As I’ve talked about before, I’m currently re-discovering my style in my stay-at-home life, in my post-baby body. I’ve never really quite been able to put a finger on what my style is, but it has been bothering me recently. The only style book that I’ve ever connected with is Women In Clothes (my review here) and it’s an awesome inspiration for letting your own freak flag fly, but it’s not so much help in figure out what your own freak flag looks like. Enter The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. It’s a great book that describes a really easy way to figure out your own style and to build your own wardrobe around it. No trying to make yourself fit into a prescribed category, no lists of things you need to have, no pressure to have a capsule wardrobe. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a bit of help paring down their closet (without going all Marie Kondo on it) and rebuilding it in a way that is true to their own unique self.
Rees suggests you make an inspiration board of every outfit that catches your eye and then figure out what you like about it in a few different categories: Overall Vibe, Individual Items, Colors, Silhouettes, Materials, and Styling. I looked through my Style Inspiration Pinterest Board and the things I’m really enjoying currently in my closet and this is what I’ve figured out about myself. (This is definitely focused on a winter wardrobe since that’s the wardrobe crisis that I’m currently in the middle of):
Punk grown up – I had a punk phase back in high school and I’ve noticed that I still wear a bunch of red and black together and swoon over black leather jackets and studs.
Bohemian – I think I really like the Boho look, but don’t think I really wear it. Tempted to give a few outfits a shot. I definitely had and loved a Boho/hippie phase all the way back in high school. Time to make myself some floral crowns again?
Layers – Whether it’s Boho layers or 90’s grunge layers, I like layered looks. I have a couple very layered outfits, but this is something I’d like to explore more.
Pattern clashing – I’ve noticed that I love pattern clashing but a close look at my closet reveals that most of my separates are solid colors. It makes it hard to pattern clash!
1970’s – A few folks have pointed out to me that my style trends to the 70’s which took me a while to accept because the clothes that I love to admire are often from decades before. But if I’m honest, I’m pretty casual and I do like a lot about the 70’s.
Florals – I like big, bold florals. Lots and lots of florals. Florals on everything. I have very few in my closet. This must change!
Feminine – I really don’t do girly, but an overarching theme does seem to be feminine.
Leather jacket – I’d love a leather jacket that actually fits me. I have a half hide of a red leather waiting in my stash for just such a project and I’m feeling the need for a black leather jacket too.
Floor length sweaters/coats – I’m really drawn to these and I think they’d work well on my tall frame, but I don’t have any so it’s time to make one or two to try them out.
Tailored wool – Coats, jackets, dresses, and skirts. Definitely something I crush on, though not at the top of my to-make priority list at the moment.
Cape – I probably could use some more practical outerwear at the moment, but some day I’m going to sew a cape (or two).
Gunne Sax dress – Super 70’s, but apparently I like 70’s.
Quilted garments – Quilts turned into clothing, not just quilted fabric.
It was a really interesting exercise to me to figure out a color palette since I’d generally say that I like ALL THE COLORS. But I think focusing on a palette that goes well together will make it a lot easier for my closet not to feel so disjointed. Right now I’m very much gravitating toward black and grey as my neutrals (even if I do probably look better in brown). No surprise that my staple colors are so saturated.
Embellishments of all sorts, especially embroidery, and textured fabrics such as brocades and jacquards catch my eye. I like denim as a good neutral fabric. Lace often catches my eye, but I almost never wear it myself, so maybe I’ll challenge myself to make a lace garment I’ll actually wear
Novelty prints and bold floral prints are clear favorites and I’m a sucker for colorful faux fur.
I love bulky sweater knits and would love to sew some sweater knit garments, but it’s so hard to find yardage of chunky knits in bright colors.
I think this is where my overall vibe of feminine really shows. I love dresses and skirts of all kinds, but especially maxi skirts and maxi dresses. I’m also into high waisted garments, lots of layers, and asymmetry. It was also interesting to notice that I had pinned a whole bunch of garments where the back was the interesting part of the garment.
I have separate Pinterest boards for Hair/Makeup, Accessories, and Shoes, and though they aren’t that fleshed out at the moment, I’m kinda on a roll so they should be growing.
Ankle boots – I have 3 pairs of brown ankle boots but only 1 black. Time to go shoe shopping (one of my least favorite tasks as I have impossible to fit feet).
Big purses – I pretty much always carry a Presidio Purse around but my several Presidios are all fairly understated. Time to sew a new one in a more eye-catching fabric.
Scarves – I like wearing lightweight scarves through much of the year. An easy way to add a pop more color and texture to an outfit.
Lipstick – I feel so much more “dressed” if I have on lipstick. I pretty much only wear red or fuchsia, though I have an orange that looks good in the summer. I’m not that into makeup, so perhaps just having 2 lipsticks that I love is fine.
Colorful hair – I’ve been dying my hair all sorts of different colors (from natural shades of blonde, brown and red to very unnatural shades of pink, red, and purple) for about 20 years now. I have the most fun when there’s interesting color in my hair, even though it’s more work to take care of it. I’ve just started dying it bright colors again and it feels so good.
Necklaces – I love necklaces of all sorts, from delicate to clunky. It’s driving me a little nuts that I can’t really wear any right now as my munchkin just yanks on them. But that phase should hopefully pass soon.
Rees suggests that you come up with a descriptor for your style to help you going forward. I’m still not sure I can put words to my own style. Oversized 4-year old going on 80? Hallucinogenic Bohemian Punk? Betsy Johnson meets Lisa Frank meets Alexander McQueen? If you have a suggested descriptor, I’m all ears!
The Curated Closet has a bunch of other helpful information in it, aside from the help to define your style. Rees walks you through paring down your closet (in short you sort things into Donate/Sell, Keepsakes, Trial Separation, Get Tailored, Repair, and Off-Season Storage pile). She has you analyze whether you’re building a wardrobe for you real life or your fantasy life (I may still be in a bit of denial about this myself). She helps you figure out your personal wardrobe formulas (that you are welcome to deviate from if you feel like it, of course). She offers suggestions for tweaking your wardrobe for work. She does talk a fair bit about shopping but most of it is relevant to a sewist making garments as well.
Do you struggle to identify your style or feel like you don’t have a cohesive wardrobe? Again, I highly recommend The Curated Closet if you have any similar struggles! Have you done a similar sort of wardrobe definition/revamp? (I know a lot of sewists followed along with the Colette Wardrobe Architect series a few years ago).
(All source images in this post can be found on my Pinterest boards)