Translating Style

22 Jul

I don’t think a lot about fashion. I have to admit that I like admiring it but not with the same devotion that some ladies show. I don’t really follow fashion blogs or tv shows (though occasionally an episode of Project Runway does suck me in) because it’s not an interest I can afford and I typically only adopt interests that are in the budget. High on my list right now are interior design, graphic design and publishing arts. Home aesthetics, book design, and art are just more important in my mind than clothing but fashion still holds a strange fascination for me. More than anything, it reflects who we are to other people. For instance, there’s been plenty of times that someone has told me that a dress or blouse or pair of shoes “looks like me” but very few times when anyone’s noticed a piece of furniture that reminds them of me. It’s not something I particularly like. I’d much rather someone suggest a book for me or a recipe but for the most part, people relate more easily to clothing. So I have an ambivalence about fashion that’s both interesting and disquieting. I accept that it has a power over the way people interpret my personality and I accept that it will be so whether I like it or not.

So without being completely comfortable with it, I’ve started to think of what changes need to be made to my wardrobe to better reflect my image of myself. I have clothes that are cute and comfortable but when it comes down to it, they don’t accurately show my personality. They’re things that fit well and were flattering and things I could afford when I needed them but now I realize that’s not all that matters. I’ve started to think that if you can possibly afford it, you should save whatever amount of money you deem worthy to buy long-lasting, self-reflective wardrobe staples and not just convenient clothes. Being a slightly scientific and calculating person, I came up with a method to break down this process:

First, I defined my style in three words: I chose to narrow it to three because…well, two was too few and four was too many. I also read a lot of interior design blogs where I’ve seen this model really work. I then put those words in order of importance. For me, it’s: Vintage, feminine, scholarly. Example:

Next, I thought about an ideal wardrobe: How many blazers, cardigans, shorts, skirts, pants, jeans, dresses, tops, shoes, accessories, coats?I prefer to have a small-ish number of highly versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched and are of a quality that lasts several years. So actually, my final count of clothing could fill a small closet and that’s the way I like it. (I have to say, I’d love to have a large, beautiful closet someday but it would be more to showcase a small amount of clothes than to fill with things I don’t even know I have.)

Compared prices and came up with a budget: I picked items from my favorite shops and tried to find one of each item from each store. That way, I had three or four prices that I could average for each piece. I used this average to add and came up with the total. From there, I adjusted to come up with a reasonable number. Since this is my “ideal” wardrobe and isn’t something that I plan to attain this very year, I let my goals stay pretty high. I plan to build a lasting wardrobe over a long period of time so I’m not miserable and disappointed that I can’t afford…pretty much anything right now. Basically the total is irrelevant unless I come across a huge amount of money that I don’t have a better use for. The list of things I want is far more useful at this stage.

Despite these goals seeming very far-fetched, it’s a little relaxing to come up with this plan because now I don’t feel as tempted to make impulse purchases just because it’s there and I can do it. I’ve focused my shopping and given myself limits that are still very fulfilling so to some extent, I don’t feel as sad seeing things I want and really shouldn’t have. I just tell myself, “Easy, girl. Pace yourself and you’ll have it some day.”

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