Long and navel-gazey. Feel free to skip to the photos and questions.
I've been thinking about this question since Sal's post. And maybe even before that, because for a while now I've been feeling that my style has been stagnating. Maybe the pandemic's to blame. I've hardly needed to wear real clothes at all for the past 2.5 years. Consequently, I haven't bought much new, apart from some replacement essentials. Whatever the reason, my style's feeling stale, even stagnant -- and I could use some inspiration and direction.
The 3 adjectives I've been using for a few years (modern, classic, playful) just aren't resonating for me. Not because my style is no longer modern, classic, or playful. It is modern, classic, and playful -- and always will be! Maybe that's the problem --- these adjectives are too obvious and possibly too general -- they don't give me any feeling of guidance or direction and they don't help me evolve.
I've always gravitated to a moniker more than adjectives, but my old moniker (urban prince) similarly feels off for my new lifestyle -- suburban/ outside a small city that I rarely spend time in/ mostly work from home. What's "urban" about this? And how can you be a "prince" when you are mostly hiking the trails or digging in the dirt? :)
Anyway...here's what I'm trying out now, based on favourite outfits over the past few years and some of the aspects of my current and aspirational style that give me enduring joy.
Laid-back luminous garconne.
Laid-back: this encapsulates the casual, pragmatic aspect of my style. I live in a suburb, my main modes of transportation are foot, bicycle, and public transit, I love to spend time outdoors hiking, and I mostly work from home, where my cat sheds fur all over me and could put holes in any hose I tried to wear. Meanwhile, and at any random moment in the day I might get up from my desk to tend to something in the garden or on the stove.
By now it should be clear that my every day outfits can’t be too uptight, too "buttoned up," or too precious. Nor even as polished or structured as (in an ideal world) I might wish.
No wonder denim plays a starring role in my closet (sometimes slightly distressed but never ripped). Breathable knits (esp. in winter) or cotton/ linen shirts (in summer) are also key. I mostly choose washable fabrics (the only things I really dry clean are wool coats) and I prefer tailored clothes that have some ease. I also like fluid fits, and some oversized items. But I have to be judicious with the oversized clothing because I'm verging on petite and easily overwhelmed by too much volume and drape. Oversize plus structure is a winning combination.
Footwear includes sneakers, boots, simple sandals, low heels.
It’s easy to have “laid back” style when working from home — what’s much, much more difficult is incorporating the other two elements to create the juxtaposition I’m after. This is where I could use some inspiration or help. :) It's a perennial problem, really -- but I feel it more acutely since I've moved to a suburb and social life often centres around hikes or walks.
Luminous: since my hair turned grey in 2016, I’ve tried to make my silver pixie a feature, rather than a bug, of my style. I play up the colour with silver jewellery, silver hardware on bags, etc. silver footwear, and some silver clothing. I love the way silver contrasts with distressed denim and dark navy (key neutrals). (Some of my silver and sparkly items, in this collection.)
But I need to remember that silver isn’t the only route to luminosity — shine (e.g. patent) can work, and so can white items, or even white incorporated into patterns. And my flattering colours (blue reds and berries) make my skin more luminous.
Going forward, every outfit should include some element of “luminosity” as I’m defining it. Again, this is easy when I’m dressing up — much less easy when I’m working from home.
Garconne: the garconne style hearkens back to the 1920s, one of my favourite fashion eras, and for me, it suggests so much of what I enjoy in my favourite outfits, and what I aspire to, both in my “out on the town” and more ordinary, every day style. In a way, garconne style as developed by Coco Chanel is the original "modern classic" style -- so many of the items and combinations that we now consider "classic" and even iconic originate in this era and get tweaked and reinterpreted for each generation.
Words I associate with this style include androgyny — Suits, button down shirts, trousers, oxfords or loafers. But also dresses with movement, especially but not exclusively dropped waist styles, mostly just below the knee. These styles exude cheekiness and energy.
Simplicity — but not exactly minimalism. Neutrals and solids or faux solids dominate but colour does appear and “gamine” patterns like stripes and tartans also play a role. Organic patterns (florals, paisley) in moderation, especially in dresses and evening clothes.
There’s restrained drama in the tailoring, the fit of the structured pieces, the contrasts (either in colour or in texture) and simply in the juxtaposition between a female body and clothing items traditionally deemed "masculine."
I'm probably forgetting something here. But this gives you the idea.
What think you of "laid-back luminous garconne" for my adjectives and moniker?
It’s easy for me to put together outfits that encompass these three adjectives when I’m in an urban environment, or when I’m out and about on the town. (Some examples below).
What’s harder — much, much harder!! — is to figure out how to do this at home. Curling up on the couch with my kitty, I just won’t wear structured pieces (apart from denim). And denim plus shirt or sweater often feels dull dull dull or (at best) preppy and too boyish/ masculine.
Hiking in my suburban neighbourhood, I need practical clothes — gear, basically! — and while that is definitely a bit boyish, it’s less urban-influenced than I might wish. Sometimes it veers too preppy. (I like a certain amount of prep but it can also feel too juvenile on me at times or too twee.) Meanwhile, if I amp up the ease or femininity (soft cardigans, drape) that feels cozy but completely inauthentic on some level — almost costumed.
Like Jenn, I’ve long dreamed of a work from home “uniform.” But I have yet to discover what it is. I’m curious to try a jumpsuit (or, more practically) a two piece jumpsuit lookalike. I wonder if that would give me what I want in my at home wear?
Ideas for how I can incorporate more "luminous" and "garconne" into my work from home (or hiking) outfits more than welcome!
The pics below are all "leaving the house" outfits....the question is how to find "at home" outfits that create the same feeling?
Thanks for reading if you got this far, and thoughts or brand suggestions or suggestions of specific items to seek out most welcome. If your own style is cognate, tell me about your own winners!