique to pass a half hour between appointments. I was wearing average business-wear, a floral skirt and plain blouse, I think. I let the owner take me into a private room and re-dress me in a fabulous colorful split skirt, white gauzy blouse, and contrasting belt. I bought the whole outfit and wore it out that night, feeling very beautiful.

I rarely allow myself the luxury of buying the “whole look” (read about issues of “deserving” nice clothes here.) I could, though, go all the way when I get truly inspired. I am trying to use those inspirations to refine my personal style.

Here are a few looks I would wear just as I saw them, and still make them my own:

Full pleated skirt, graphic tee, flatform sandals. Source
Subtle print pencil skirt, basic tee, tough jacket and girly accessories. Love. Source
Print dress, tights and booties. Yes, please. Source. Permission to lengthen the skirt three inches!
Feminine skirt, fitted blazer, edgy boots and trending purse. Source

Looking at these outfits helps me crystallize my style: a strong feminine vibe with some edgy or masculine pieces added in; fitted pieces on either the top or bottom, not both; shoes with personality; small/subdued prints; and a reliance on neutrals.

Do you go all the way when you see an outfit you like, or mix and match?

Have a splendid Thursday and stay fabulous,

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  1. All the outfits you selected are indeed true to your style, Patti, and I can imagine you looking great in them. I have never bought an entire look, and am not likely to, given that I am a secondhand shopper. I would feel as though I was cheating! xxx

  2. I love how you were so easily able to identify the break out elements. That is my biggest problem, and the fact that I like so many different looks that nothing specific jumps out at me!! AND that I tend to love looks that are not flattering to my body. Oh well…I keep trying!


  3. About a year after Baby #4, I bit the bullet and went to a boutique owned by a friend where she sorted out about three outfits for me to get me back on my feet as I had only two cotton skirts and some singlets to wear. It really helped me to get my confidence back and it wasn't long before I felt like me again, tossed the outfits aside and dressed to please me. It was a great way to feel good after gaining and losing baby weight, but now I couldn't wear someone else's idea of a "together" outfit. xoxo

  4. I don't think I've ever purchased an entire outfit. Not because I haven't wanted to but because I've had to weigh the cost. I do try to keep the entire look in my head so I can replicate it, but that's really not the same.

  5. Because I shop for delight value and have difficulty assessing basics, I've only ever fallen for a few complete outfits from Ozz On Japan, a company that makes very costume-y goth, Asian contemporary, and steampunk clothes. 😀

  6. I have a friend who will buy an entire look right off the mannequin. If you feel that you're not up to or don't want to style something yourself, it's a great way to insure you look put together! I have never done that but might consider it. It's definitely helpful to take style notes this way!

  7. I've never purchased an entire outfit that I've seen displayed as there is usually something that I would want to change. I like the challenge of putting things together that initially wouldn't seem like they would go together. I do admire outfits in some of the edgier fashion magazines that incorporate bold colours, leather and a really cool jacket.

  8. I find it fascinating how (most) women carefully consider their clothing and a post as introspective as this one helps me understand that deeper. Sure, most of the time we admire individual items but, occasionally, we get overwhelmed by the overall impression an entire ensemble makes. When that happens, our instinct is to want to reproduce it. I now share that instinct. How women view clothes is as complex as any art-form.

  9. love the first outfit. And yes, I definitely agree that it is possible to make complete looks your own, you can play around with accessories and shoes.

  10. When I started working full time again I went through a spell where I bought several complete outfits. I found I didn't always get the wear out of all the parts so I stopped that. My figure isn't proportioned evenly so dresses don't always fit, and I often gravitate towards tops and bottoms that match. If I'm buying a top/bottom combination I will buy both parts. I'll also consider dyed-to-match sweaters. I have been known to spend endless amounts of energy and too much money buying parts to go with other parts, it can be less taxing to just buy the matching piece and be done with it all.

    For other things I'm like Suzanne – with a big closet I probably already own the jean jacket or the black skirt, so no need to buy it.

  11. I'm often suggesting people do this – both with interior design and clothing choices – collect images that appeal and more than likely a definite pattern will emerge.
    As a second-hand shopper I don't purchase clothes that way, I simply grab what I love and wear things I already own together. By buying stuff displayed together means one is simply buying into somebody-else's style and never gets a chance to develop their own.
    I'd love to see you in that last outfit! xxx

  12. Oh, I would sigh with grand contentment if I saw you in that last outfit. Truly. This is gorgeous, although they would all look smashing on you. I have never bought a FULL outfit although I've often admired them.

  13. Gosh, it's been so long since I've seen a full look – I don't shop in malls anymore! I do remember that back in the 80s, my mom and dad bought me a full look off a mannequin in a store for my birthday, and I loved that outfit so much! It was bright colours, fun details, a bit edgy – I guess still like today!

  14. Yep I agree with all of your choices for you. I think they are smashing and would really look great on you.
    I have a body type that is so different than the models that nothing on manikins looks that good on me. I have to restyle everything

  15. I never have the money to buy a whole outfit and I buy almost nothing at all … I can only styling after excitation of images, but I usually do not do but make all my own from random finds. I would not even look in shop windows, I often think: this is awesome and I want the whole outfit have so, but that does not work, sigh – (it is only my dream)

  16. Patti, I've done this only a few times and only because each and every piece spoke to me and I haven't regretted doing so. I'm with Suzanne at this stage in my life and closets, I love to see these fun outfits put together and then I like the challenge of seeing how I can semi-create the look by shopping in my closets. Makes for a mess on the bed but its also kind of fun.

  17. I'm not sure if I've ever done that. I'm a very reticent shopper – picky about comfort, fabrics, price, color, so it seems rare that I would like everything and find that it suits me. I just wing it – not always successfully!

  18. Found your blog this week and absolutely love it!!! I gravitate to whole outfits and have way too many of them. I also have mix and match and likely do not use them near as smartly as I could. Need to work on that!

  19. This is fun.

    I've only done this once that I can remember and I am still to this day totally in love with the look and have the dress. It was a dress worn over jeans, with 3 necklaces. I'd never worn more than one necklace at once at the time and never worn a dress over jeans.

    I find now, with a closet as big and full as mine that it is very rare that I would buy an entire outfit since I'm sure I would have one part of it at home to complete it.

    I think this has an element of magic associated with it. The idea of changing who we are in a moment. You can go into the shop as one person and then come out minutes later a totally different person. Like in Pretty Woman.

    PS thanks for the brilliant comment on my blog : ) I value your input.

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