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How to find your style in an unexpected way
“Mommy, what is that girl doing?”
I was entertaining my two youngest with a game of “I spy” while standing in an eternal line at Disneyland, waiting to get on the Mater ride. They spied a 20-something girl get on the ride alone. She spent the entire ride taking selfie after selfie, making the duck face, flipping her hair, boosting her cleavage, and adjusting her Minnie Ears. It was like a caricature or SNL spoof, but it was real.
I was searching for words to explain her odd behavior. “She’s…taking a picture.”
After waiting in line for an hour she missed the ride.
Selfies get a bad rap for exactly those types of situations (and we’ve all witnessed them). While taking your very own Kardashian-inspired selfie every 5 steps is ridiculous, there is a place in our lives for the much-mocked selfie. Since I started my journey to find my style several years ago, I’ve taken a picture of my outfit almost every day.
Before this, I had never taken a selfie. I just didn’t do that, and I certainly don’t plaster my (personal) Facebook wall with them. At first I only shared my outfit selfies with my sister-in-law, and now I share them here, though it is still gut-wrenching. Taking a daily outfit picture can help you find your style faster than you might think.
How can selfies help you find your style?
Taking these pictures over the last few years had an even bigger impact than I realized. As I flip through them, I can see where I got it right, and where I went very, very wrong. At first I started with a very Minimal Classic look, because that is what I’ve always been drawn to, and how I dressed before I lost myself in motherhood. But then I thought I had to be more…awesome. More Insta-worthy. More pinnable. More not me, as it turned out.
I finally centered myself and came back to Minimal Classic and started incorporating my Edgy Classic details, but usually in subtle ways, like a textured sweater, some pointy patterns on my shirt, zippers, stabby jewelry, or destroyed jeans (LOVE!). Some days I add in some Sporty Classic if it suits my mood or my activities.
There are some days that I feel more fierce and other days more minimal, and it really shows in my selection for the day. Tracking these outfits has helped me fine-tune my style and my wardrobe. This is especially important to me because I’ve reduced the size of my wardrobe dramatically to a capsule wardrobe.
The bulk of it is done, and now I’m refining. Taking the pictures helps me see the trends of what I wear and love over and over again, and what really flatters me. I finally arrived where I’ve been trying to get my whole life: classic with an edgy twist.
1. In picture one I had returned to my Minimal Classic style. Very tailored and timeless pieces and a fairly neutral color palette. I need some edgy details, and the sandals are too curvy for my preference, but otherwise this outfit is just right for me.
2. The second picture I was trying so hard to be so awesome. It hurts to look at this picture. Too much color and the details were all wrong. The cut of the cardigan. The fact that I don’t actually like cardigans. Or yellow. The crochet pattern and gathering on the shirt are all wrong for me.
3. This outfit is perfect for me. It’s a neutral color palette of black and white. I have an Aztec-type design on my tee and stabby jewelry to bring in the Edgy Classic, and I love the combo of the high shine silver and the textured jute on the wedges.
What I Learned By Taking An Outfit Selfie Every Day
My Color Palette
Through these pictures I realized that I mostly wear some combination of black, white, and blue, especially in the colder months. Cobalt blue, turquoise blue, navy blue, blue, blue, and blue. In three weeks, there were only 3 outfits that had another color added, and it was red or pink.
As I went back through 6 weeks of outfits, and that was still the trend. It seems like once a week I bust out some really colorful combination, but for the most part it’s black, white and blue, which has always been my favorite color. I shared 14 black and white outfit ideas to show how you can keep a neutral color palette interesting.
This is not intentional, it’s just what I like, and understanding that helps me in so many ways. Shopping is a breeze because I know yet another black, white or blue item will get a lot of use because those are my staple items. Packing takes me no time. Since I only pack in a carry on for all of my trips, knowing what my core items will be and what I wear the most is critical. See my packing posts here, here and here.
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Trends Of What I Love
The pictures have helped me see my true style. It’s hard for me to share my pictures, even three years later, and now on a much larger scale with my blog and social media. My stomach flips and lurches every time I do it, but I hope someone else can learn from my mistakes, be inspired by my style, and find their own truth and style sooner.
What I Like On Someone Else vs. What I Like On Me
I fell into the trap of trying to wear what I admired on someone else, thinking it would be just as cute on me, and it didn’t work. They are often very different, and I can finally stop trying to wear things that I admire on others because now I know what is right for me.
I’ve learned that I can’t stand to wear skirts that flare. I had a whole collection of them and never once wore them out of my closet. I put them on and took them off immediately. I like pencils skirts and straight lines. I started buying flared skirts because I liked how they looked on other people. So cute! So cute on OTHER people. Not so cute on me.
My extensive collection of the Jackie cardigan from J. Crew, in all the colors, wound up in my Poshmark closet because I realized I don’t like that style on me. It’s too Cute Classic in style, too bulky on the sides, and the crew neck interferes with the neckline of most of my tops. I prefer slim-cut, duster cardigans that hang straight. Anything with circles or round shapes isn’t for me.
Soft Classic items that flows or have too much fabric make me feel like an imposter. I like triangles, squares, hexagons, geometric shapes, and anything with elbows and pointy parts. If I can’t use my jewelry in an assassination attempt, it’s not the right piece for me.
1 & 4. This outfit could be so cute ON SOMEONE ELSE. I hate flared skirts, gathers, and polka dots on me. A Cute Classic woman would look adorable in this. I felt ridiculous.
Outfit #4 is the same idea, but more me. The dress is a slimmer, more tailored fit, and the accessories are Edgy or Minimal.
2 & 5. A Soft Classic woman would probably love the crochet details and shorter, flared sleeves. It gave me anxiety, and in the 2 years I owned this, I wore it for half a day before I took it off.
Outfit #5 is a neutral outfit with a white top and denim bottoms, but the top has the assymetrical edgy details, instead of the soft flowy details
3 & 7. There is so much happening in this outfit I don’t know where to look first. The random polka dots, the big necklace, the studs on my jeans or the patent red shoes with the bows? This was another outfit where I was trying too hard…and it showed.
Outfit #7 I’m wearing a black and white leopard tee that is just as busy as the polka dots, but the leopard pattern suits me. I’m also not wearing a ton of other details. I have a pop of red in my belt instead of the shoes, no necklace, and neutral staples in the rest of the outfit. The top is the only real focal point, and the red belt is right below it, instead of on my feet so the eyes can rest in one area.
4 & 8. This is a very classic outfit in theory, but I don’t like cardigans, or boyfriend jeans, or Converse. They look great on other women, and that’s why I bought these items. But they are all wrong for me.
Outfit #8 is very classic, and very me. I’m wearing a jacket instead of a cardigan, tailored jeans, and edgy sneakers.
If you want even more help customizing your style and wardrobe, the Stunning Style Seasonal Wardrobe Guides are a curated collection of 30+ pieces, all the shopping links, 100 outfits, monthly wardrobe calendars, an exclusive website and Facebook community, and more!
Daily selfies help me find my style - and one more thing...
Today it is so easy for me to shop now that I know these things, and I learned them by taking selfies every day. It helped with my hair styles to see what I want different next time. I can see what makeup is flattering, what clothing styles suit my body type, everything.
But guess what else I have? A gallery of outfits I LOVE! Save your greatest hits in an album on your phone, and when you are in need of an easy winner, scroll and choose! I’ve done this MANY times.
Try taking pictures of your outfits. This article gives great tips if you are new to the selfie game, but just standing in front of a full-length mirror (they sell them at Wal-mart for less than $10) is the easiest way. You don’t have to share them with a soul. They can be just for you, but I guarantee you will learn from them, and it might help you find your own style more quickly. Duck face optional.
Do you take selfies? How have they helped you?