Sunday, June 5, 2016

Anonymous personal style (or, style thoughts at Anthropologie)

About a week ago, I had some time to kill in my hometown and went into Anthropologie, which is a favorite window shopping location with my friends and me. I must be honest: I like its whimsical, happy homemaker, slightly storybook aesthetic. My friends and I always spend some time in our hometown's Anthro when we visit, mostly looking at the homeware because the clothing, quite frankly, is not for the likes of us. I have no doubt that when I'm thirty and an attending, I'll find some dearly beloved frock there for leisure wear.

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
Long damn post, but here are my final thoughts about this exercise:
  1. 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)
  2. Do not fear prints, especially if they are botanical.
  3. 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
  4. I much prefer the feel of linen and cotton to synthetics, regardless of the cut
  5. 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
  6. Reaffirmation of preferred dress: fuller skirt, mid-thigh to knee length, show arms, define waist
  7. Black leather sandals match everything


  1. That's definitely a fun way to experiment with style. I'm always afraid if I try on something I wasn't thinking of buying, it would look good enough to make me want to buy haha!

    I actually love a good smock dress for when the weather gets hot. And those saltwater sandals do look really good in black.

    1. I think a lot of what makes me feel like shopping/getting new stuff is just to see myself in a new way. It sounds sort of trite, but playing dress-up this way is a good refresher for my self-image.

  2. This sounds like a fun experiment! I pretty much only ever shop online these days, which means that there isn't any opportunity to experiment and maybe find a "surprise" item that looks good on me.

    I bought my first sort of shapeless swing dress last summer (in a store in Korea where I couldn't try things on) and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. The shape and the way they sort of hang down from the chest really shouldn't work for someone who is a bit chesty, like myself, but somehow it looked pretty good. The general design and shape is very nice for summer, assuming that the material is light and breathable. That printed one you tried on is much more fun-looking than my solid-color one!

    1. The thing about shopping online is that fit and feel can be so different. It's pretty obvious that these dresses look very different on me than on the 5' 10" models on the website, but after comparing the pictures, it's pretty clear that the pieces are pinned back to flatter the body more. It's especially obvious with the very voluminous dress.

      I've never owned any swing or smock-type dresses, but that's certainly the cut you'd want for unbearably hot summer days!

  3. I love Anthropologie so much, but $$$ mannnn T_T If a blogger does a roundup of their fave things, I'll browse through it, see if there's anything I like, and you can be sure that I've picked out all the Anthropologie items they shared. // I really love this idea though! This summer I live REALLY close to a shopping area, so I think I'll spend one of my weekends window shopping instead of just sitting at Starbucks all day :P Would you mind if I ended up blogging about it too? It looks like so much fun! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. My friends and I were the kind of preteen low-lives that tried on fancy dresses for fictional dances/bat-mitzvahs/etc at designer stores in a nearby mall.

      I feel like I must be a pain to retail workers because I try on so many clothes with absolutely no intention of buying them. But hey, it's a way to quickly see what works/doesn't work on me, or what I like/don't like.

  4. Love the first dress. I can see why you wear it often. You pull it off really well!
    XX, Elizabeth