When I arrived home one afternoon a few weeks ago there was a note stuck to my front door from UPS. I had missed a delivery, but the package was taken to my apartment complex’s office instead. This has been a common occurrence over the past several weeks. I’ve done a fair amount of shopping. Lately, however, the packages have been a little more curated than some random impulse purchases from Target (Target is my primary weakness.) I’ve been making more careful selections, like a few bangle bracelets that hold specific meaning for me or a pair of leopard print calf hair flats. This delivery? An oxblood-red leather card case from Alexander McQueen purchased because it went well with another recent purchase, a small Marc Jacobs bag and it’s much-larger twin. As I was inspecting the card case the idea entered my head: I’m building a personal style.
I have always loved fashion and beautiful things. I have also always loved the craftsmanship of clothing and accessories as growing up my mother sewed. Many of my high school formal dresses were made by her hands. I have very fond memories of a beautiful red velvet dress in just the perfect shade of crimson. This love of fashion and fine things, however, didn’t exactly lend itself to the idea of style. Yes, there is a difference between nice things and being able to put them together in a way that looks good and works for you. I’ve struggled with the difference. Loud prints on boxy, too-large shirts balanced with coordinated pants? Guilty. Tailored suiting in neon orange worn with equally garish and too-chunky shoes? Even in the 90s that wasn’t cool. I’ve also struggled with when to let go of a trend or how to build my wardrobe on pieces that will last as opposed to countless cheap things. Right now I have a closet of cast-off purses and cheap shoes that don’t add up to quite what I want.
When I started working at Nordstrom in December I was excited about my new job, but I also pretty quickly realized that my simple black wardrobe that I could easily cover with my Clinique labcoat wasn’t going to be quite right in my new position. I picked up a few new things, tossed on some accessories, and some days I felt better about my look. Others, not so much. So that’s when I decided it was time to start curating a style.
This is what I’m working on right now: figuring out what style means to me. I had a bit of time to think about this while waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to catch a flight to Chicago last week and I came up with the beginnings of my personal style. I’m creating something of an idea file, both images and just written words, of what is stylish to me. So far I know that I like structure and classic details often juxtaposed with softer, feminine details. I love scarves and blazers, both together and apart. I love subtle touches of leopard print. I know that I’d rather have one or two extremely well-made go-to items than a room full of inexpensive things, though I’m not married to brand names or designers. I love red accessories. I love unique touches, such as the ribs imprinted on my card case. I also like when things are both beautiful and practical, such as my impending shoe purchase. A pair of Italian leather AGL pumps seems like a wild splurge at their price, but they are so well-made and so comfortable they will serve me well at work and will, with care, last a lifetime. Their modern-retro styling means they’ll be stylish forever as well. My new, Marc Jacobs bag is a simple shape and a classic red, but it has already shown itself to be sturdy and durable. I can’t imagine a time when that bag won’t be part of my look. And my cheap, t-rex scarf? An instant classic that says me loud and proud.
It is going to take time to sort it all out. Building a style is definitely a shift in thinking for me, changing my view from consumer to that of an artist, seeking the right balance that meshes many things to display who I am. It will be hard work, too, but right now I feel very good about this journey. I’m excited to see where it ends up.