I always cracked a joke that I was the worst dressed fashion designer. That I could design and dress everyone else but couldn't dress myself. I mean, do you bring your work home with you? Designing and making all day, surviving motherhood all night, by the end of the day, I just wanted to sit and do nothing. I didn't have the energy to put into to myself and my style suffered. Little by little I stopped caring, I stopped shopping for look and started buying for comfort. So much so that I was wearing maternity shirts and a nursing bra, my daughters are 5 and 2. My underwear and socks had holes in them, but who cares, the public doesn't see those right? My hair was constantly in a sloppy bun not because I was on trend, but because it was easy. I literally was the world's worst dressed fashion designer.
And soon my confidence began to slip away with my sense of style. I was constantly tired, I was constantly procrastinating, I was constantly telling myself I wasn't good enough to try anymore. When I did find a bit of motivation, my closet full of ill fitting and 3 year old frumpy clothing reminded me to stop caring and just throw on some stretchy pants.
And yet every morning I was off to design pieces inspired by the most iconic fashion eras of the century. I work as the head designer for Steady Clothing, a vintage inspired, retro men's and women's clothing company. I take inspiration from many eras, add a twist of modern, and a slice of trendy and you get the closet of the modern pin up and her date. So here I was, creating countless versions of swing dresses in beautiful prints, pencil skirts so tight you have to wiggle to walk, blouses that could be straight out of the golden Hollywood era, all while wearing distressed jeans and t-shirts with armpit stains. And I'm not talking about the cool ripped before you bought them jeans, I mean like there's a hole in the crotch/thigh because I've just worn them out from wearing them so much and can't be bothered to replace them.
Slowly, over time, I kept saying to myself "I don't want to be this way anymore". And I did try to make quick fixes. I would go shopping and make a rather large impulse buy, wear one nice outfit for a day then realize I needed much more than one fancy new dress and a pair of boots to make me feel stylish. Or the time when I decided in order to fix my style, I wasn't allowed to buy anymore black clothes. But found myself with a closet full of colored clothes I NEVER wore. I would dwell upon on my failures and started examining WHY I was failing. I soon realized this wasn't going to be a quick fix and I was finally OK with that. I wanted a curated, put-together wardrobe. Where even on days that I resorted to my comfort pieces, I would still feel well dressed and confident.
I started to think back to my days where I felt the most care free and confident. Days that weren't consumed by bull horns of social media nor the news telling me how I should speak, think, and look. Days that didn't involve domestic life, kids, dishes, and a dirty house. Days were I never had excuses for who I was. For me, those days were the summer of 1999, right before my senior year of high school. Where I inherited 8 boxes of vintage fabric from my great Aunt Blanch. Armed with a stack of Butterick patterns straight out of the 1970's, I spent the entire summer sewing myself a wardrobe. Bell bottoms, blouses, polyester, vertical stripes, faux leather pants, leopard print everything, red plaid bondage pants, you name it I made it. It was a combination of punk and vintage with a dash of girly and a short spiky hair cut to top it all off. And I loved all of it, I didn't care what anybody had to say about it and trust me, in high school a lot of people had something to say about it. But good or bad, I expressed my creativity through my personal style. Deep down I was me, confident, and free.
What in the hell happened to that girl....?
I wanted to be her again. I knew she was there. She was just tucked deep down inside. Below being a wife and slightly to the left of paying the bills and getting the kids to gymnastics on time. She'd pop out every now and then when I would get the guts to try a deep shade of lipstick or dye my hair purple. That girl wanted to be free again. And it didn't mean that anything else had to go away. After all, now I was a wife, a mother of two, an employee, and entrepreneur. I could be all those things and still feel the same excitement for fashion that I always had.
But where to start?
I still loved the punk rock style I had adopted in my youth, but I needed a more grown up version of it. I also found myself gravitating to the wispy bohemian styles adorning the market, but didn't want to commit to something too trendy. I had no clue what my style was anymore.
So that was going to be step number one - figure out what I liked.
Key word here being "I", not what someone else recommended, thought, or suggested,. This was all about ME and MY style. I got this pro tip from Coach Meg while I was discovering my life values - "if you say to yourself that one of these words or phrases “should” be your value, then it probably is a value that someone else has put to have on you over the years, but it is no necessarily one of YOUR core values." This hit me so hard, 16 year old me would have jumped on the table and shouted this to the world! This same statement should be applied to your personal style journey. If you feel you *should* be wearing a certain style, color, silhouette, fit, trend, whatever, then it is probably someone else's style and it is not necessarily your own.
I decided to treat my personal style like I treat any other artistic project of mine. I was going to do research, create mood boards, and color palettes. I turned to Pinterest to organize my research. I started a secret board called "My Personal Style" and began to pin anything I liked.
I don't know the role Pinterest plays in your life, but I treat this unique social platform like a search engine for my artistic creativity. My favorite feature is how the platform suggests similar images below selected pins. While I call this "falling down the rabbit hole", it's a great way to get over the "but I don't know what to search for" excuse. I've made my greatest discoveries by scrolling through Pinterest's suggestions, and this is how you will find trends, lifestyles, and fashion you didn't know existed. Like Nu Goth! What is Nu Goth - I'm still not sure but I really like it - SAVE! When you come across a fashion blogger - go to their blog - scroll through, see if you like their style. Don't have time to scroll blogs, pin it and save it for later!
And speaking of time, clicking and scrolling through suggested pins can easily fill up a Pinterest board of ideas and it doesn't have to cost you an entire afternoon. I pin while I'm standing in line to pay for groceries, coffee, those last 10 minutes when I'm waiting to pick up the girls from gymnastics, or while my husband watches hockey. Really it's a few minutes here and there. And then, when I do have some time to really sit down and review, I go back and take in what I've pinned. And here is the key. If you're not head over heels in love with whatever you pinned, delete it! This journey isn't about gaining followers or funneling traffic, it's YOUR personal cork board for discovering YOUR style. Delete what doesn't inspire you so you can start to hone in on what does!
Little by little, through the process of pinning and weeding out, I'm starting to see trends and a unique style organically form. I invite you to join me, let's embark on this style journey together! Start your own personal style board and start pinning. I made my board public for you to see my evolution. check it out HERE. See something you like, save it to your board! It's always a work in progress, and I love discovering and pinning new ideas.
Next time I'll talk about how to recognize those patterns on your board and how to narrow down your searches to really hone in and find what you love.