how do you define your look?

how do you define your look, if you do at all? is it easily definable? or are things a tad more complicated?

perhaps you are the type to have an answer readily available, on the tip of your tongue. you can spit it out rapid fire! you’re most definitely “romantic,” or “sporty,” or “influenced by early 20th century french cinema,” or “anime-influenced-raver-girl-circa-1991,”…or whatever! that’s awesomely awesome. and a wonderful thing…to be sure of yourself, who you are, and what you love!

for others of us it’s more of a challenge to do the defining-thing. it can be a hard task to observe oneself and make hard and fast declarations. maybe you are the type to be more democratic in your likes and obsessions, seeing beauty and feeling a resonance with a diverse amount of styles. you’re in love with “bohemian” as much as you are with “modern,” for instance. or maybe it’s just a big mystery…you seem to love and want to play with everything! and you know what, being unsure or complicated is totally okay, too! i think for a lot of people, personal style can be a serendipitous, ever-changing, hard to nail down process. it’s often about where you are at a given time, or what you’re into at the moment: in other words, your personal style may morph with you as you move through different roles in your life, as you age, or as you uncover and play with different interests or move into or through different social groups.

4.7.2007

me?

well…

as much as i love homespun things that brim with organic and perfectly imperfect, hand-wrought details, i also love sporty things, or modern, sleek, geometric, almost perfect and sculptural silhouettes and pieces. other times i like things that are blatantly glamourous, or super-duper classic and other times, that which is overtly cute or that which is verging on the tacky. sometimes like donning both or several of those categorizations at once. if you’re into metaphors, i suppose you could say that i like my adornments the way i like my music (mostly electronic: breaks, turntablism, and hip hop)…loud, occasionally complicated, occasionally funny, real, and in your face! and essentially, if ya break it down to the brass tacks, i just like to mix and mash it up! but there is a method to my madness. it’s not at all about clashing for clashing’s sake.

1.21.2005

i think for me it’s all about the juxtapositions of the pieces and parts, like or unlike (usually unlike!): the interplay of color or texture or proportion, first and foremost. or the mix of two or more objects of adornment worn together that one may not think to put together at first glance. i like the idea of challenging people’s notions of “right and wrong” when it comes to clothing, and i allow myself to be the embodiment of my philosophy and the vessel of my experiment.

where does this come from? what in my past has influenced my style?

(because personal style has it sources, natch!)

well, my father who grew up in southern connecticut, near yale. he always (and still) looks dapper and preppy, wearing well-made, classic ivy-league threads, and he is unafraid of bright hues. my love for mod and occasionally hand-wrought 60s, 70s and 80s silhouettes comes from mom, to some degree (remembering her clothes from then in my mind’s eye), and some from perhaps my maternal grandma and her sister aunt diane, who were the crafty sort, instilling me with a love of the handmade and taste for doing it myself. they inspired and informed my sewing and knitting obsessions and skills. the modernist in me is part of my educational background: i was an art history major, and my favorite movements fell after the mid-1850s, and primarily after the post WWII era: the best of the best modern and post-modernist fare. and the tacky-love? well, that’s just fun and just pure me, born most likely out of a love of thrifting that started when i was fourteen (around 1989). i’ve long been keen on rescuing an old fun piece from the past, even if it verges on that which others may think is weird.

interestingly, i’m not very into themes, fantasy or costume when it comes to dressing, in any overt sense. i don’t subscribe to any one subculture, i don’t try to be a character, and i don’t really channel (or even really follow) any celebs/famous folks. i can’t even really stomach crafting a look with the obvious intention of completely replicating something seen on a runway or in a magazine. some piece of something might inspire me, but an internal force makes me, even compels me, to want to reinterpret it in my own way, to do it differently, to do it my way, i.e., only if it makes sense within what makes sense to me visually and emotionally, and intellectually. or sometimes, i willfully don’t want to be doing what’s being done at all. just because.

2.24.2007 under

i think that, really, i’ve always been a little off, and a lot curious when it comes to clothing. if i think something goes together and others don’t, then i just feel free to take the rules into my own hands, break those rules, and define new ones for myself. i couldn’t give a fig if i’m followed or felt to be a little crazy. i believe in the potential of anything wearable…almost anything can be worn, if worn in an interesting way, by the right person. it’s not what you wear, it’s HOW you wear it.

fashion for me is a playful, intuitive process, a means to an end with no end…i play around, tossing disparate parts together, REMIXING IT, and when it feels right to ME, i’m ready to walk out the door, with no apologies, and no fear.

***

what about you?
who are you? and why?


feel free to pipe in and define yourself, if you like…even if you feel you are “undefinable” and delightfully complicated!

22 comments

  1. Victoria E

    Every time that I try to get a handle/label/description of my style figured out, I find a piece that doesn’t match my assumed taste at all … I’m nothing but an eclectic I suppose.

  2. artd!va

    what a kwinky-dink! thanks to being on being wardrobe_remix for several months now, i’ve been asking myself the same defining questions for the past couple of weeks and have been meaning to write a style self-analysis. although i’ve always considered dressing ‘different’ to be an important part of my life, prior to joining w_r, i’d never reflected much on how i put things together and why. obviously, your love of color is a major element that brings your seemingly disparate tastes together in an impressive way. i was wondering if you had any comments on the role of color in your personal style? i’m an new-ish reader so i don’t know if you’ve written about that in the past, so sorry if it’s question you’ve already answered elsewhere! 🙂 cheers!

  3. Stephanie

    Right now I think I would describe what I’ve been wearing as “romantic punk” (yikes) for lack of a better term. Basically my method is combining ultra girlie items (very full tulle skirts, vintage dresses, lacey things) with really hard lined basics or casual items.

    It’s like kinderwhore or betsey johnson only cleaned up a bit since I have to work for a living.

  4. Jessica

    Maybe its a little bold to say it, but I consider myself timeless. As in, I believe I’ll always be able to look back and never think “what was I doing!?” Maybe also because I like to dress from all periods of fashion from the past 100 years. When you mix it up so much, its hard to nail it down. i’m everything, all at once!

  5. sarah

    I’m stuck between utilitarian (“if I carry this purse, then I won’t have two hands free to climb a tree today…” OR “I prefer flats so that I can always skip and run in my shoes” OR “my old wifebeater looks like hell, but it’s too hot for anything else” ) and a fussy fantasist (“green leather boots!” “silk kneesocks!” “beaded chiffon dresses and feathered headpieces!”)

    still trying to mediate the same gap from childhood: the consummate tomboy (sometimes mistaken for a boy, I would cry when my mother made me wear a skirt to church), and the little girl who read books and daydreamed about fairies, princesses, and unicorns.

    thank goodness I’m in academia. I think the tweedy collegiate look is a fair compromise.

  6. Sarah

    My little sister, who thinks I dress entertainingly, described my style as “Well-to-do 1962 secretary on her day off.” I would add something about being rough around the edges, as I never look perfectly groomed and put together, even when I try.

    That translates to lots of well-fitted crew-necks and cardigans, pencil skirts, cuffed straight-leg dark jeans and cords, rockabilly-ish statement earrings, my grandmother’s pearls, mary janes, and moccasins. This is all sort of offset by the way I keep my hair, which is long and Gloria-Steinem-ish, but slightly wilder.

    I’ve been really inspired by the way you dress, and your general aesthetic, to experiment more with color. I’ve never been afraid of color per se, but I’m thinking about it, and the way I combine colors much more recently.

  7. Cindy

    “High school student”.
    Jeans, tees, running shoes – comfortable. I am, however, becoming more girly – I love to wear skirts, and one of my fave pieces in my closet is a ruffled skirt. I also love flats, and scarves. Colour’s definitely big in my closet, but I still like to do some matching, not clashing.

  8. madam0wl

    I would say I’m undefinable, mostly because I’m a very noncommital, easygoing, undecided, absentminded personality as a whole. However budget & comfort has always played a big part in my style, so maybe I’d fall under “cheap chic” or “cute & comfy”? It might make for a curious discussion on w_r… a “how would you define my style?” open question.

    Participating in wardrobe_remix has really brought me back to having fun with my clothes… which I was always doing as a carefree undergrad, but after graduating, my free-spirited party girl style got a good trampling on when I started working. I’m so happy to not have restrictions or expectations placed on the way I dress now! I can totally see when I look back at my early w_r photos that I was still dressing under the radar, with jeans and basics and “safe” colors worn a lot… slowly I started adding back fun elements, either by way of color or print and usually they were thrifted items since that had been another college habit that had been too long neglected. Once my teaching assistantship started, in an effort stand apart from the students, I started wearing a lot more skirts & dresses, plus jewelry (thanks grandma!) so that has resulted in a more feminine look than before… straying toward flirtatious at times too. I find myself trying to incorporate elements/principles of design more as well, to use my clothing as an example in class if needed… i.e. line, repetition, texture, unity, and so on.

    Once I get my thesis out of the way I’m really wanting my next area of research to be on clothing selection and personal style… it is so interesting, thanks again for being a catalyst!

  9. laura / fraeulein_2eck

    some years ago, i thought it was easy to define my own style. but now that i like to play around with different styles, clothes from different decades and places, it became a bit harder. one thing i can say is that i love colors. i’m also into special pieces that are for example thrifted or handmade. since this is not an exact definition, i guess i’m one of those you mentioned: my style is always in movement and there are always new things coming and old things going, but there are also some things that will always stay – just because i love them.

  10. Chloe

    I guess I would call myself part BoMo (bohemian-modern, har har)-part hipster with a smattering of zaniness (in the same vein of zany as Betsey Johnson, maybe?) and I’ve been described as a ‘Punk Audrey Hepburn.’ Most of my clothes are thrifted, swapped, or reconstructed.

    I tend to either go for jeans (preferably low-rise and flared, but there are always exceptions) or a knee-length skirt (usually a-line in shape rather than a straight or pencil skirt, but, again exceptions) and knee-high socks, tights, or stockings. And then a scarf (the wispy kind, not the knitted kind) and boots or sneakers.

    For tops, I like deconstructed-looking tops, vintage-looking tops of all kinds (20s through 70s-style), long-sleeve shirts with wide necklines, and reconstructed t-shirts (I usually re-do them myself, it started because I have a wee bust & ribcage and it’s hard to find tees that fit right).

    I wear all sorts of colours, but tend to go for greys, blacks, browns, pinks, and bright greens and yellows.

    It took me a while to find my style, and it’s not easy to put a label on it, but it is defined enough so people can see things and say, “that’s a Chloe outfit,” which I think is just swell.

  11. Chloe

    Oh, I didn’t say why. Erm. . . .I used to get picked on for dressing zany when I was a kid, but that never stopped me. I thought Punky Brewster was the epitome of fashion when I was in 4th grade. I’ve also been influenced by the way male brit-rockers dress and I guess I should confess I have been influenced (with my own twist) by one of my friends, although she lives 5 timezones away. Even when she goes hiking (in skirts, no less, but it works), she looks excellent at all times.

  12. jennifer

    i’ve been asking and trying to answer this very question in my own blog for quite some time now. i think i’d call it classic elegant, with a bit of funk involved. but, maybe that’s just what i wish it were.

  13. melissa

    I’ve always loved “showbiz”, which is a definite influence on my style. When i go
    op-shopping, or thrifting for you state-siders, if something is sparkly, sequinned, or shiny, like a magpie, I’m immediately drawn to it. Having trained as a dancer for many years, that also plays a part in what I choose to wear, because comfort and ease of movement is important. Colour is another big one – I love bright, intense saturated colour, that I harmonise with emotionally, and of course that suits me physically. I don’t like to follow the latest fashion for the sake of it, I prefer to look like “me”. Vintage finds also play a big part in my wardrobe, and I’ve never believed in saving clothes for “special occasions”. If I want to wear evening wear in the day, or a bed jacket to dinner at night, and it feels right, then I’ll do so. I don’t think I can define a label or look that sums me up, I’m too quixotic for that, but if I’m shopping with friends, they can often spot what I’d choose to wear, so I guess I do have a definable style. I think it’s probably that I dress in a way so as to best express me – my outfits are another element of my personal creative expression. Like Chloe, I also would get picked on when I was younger for what i chose to wear, but with age comes wisdom & confidence, and I enjoy the theatre of getting dressed each day.

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  15. mai

    i either have too much or nothing to say about stylistic choices, but this is something i’ve been thinking about lately.

    have you read the current september issue of paper? (if you’re interested it can be picked up for free at most salons in lower haight.)

    they profile isabella blow and interview people about their take on fashion extremists and their motivations. though i don’t want to presume to put myself in such fabulous company as blow or iris apfel, i think my motivations for dressing the way i do (whatever way that may be) is similar. it was comforting to read what i’d been trying to grasp for years

    like blow and apfel — i do not dress to fit in, to be pretty, or to be sexually alluring. there is another answer to the question: ‘why do i dress the way i do?’

  16. ally

    I think my style, in my mind at least, is like finding this box of candy in the woods, covered with toad stools or something. I think it’s fey-metalmama-80’s-gothling-grandma. If that makes any sense.

    I’ve just gone through my (extremely small) armoire and put in storage anything hippie or boho. I guess I’ve had enough, for a while.

    I love reinvention, and morphing. I see a bad-girl-witchy-candyfloss phase coming on.

    Your blog is so awesome– I have to peek at it, even with my horribly limited online access.

  17. Lisa-Gabrielle

    I am always interested in this question. For me,though from time to time my head is turned by certain ideas ,trends or ,fads. I always go back to the same thing, Vintage,lace,cowboy boots,and jazzed up overalls.
    I enjoyed reading everyones comments,and agree with Mai. When I read this months Paper I thought of you. I also thought of myself,because just like Mai,I only dress for me. I have never dressed to turn some mans head. Although there was a period during my acting career I was doing a lot of business industrial films,I had to go out and buy a special wardrobe to audition with. What I thought of as conservative business attire.I would never have been hired (casting directors like you to make it easy for them)wearing my normal wardrobe.

  18. vasiliisa

    Me, I have gone through a lot of style phases, some of them were part of a search for my own style and self, and will probably never re-occur, but you never know. It seems highly unlikely at this point that I’ll go into a black&white phase ever again… B&W outfits maybe, but I’ve really learned to eat, drink, and breathe colour. But in the end it all depends on what happens in my life, what parts of me will be important for me to express. Because I don’t believe we are ever expressing ourselves as a whole, in fact that would probably be impossible.
    All this makes it quite hard for me to answer this question; so I guess I would fall into the “unsure and complicated” category 🙂
    Whatever happens, though, I hope that one of the cornerstones of my style will be that it comes both from being true to what I feel inside, and from being as open as possible to new influences coming from outside.

  19. Prêt-à-Porter Prostitute

    I could categorize my look into 3 different styles.

    1) CLASSIC.
    I would describe this as well-put-together chic & casual elegance. This may come from growing up watching Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Audrey, etc. as a child.

    2)SLOUCHY TAILORING.
    Hedi Slimane inspired. Black & White and the colors in between (creams, greys, etc) Probably 90% of Wardrobe Remix pictures, since this is a lot of my work wear.

    3)and BRUNCH ON ROBERTO CAVALLI’S YACHT IN SAINT TROPEZ.
    Prints, kimonos, kaftans, and overall over-the-top Fabulousness

    -h

  20. Maddy

    This question is always such fun to answer! I’m a be-pom-pommed, purple-shoelaced, marroon-and-gold-wearing, ribbon-addicted sweetheart. At the moment, anyways.