Tag: Consumerism

Editing

“Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Letters

I don’t always do a good job of remembering resolutions, but I have to say, picking a “theme” for this year has been a remarkable success. My mindset around a lot of life elements has taken a turn for the healthier and I’m in a more balanced place than I’ve been in years. I really believe that this has come from some purposeful editing of my life. I’ve gotten much better at saying no, worked hard to remove or improve things that contributed to my stress and anxiety problems, and become a lot more intentional about my money and consumption choices. It’s been a very successful project, and I’m already thinking towards how I want to frame 2018.

“Less but better” doesn’t have a uniform definition for me. For instance, we are currently living in our largest and most expensive home to date, but on the other hand, after 10 years of marriage and most of those spent in cheap digs, the decision to rent a nice apartment was a considered one. We are also furnishing it ourselves, meaning we are spending money, but we are taking that process slowly and very judiciously. Our home is still far less furnished than I would like…but we have chosen every piece in it together because we loved it, and not because it was the cheapest option on Craigslist. I love the idea of editing a home, carefully selecting what I put in it and not rushing to fill empty space just because I have it.

Stress levels: all time low. This time last year my nails were chewed to the quick.

Meanwhile, on the work front, I’m actually working more but in a better way. Going back to freelance and contracting has been a great decision. I have not only opened a lot of doors and opportunities, but I have finally discovered a balance between work and identity: what I do vs. who I am. This has not always been the case with me, as I tend to throw myself into things like causes, projects, and roles wholeheartedly, allowing the lines between them and myself to blur. Surprisingly, given the nature of freelance and contract work and how it can divide your attention, I’ve found that because I’ve been able to choose my work, I’ve therefore been able to choose (i.e. edit) how I direct my energy. This has also helped me train my brain to better separate work from my personal life and I’m more aggressive about holidays and an overall work/life balance. In other words, I may be working more, but my stress levels are lower than they’ve been in years.

Let’s talk stuff, generally. I had a whole month long blog project dedicated to my closet and bathroom shelf this year, and I continue to be really happy with where it’s at. I’ve actually shopped and bought less this year than I have probably since my early 20s. Granted what I have bought has tended to be more expensive, but I’ve been fascinated to physically feel the urgency and desire to buy things fade as the year has gone on. There’s plenty of reporting out there to suggest that brain chemistry can be affected by purchasing, and I wonder if I’ve been able to ween myself off an internal drug I didn’t realize I was on. I’ve been slowly editing my closet down and I now think I own less clothing than I did when we first moved to London on an item-for-item basis. What I do own, I wear more and I love more. The same goes with beauty; I’ve been focused on using what I already own instead of craving new makeup and skincare items. I’m actually in the midst of a shopping freeze (my second this year) in an effort to actually use up cosmetics and potions before I allow myself even to replace beloved items. I’ve done a few edits of my shelf throughout the year and donated or gifted a few items that I didn’t use enough to justify keeping. Maybe it’s a welcome byproduct of getting older and more self-confident, but I’ve never been more pleased with the woman in the mirror.

When it comes to food and overall health, I haven’t done as well as I would have wished. We are eating out less (yay, us!) but ordering in more (kind of defeats the purpose, C….). We have periods of focus on health, but other periods of intense laziness. One thing I’ve realized is how much I require a routine in order to stay committed to food, exercise, and wellbeing goals. I am not a natural health bunny, I do no default to healthiness–I default to deep friend potatoes and Netflix and am self-aware enough to acknowledge this. It turns out that once I’m in a routine, I am pretty good at maintaining it but if something knocks me off course (two straight weeks of houseguests for instance, or a particularly uneven month at work), I fall well and truly off the wagon and it takes herculean effort to climb back aboard. I haven’t figured out quite how to overcome this yet, but I suspect the solution will lie in editing out things that I use as excuses or distractions.

This has been a much better year than 2016 for me, and I’m feeling pretty positive about 2018 at the moment. It’s a good place to be.

Use It Up Challenge Check In

“I believe it’s perfectly normal to love both lipstick and literature, to be a woman who paints her nails while shouting at Question Time.” 
― Sali Hughes, Pretty Honest

I had given myself permission to purchase from the Victoria Beckham x Estee Lauder collection, but after lack luster reviews, I spent my fun money on a couple vintage clothing items instead and kept my wallet closed tight against all things beauty. In fact, I kicked off my next no-buy self-challenge a couple of months early! Since discovering that Makeup Rehab subreddit I mentioned last month, I’ve been enjoying a lot of self-challenges to use up what I own more than looking to buy new stuff. I’ve nowhere near given up buying beauty products long term (I mean, do you know me at all?) but I’m focusing a lot more on skincare than makeup, and my pores are thanking me.

So, how did I do with my self challenge? Not only did I make some serious headway on my actual goals, but I also destashed quite a few bits and bobs to my little sister. I went away to university when she was very young, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the fun parts of being an older sister like sharing beauty stuff. And so, sending presents, clothes, and makeup that she will love more than me is something I enjoy doing and she gets to benefit from my experience (ie, age) and pick up some goodies that she probably wouldn’t buy for herself due to price point. Spoiled.

I feel pretty! Oh so pretty!

Hit pan on at least one color in my Viseart neutral eyeshadow palette (BAM)

Use up my Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper

Finish my Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square

Use up my Replica by Maison Margiela perfume in Jazz Club (got down to the dregs of the rollerball and finally chucked it)

Use just one blush – Tonga by Cargo – with aim of putting a proper dent in it (I hit pan on it!)

Use up one of my (many) sunscreens (going on holiday helped!)

Finish my Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

Finish my Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Finish my Kiehl’s mud mask

Use up one of my hand lotion samples already! (Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Hand Treatment)

Finish one of my (many) pots of lip salve

Finish my current bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Hit pan on my Glossier Stretch Concealer

Shopping My Beauty Arsenal

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
-British wartime slogan

Kittens, I’m in a decluttering mood. I don’t know whether it’s the confused British weather that makes it feel like it’s nearly fall even though it’s barely August, the fact that we are still getting back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks of houseguests, or that work (while still busy) feels a bit less hectic than usual with the summer slowdown…but I’m feeling a strange need to tidy, downsize, and just generally apply some order.

My year of “less but better” remains thematically in place and now, nearly three quarters of a way through it, I’m feeling much better about a lot of my consumption habits in most places. That being said, I’ve recently bought art for our walls and an amazing piece of vintage Aquascutum for my own back, so this clearly isn’t an impulse that’s being felt uniformly. But I recently wrote about streamlining my media, which has been an interesting exercise, and my anxiety and stress are more firmly under control than they’ve been in years, so I feel like my overall balance is in a good place.

Yes, I have quite a bit. And no, I regret none of it.

But one area of consumption in particular has been on my mind of late: I’m definitely wanting to use more of my makeup and skin care products–indeed not just use them, but use some of them up. I’ve put myself on strict “no buying” rules for new makeup (allowing myself the potential exception of buying from the new Estee Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration when it launches and a restock of some Glossier products that a pal may be shipping me from the States), and I’m restricting new skincare purchases until I use up what’s in my cabinet. I love beauty and I enjoy consuming it, so this isn’t going to be a hardship. Plus, at some point, when I’ve been better at using what I have, I can look forward to the pleasure of discovering new things when I have a hole in my arsenal to fill. Everyone wins!

And, because it’s me, of course I’ve given myself a few challenges and goals to achieve this!  I’ll check in on Halloween, which is my self-imposed deadline, to see if I’ve been able to get through. And for silliness’ sake, I’ve given myself a holiday appropriate list of 13 things to use up!

Beauty To Dos

Hit pan on at least one color in my Viseart neutral eyeshadow palette. I’m using this palette almost exclusively in order to meet this goal.

Use up my Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper – my favorite and perfect nude, a shade I will be repurchasing. Eventually.

Finish my Nars Velvet Lip Pencil in Red Square – another favorite that I will probably also repurchase…but only after I also complete other lip products that are similar, though inferior!

Use up my Replica by Maison Margiela perfume in Jazz Club

Use just one blush – Tonga by Cargo – with aim of putting a proper dent in it

Use up one of my (many) sunscreens

Finish my Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

Finish my Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask

Finish my Kiehl’s mud mask (so many masks…)

Use up one of my hand lotion samples already!

Finish one of my pots of lip salve (Rosebud Salve forever, but no one needs five tins of them)

Finish my current bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Hit pan on my Glossier Stretch Concealer

Anyone want to join in and commit to using up something–food in your cupboards, a reading list, products, boxes of tea bags that miraculously keep accumulating? Talk to me about something that you want to use up, and whether or not you would repurchase it or replace it when it’s gone? 

What I’m Not Going to Buy – Inspired by Kimberly Clark

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
― Yves Saint-Laurent

Kimberly Clark is a YouTuber I mentioned in my March favorites post. A drag queen who vlogs on beauty, consumerism, and social issues, her content is frankly right up my street! She’s most notable for her “Anti-Haul” series where, in contrast to other glam influencers who show off their (often extravagant) mass purchases, she creates fun and enjoyable videos detailing what she is choosing not to buy–and why. Her style is quintessential drag, humorous and hyperbolic, but often intermixed with valuable thoughts on brands and consumer culture.

I really like her take on being honest and blunt about wanting, buying, and enjoying products that are fundamentally unnecessary, but also honestly evaluating (in her opinion) when certain products or brands cross the line into downright ridiculous. Her catch phrase, “I don’t need it and I’m not going to buy it,” could save us all a lot of buyers remorse–and not just on beauty and style products.

And so, following the exposé of my stash, and in the spirit of glitter, big hair, and smarter consumption, here’s a list of things I’m not going to buy:

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow. Something strange has happened lately and I’ve found myself drawn inexorably to metallic cosmetics as if I were some kind of earthbound magpie. These things are outrageously high on shine and ever since swatching them on my hand to test both their reflective might (strong) and staying power (fairly decent for something so glittery), I have coveted them fiercely. But I’m not going to buy them. I have two semi-metallic shades of cream eye shadow that are more muted but still plenty shimmery and can work for both work or going out depending on how I use them. They would be tons of fun, but–in the words of Kimberly Clark herself–I don’t need them so I’m going to buy them!

Bobbi Brown City Palette in London. I fell for this compact due to the combined powers of an intense navy shade and the illustrated case that pays homage to my favorite city on earth. But pretty as they both are, even I must admit those are insufficient reasons to splurge.

Anything by Tom Ford, with the exception of the eyeliner pen which is genuinely great in spite of the price. Because when your brand charges $50 for lipstick, $110 for bronzer, and $80 for blushes…I expect your products to not only make me eternally young, but to do my laundry, clean my house, and file my tax paperwork in the bargain. No one needs to spend that much money on on this stuff. Nobody.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Like the liquid eye shadow, I definitely want this and am intrigued to try it. I don’t entirely worship at the shrine of Glossier, some of their products are a bit overhyped or underwhelming…but the products of theirs that I do like, I buy in multiples. However I’m not going to be buying this product, at least not any time soon, because I have a lot of blushes already. I haven’t bought all of them, a good number I was very generously gifted to review by a magazine, but the fact remains that I have a drawer full already and simply don’t need more at the moment.

Any more highlighters. Sephora can tempt me with all the glow they can bring to bear, but I own a handful as it stands. I can look dewy, bronzed, or downright gilded if I want to already, so I will be sitting on my hands every time I’m tempted by something shiny until I’ve used up some of my existing stock.

Most limited edition anything (fully acknowledging that my own shopping ban cheat indulgence was precisely that). In almost all instances, the “limited edition” nature of these items is to meant to enable markups on already existing formulas and products. Moreoever, more than one brand has rolled out a “limited edition” product to outrageous hype, only to have it become a viral success–at which point it behooves the brand to add the item to their normal roster anyway (a great example of this is Becca’s Champagne Pop highlighter). Which means that all you paid for (normally at some kind of mark up) is the urgency. There are new product launches all the time and it is a rare item that will truly fill a gap in your stash and be worth the higher price tag.

New Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils. Full disclosure, I love these. I own two and could gleefully own more, but I’m sitting on my hands in defiance of their recent release of new shades because…I have an obscene amount of lip products already. I’m not buying another stick until I’ve used up my existing ones. So help me god.

Anything Kylie Cosmetics. I fully admit to an irrational prejudice when it comes to this family in general, but that’s just not a direction I want to send my money.

 

Your turn, ducklings. What is one thing (or a list of things) you want but have made a decision not to buy–frivolous or otherwise? 

My Makeup Arsenal

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”
― Gwyneth Paltrow

Here it is, I’m throwing open the doors on my current makeup stash.

It’s taken me a long time to build this sucker up and, as previously written, I’m fairly happy with it overall. I’m sure it’s a lot larger than some of yours, and I know for a fact it’s a lot smaller than others! But in spite of the time and expense, makeup and beauty in general is an area of life that gives me a lot of pleasure and joy, so I don’t make a lot of apologies for it.

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Eyes

The eyes have it…though I’ll readily admit this is the makeup area with which I am least proficient–though I’m constantly practicing for improvement and rare is the weekend that will find me without some kind of color experiment on my lids! My eyes are a very noticeable shade of green and I like to play them up. I have one palette containing some neutral shades with both matte and shimmer formulas by Nars (with one standout shade of blue for a kick), and another containing all matte formulas in warm, neutral shades by Viseart. I also have a tiny travel sized palette for when I need to hop on a plane or train with just one bag to my name.

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I’m not terribly keen on eyeliner, so the three I have are (ironically) a bit wild. Two are blue shades, the other is a shimmery gold, all by Urban Decay. They get most of their love and use on the weekend. Then I have a couple of Charlotte Tilbury cream shadow sticks in Bronzed Garnet and Gold Digger, and ditto Nars in Reykjavik and Aigle Noir for a basic smokey eye look that even I couldn’t mess up.

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For standalone eye colors not be to be found in a palette, I have two Charlotte Tilbury cream shadows in Marie Antoinette and Verushka (an “oyster gold” and an “minky-mossy” green respectively), one MAC shadow in Antiqued (a warm, reddish brown with shimmer) and a Laura Mercier shadow in Plum Smoke.

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Powders and Blush

When it comes to powders, this is an area that has grown a lot in recent years. I own a shedload of blushes, but should note right away that last year I was invited to review about half a dozen different blush products for a magazine. They provided me the blushes to use and review, which effectively doubled my collection–though some I’ve passed on to better homes since then. The fact still remains, I’ve got a lot!

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I’ve been in a bit of a neutrals “moment” when it comes to blushes for a while now. In my salad days I was a sucker for a bit of shimmer but as my tastes have changed, I’ve pretty ruthlessly cleared those out in favor of matte formulas. The one exception is Nars’ Orgasm blush which I bought years ago, fell out with, gifted away to family, and then was gifted back again as part of my product review opportunity. It’s sticking around until summer when I’m going to give it another proper trial. Now my blushes are all shades of nude, peach, and pink in a couple of instances that look fairly natural. My obvious standout is Nars’ Exhibit A, a bright orange red that looks shocking in the pan and gorgeous on the face (a light touch required).

I’ve also included my one bronzer from The Body Shop, which I’m still learning to use without looking ridiculous, a finishing powder by Hourglass in Dim Light, two highlighters by Becca in Moonstone (poured formula) and Champagne Pop (powder), and a translucent setting power by Laura Mercier. My latest edition to this family was my cheat item from my shopping ban, the highlighter form the Estee Lauder and Victoria Beckham collaboration in the shade Modern Mercury. It was ridiculous expensive, but I’ve been wearing it almost nonstop since I bought it. Regrets, I’ve had a few, as the song goes, but this isn’t one of them!

 

Foundation

When it comes to foundation, I’m much less ridiculous and I have two go-to products: the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer in the shade Natural and the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in the shade 5. Based on a lot of recommendations, I’m currently road testing the It Cosmetics CC cream in a “trial size” version to see if I can find a slightly cheaper mid-to-high coverage option in place of the Armani when it runs out (which I love deeply but it it is expensive). I also chucked in a cream highlighter by Becca in the shade Rose Gold which I tend to use as a blush, a Glossier highlighter in Haloscope, and two primers–one by Makeup Forever, and another by Givenchy. I was late to the primer game, but have been converted.

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Other Bits

In the bits-n-bobs section, I have my eyebrow products (one pencil by Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Glossier’s Boy Brow), one eyeliner pen (by Tom Ford, hideously expensive, but very good), and two concealers (Glossier Stretch Concealer in Medium for light coverage, Clarins Instant Light in 01 for fuller coverage).  My mascara is and for years has been Maybelline’s Full’n’Soft. It’s unfindable in the UK, but I stock up on a tube or two every time I go back to the States.

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Lip Stuff

And finally, the heavy artillery of the arsenal: my lipstick. I have…a lot.

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I break my stash down into light and dark colors (though that’s just for storage, I don’t really switch my shades in accordance with a season. I tend to just wear whatever calls to me on any given day).

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I also separate out my liquid lipsticks and glosses. I’ve only been into these for about a year and all of my liquid lipsticks are from Kat von D’s line, which I really like. My recent additions are two highly metallic glosses from Bite Beauty (who, you will notice, are by far my lipstick brand of choice). I don’t really like glosses, but I was drawn two these Prismatic Pearl Creme Gloss products (in Champagne Pearl and Oyster Pearl) like moths to a flame. They look like liquid metal on my lips. Practical, no. Gorgeous, yes!

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And there you have it. A 100% honest tour of my treasure hoard…er, minus whatever may be hiding in my purse that I might have forgotten to take out, now that I think on it!

I think it’s obvious why I think I don’t need any more until I’ve used up quite a bit of what I’ve got. But I admit it can be hard to ignore the siren song of a really beautiful piece of kit. Makeup makes me feel better, more in command of my presentation, like I’m not just able to highlight different features but different aspects of my personal based on what color I swipe across my lids or lips. More on that later this week!

 

Your turn! Do you love makeup? Loathe it? Is there a specific type of product you’ve either come around to lately, or gone off of entirely? Do you hoard a specific type of product and if so, why? 

Five Tips For Defining Your Style

“ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT: Why don’t ya tie a knot in your hanky like everyone else?
ZAPHOD: Style friend, style. Now come on I gotta go.”
– Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Far from a fashion plate myself, I found myself thinking about what advice I’d give to someone putting together a wardrobe or trying to figure out their own sense of style. Then I second guessed myself because there are whole magazines devoted to this question, what the hell did I have to offer? But given the context I’ve been thinking and writing about style for this project, I thought I’d give it a go anyway. Based on personal experience, here are my Five Tips For Defining Your Style

 

You do you, boo. You can spend a lot of years and money trying to look like someone you are not, and your lack of comfort with yourself will show. However if you spend a little time and energy to learn and understand what clothing you like and why early on, I think it is easier to own your own tastes rather than trying to prioritize society’s or someone else’s. If you know what you genuinely like to look like, that’s what you will end up buying. And if you genuinely like your clothing, you will wear it and avoid buyer’s remorse.

Consider your lifestyle and be reasonable about it. There is nothing wrong with the occasional aspirational purchase–so long as you can afford it and you actually use it (more on that in a later post). But it is the height of folly to buy either items or multiple products that you are simply not going to wear. When I started working full time, I found myself continuing to buy more casual clothes that were better suited to university lectures than the workplace. It took me a while to really get it through my head that five days out of seven were now going to require a new level of formality and that 5/7ths of my budget and closet (metaphorically speaking) needed to reflect that. Having gone back and forth between full time and freelance all my working life, I’ve had to make multiple mental shifts when it comes to my lifestyle and how I need to dress for it.

Don’t compare your wants, needs, and preferences to anyone else’s–not even those you’re drawing inspiration from. And don’t try to force your tastes to match theirs. There may be a friend, family member, or influencer who you really admire and have found value in following. Great! But don’t therefore assume that because they have prioritized certain items in their wardrobe that you have to make the same choices to achieve similar style results.

I fell into this trap a few years ago when starting to build a work wardrobe after leaving university. Many of the women whose professional style I admired wore a lot of skirts and so I too ended up buying a lot of skirts…and frankly not wearing them often enough to justify the purchases. I realize in retrospect that I was trying to recreate the professional but feminine looks that the women who influenced me had mastered, but my mistake was in trying to go against my natural preferences to do so. For me, ease and convenience are high priorities, and most skirts I bought seemed to come with some added discomfort and minor frustrations–waistbands shifting about during the day, constantly retucking shirts or rearranging leggings or tights beneath them, having to coordinate multiple items of clothing during a rushed morning, and so on. These are really small inconveniences and preferences, but they added up to mean that I wasn’t using the items I’d spent good money on; I defaulted to other items in my wardrobe. The long term takeaway as been that at heart I am a mostly trousers kind of girl and that’s okay, but that I still like more traditionally feminine looks from time to time. The solution has been to invest in a handful of dresses; single pieces that achieve the look I want are more manageable to me than multiple pieces that require coordination and more effort.

Pinterest isn’t silly. I say Pinterest but all of social media can be really useful in helping you figure out what you gravitate towards. I’ve talked about this a bit already, and I stand by it. As with my skirt story above, I think it can be easy to mistake what you think you want to look like for how you actually feel most comfortable and stylish. Spending a little time really examining your aesthetics and preferences can save you quite a bit of time and money. As a consumer, I think it can also help train you to admire beautiful clothes or makeup without necessarily coveting it–thereby avoiding impulse purchases simply because a favorite blogger bought a similar piece, for instance. Done well, social media can be an excellent visual research tool for first admiring certain looks and, over time, learning what about them appeals to you specifically.

Take inspiration from stylish people, and remember Amy Poehler’s wisdom, “Good for her, not for me.” I follow a lot of minimalists who have monochromatic wardrobes and styles. I also follow bona fide fashionistas with closets for days and shoes for years. Neither of these options represent me and my own preferences, but I admire people who have a handle on their own style, and I often have picked up tips or tricks from people who have curated a “look” for themselves which bears no resemblance to my own. Remember my defining premise: style is the choices we make and why. Go forth and enjoy other people who like different things than you! You’ll be surprised at what you discover interests you and pick up wisdom about self-presentation along the way.

Broadly summarized, I’d say that to define your own style, figure out what you value, clothes-wise, rather than what stuff you think you want. This sense of value can be characterized by anything from comfort, convenience, color, or messaging, to level of care and upkeep, trends, and price tag. Prioritize your purchases accordingly.

 

Your turn. Have you “figured out” you sense of fashion or style yet? Has it changed over the years? Is this an area you want to invest some time and attention in the future? Talk to me about how you put your closet together!

Finding My Fashion Sense (a work in progress)

“Style is knowing what suits you, who you are, and what your assets are. It is also accepting it all.”
– Bianca Jagger

Lo these many years ago in my early 20s I decided to sit down and figure out what I actually liked and wanted to wear, as opposed to trying to follow trends or simply copy looks I liked on other people (which invariably never looked as good on me). It was a surprisingly frustrating exercise. It took a few years in all honesty, and I ended up going down a few blind fashion alleys, and frankly spending more money than I should have, along the way. But I was sick of owning clothes I didn’t wear because I’d bought them liking the idea of the pieces more than the pieces themselves…which was ultimately my personal breakthrough moment.

Liking and owning are not and need not be the same thing. I’d gotten them dangerously confused–something I think it’s very easy to do in our culture. Indeed, we’re kind of trained to. Just because I liked something didn’t mean that 1) I needed to own it or, 2) that it would necessarily suit me anyway. I didn’t really know what I liked, and as a result I was flailing–stylistically as well as financially or practically. Dividing aesthetic appreciation from my consumer urges helped get poorly planned or whim purchases off the menu; I then decided that I needed to figure out what my tastes actually were before buying more stuff.

I made a Pinterest board where I pinned fashion images that I liked, as opposed to items I wanted to buy.

Gradually, some noticeable themes started to emerge from the inspiration images I collected. What I learned over time is that I like masculine inspired tailoring in feminine clothing, neutral basics paired with colorful or standout accessories, high impact glam for special occasions, and a noticeably vintage vibe running throughout. Got it! If that’s how I buy, I know I’ll be pretty happy and get a lot of use out of my clothing. So it was and so it has remained.

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This image is my fashion totem: comfy jeans, impractically dramatic fur coat, excellent lipstick. Done. It me, kittens, at least in my fantasy life.

I’ve never read any good style advice that didn’t boil down to, “Know thyself,” but I think if we are honest, that’s more difficult than it appears at first blush. Lots of us go through multiple identities or personas in our life–high school cliques, groups of friends, career moves, family changes–which means that who we are is constantly shifting. Sometimes we deliberately decide to explore new facets of our personalities, which may prompt a change in aesthetics. Sometimes…we just feel bored or frustrated with ourselves and an easy way to feel different it to choose to look different (let’s share tragic haircut choices in the comments, shall we?). And sometimes, our tastes simply change. Mine have shifted several times over the last decade. And even though I’m pretty happy with my wardrobe now, I’m fairly sure it will evolve again at some point as my professional or lifestyle needs shift.

Committing to examining and developing your sense of style can be an exercise in radical honesty, it forces you to really define what you like but also why you gravitate towards it. You may encounter some uncomfortable truths. When I was first freelancing full time, I spent several months in full schlub mode and there was a period of time where I could spend whole days in my pajamas if I wanted to, which I often did. It ended up having a knock on effect on my health (it was easy not to exercise) and confidence (it was hard to feel competent with perpetually messy hair). When I woke to this cause-and-effect, I made a switch and deliberately discarded or repurposed my lazy loungewear so that wearing it simply wasn’t an option. A minor change, but one that has had long term positive benefits for both how I look and feel in the mirror.

Examining your style can also open up some positive doors or new facets of your personality you want to explore and bring to the fore. Stay tuned for the story of my love affair with lipstick next week! Once you discover what you like (what you really like), I find that a lot of the imposter syndrome, self consciousness, or indecision that often comes with getting dressed in the morning melts away. If you genuinely love what you own, whether it’s trunk fulls of designer labels, or well loved jeans and t-shirts, I think you are much less likely to be concerned with what other people’s opinions are on the subject of your presentation.

Get to know yourself. Like yourself. Dress the part. It’s a formula that works for me, even though the first element of it is constantly in a state of flux.

 

Your turn! Have you ever tried to define your own sense of style? What tools helped? Could you sum up your fashion sense in three words or an image like that of the Great and Good Katherine Hepburn?