Sunday, April 8, 2012

Finding Your Own Personal Style

Blondie, Dreaming, somewhere around 1979.  Love this.  Enter the BlogHer Sweepstakes to win an iPod Touch and a $50 iTunes gift certificate, and fill your iTouch with Blondie!

Maegan Tintari has a few suggestions about finding your personal, signature style that are worth perusing if you have trouble expressing yourself with your clothes and such.

But I think her wonderful suggestions will only get you so far if you are missing the most important part:  be comfortable in your own skin, and loving yourself just as you are.

For years, I struggled with that aspect of fashion.

The "I'm too fat, too bulgy, too much of this and not nearly enough of that" syndrome that every woman I know has to deal with at one point or another.  I mean, honestly, even supermodels have a bloaty day now and then, right?  The trick is to see them as an aberration and move on because your awesomeness is not simply defined by your waist size at any given moment, it is SO.   MUCH.  MORE.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was to marry a man who loves me for who I am, not how I look.  Not that he doesn't enjoy a well-fitting pair of jeans or a nice cashmere v-neck sweater when I'm feeling particularly good about myself in them, but he sees me for who I really am all the way through to my core -- and loves all of me, warts and all.

When I began to see myself through his eyes, and not through my own hypercritical, imperfections magnifying ones?  I started to like myself a lot more, and laugh off and let go a lot of the insecurities.

Confidence makes all the difference.

In terms of finding your own style, though, once you've made some peace with your inner self?  I highly recommend putting together what I call a "style book."  As you see pictures in magazines -- advertisements, red carpet looks, everyday shots, whatever -- that highlight a particular color, outfit, accessory, shoe, you name it -- clip it out and make a file somewhere of looks that you like.

Then get yourself a blank art journal book and some glue sticks or rubber cement.  Glue the pictures in however you like and, eventually, your love of something will show through in neon lights.  My big revelation was that I was obsessed with colorful scarves at a time when I wasn't wearing them at all.  And with the color turquoise -- in shoes, purses, jewelry, scarves, you name it, I pulled a bazillion pictures with something turquoise in them.

The key is to pull pictures that speak to you in some way, even if you don't have any earthly idea why they do so.

It is amazing how much clarity you can glean from a pile of magazine clippings and color swatches.

Having a style icon or two can be great, but it shouldn't mean that you try to wedge yourself into their shoes if they don't fit you at all, though.  For example, one of my big style icons was always Debbie Harry, more for how she carried herself with confidence than for her clothing styles.

I loved her in my early years, but her style of clothes and my curvy girl frame?  Not such a great match.

Once I started clipping pictures, though, and seeing that a lot of the models I'd selected also had curvier hourglass shapes and clothes that WOULD work for me?  I realized that I can love the attitude but pick out my own personal style of wardrobe and that would work better, and that my decisions should be based on me as I really am and not some fantasy of me as someone entirely not myself. (including stick-figure supermodels whose bodies I am never, ever going to have even on the most restrictive of diets...and that's okay!)

Stacy and Clinton of tv's What Not To Wear always say to people they are working with:  dress for who you are right now and learn to love yourself just as you are.  It is great advice, and something that began to stick only in the last few years when I stopped wishing for a different body and started realizing that the one I have isn't so horrible after all.

I'm working on loving myself in my own skin.  In terms of how the rest of the world sees me?  That makes all the difference because confidence really is the very best accessory.

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