Friday, December 19, 2008

Reader Question: Adding Interest to Your Wardrobe

I tend to be fairly bad at responding to all my reader comments, though I appreciate them very much. I do try to answer whenever a direct question is asked, though, although it sometimes takes me several days to get around to it. Today I got a comment/question that I felt was a meaty enough topic to do an entire post on, since I've had similar comments from other readers. Here is bekster's comment:

"I love the idea of hats and would probably wear them more often except that I lack the courage (at this point) to stand out. On that subject, since I started lurking a few weeks ago (hello!), I have been meaning to ask you... Have you always been creative with clothes, or was there a point when you just decided that “ordinary” was not good enough and you didn’t care what others thought? I want to use my clothes as an outlet for creativity, but since I don’t usually have occasion to“dress up,” I am afraid that I would shock my friends (in a negative way). Is there a way to ease into more interesting clothes so that others get used to the idea, or am I just a coward and need to plunge into it without worry for what others think? By the way, your blog is lovely, and I agree about hats. I just think the problem is more psychological than physical."

First of all, thanks for commenting, bekster. I always like seeing new readers stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoy the blog. I'll start with my own experiences. I started playing around with style way back in the 80's, and have sported an awful lot of envelope-pushing looks that make me cringe now. Thinking back over some of those styles, I would say my current one is fairly tame by comparison. During the 90's I wore far more boxy t-shirts and figure-hiding sweaters than I care to admit, but by 2000 or so I decided I was ready to start putting more effort into my wardrobe again. I feel like my current style has had a long evolution and is one that has staying power.

I'm not sure I've ever approached style with the notion that ordinary wasn't good enough. Over the years I guess I've just learned to embrace standing out with what I wear, because it's so much better than not being noticed. I wouldn't say that I don't care what others think, either; quite the opposite in fact. But what I've learned is that you will never please everyone with the way you dress, so it's far better to dress for yourself and attract the sort of people whose opinions you care the most about. What do I care if some stuffy, unimaginative person doesn't like my clothes? It's the interesting, creative people I really want to hang around with, and they are generally the ones who like the way I dress. If you always dress for yourself, and to express yourself, then the people who gravitate to you will be the ones who really get you.

On to the question of your style. First of all, I doubt very much that your friends would react negatively if you added some flair to your wardrobe. Friends generally love seeing their friends happy, and I can tell you from experience that looking good is a great way to improve the way you feel. So I think the only barrier to dressing the way you want is you. That said, I'm not sure I'd advise a 'plunging in' approach either. You will need to allow your style some time to evolve, and once you start experimenting there are probably going to be a few looks that don't stick. It's better to find out what you like and don't like before you've invested in a pile of clothes you never wear. Start simply; try a few interesting accessories like scarves or belts. When you buy new pieces of clothing, look for ones that are really unique and of good quality and fit. Those are the pieces that can transcend fads and be worn in different ways as your style evolves. Find the pieces that are really and truly you, and that appeal to your asthetic alone. Trying to dress for anyone else is pointless; for one thing you can almost never predict what somebody else is going to like or dislike, and for another thing isn't it better to have people see the real you?

I'd highly encourage you to give it a try. You certainly don't need to dress 'up' to dress creatively, so don't wait for an occasion! You should dress to feel good about yourself every single day. And if it shocks people at first, so what? How bad is it, really, to have someone gasp and say, "Wow, you look GREAT!"? Trust me, you'll get used to it.


Jean said...

Great advice Audi, and you know what you're talking about too!

bekster said...

Thanks so much for your response. That makes a lot of sense. I agree that it is the interesting, creative people I want to attract anyway. Actually, times when I have gone out on a limb and added more flair to my outfit, I think those who may not have responded in a preferable way were actually jealous, or just uncomfortable that someone else was raising the bar. (You know how women can be sometimes.) I would, however, like more interesting places to GO with interesting clothes on. (Although, I do get a kick out of impressing the baggers at the grocery store.) :)

Anonymous said...

Audi, this is brilliant. I am not kidding. And I fully intend to quote you in an upcoming post.

i_b_erin said...

Great advice for the fashion afraid! I used to work in clothing, retail for over 20 years, and my style just developed. Of course as I have gotten older, I have become more "brave" and enjoy and love my fashion funky choices. I am a walking canvas. Besides that, it makes me feel better, taking the time to espress myself and my love for clothes.We all inpspire each other, thanks for sharing your inspirations! Erin

CompassRose said...

What I want to know is how does one add interest to one's wardrobe and not need an entire room to keep the bloody supplies in? My clothes have gotten a lot more boring since the 90s, since I've tried to prune down to more classic, lasting pieces and not stare every morning into my tiny historic-house closet trying to make sense of the packed jumble therein. It's great from a style perspective to have an outfit for every role I might feel like playing in the morning, but all those people take up so much space, and so many of them can't trade pieces with each other, which limits their usefulness.

I mean, you rarely repeat pieces, and you have at least a month's worth of shoes. Where do you KEEP it all?

SohoAccessories said...

Hey there,
Amazing Blog!!! loved your ideas and the suggestions. Dying to try them out.
PS: I have initiated an idea to create a fashion and style blogroll where bloggers from the jewelry, fashion, style and beauty could participate.
All you need to do is to add my blog link to your blog and i'll do the same.
That way, we could have a mutual partnership and we could refer visitors to each other's blog.
Please let me know if you would be interested.

Barbara and Ellen
The Gals at SoHo

Andrea Eames said...

Just wanted to stop by and say Merry Christmas! :)

Andrea xxx