10 October 2012

Contrasting Style: What's Your Style Personality

H’s 20th high school reunion

#DayJob deadlines

bluemercury founder and CEO Marla Malcom Beck + loads of inspiring women (thank you, Ruth’s Chris Women in Business series and Marie Claire!)

Stacy London + Truth About Style + a group of women who put themselves out there - on blogs and in life

#DayJob deadlines

other than one anomaly, the first weekend since my trip to San Diego that both H and I were home and we didn’t travel as a family (um, that would be 2 months)


last minute night out to see Public Image Ltd (PiL), including two rock legends

It has been an insane block of time. Insane.

I have a lot to think about, and lots to mull. I have lots I want to discuss with the interwebs. Much of it comes, duh, from hearing Stacy London speak about her journey - and witnessing her openness breed the same in the brave women who waited patiently in line to ask her a question. (Turns out, though, that the same group of women did not wait so patiently to get their books signed. There was some MeanGirls goin’ on up in there. Really? Ladies?)

A couple of women asked, predictably, I suppose, especially for Washington, D.C., about their work wardrobes and its appropriateness. Stacy’s answer to one young woman, who works in a very conservative office that really requires suits, struck me this week as I looked at my own style. (That happens when you take pictures of yourself, even Instagrams of your feet. Talk about self-awareness and crap. Pooh. Also, props to the #OOTD posters. I give you all sorts of credit for putting yourselves out there like that.) This young woman yearned to break free of the suit. Stacy’s answer took me a bit by surprise. She recommended sticking with the suit, making sure it fit well and was a flattering cut. If possible, she said (acknowledging that it isn’t always possible in some environments), that you can use accessories to show a flash of your own personal style, but...

Don’t worry about it. Just make sure you’re presentable, professional, and appropriate to your environment.

Then - and this is the important part - you can have an entirely different style on the weekends.

Radical. And hand-to-forehead-leave-an-imprint simple.

For a long time now, I’ve tooted the horn of “it’s of course possible to express yourself, even in conservative environments.” Use color, I’ve said. Use texture and textiles. Use accessories.

I’m also lucky that even in my #DayJobs along the way, all of which could be considered conservative environments (non-profit government relations with not infrequent visits to Capitol Hill, government contracting with defense agencies, and the stereotypically conservative world of accounting), I pretty much don’t care. I push the envelope. I can, I will, and I am absolutely OK - personally - with getting the occasional “nice pants” to my lava orange khakis that really means “Wow, that’s really bright, did you really mean to wear those in the office.”

Left's #RuralPreptastic look for the office: Gap Eversoft circle sweater (I bought it super small, per Stacy's other excellent bit of advice, to have a more fitted, vice the slouchy look shown on Gap's site), grosgain belt bought in an especially preppy shop in Annapolis years ago, Gap Perfect Khakis, lillybee Kate (get them! they're on sale!); Right's #rockerchic look for the PiL concert: Religion Clothing Union Jack Skinny Jeans (on sale at ASOS!), lillybee Meghan (sale, people, sale!), and a Druish scarf H brought me from Israel in deference to the "chill" that night (not shown: black Target Mossimo Long & Lean tank)

But what Stacy said rings true. There is nothing like a piece of clothing that fits well. If it fits your body, it flatters you. It lets you shine, and doesn’t let the outfit wear you and distract from your purpose in the office: to do your job.

We could certainly wax poetic about how It Doesn’t Matter what you wear, that people should be able to look past all of that, but the truth is - and this is why, in part, there’s a proliferation of style blogs, ambush makeover TV shows, and how-to fashion books - It Does Matter.

So know what you’re OK with. It’s sometimes difficult to find that place, and it takes time. If you’re just starting - or restarting, as a number of women I meet are - your career, stick to basics to start. Listen to that inner voice, but explore online. Use pinterest to its every advantage and flag what speaks to you. Try it. Ask friends. Ask bloggers (most of us are more than willing to lend an opinion).

Then, wear it all with confidence because, as Stacy says, you must know yourself first. Then you’ll be able to find your style. And if there’s a bit of a split personality in that style - and you go from #ruralpreptastic (or, as H told me “40 year old Potomac lady) to #rockerchic like I did this week, know that contrast is perfectly fine. You don’t have to dress a single way all the time, and rock a single style. I relish the contrast. How ‘bout you?

As I said, I have more posts in my head, not the least of which is probably more than one springboarding from my visit with Stacy. (We’ll just pretend that it was a one-on-one visit, like it felt, I’m sure, to everyone in the room.) It was a lovely and inspirational evening. Here are a few of my compadres’ posts on our night: Wardrobe Oxygen's (in which Stacy likes my "vegan" dress - we're BFF, you know), and The Chelsea Chronicles (in which Stacy tells you to buy a Celine purse for your birthday)

1 comment:

Alison (Wardrobe Oxygen) said...

Not because of my job, but I do dress differently during the week than on weekends. On weekends I am more boho and relaxed, and at work I let my creative flag fly with a touch of corporate appropriateness. But yes, you have had many an event to give you sartorial food for thought!