Friday, September 23, 2016

Creating your own style of chic outfits

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I get a few requests from my readers on creating chic outfits, and I haven’t written a blog post yet because I don’t really know what to say.  Even though I do like to look good and like I’ve made an effort, I’m not so much into fashion.  I’m inspired more by an old photo of Coco Chanel than I am by the latest Vogue.  I really don’t know if I am the best person to advise on style!

With one of my core values being ‘simplicity’, I love applying this to all aspects of my dress:

Simplicity of line (the cut) in my chosen clothing items
Simplicity in colour palette
Simplicity in my closet with not too many pieces
Simplicity in that most of my pieces are a solid or marle/melange colour and a few stripes; only one or two items have a print

Even with accessories I don’t like to have too many.  My box of scarves was too much for me so I took a few out for the season and stored the rest.  I haven’t quite decluttered them yet because I know I go through phases of wearing scarves more.

I think the most important thing in creating your own ‘brand’ of chic, is deciding what you love first and building on that.  I’ve always been drawn to the classics.  I admire Diane Keaton’s unique style of dress but wouldn’t necessarily wear it verbatim.  I tend to the more casual side of dress.

If I did want to change, I think I’d like to sophisticate it up a little bit.  And I do already have a few pieces that are more sophisticated such as a satin top instead of a more casual fabric.  At this time of year with it almost the change of season, I’m feeling a little bored with my winter uniform, so it will be nice to transition into my ‘new’ season clothes.

Pinterest is a great way of seeing your style without consciously thinking about it.  If you ‘pin’ outfits as you see them and they appeal, looking over your Pinterest board you will see a theme emerging.  Seeing great images also inspires me to utilise the wardrobe I already have, for example, seeing a woman in a blazer over a Breton top and jeans reminds me that I have a couple of great blazers that I never wear (from sheer laziness)!

If I’ve found myself in a style slump (which may or may not be end-of-season malaise), there are a few ways I can become excited about dressing myself again:

Scrolling through Pinterest for a short time, with such searches as ‘chic classic style’, ‘soft summer clothing’ (soft summer is my colour palette) or ‘coco chanel’.  In no time I am excited to put together outfits in a different way and recreate outfits from items I already own.

Reading one of the style books I have at home.  Even though it’s older (published in 2004), I adore Ultimate Style by Bettina Zilkha.  I’d borrowed it so many times from our public library that I eventually bought my own copy inexpensively second-hand (it’s out of print).

Having a session in my closet where I play around and make up new outfits (best done when I’m at home for the day, not when I have five minutes to get dressed for work).

Watching all or part of a fashion movie/documentary.  I was quite entranced with Karl Lagerfeld in his documentary and then of course there is The September Issue.  I read fashion magazines for a few months after watching that one!

I’ve written a few other posts on creating your own personal style here too.

One big bonus of getting more involved in creating my own personal style, is that I tend to snack less.  When I’m researching Chanel or an elegant and classical way of dressing for example, nibbling junk foods seems less attractive.  A crisp glass of Perrier or a steaming hot tea or coffee is much more civilised between meals.  I’m sure Coco did not bolt down low-quality chocolate just because she was bored…

Are you a fashion girl or a style girl?  Both?  When you take more notice of what you’re wearing, do you notice benefits like I do with snacking?  Please share in the comments below.

Fiona

PS.  I'd love you to enter my first ever giveaway where you can win a signed copy of my book Thirty Chic Days: Practical inspiration for a beautiful life.  I'll post it to you anywhere in the world.  You can enter here!

28 comments:

  1. The French edition of Elle has a feature with shots of certain classic items--jean jackets, motorcycle jackets, plaid skirts, velvet blazers, white shirts--through the years. It really gives you a feel for looks that don't look ridiculous years later.
    Mostly, I don't want to be on trend. I want to be classy and comfortable. Ines de la Fressange is a good model. So is Anna Wintour, who might wear clothes straight off the runway but who never looks like it. She always looks like herself--a simple dress with a necklace is her go-to look.

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    1. That French Elle spread sounds divine :)

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  2. I think there are some things which will suit most shapes/colourings/ages. The white shirt, classic blazer (but without those awful brass buttons!) well-polished low-heeled shoes, pearls (a la Chanel.) Like you, Fiona, I prefer non-fussy clothes, the exception being the two lace dresses I've just bought, but there are no frills on them, no gatherings, no ornamentation of any kind, they are just lace sheath-style dresses and they look so good but were relatively inexpensive.

    One thing I would say, though, is that accessories really matter, and the better the quality the better the look. Also two dark colours or two light colours rarely look good together, so if you've a dark dress on, as I will have on for our son's wedding on Saturday - I have the option of a lace dress in inky navy or in deep burgundy and the burgundy is winning by a short head at the moment - then matching navy with navy is fine, but the burgundy needs 'lifting' and so I've very pale grey suede shoes and pale grey bag for the burgundy dress. The gey accessories also look wonderful with navy. I think this is the first time in my life I have two 'posh' outfits from which to choose for a single occasion, but both outfits will take me out to lunch in the future, or be ideal for Christmas.
    Margaret P

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    1. I meant "grey" accessories, above.
      Margaret P

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    2. I love the sound of both of those outfits, Margaret. Lace dresses, gorgeous.

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  3. Fashion is what they want to sell to us; style is what WE choose to accept into our lives, and how we use it. So fashion is out of the question; I'm not going to be an object for "them" to manipulate.
    A beautifully written, and thought-provoking post. Thanks for taking the time to share,
    hugs,
    Janice

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  4. I have a similar style. Love a classic, perhaps minimalistic look. My clothes are mostly black, navy, white- with a bit of red tossed in. Simple shapes but well-fitted. Some of my dresses are 15 years old!!! Still fit and so classic in design that they do not look outdated. Love a beautiful wrap dress, cashmere sweaters, dark jeans, a freshly pressed white shirt. Pearls will always be elegant. Shoes well-taken care of are a must. A blazer tossed over anything will dress up all outfits.

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    1. I have a dress from the 1990s, Danielle :)

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  5. I'm very bored of winter dressing - "end of season" malaise describes it perfectly Fiona. I just can't wait for the warmer weather and not having to dress and undress in what's starting to feel like a million layers of clothes!

    Personally I like a bit of frill and flounce in my clothes. The way I look at it, men have to wear the plain and sleek and subdued look in clothes. Women on the other hand, have a plethora of styles and options when it comes to clothes......and I like to indulge.

    Mara.

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    1. I don't mind layers so much, Mara, but it's just nice to wear something different once the season changes!

      I like your philosophy on feminine clothing, it's excellent :)

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  6. Hi Fiona, I am a classics girl, but sometimes I make a mistake and buy a slightly trendy item, thinking it's "modern," but really it's actually trendy. Trendy is not the impression I want to project. The last mistake was "girlfriend" jeans. I don't know what I was thinking, but at least I was able to return them and get a refund! Granted, some girlfriend jeans are cute, as long as they aren't distressed. In fact, I might like them more than skinny jeans, of which I've never owned. They make me feel like a stuffed sausage :)

    Besides leaning more towards classics, I like to think of myself as elegant-casual. I wear jeans almost every day, but what I wear with them elevates them a bit (like I've seen you do, too). Since I don't wear jewelry often, except for my plain gold wedding band, I own only "real" ones, favoring pearl earrings. I don't go for hardware or logos, either on handbags, clothing, or anything really. The simpler the better, I guess I'm a minimalist.

    I wish it was easier to find items in my style. It's difficult sometimes because I set myself a budget. I find casual, classic, elegant clothing is more expensive. It's funny, when I'm shopping and see what's available out there, I start to disassemble an item in my head and think, "If only they hadn't put this appliqué/ruffle/stud/logo/pleats/print on it." I'm way too picky and probably have too much criteria. Sometimes I even go so far as torturing myself even further with the self-inflicted "Paris Test," which is asking myself: "Would I wear this if I were in Paris?" :)

    D.

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    1. Oh, D, how I agree ... I despair sometimes, T-shirts embellishes with sequins, for example. They tend to treat women like children, to be amused by their clothing! They don't do this on men's clothes half as much. Little ribbons, butterfly and animals, large logos, ditsy bits her and there, I hate it all! You are right, give an item The Paris Test! What a brilliant idea!
      Margaret P

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    2. Hi D, I've made those trendy mistakes too! Jeans/elegant/casual is totally me. Often simple and plain items cost more because you need higher quality fabric and a better cut/design. Cheap stuff can hide under logos and glitter.

      I ADORE the Paris test. So simple. So genius :)

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  7. I had fun recently browsing through Nordstrom and identifying what suits me and what doesn't. I was drawn to more simple clothing in rich colors. I did decide to invest in a classic pair of jeans in the darkest wash available. I love style over fashion so much, but it does require staying on your own message/brand and weeding through the trends.

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    1. What an excellent idea - when you feel like shopping, turn it into a research outing instead.

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  8. I prefer style over “Fashion!” I don’t have the interest to pay attention to the runway anymore. My style is modern classic. I of course have a pair of classic simple dark wash straight leg jeans, but then also black suede leggings, black “leather” leggings, and black wax jeans—and no desire to own a plain pair black jeans. I like pieces that I will want to wear for years to come…that said I find innovative design timeless. For me that example is Rick Owens. For some that look may be trendy or too out there, but RO produces the same pieces season after season regardless of what is shown on the runway. On my time I prefer to wear edgier things (black, black, and more black) or if in color a tropical pattern, but at work my style is more modern classic (black, black, and more black) and when I’m not wearing black it’s a nautical theme (think navy & stripes) but I manage to sneak in my Rick Owens, Helmut Lang, and All Saints.

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    1. I love the sound of your edgy style. I'll have a look at your favourite designers (I only know Helmut Lang of those three!)

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    2. If I had the right body shape, I would wear Rick Owens as much as possible. The fabrics are fabulous, the cuts impeccable and the clothes are supremely comfortable while also being extremely elegant. Nobody would look at you and say, "Ooh, she's wearing Rick Owens." Rather, the would say to themselves, "Ooh, she looks so comfortable and well-dressed."

      Unfortunately, a lot of Rick Owens' clothes are made for slender people. Not all, but most.

      Alison

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  9. The great thing about style as opposed to fashion is that it's never out of date. I don't think there's anything wrong with adding the occasional piece to my wardrobe that's part of a current trend, but I mostly mix those pieces with the classic items I love year after year. I also try to spend less on "fashion" items, because the odds are good that I'll be donating them to charity in a few years.

    One of my favorite style books is A Year Of Style by Frederik Fekkai (https://www.amazon.com/Frederic-Fekkai-Year-Style/dp/0609605038). I just realized it was published in 2000(!) but I go back to it year after year. It's a great reminder that classic chic and good grooming are always in fashion.

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    1. I buy very few things for a new season too, Marcia, because I am happy to wear my classic items year after year.

      I'll check that book out, yay, thank you.

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  10. When I was young, I followed trends. My wardrobe was filled with one-offs. As I have matured, I realize that soft and classic is my style. I do try to keep current, but not at the expense of what works for me. I certainly do not want to be like some women my age who seem trapped in the era of their youth. Good denim, soft tees, longer unstructured sweaters with statement necklaces and low heeled boots. Knit dresses with a good heel and classic earrings. And, of course, a good purse and coat. I don't stray too far from these items. And I am always comfortable in my own skin.

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    1. Love it, Kristien, 'soft and classic'. And accepting yourself as part of your personal style, wonderful :)

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  11. Oh, I am guilty for loving expensive pieces. For my clothes I don't mind going to a thrift store or consignment shop but for my purses, accessories and shoes I am willing to spend a little more. I try to find things for a bargain. Like my Hermes scarf I ended up paying only $50! It was disgusting Fiona but I thought I could just take it to the cleaners and all will be well and it was. So I agree with you. It's all about how you want to live. Great post!

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    1. You are very smart Mrs Shockley. I have seen have some of your great finds, like the vintage LV bag. An Hermes scarf for $50 is amazing!

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  12. Just a PS to my earlier comment ...
    Even at my great age I still make 'fashion' mistakes! Recently I bought a wool wrap coat, one of those like a blanket with an overwhelmingly large collar. It is this season's fashion, and the colour could best be described as cow-pat brown (it comes in other colours but sadly not in navy.) Of course, the sales assistant referred to it as 'Olive' but to me it looked cow-pat brown. I tried it on over what I was wearing that day - a white shirt and khaki chinos - and it looked the business. I loved it! But when I got it home I realized I'd be wearing it in winter and it didn't go with a single item in my winter wardrobe with the exception of black. So I returned it. This was a case of thinking I could be 'fashionable'. Stylish is what matters; being comfortable in our choice of clothes and being stylish as well. Fashionable? We can look ridiculous if we become, as the old song says, "a dedicated follower of fashion"!
    Margaret P

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    1. Margaret, you are too funny. I love your way with words :) Who else would describe a colour as 'cow-pat brown'

      At least your mistake was reversible because you realised straight away.

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Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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