As a stay at home mom, my daily wardrobe consists of comfy, easy-to-clean, not-too-dear pieces of clothing so that I am unencumbered as I crawl, climb, and cuddle with my toddler who, as an infant, puked on me a lot.
When it comes time to get dressed up for any occasion in which interaction with other adults is likely to occur, I simultaneously feel excitement and dread. Yay, I get to dust off some of those lovely items I never wear in the day for fear of getting peanut butter embedded into them. Yikes, I forget how to do this!
Get a Signature Style
Perhaps because of this experience, or just as a happy coincidence, I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the idea of establishing a signature style. This is about honing your aesthetic, homing in on what you like and what works well for you, and then sticking to that as a way to simplify your life and create more cohesion in your look.
In my teen years and even in my twenties, I experimented–trying on different looks and shapes and personalities. While I cringe as I think back on certain choices (the summer I shopped mainly in the boy’s section of Old Navy–long cargo shorts and golf shirts; the mini-skirt, tight t-shirt, padded bra phase; etc), I’m glad I did that. But as a mom in my 30s who is more confidently embracing my adult status, I feel like it’s time to settle.
I’m loving the concept of creating a personal uniform. You can go very strict with it (think Steve Jobs and the black turtle necks), or you can develop a general template to work from that still gives you the confidence and freedom of having a plan.
I’m a Natural!
In an attempt to define what is already floating up to the top of my dresser drawers, I’ve begun researching how to create a signature style, and I came across an awesome resource. Anna at The Chic Fashionista provides everything–a quiz for zeroing in on your style personality, tips for identifying and dressing for your body type, rules for going through your closet–so much information, I got lost for hours the first night I found this site.
My own fashion quiz unsurprisingly labeled me with a “natural” clothing personality, and I immediately identified with the description of a woman who’s fairly unfussy, likes minimal makeup, tousled hair (see my Pinterest Beauty board). Words like natural, simple, minimalistic spoke to me right away. So, too, did the warning that my look could easily become sloppy if I didn’t pay attention.
But despite the predictable result, it was like a lightbulb turning on. In a way, this label gives me permission to embrace the casual style to which I’ve already gravitated, and which works well for me at this time of my life. I also now feel armed against mommy schlump with weapons like a good haircut, unique signature pieces like my new super mom utility belt, and refreshes to some of the things I wear the most, like a quality pair of jeans. I have more concrete ideas on how to adapt my casual look to those evenings out (or the post-stay-at-home professional life that is not too far down the road) with minimal effort or worry. I can easily glam up my uniform tee and skinny jeans with fun shoes and accessories or a well-cut blazer. I look forward to pruning my wardrobe without guilt or anxiety, and eventually updating it with fewer but better quality elements, saving money as I make fewer mistakes.
Superficial? Not at All!
This might sound like a superficial preoccupation, but I think there’s substance to the idea. The extreme uniform wearers are a great example. These are accomplished (and surprisingly artistic) people like the aforementioned Apple creator, Vera Wang, Johny Depp. I think they know that settling into what works well for them is a great way to free up time and mental energy to focus on the other important things in their lives–the things that demonstrate the depth underlying that carefully constructed surface.
The New Year is the perfect time to take up this project–a time for change, or perhaps a time to settle into and embrace the self you haven’t quite identified yet, but know is in there.
Do you have a personal style, or even wear a uniform? Or does all of this sound superficial to you?