It’s All Trial and Error: The Real Secret to Getting The Most From Your Closet

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits

Clothing, and getting dressed, should be fun. I believe this with  my whole heart and soul.

The truly stylish people I’ve ever seen dress for themselves – to express themselves, to wear something that just makes them feel good. And they have an attitude that it doesn’t really matter what other people think. I love that – to dress for yourself, and to dress in a way that makes you feel good.

You know my favourite style icons are those women bold enough to be themselves fully. Those ladies of Advanced Style, those Fabulous Fashionistas.  These women don’t play it safe, and they don’t play by the rules either.  They are their own people – utterly original.

Dressing for yourself

To dress for yourself means discovering for yourself what style means.  Discovering for yourself what style is.  And discovering for yourself what ways you express yourself through your clothing choices.

It doesn’t mean copying someone else, or following fashion trends (which are turning over so quickly you could get dizzy trying to keep up with them).

Dressing for yourself, to express your unique self, is by definition, an act of self-expression.  It means putting together an ensemble in a way that nobody else would, or could.

Perhaps dressing for yourself means combining items in new and unique ways.  Perhaps it means combining novel colours together.  Perhaps it means combining clothing from different eras. And hopefully it means combining ‘good’ items with everyday items.

The zany Betsey Johnson and her original style

The zany Betsey Johnson and her original style

It’s all trial and error

It’s great to get inspiration to inform your sense of style.  We all need that.  I need that.  I’m guessing you need that, too.  At least from time to time.

And the excellent news is that there are many guides on how to mix and match to get the most out of your wardrobe.  I’ll pause briefly to share two that I especially admire and recommend:

But here’s the thing (and I feel certain Imogen and Bridgette would agree with me here): Even if you were to read these comprehensive guides on mixing and matching over and over until you know them verbatim, they won’t give you style.

No fashion magazine or style blog can give you style.  There is only one way to get it, and it doesn’t involve reading.

So here it is:

The secret to getting the most from your closet and finding your own style

It comes down to playing around in your closet and discovering for yourself, through trial and error, what works, what you love, and what makes your heart sing!

It comes down to never ‘dropping anchor’ on what your style is, but remembering how dynamic style is.  It tweaks, it morphs, it expands.  Sure, you may have a strong base for your style, but it doesn’t need to be expressed in the same way for your entire life.

And it comes down to trusting yourself more than anything else.  To believing that the essence of your style lies within yourself and not without, that you are beautiful (flaws an’ all) exactly as you are, and that nobody but nobody knows you better than you know yourself.

My top tips:

  1. Fossick in your closet.  Your closet is your playground, your workshop, your studio.  Your own closet is where the pieces of your style puzzle are housed, where your muse is, where the magic lies.  So spend most of your time in there, playing, experimenting, being daring, being different, being the woman you thought you wanted to be but were afraid to, being the woman that “when your feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil says ‘oh crap'” (thanks to Starts at Sixty for that postcard).  You get to choose who you’re being and what you’re doing when you play around in your closet!
  2. Find the space and place to ponder what style is for you.  Liberate your style insight – it’s unique to you, and can’t be copied from anybody else’s version of style.  Spend less time reading about somebody else’s style, or ideas about style, and spend more time connecting to yourself.  True style is an inside job (as I discussed in my post about the real difference between fashion and style) so spend less time “out” and more time “in”.  Learn to trust your instincts, and make it okay to sometimes ‘get it wrong’ – it’s all part of the fun of getting dressed!
  3. Choose your style icons carefully, and consider ditching those that are dished up to us in the form of celebrities and quasi-celebrities, whose style I hazard to guess is not even their own.  Perhaps your grandmother is your style reference point (there’s a lot of style lessons from our grandmothers we can learn).  Perhaps it’s the fabulous fashionistas or the women of advanced style (referenced earlier in this post).  Perhaps its nobody in particular, but you choose instead to pick up dollops of inspiration from a few select sources, and throw it into the ideas pot to see what brews.
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