Setting Style goals for 2016

Well, better late than never, right? I hope so, and I hope you will also excuse the long post. Putting it out there both to keep a record for myself and also for those who like this kind of rumination. 

Context: I’ve returned to school as a (much older) student. I’m also the mother of an active teen and the temporary guardian of another teen. I am no longer employed in the fitness world but I still try to make it a priority to get exercise each day. (Admittedly, some days "exercise" = a short walk). Still working as an editor/ teacher, still writing creatively and publishing when I can, still volunteering for community arts organizations. I live in a true four season climate and travel a lot. I had a stressful year and gained a few pounds as a result, but I haven't had to buy new clothes to accommodate the gain, so from that point of view, things are fine. 

What I liked and disliked in my style in 2015

Overall, I felt comfortable with my style last year — the wardrobe did what I needed and I had a fair bit of variety. My greatest dislike/ disappointment as usual had to do with the disjunct between practical needs and style aspirations. I need to be very casual many days; and I need to dress for my walking commutes in a slushy, snowy, cold, northern country. I prefer a sort of business casual juxtaposition of casual with dressier items, and I prefer to show a bit of bare skin with my outfits once in a while rather than covering up completely!  But it is very hard to do this in winter where I live and considering my lifestyle. 

What did I do well in regards to style?

  • Kept a coherent colour palette that works for me. 
  • Edited efficiently and bought sensibly. I bought far fewer items in 2015 than in my big wardrobe building year of 2014. 
  • Tracked my wears (at least in one season) and so got clearer on actual needs. 
  • Took great joy in my new things (and some older ones). 

What did I wear that made me feel great?

I felt best in simple, somewhat dramatic combinations. I liked it when my outfits combined some “sharpness” or “boldness” with some “pretty” element (eg cut or colour). As always, I loved wearing jeans, booties, jackets. I felt great in my Okalas with slim jeans and jacket, and in my pretty new Club Monaco dress. I also felt great in my Zara sarong shorts. A favourite fall outfit involved cropped or rolled jeans, higher shaft booties, and a feminine blouse with jacket or not, depending on weather.

I'm not sure that "Urban Prince" is the best moniker for my aspirational style any more. I picked up "Glam Gamine" from Viva and rather like it so I am trying it on for size. (Though I might have to lose those extra pounds to ensure it fits, LOL!) 

Style adjectives 

Pretty: I will always embrace an androgynous element in my style, but like Angie I find I am drawn to more obviously feminine cuts and detailing after a few years of boyish styles. Last summer and autumn, I enjoyed wearing blouses more than shirts, dresses and skirts when weather permitted, and pretty footwear when that was possible. (Alas, it's boots for now and nothing but!) I reached for flattering colours as well as sober neutrals. White and cream. Sparkle and shine. Also, I loved the hand of luxe fabrics like silk, cashmere, fine merino, great leather.

Modern: I really enjoy playing with trends. Nothing makes me feel better than a fresh seasonal update of some "wardrobe essential" item (e.g. jeans, jackets, footwear). I love to try my staples in a new shape or worn in a new way. Also, I like clean lines, simple outfits.

Retro: I used to have a very strong retro element to my style. Toronto was a paradise for vintage when I was in my twenties and that is what I could afford; I’ve always retained a fondness for that. But nowadays, I prefer contemporary re-workings of past styles. I am not into whimsy, cute, or twee. But I do a touch of romantic from time to time, and I definitely love 60s mod and 70s glam. 

Classic: I love wearing iconic items like slim jeans, chelsea boots, a blue blazer, a trench, peacoat, watch cap, etc. To my mind, these cannot be improved upon. I love love love great tailoring. I need to balance it with casual (ie jeans and a blazer; a skirt with denim jacket) or else it is just not practical in my life — but if I do balance it like that, it’s still wearable at least some of the time.

Note: for quite a while I dreamed of a more “avant garde” style. Well, I think I have given that up as not me. I finally found a pair of leggings I like reasonably well and that only fall down some of the time — but I still don’t like them on me all that much. I don’t really love the drapey vest I bought. (I’ve only worn it 3 or 4 times and couldn't wait to get it off). I do enjoy asymmetry, but one asymmetrical top I bought has been a bit of a bust. 

My conclusion? What I thought I wanted, I don’t really want. What I really seem to want is a type of “sharpness” or “crispness” or “tailoring” — this, again, is somewhat in conflict with my personal colouring and my climate, not to mention my need for very casual clothing. It's a conundrum I have yet to solve, and I would love input if anyone has ideas! 

Thanks for humouring me if you have read this far, and I would love your thoughts!

Below, a few favourite items from last year.