I've been thinking a lot more lately about personal style lately. It's been a very long time since I've purchased anything that wasn't black (this time last year, I bought a maroon blouse for med school interviews). In looking at Into-Mind's resources for refining personal style, I got to thinking that I occupy a very sartorially conservative, almost featureless comfort zone of style. I'm not all that confident in my own clothes, and as I seek to build my personal and professional wardrobe over the next few years (and transition into adulthood, of course), I need to know myself better.
And before I keep rambling, the spoiler is that you can know yourself better by trying on clothes you have no intention of buying at all, and critique thoughtfully.
As a starting point, I present the following two dresses, both fast fashion items that I happen to be very fond of and wear often:
Though I haven't shared much of what I wear on this here blog, these dresses fly in the face of what I normally wear (though, they are both blue). I like the bold floral prints on both of them, though the left dress can be interpreted as 50-50 floral-psychadelic. What I know about myself from these two: I am comfortable wearing loud prints in an otherwise plain wardrobe, I favor knee-length and wide to full skirts, I like to show my arms and waist. They're both synthetic, but I'm prefer natural fibers in general.
With that in mind, I set off to play dress-up in Anthropologie. This is what I came up with:
- Pros: great shape, cotton feels good, ample pockets
- Cons: unlined bodice, pale plaid bores me to death, way too much fabric
- Pros: trousers are nice and flowy
- Cons: shapeless, thin synthetic fabric
- Pros: linen, turmeric yellow looks okay on me?
- Cons: unflattering cut, shapeless, makes me look like ye olde peasant wench in a bad way
- Pros: paprika red + navy + cream work for me, loud and haphazard botanical pattern is great, linen, ye olde peasant wench in a good way
- Cons: a ton of fabric and a generally shapeless cut, but I kind of like it
- I never put a lot of thought into what "season" I was, but from the colors I think look good on me and my own coloring, I'd say I'm an autumn. I was surprised to see that scarlet + dark yellow + navy + cream (muted, warmer colors) look better on me than midnight blue + white + baby pink (clearer, cooler colors on my high-necked floral dress)
- Do not fear prints, especially if they are botanical.
- I picked these items to represent outfits I thought would be realistic and practical (shirt + trousers), different but still conservative (yellow dress and plaid dress), and a complete novelty (last dress). As it happens, the last one was an unexpected favorite that I could see myself wearing often. I suppose the lesson here is to just try on a lot of clothes before making a choice, and to be aware of unlikely stars
- I much prefer the feel of linen and cotton to synthetics, regardless of the cut
- Though I generally prefer a defined waist, I liked the cut of the last dress quite a bit. The plaid dress was weighed down by too much fabric everywhere (sleeves, waist bow, skirt), and generally looks more juvenile
- Reaffirmation of preferred dress: fuller skirt, mid-thigh to knee length, show arms, define waist
- Black leather sandals match everything