Virtual Styling Session with Bridgette Raes – Part Two

In my last post, I shared that I recently had a virtual styling session with Bridgette Raes.  I highlighted my reasons for doing this, included excerpts from my pre-session questionnaire, and showed some inspirational images of style aesthetics that I appreciate.

Virtual Styling

The next best thing to being there… (image: Hanna Barbara)

Today’s post focuses on my actual session with Bridgette, including the style advice that she gave me.  Please note that the session was really jam-packed with information, too much to include in a blog post, even considering the extra-long posts I often publish.  I’m including enough here to give you a taste of what it’s like to work with an expert stylist and how it can benefit those who are struggling to cultivate and express a resonant and appropriate sense of personal style.

I hope you’ll find the information that I share helpful and will be able to glean useful tips to guide you in your own style journey.  I hesitated about what and how much to include in this post.  I have to admit that I was wary of sharing my outfit photos after my last experience with this, but I’ve opted to do so in the interest of better illustrating Bridgette’s points and the value of my work with her.

Leading Up to the Session

A few days prior to our session, Bridgette sent me a report to review.  This report included her overall impressions of my questionnaire, outfit photos, and style inspiration images.  She also gave me specific written feedback on each of the ten outfit photos I had sent her.  It was great to be able to review and reflect upon Bridgette’s feedback prior to meeting with her, as it helped me to come up with additional questions to ask during the session.

In addition to the pre-session notes, Bridgette also sent me a color combining book based upon my personal coloring.  Although she was unable to do an official color analysis remotely, she felt confident placing me in the “Winter” category based upon my coloring, the colors I gravitate towards, and the way I look in the colors in my outfit photos.  She told me later that she is able to color type approximately 90% of her virtual clients and send them color booklets.

The color combining book includes swatches for base, accent, and pop colors, as well as a number of examples for how best to combine these colors in my outfits.  Since I enjoy wearing black, I was happy to learn that Bridgette feels I look good in that color (as long as I don’t become a “blackcident” by wearing too much of it!).  Below are the accent and pop colors that are recommended for me to wear.  I was very pleased to see many of my favorite hues in the mix!

My Accent and Pop Colors

My accent and pop colors – some of my favorites are included!

Here are a few of Bridgette’s blog posts that provide guidance on color combining and the base, accent, and pop styling formula:

General Style Feedback

Bridgette’s general pre-session feedback was only one page long but contained a lot of useful information.  Here’s a glimpse into what Bridgette shared with me:

  • “It looks like you have gotten yourself into a bit of a rut of repetition.  I think some of this has been possibly caused by your current relationship with your body and how you are seeing yourself and your goals to become a very responsible shopper.”
  • “A lot of your inspiration photos have a lot more structure to them and your current wardrobe (at least from the outfit photos you sent) is really relaxed.”
  • “Some of your outfits were nice but not “you,” like you are making things work because they are in your closet.”
  • “I don’t think you need a lot of clothes, but I think you can look at accessorizing more and adding some unexpected interest to your outfits so that you feel more like you in what you are wearing.”

All of the above rings true for me, so Bridgette was right on, not that I expected anything different.  I do feel like many of my outfits are too similar and lack structure and/or “wow” elements.  I also feel like some of my ensembles are not really true to who I am and the way I’d ultimately like to dress.  I have improved quite a bit in this regard over the past couple of months (my outfit journal has been especially helpful), but Bridgette’s feedback will help me get to the next level – and faster.

My Two Biggest Style Problems

In the beginning of our session, Bridgette asked me what I saw as the key issues with my style.  I identified the following two problems with my style statement:

  1. I am unhappy with many of my pants outfits and often feel “frumpy,” unattractive, and unbalanced when I’m wearing pants/jeans.
  2. I often look too dressed up and conservative for my casual lifestyle and where I live (the “church vibe” I referred to in this post), especially in my skirt and dress ensembles.

One of my issues is that I feel more attractive when I am dressed up, but then I feel like I don’t mesh well in the ultra-casual area where I live.  I need to find a place of balance in which I still feel attractive but don’t appear as if I’m on my way to a church service!

Looking at the Pants Outfits

We addressed my pants outfits first.  Here are a few of the outfits that we looked at (outfits I was less happy with):

Problematic pants outfits

These were four of the problematic pants outfits I discussed with Bridgette.

Included below are some snippets of what Bridgette had to say about these outfits, as well as the advice she gave me.

Green Tee Outfit

  • This outfit needs more structure.  Both the top and the bottom are baggy and the result is an unbalanced look.  If I want to wear a looser top like that, I need to wear a more fitted bottom (I agree – those pants were purged from my closet months ago).
  • A third component or color is also needed in order to add some “pop” or interest to the outfit, as it looks unfinished as it is.  Bridgette suggested a bright scarf in a striking print, a statement necklace in a bright color or interesting shape, or a belt (a last resort, as belts can be too “fussy”).
  • She also recommended adding a bright pair of ballerina flats (perhaps in purple, teal, orange, or pink) to add visual interest to this and other simple t-shirt and jeans outfits.
  • If it’s too hot to wear a third piece, stick with tops that include special details and leave the more basic tees for cooler weather when they can be used as layering pieces.

White Cardigan Outfit

  • This is an example of what Bridgette calls a “chicken outfit,” as it looks too basic and boring (I totally agree – I put it together when I was running late to an appointment and I thought it fell flat).
  • It needs something other than neutral accessories in order to give the look more interest and life.  Bridgette recommended a print scarf (perhaps incorporating blue, green, and purple) and a pair of bright flats (maybe green) instead of the metallic ballet shoes.
  • I can “rescue” this outfit and many of the outfits I feel are boring by adding a “show-stopping” accessory (a scarf or necklace with color) and a bright bag or shoes.  I wear too many neutral accessories, mostly because I thought they would be “versatile,” but I would do better with more colorful outfit accompaniments.

Burgundy Cardigan Outfit

  • My worry with this outfit was that it looked too “corporate” and Bridgette agreed.  She felt it was a nice outfit that wasn’t “me” and wondered if I really have a need for tailored pants in my life (fortunately, this is my only remaining pair).
  • The shoes are dressing the outfit up too much.  I could dress down the look by wearing a flatter, more casual pair of shoes.
  • Another way to take outfits out of corporate territory is to pull colors from tops (if we’re wearing printed blouses) and incorporate them into accessories (necklaces, shoes, bags, scarves, etc.).

Polka-Dot Scarf Outfit

  • Bridgette liked this outfit overall but was willing to help me make it more interesting. She said that the looser jeans worked here (unlike in the green tee outfit – the jeans are different but also a more relaxed style) because the top is more fitted.  Thus, the look is more balanced overall.
  • This outfit is all about the scarf and the clean base of the rest of the outfit makes it pop.
  • If I want to add more visual interest to this outfit, I could switch the black boots for red shoes or add a more interesting pair of earrings.

Overall Feedback on Pants Outfits

Since my life is so casual, Bridgette doesn’t feel I need more than maybe three pairs of jeans and three pairs of pants in my closet.  She believes that once you’re “covered” in an area, you’re done and don’t need multiples.  She suggested boot-cut jeans for me since I can’t wear “skinnies” due to the nerve pain I get with tight pants (my two favorite pairs of jeans – not pictured – are boot-cut).

Bridgette feels that I can show off my bottom half more than I have been doing and still look good.  She told me that my body shape is hourglass rather than the pear shape I’ve assumed I’ve had for many years, as my shoulders are broad and my chest is not small.  She can understand my desire to cover my posterior due to self-consciousness, but said that most people are so consumed with the size of their own bottoms that they don’t really notice mine.  I’m sure that’s true, plus I tend to zero in on that spot when I look at my rear view, whereas others usually look at a person as a whole rather than focusing on one body part.  I know that I look better in slimmer pants and am gradually purging the baggier fits from my wardrobe.

Bridgette also suggested I try wearing some shorter toppers with my pants and jeans.  She feels it’s okay for tops to be longer than toppers in many instances.  She encouraged me to step away from my preconceived notions and “rules” about the lengths of tops and toppers and just experiment in my closet.  She suggested I try various combinations, take photos, and review them with her during our follow-up session.   I agreed to do this and am excited to explore different options. While some of what I try probably won’t work, I might find a new outfit formula or two that will help to freshen up my looks.

Skirt Outfits and that “Church Vibe”

I only sent Bridgette three skirt outfits to review.  I like many more of my skirt and dress outfits than my pants ensembles (and have actually been preferring dresses lately), but my main issue involves looking too dressed up.  While I’d made some headway in toning down the “church vibe” prior to my session with Bridgette, I wanted to obtain some additional advice to help me be happier with the way I look in a skirt or dress.  The first two skirt outfits were examples of looking too dressed up, but the third one wasn’t working for different reasons that I didn’t completely understand.

Here are the skirt outfits that I sent to Bridgette for her input:

Problematic Skirt Outfits

I got Bridgette’s feedback on these three problematic skirt outfits.

When Bridgette saw the first two outfits, she felt like she was looking at a completely different person.  She wondered where my life was taking me that I would choose ensembles like these over something else.  She thought they were nice outfits that didn’t really seem to suit me and my lifestyle.  There is no real use in my having dressier clothing if I have nowhere to go in it!

The “church vibe” often comes from the toppers and the shoes.  Recently, I’ve been toning both down and the resulting outfits have looked a lot less dressy than the first two pictured above.

Blue Top with Geometric Print Skirt Outfit

  • Bridgette felt I looked like I was wearing something from someone else’s closet here, as it doesn’t look like “me” at all.  She saw this photo and the one next to it and thought, “Who is this person?”  She likes this outfit and the one next to it for someone else but not me.
  • She was happy to learn that I have shortened the skirt since the photo was taken, as that means it will be easier to wear it with flatter and/or more casual shoes (perhaps wedges or flats).
  • She also recommends that I wear a top with sleeves instead of a tank so I won’t need a topper in order to stay warm.  Such an outfit would look a lot less dressy.

Green Tank with Circle Print Skirt Outfit

  • The shoes in this outfit are too dressy and the overall look is too conservative for me. Bridgette suggested that I wear the top half of the outfit with jeans and the skirt with a more casual top, such as a fitted t-shirt.
  • Edgier jewelry would help to dress this outfit down, but it definitely needs different shoes with a more casual vibe.
  • This was an outfit from last year that no longer resonates for me, but I think I can still enjoy the individual pieces using Bridgette’s suggestions.

Grey Skirt and Striped Tank Outfit

  • Bridgette feels that I created more of a pear-shaped silhouette with this outfit, as the top is very fitted and dark in color and the skirt is lightly-colored and more flared.  She also feels that the colors wash me out.
  • She recommended shorter, more fitted  – or “flippier” – skirts, which is what I’ve been moving more toward anyway (in addition to maxi-skirts and dresses).   The lengths and vibes of my skirts in the photos above skew conservative, which is the image I’m trying to move away from.
  • I tried shortening this skirt, but I didn’t like the way it looked.  Interestingly, I tried the same thing with this skirt’s predecessor last year and had the same problem.  I think I just really prefer shorter skirts now (unless they’re maxis) and have moved away from the midi lengths I used to like.

Overall Recommendations

In addition to the specific recommendations I outlined above in reference to my outfit photos, Bridgette also gave me some general suggestions for improving my style.  Here are some tips on outfit proportions that might also be useful for you:

  • Shorter cardigans and jackets tend to work better with longer dresses and skirts.  Longer toppers can be worn well with shorter dresses and skirts.  The overall guideline is short over long or long over short.  Long over long tends to be more of a “boho” look, so it can be okay if that’s what you’re going for.
  • Sometimes you can wear a bit longer topper with a longer skirt or dress if you wear higher heels.
  • The length (and fitted nature) of my toppers in the first two skirt photos above is perfect for longer dresses and skirts.
  • If you want to appear less dressy, cardigans work better as toppers than blazers (even if the blazers are knit).  Wearing blazers with jeans or more casual pants helps to dress them down.  A good casual outfit formula is:  basic t-shirt, knit blazer, jeans, fun flat shoes.
  • In general, it’s more flattering to have volume only in the top or bottom half of your outfit.  Pick one or the other, not both.  In recent years, the trend has been to wear volume on the top and more fitted on the bottom, but both instances work in terms of figure flattery.

Next Steps

As I mentioned above, Bridgette doesn’t feel I need to add many new pieces of clothing to my wardrobe.  She feels I would be better served in focusing on accessories, especially those in non-neutral tones.  She recommended that I buy a few pairs of bright shoes in colors such as purple, cobalt, emerald, or even yellow.  She believes that green is a very versatile accessory color in that it coordinates well with virtually every tone.  The same is true for yellow, believe it or not.

If you’re like me and struggle to find nice pairs of brightly-colored shoes, Bridgette suggested the following brands and retailers (not to enable more shopping, but I know others get frustrated in locating the items on their lists):

  • Zappos
  • Nordstrom (particularly online)
  • Lord & Taylor (she said they have the best shoe department – too bad they’re not in California!)
  • Macy’s
  • Vince Camuto
  • Tieks (lots of colors but Bridgette wasn’t sure they’re worth the price)

I’m going to focus on gradually adding more bright and multi-colored accessories to my wardrobe.  At this point, almost all of my accessories are in neutral tones, which is not serving me well overall.  I could definitely use some more color in that area to add life to my outfits.

I’m also going to spend some time playing in my closet and taking photos of various looks.  In my next session with Bridgette, we’ll review some of my new outfit combinations and fine-tune them.  I may not purchase many new items between now and when I next meet with her, but I will do my best to cultivate new and exciting ensembles using what I already have. Bridgette has armed me with enough new knowledge in order to help me inject some much-needed life and variety into the way I dress.

On Coming Attractions and Reader Feedback

There will be at least one or two additional posts in this series.  I will definitely report on my follow-up session with Bridgette and I’ll likely share some feedback on my outfit experimentation, too.  I hope you’ve found this second installment interesting and have been able to learn some useful tips that you can take forward in your own style evolution.

I welcome comments on this post as always, but I’m already aware of why many of my looks didn’t work (and some of the pieces aren’t even in my closet anymore).  I’m ready to move forward using Bridgette’s advice and continue to cultivate a style aesthetic that is true to who I am and works with my body and lifestyle.  It’s very possible that the resulting looks won’t be to your liking, but the only one who really needs to be happy with them is me. The same is true for you with your outfits.  As long as we’re happy with how we look – and how we feel – that’s what’s most important!


Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and subscribe for free updates by email.

I also invite you to join the End Closet Chaos private Facebook group, where you can interact with others about the topics discussed here.

Comments

  1. Interesting series. Those accent and pop colors would look so great on you! Perhaps in a shoe? I also tend to stick to neutral colored shoes since I’m afraid of committing to bright colors in a shoe versus in a scarf or top which are easier to change up. It is also very difficult for me to find comfortable and STYLISH shoes without heels as I can’t wear them comfortably so I tend to stay safe in the color and go for interesting shoe shapes or details. Perhaps you could jazz up some of your current shoes with accessories such as shoe clips?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I feel your pain about finding comfortable and stylish shoes, Margaret! I struggle there, too, and do my best to compromise. I hadn’t thought about using shoe clips with my current shoes, but that’s definitely something to look into. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Wow, this is fascinating! Until now the shopping rules and priorities that you have written about have focused mainly on clothing, but Bridgette is suggesting that you pay more attention to accessories (which you have “exempted” from your item limit, although not from your dollar budget limit). I am super curious to read more and find out if/how this alters your shopping strategy for the rest of the year. Looking forward to more posts in this series!

    I think you have provided a really nice level of detail with these posts — lots of useful information but not too overwhelming.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Bridgette’s advice will definitely alter my shopping priorities for the year, Sarah. However, I AM counting shoes and purses in my item limit, just not jewelry, scarves, and other such accessories. But I will likely focus a lot more on accessories than I probably would have otherwise now that I’ve met with Bridgette. I’m glad you liked these posts and felt my left of detail struck a good balance. I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone but wanted to give a good representation of my experience.

  3. Thankyou so much for sharing this info with us. I can take much from this for my own style journey. Awesome. Many thanks.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Fiona. I’m glad you are able to take some of what I wrote and apply it to your own style. That’s definitely what I was going for with these posts.

  4. I love this series, I am looking forward to following the rest of your journey and would love to see the outfits here tweaked with Bridgette’s suggestions. It’s valuable information both for you and for the rest of us.

    But… I can’t help mention, that I love the two first ‘church’ outfits on you and think they work for you, when the skirt is shorter… I get everything about being in an overly casual place – I work in an ultra casual place, and yes, I overdress all the time, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be me. And I kind of get the same feeling from you – you’re fancy ;-). I read the comments from the first post about making friends if you overdress, and I think it’s true that it is harder to make friends with the underdressed… But I’m not sure if I want to lower my standards on that account. Luckily I have some overdressed friends as well – including you ;-). My rule of thumb is, that if I’m in doubt about my outfit, I try and figure out how I can go down a notch, and it’s usually my shoes or my hair (there, hair again – I always mention that, don’t I).

    I would love to see what would happen if you wore church outfit #1 with a long necklace that hit right above or at your waist, tucked the top inside the skirt and wore the metallic sandals from #3 (given that the skirt is shorter now) or a pair of light ballet flats in black? You could easily add a belt as well if the top of the skirt doesn’t have a waistband – and maybe push the sleeves to the elbows. That way you would get more definition around the waist, wear more casual shoes and not really change anything…

    Thanks for sharing all of this!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You’re right that I am more “fancy,” Mette, and it’s hard for me to live in such a super casual place. I’m okay with being more dressed up than others around me, but I just don’t want things to be too out of balance. Like you, if I dressed like the others around me, I wouldn’t be honoring myself, and I definitely don’t want that. I have been working to dress things down by wearing more casual shoes (easier to do when the skirts are shorter) and a more casual topper (when I need one). The shoes were really making my outfits look dressier. Interesting point about the hair. I don’t tend to vary mine all that much, but I can see how that would make a difference, too.

      Thanks for the suggestions on dressing down the “church outfits.” I’ve tried tucking my tops in, but it never looks right. I think it’s because the skirts all have elastic waistbands. I’m a total belt “novice,” but I bought one recently to try and plan to perhaps get a few others, especially if I like the new one I have. The metallic flat sandals have been getting a lot of wear, as well as my black flat sandals. Just switching out the other shoes for those has helped a lot to tone things down.

  5. What an interesting post! I’ve recently had my colours ‘done’ and attended a style class – I found them both really useful. I’m also a Winter – I suit the deeper colours of the season.
    My style is classic plus natural with a hint of ingénue (read ‘pretty’) I have to soften the classic look with softer (natural) style or else I’m way too churchy! I find it almost impossible to do casual without looking sloppy. Thanks for sharing your outfits along with Bridget’s comments on them – it really helped me see what she was talking about. I agree about fitted plus relaxed.
    I love wearing trousers but they have to fit perfectly and not hit the top of my foot as that makes them bag upwards if that makes sense?
    I also wear cardigans and soft jersey blazers. We have the same hourglass shape and I use ‘soft draping’ to downplay my self conscious areas. I feel very busty in just a teeshirt so a cardigan helps. I look forward to reading more 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I have a hard time not feeling sloppy in ultra-casual clothes, too, Saltbox. I see others do it well at times, but it just isn’t my style to be too terribly dressed down. I know what you mean about the fit of trousers and the length having to be just perfect. I struggle with that a lot, especially since I’m really picky about pants lengths. I’m glad you liked this post and could relate to both my issues and Bridgette’s advice. Now it’s time for me to implement it all, but I’ll be back later to report on how it all went!

  6. Accessories can really make a difference can’t they. I am a bit challenged in this area and so appreciate Bridgette’s advice on this. I tend to wear white sneakers/tennis shoes with pants in the summer as I find ballet flats uncomfortable. I also run so cold that I need something I can wear socks with. I have to say it is easier to buy accessories because there is no fit issue to worry about (apart from the shoes of course). I do think you look pretty good in most of your outfits – it is just a matter of finding a formula you feel comfortable with. I wonder if you dress up because you like it or because you feel a need to to impress people. I know I fall into that trap sometimes. We can only hope to learn from it and move on.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I actually really enjoy dressing up, Marion. I don’t think that dressing up impresses most people around here. In fact, I think it might actually put some people off. Not that I don’t try to impress people in some situations, though, and sometimes my clothes factors in to the equation. At this point, I’m trying to dress mostly for myself, but I want to strike a good balance in terms of where I live and what the vibe is here. I love accessories and feel I do pretty well with them, but I need to integrate a bit more color into the mix per what Bridgette had to say. I always thought it was better to have neutral accessories that went with everything, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to incorporate more bright pieces into my wardrobe.

  7. How interesting to hear what Bridgette had to say about your outfits! Thanks so much for posting all of this because it helps the rest of us too. My lifestyle is also extremely casual and I also tend to “dress up” too much. For instance, while others grocery shop in shorts and tee, I usually have on a casual, comfy summer dress and pretty sandals. It just makes me feel better and I suspect it’s the same with you. After hearing her advice on accessories, I really want to get that raspberry pink purse I’ve been eyeing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’d be right there with you in the dress and sandals, Kim! I feel like a “schlump” in shorts and a tee and it’s just not me. I hope you will be able to get that raspberry purse, as I know you’ve had your eye on it for awhile. I think it’s great that you’ve been sticking to your shopping hiatus, but perhaps the purse can be your reward at the end of it all. I hope to find a bright purse I love, too. I’ve been looking for one, but I’m very picky and haven’t found the right one yet. But now that I’ve spoken to Bridgette, I might broaden my search color-wise. I’m glad you found this post helpful!

  8. I noticed one of your inspiration pics was of wide-leg pants. I think this would be a great look for you. I did see your note about them being hard to find in your size, but if you do find some, they would definitely be worth a try-on.

    I don’t think the problem with your “churchy” looks is that they are too dressy. I think the problem is that they are very conservative. (And when I say “problem”, I don’t think having a church vibe is a problem, but it sounds like you are wanting a more relaxed look.) I agree with Bridgette’s recommendation for edgier and/or more colorful accessories.

    In my own wardrobe, I often can’t be bothered to build variety in my wardrobe pieces. It’s hard enough just to find things that fit and are up-to-date. So I’ve been shopping more carefully for accessories and making sure that they reflect my personal aesthetic. It’s a work in progress, but so far, I’m really happy with the results.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I would love to find wide-leg pants, Bettina. I keep looking but mostly see skinnies and cropped pants in the stores. Plus, I need talls, so that makes it even harder. You’re right that my “churchy” looks are too conservative, as that’s not really the vibe I’m going for. But now I know better how to tone it all down, which is great. It does pay off to add more variety to our wardrobes. I didn’t focus enough on that for a long time, but I’m happy to be mixing it up more and plan to continue doing so.

      • TexasAggieMom says:

        Debbie, you and I have pretty similar body types (except your calves are much curvier and prettier than mine!) and like you, I tend to gravitate to skirts or dresses, since they highlight my smaller waist and camouflage my hips. (I would actually wear all your “churchy” skirt looks – perfect for me, as I have a university job and do attend church regularly.) I used to wear only boot cut jeans, but they don’t usually look right with anything but a heel. I remember that you can’t wear “skinny” jeans, but was wondering if you have tried “straight leg” cuts? I have finally found a middle ground between the skinny fit (which makes my thighs and hips appear to need their own ZIP code) and my old standby boot cuts. Several brands like the LOFT have a “curvy” fit that seems to accommodates my hips and smaller waist, and even though they aren’t tight or constricting, they are fitted enough to tuck into boots for winter. If they are hemmed to exactly the right length, they also look fine with flats, although I still can’t seem to pair them with any sort of open toed shoe with any luck. You might experiment with this look – it has really opened up new options for me. Some brands that work for me include GAP’s 1969 curvy fit, LOFT’s tall curvy straight leg, CJ by Cookie Johnson on-line at Nordstrom’s, and Jones New York (less perfect in the waist, but on sale frequently!) Hope that gives you some new options. If you read Sally McGraw’s blog “Already Pretty,” she wears a lot of skirts and dresses but adds an edgier vibe with accessories; you might get more ideas from her posts, as well.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          You crack me up, TexasAggieMom! I often feel like skinny jeans make my hips and thighs look like they need their own zip code, too, so I can relate… Plus I can’t wear them due to a nerve condition. If pants are too tight, I get pins and needles pain in my legs, especially when I sit down for long periods of time. I can do the straight fit that’s not so tight if it has a decent amount of stretch in it. I have one such pair and another on order. I feel that cut looks more balanced on me and doesn’t make me look so bottom heavy. I like the Sofia Straight by Lucky and the Gap Real Straight fits. I haven’t tried the others you mentioned (except the Gap one – not a favorite on me), but will check them out. I am a big fan of “Already Pretty” and will check back for her accessory tips. Thanks for the suggestions!

  9. I will be honest, my first thought on reading this was that I’m not sure Bridgette is taking you in the direction you want to go. You’ve said recently that you want to add a bit of an edge to your look, and you already have some elements of this with all your dark and neutral pieces and some of your graphic prints. Bridgette is suggesting adding a lot of color and moving away from black, which seems to be moving you in the opposite direction. Don’t get me wrong, I love colorful ballet flats, but they do not at all strike me as edgy. Neither do colorful statement necklaces which honestly feel a bit conventional and corporate to me.

    I don’t mean to be negative and I do think you’ve gotten some great feedback. I would just encourage you to try to take Bridgette’s advice and adapt it to your own aesthetic and preferences. I know that she doesn’t own any black herself, and I actually do agree with her that many women rely on black as a fallback. But I don’t think you do – you wear it because you like it and it suits you. And I notice that in all but one of your inspiration pics from the first post in this series, the women are wearing black shoes.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You raised some very good points, Cara, and I appreciate it. I didn’t realize there were so many black shoes in my inspiration photos! My plan is to add just a few colored accessories to my wardrobe and see how it goes. I will likely buy one or two pieces to start and play with them to make sure I like the look and that it works for me. You’re right that something might look good, but it has to feel true to who we are, too. I will probably start with a bright bag, as that’s been on my list for a while, and I will buy one pair of bright shoes and play with them with my clothes to make sure I want to keep them. In the past, I used to buy far too many of a given type of item before I wasn’t even sure it worked well for me. That wasn’t helpful, so I don’t want to do that now, either. I have to keep reminding myself to tread more slowly, as that isn’t my natural inclination!

  10. I’m curious to hear how you reconcile your desire to be more casual but also more structured.

    I’m a casual reader of Bridget’s, but one of the things that has struck me about her is that her philosophy really seems be “less is better” when it comes to total number of items.

    • My impression is that structure refers to the shape of the garments and casual to their tone, or vibe. So in the last inspiration picture from the previous post, the jacket worn by the model looks structured, almost classic, but the outfit in which it appears is not dressy–it wouldn’t pass in a corporate boardroom. But if the jacket is in fact a standard classic cut, in a black or navy, it could be dressed up enough to be boardroom worthy. I guess I’m saying I don’t think that structure and a casual vibe are mutually exclusive. I wonder what Debbie thinks?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I have the same impression as Amy does about structure and the outfit she referenced is a very good example. In a lot of my inspiration outfits, there is structure to one part of the outfit but not all of the pieces. For instance, the skirt may be more structured, like a pencil skirt, but the top is more relaxed – or vice versa. When all or most elements to an outfit are structured, the vibe reads as very corporate (or “churchy”) and that’s not what I’m going for. I need to take my more structured pieces and pair them differently, like what Bridgette recommended with the blazers and jeans. The shoes make a big difference, too, and many of my shoes really contributed to that church vibe I’m trying to get away from. I don’t see myself wanting to be too casual, as then I wouldn’t feel like myself. Many women where I live wear ultra-drapey clothes with flip-flops. I don’t have any plans of doing that.

  11. Wow, that post looks like a lot of work! Thanks for sharing it with us. I also struggle with having too much of the same. Trying to diversify silhouettes, patterns, and fabrics all at once is a difficult task, I’ve found. I’ve actually been working on this issue while trying to buy a new jacket. I tend towards silhouettes and fabrics I feel comfortable in, but if I’m going to buy a second item in the same silhouette, I will at least try to get it in a different fabric or color. I’m finding, though, that I get the most “bang for my buck” by diversifying silhouettes first, and sticking to fabrics I know I will be comfortable in and colors that coordinate with existing items. It seems like a good way to expand horizons and still be in the comfort zone.
    I do bristle a little at the term “blackcident”- it seems a little judgmental I guess. I think black is a good color on some people (yes black is a color!). Personally I lean towards a very “neutral” wardrobe and it seems like adding a lot of color is not for everyone. The point of developing a personal style is to wear what you love! And I love black, grey and ivory (and more grey!). I think I do get what she’s saying though- do it in a planned way, not just because you don’t know what else to wear.
    The focus on accessories was also interesting to me. I work in a manufacturing environment where they are not allowed for health and safety reasons, and I find myself really missing them, yet not knowing how to dress myself anymore on the weekend! I feel like a boy in work boots without my earrings! I need an accessory intervention!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, this post was a lot of work, Sarah, more than I thought it would be (but that’s often the case). I agree with you that there is more bang for our buck by diversifying silhouettes. I always used to just vary colors and fabrics but I still found that I look much the same. Now I’m trying to do more of what you mentioned – sticking with favorite colors and fabrics but shifting the silhouette. I’m having growing pains with it, but I’m sure it will work out.

      I totally agree that wearing what we love is the most important element of personal style. I will always love black and would likely still wear it at least sometimes even if it didn’t look good on me. And I know a lot of women with all-neutral wardrobes who look fabulous. I actually love both neutrals and color, so that’s probably a big part of why Bridgette recommended getting some brighter accessories. I know accessories are challenging for many women and the fact that you can’t wear them during the week probably doesn’t help. Just take it in baby steps, one accessory at a time, and you’ll figure it out (or get back to how you used to be).

  12. TexasAggieMom says:

    I’m late to the party – just now catching up on parts one and two of this extremely helpful post due to a crazy week at work. Thanks for sharing this process with us in such detail! I have considered a similar investment, but after my recent color analysis debacle, I am hesitant so I’m continuing on the DIY via blog path for now. You and I share not only some similar colors but also similar tastes in clothing. The difference is that I’m not really looking for a casual vibe; I’ve finally accepted that I will always tend to be the most overdressed person in any casual situation, and that’s okay with me now. My job calls for suits and dresses most days, so that side of my wardrobe is pretty well set but could use better accessorizing. Living in a larger metropolitan area that is fairly conservative, I can even wear pantyhose without raising too many eyebrows! I’ll be following your work with Bridgette closely to see what I can learn about using accessories to expand my wardrobe without a shopping rampage. I read her posts regularly, and while I am too “matchy-matchy” to take her exact advice when it incorporates several random colors into an outfit, her overall theories work beautifully and I get some great ideas from her site. Can’t wait to see how this new knowledge plays out in your daily outfits!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I haven’t been to Texas in a while, but I think that women dress up more there, right? I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, where women are also more into dressing up. I’ve lived in San Diego for 12 years now and I’m still not used to the ultra-casual nature of this area! I probably never will dress just like others here, nor do I really want to. I would like to fit in a bit better, though, and I’m finding ways to do so that are still true to myself. I tend to be kind of “matchy-matchy,” too (I think it’s our age), and will likely always coordinate my accessories somehow. But I’m looking forward to experimenting. I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

  13. Wow. I see what you mean about getting a jam-packed information session with Bridgette. And you’ve done a terrific job of translating for those of us in the viewing audience. 😉 Having followed your blog for a while now, and hearing her advice for you, I feel as if I was practically in the room hearing those recommendations! So what I heard was: proportions (long/short or short/long); shape (top structured, bottom looser/ top looser, bottom more structured); joyous colors!; and more colorful accessories. Hurray! After reading this summary, it all sounds obvious, but none of it had really occurred to me before. It must have been a great experience for you.

    And despite all you’ve shared so generously with us, it was a highly personal, individualized experience. I think you were very brave to post those outfit photos again for the purposes of illustration. Perhaps you are stronger and more resilient than you think.

    I’m looking forward to more posts like this one–thanks!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, a lot of the advice does seem obvious, Amy. To me, too! I think I know a lot but don’t always apply what I know to myself. I’m glad that these posts have made you feel like you were there in the room. I tried to make it all seem very relatable so that others could learn from my experience, too. Glad to hear that I have succeeded with that! Yes, I probably am more resilient than I thought. I try to gear this blog toward helping others, even if some posts aren’t necessarily easy for me to write. With the comments, I really do believe that most people are trying to be helpful to me and to others. There will always be some “bad apples,” but I don’t want to let them ruin things for everyone!

  14. Debbie, I love this series. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m finding the information extremely helpful, and I have gleaned useful tips to guide me further in my style journey, especially since we are both faced with a similar task of living in ultra-casual, yet chic and stylish, small beach towns in California, where it is not easy to pull off a look of being well-dressed and appropriate for the lifestyle and occasion without looking sloppy, or like an over dressed tourist on a conservative business vacation. These days, even corporate here in my beach town tends to dress much more like what Bridgette suggests. But around town (unless we are on our work lunch hour) women tend to wear easy casual sundresses, and sandals. Or white jeans, or shorts, a nice shirt or t-shirt, sandals, a nice bag, and sunglasses, in the summer. (Of course there are the sloppy people, every city has them, but we also have plenty of people who are nicely casually dressed. And we have tons of tourists, like your town does, and this also feeds into the easy-breezy casual beach lifestyle wardrobe. Plus it is hard to walk on the sandy sidewalks in city shoes.

    I agree, you have done a terrific job of translating for those of us in the viewing audience. And I’m sure you spent a great deal of time writing this post and the previous one because your good writing and structuring is excellent, and a joy to read. Thank you!

    • PS
      Please know that I’m not putting conservative down. Not at all. Yet the look works best on those who actually are conservative. Back when I had a style session a few years ago, I was told the same thing Bridgette said to you. That the look was not “me” because there is nothing about me that is conservative, other than the ultra-conversative outfits I use to wear to work a few years back.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m enjoying reading from you and others that I did a good job of capturing my experience, Terra. Yes, these posts can take a long time to write, but if they have the desired effect, it’s definitely worth it. I get what you’re saying about conservative and I know that when I dress too conservatively, it isn’t really resonant with who I am and the life I lead. It feels a bit incongruent, but I don’t want to go too far in the other direction, either. I’m actually feeling more and more like I’m striking the right note lately, and it feels good. The outfit journal has been a big help with that, as I’ve been able to pinpoint the issues and address them. Bridgette’s advice will help me to get to the next level, so that’s wonderful.

  15. Hello Debbie,
    Great post! I wanted to let you know that Tieks shoes are worth every penny. They are so cute and playful, while at the same time being super stylish and comfortable! I would highly recommend a pair. I love mine (I have the metallic snake print) and wear them a lot! I have found that one good pair of shoes are worth the weight of 10 so-so pairs. Take care, Kim

    • Curious if they have a good arch support? Love all the colors available.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your feedback on the Tieks, Kim. I have been curious about them. Bridgette didn’t like them all that much for her (didn’t feel they were all that comfortable) and wanted to caution people about the price not necessarily translating into an ultra-comfortable shoe. But shoes are such individual things. I know women who swear by the Tory Burch flats, but I wasn’t in love with them. I may opt to try a pair of the Tieks and see how they work for me, especially since they have some colors that I really love. I was curious about arch support, too. Here’s what it says on their website:

      “Tieks do not have built-in arch support, but they have a custom foam insole that springs back and molds to the shape of your foot as you walk. If you still find that you need additional support, you can always insert an orthotic.”

      Not all of my shoes have arch support and many of them are fine for walking. I guess it just depends, but I might buy a pair and wear them around my house for a while and see if they work for me.

      • A comment on arch support-
        I’ve been getting into the “barefoot” style shoes lately, after hearing about them when I started running. If you look into the history of shoes, only in the last 50 years have they really had crazy amounts of padding and arch support. Some researchers think that makes our feet weak, in turn requiring more support in our shoes. They say if we retrain and strengthen our feet, then we don’t really need the support. Now, there’s no consensus, so I guess people should take that with a grain of salt and make up their own minds, and obviously if you have foot injuries or whatnot listen to your doctor.
        But I have a pair of Vivobarefoot ballet flats and I LOVE THEM. It’s a weird feeling at first while your feet get stronger, but after having them awhile it’s the first pair of shoes I always reach for. And the material is *incredible*. It’s synthetic but it really looks like leather and is incredibly durable. I was very pleasantly surprised, as I have worn out all my previous ballet flats very quickly, whether they were leather or fabric.
        Anyway, just something to think about. Oh, and they come in colors!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing about the Vivobarefoot ballet flats, Sarah. I looked them up and was very intrigued. I may have to give them a try. I like the Tieks, too, but the Vivobarefoot is a lot less expensive (I am willing to pay more for good shoes, but if I don’t have to, that’s a bonus).

  16. This is a really interesting, and useful post. What a great idea to focus on the outfits that didn’t work. I’ve always tried to look at the ones I am happy with, and then think…how can I replicate that? It’s a much better idea to fix the ones that didn’t work well. And, you know, I’ve often got that conservative vibe from your skirt outfits, and yet I’d never know how I would style them differently to make them more fun and casual. And then Bridgette’s advice seems so simple, and so spot on. So I’m like…wow, why couldn’t I have come up with that! A long sleeved top and a casual shoe. Of course! But then, that’s why she’s the stylist – she has the eye and the creativity to know what to change. As an aside, though, I love a colorful ballet flat. They are really fun, and definitely make a boring outfit much better.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve had a lot more outfits that I’ve been happy with lately, Sarah, but I thought I’d get the most benefit from looking at the ones that didn’t work. I was right. I do also benefit from trying to translate the better looks into new options, but for the session with Bridgette, I brought out some of the duds (or at least looks I didn’t totally love). I’m really glad I did that, as I got some excellent advice and have a better plan for moving forward. I hadn’t thought to wear long-sleeved tops with my skirts, but I’m usually not so hot that it wouldn’t work. I’ve been looking for bright shoes for awhile, but I might just have to buy a pair online and take my chances. I haven’t been able to find a pair I like in the brick-and-mortar stores. I have fussy feet, so I like to be able to try them on, but if I go though Zappo’s or Nordstrom, at least returns would be free if I needed to do them.

      • Debbie, I’ve been ordering shoes online recently to save disappointing shopping trips to stores. With the most recent pair that I ordered with free returns I ordered the two sizes most likely to fit and in fact one did. I simply returned the extra pair. Much easier than driving around. However, I too can’t find the bright colored shoes I want that are comfortable so I am adding color elsewhere and just sticking with neutral shoes that make my feet relatively happy. Great post!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Glad you liked the post, Juhli, and good to see you commenting here again. Thanks for your tip about ordering shoes online. I’m leaning more and more in that direction, as I have difficulty finding what I’m looking for in the stores (and no longer want to spend an entire day going from store to store). If I find some bright colored shoes that are comfortable, I will share. I don’t usually post shopping links on this blog for obvious reasons, but I sometimes make exceptions for those hard to find items.

      • I buy my flats from Payless. I find their fabric flats to be very comfortable, and even wearing them more or less weekly, they last me a year or two.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for the tip, Sarah. I wouldn’t think that Payless shoes would be comfortable, but there is a store not too far from where I live and I could easily drop by to give them a try. Sometimes we find things we love in unexpected places and I am open to any and all sources (as long as I don’t buy too much, of course!).

          • I find the non-fabric shoes are generally not comfortable, and even some of the fabric ones have a weird cardboard-like backing, making them stiff. But plenty of them are surprisingly good to wear.

  17. Debbie,
    Have you ever thought of using Pinterest? A lot of the suggestions you received from Bridgette I’ve actually found from using Pinterest! You can search for example “black blazer” and you’ll get ideas of outfits incorporating a black blazer. I find it to be very helpful! Also, I love to wear skirts and dresses and feel dressier as well, maxi’s are definitely the way to go in my opinion. You can wear them with a statement necklace , strappy sandals, flats, a jean jacket or cardigan, etc to dress them up or down. If you do get one, black and grey are very versatile with pops of color. Good luck with everything!
    -Millie

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Great idea about Pinterest, Millie! I have mostly done general browsing there (and not too much of that), but using the search feature could be very helpful! As for maxis, I’ve been really into them lately. I love that I can wear them with flat, comfortable shoes that I can easily walk in. Plus, I still feel dressy enough but don’t look out of place because lots of women wear them here. I have a black maxi-dress, as well as a blue one and two that include prints. I just got a jean jacket, too, which will help to dress some of my skirt and dress outfits down. I also have a denim blazer, but it still looks too dressy in certain outfits. I’m getting there, bit by bit!

  18. Fascinating post! I read it a few times to take in all the interesting details. I think I could also benefit from more coloured accessories and shoes. I hope you’re enjoying putting Bridgette’s recommendations into practice, and look forward to the rest of this series!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Kayla! Yes, there was really a lot of great information imparted in my session with Bridgette. I actually could have written a lot more! It will take me a while to translate it all into real life, but I’ll definitely be back with more to share down the line.

  19. Very interesting post Debbie. I liked her suggestion of the red shoes with the black, white, and denim outfit. I think I would be what she refers to as a blackcident, but hey at least I brighten things up with gray 🙂 I like that she gave you some good ideas of ways to change things up with the clothing that you already owned.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I liked the red shoe suggestion, too, Tonya. I only have one pair of red shoes now and they are kind of dressy sandals that wouldn’t work with that outfit, but I am going to be looking out for colored shoes more moving forward. I’m happy that many of Bridgette’s suggestions don’t require more shopping. Most of what I will need to implement her ideas are accessories, which are usually easier to buy than clothes, anyway.

  20. Great post Debbie. It is is very generous of you to take the time to share what you have learned with us, both in this styling topic and your full life post. You are my favorite blogger. I really want some leopard flats now after looking at Brigdgette’s website. So I shall go read your”pause” notes again!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I am honored to be your favorite blogger, Shelley. Thanks so much for telling me that! I’m gald you liked this post and the few prior to it. As for the leopard flats, I just bought a replacement for the pair I wore into the ground. They have been more versatile than I thought, but a pause would be good for you to determine if they really suit your needs. Here’s the original post from Jill Chivers on the beauty of the “power pause” – hope it’s helpful: http://myyearwithoutclothesshopping.com/shopping-clothes-emotions/hurry-up-and-wait/

  21. Nice post. I liked the suggestions about topper lengths. Brigitte’s color advice is less interesting to me, as lately I’ve been feeling drawn to masculine-inspired outfits, even normcore.
    As for the topper situation (blazer versus cardigan versus none-at-all), I often do temperature control by taking a scarf with me – I think this is a great option for making an outfit more adaptable to temperature changes (or airco) without changing the formal/casual vibe of an outfit too much.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Good suggestion on the scarf, Liesbeth. I love scarves but haven’t been wearing them as often as I used to. I’m not sure how much they would keep me warm when I’m wearing a sleeveless or short-sleeved top, but they would be great with longer sleeves (my arms are often what gets coldest on me, but silly me always seems to love the tops without sleeves!). Normcore is quite intriguing to me. For those who don’t know about it, here’s a NY Times article on the topic: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/fashion/normcore-fashion-movement-or-massive-in-joke.html?_r=0

      • I had never heard of normcore, but now that I’ve read about it, it seems like an excuse to dress sloppily and without personal style? Honestly I just DO NOT get the whole ripped boyfriend jeans thing. If I want to wear ripped clothing I’m pretty sure I could manage to rip it myself. It seems that normcore is very different from “masculine inspired” as personally I love the masculine influence and find that one androgynous piece can add some edginess in an otherwise feminine outfit.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I don’t get the ripped jeans thing, either, Sarah. Some of them cost over $200, too! My mother-in-law (age 81) has a pair of jeans so old that they have rips in them and she’s wearing them now because they are “in.” She bragged that she didn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for them, too. I don’t think ripped clothing looks good on anyone really, but especially not on an octogenarian!

          • I think she might qualify to be a hipster– it sounds like she’s wearing them “ironically”!!

          • Debbie Roes says:

            That’s a more positive way of looking at it 🙂 The fact that she still cares about fashion at her age is actually a good thing. And she definitely looks much younger than 81, too (even without the ripped jeans – LOL)!

  22. I’m pondering one piece of advice you received about not having a need for dress pants.
    My goals are not the same ones you have to casualize and/or bring in more edge. I have a few pair of jeans that I wear sometime but I’m not in sync with the idea that they can be dressed up. I know people have done this for years but it’s not something I want for myself. I don’t wear cargos, chinos, utility jackets and even jean jackets. I don’t even own any of these items nor a jean jacket. I’ve had all of them at one time or another and ultimately rejected them for my style. I don’t like the way culottes look on me from the side view, very blocky even if in semi-fluid fabric. I don’t wear fluid stretch knit pants like travel knit. Or stretch velour. I don’t like my pants slithering around. I don’t like anything avant garde like drop crotch pants.

    I do wear some soft sensual corduroy pants, tweed pants and my favorite wool subdued color blend plaid pants (not a punk look). But what about in warmer weather? I do like luxe jog pants cuffed at the ankle but what if I want to be more citified? Then, what’s left for dressing up a little in a pants outfit even though I don’t work outside the home? Dress pants. Now I’m having to consider whether people are just going to assume I’m on an extra long lunch hour.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I hear you on pants being challenging, Vildy! It’s definitely more difficult in warmer weather, too, which is often why I primarily wear skirts and dresses in the summer. I still like the look of dress pants and it seems like you do, too. I think they can work well for a lot of people and since you don’t want to be more casual, they may be the right type of pants for you. It sounds like you have a nice pants collection (I like the idea of the soft sensual cordoroys – maybe I will have revisit that style this year). I think the most important thing is that we are happy in what we’re wearing. I DO feel better being at least somewhat dressed up, so I don’t think I’ll even totally fit in where I live. That’s okay with me, but I have been feeling happier even since I’ve toned things down a bit. Bridgette’s advice will help to take me to the next level, I think.

  23. Thimblelina says:

    Great work here! I love Bridgette since I found her through here & agree with almost everything she suggests EXCEPT her blackcident theory (has she not wandered around Milan on lunch hour and seen a zillion examples of women looking beautiful in riffs on black?)

    I think shoes do a lot to sharpen and hone a look. I personally like very architectural & design heavy shoes. My work contract (sub in special ed) specifies closed toe flats so right there is a major constraint, and I naturally gravitate toward Bridgette’s ‘one and done’ philosophy so when I pick a shoe I like for it to be memorable. Right now I have Gentle Souls ‘Bayco’ ballet style black ghillies, another by them that is a pewter fishermans sandal, a pair of leopard print dolce vita lace up oxfords and some cognac colored d’orsay flats with thick ankle straps. And with just four shoes I can get dozens of different looks by swapping them out with the same simple chambray, denim, gray & black pieces in my wardrobe. The shoes really do the heavy lifting! The trick is that none of them look like one another at all, and none of them have that generic ‘comfort’ shoe styling… (But they are all very comfortable! I even ride my bike a few miles in them!)

    So I vote you focus on your shoe game. You have lots of great individual wardrobe pieces. Throw them together with abandon & ground them with a terrific shoe!

    • Thumbelina, I covet your stylish stealth comfort definitive shoe collection!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Thimblelina! I think a lot of people misunderstand Bridgette’s views on black. She does lament that people rely on it too much, but she actually told me that I look good in black and she had no problem with my continuing to wear it regularly. I liked to her video on being a “blackcident” within the article, but I’m including the link again here in case you and others haven’t seen it yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTgiUrqNRG4&feature=youtu.be

      I agree with you about the power of shoes to make or break an outfit. I didn’t truly realize this until recently, though, which is why I have a lot of black and metallic shoes and many aren’t very interesting. Like Vildy, I covet your shoe selection, as it sounds fabulous! Your cognac D’orsay flats sound especially lovely and I could see how they would work well with so many clothing pieces. I’m definitely going to work on my “shoe game” in the coming months. I will do it slowly and deliberately, but I agree that it will make a big difference in terms of my style.

      • Thimblelina says:

        Thank you for that link!! That made it much more clear. Somehow I had missed that one. I hear her… As I try to slightly expand my wardrobe choices I’ve used black as one part of one capsule, intermixed with charcoal, and I have a second capsule that intermingles brown & navy.
        I’m going to check out some of those other resources you suggest in your comments too. Thanks!

  24. Thimblelina says:

    @liesbeth: agree 100% on scarves! I take one to every assignment because I have so little control over classroom temps.
    @Vildy: I’m your polar opposite! The only pants I own are jeans: a dark wash and a black for teaching, plus a boyfriend style and white cropped for weekends. If it’s dressier than black jeans I’m in a black skirt. Hahaha. And that’s what gives us both personal style!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I usually wear skirts and dresses when I want to dress up a bit more, too, Thimblelina. But I see lots of women (sounds like Vildy is one of them) who wear more upscale pants with panache. You’re right that personal style is so individual. We all need to define what works best for our unique lives and style aesthetics. I’ve been getting a lot better at that and liking many more of my outfits as a result.

  25. So fascinating that something as seemingly subjective as fashion can be distilled into a science of sorts. I might have to try hiring the services of a fashion consultant to optimize my style as well!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I would definitely recommend it, Stacey. I know it was very helpful for me. I liked doing a virtual session, as I had lots of time on my own to do the “pre-work” and was able to compile questions and use the time wisely. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on working with a fashion consultant, that could be the best way to go. It’s great to work with someone in person, but it can also be a lot more expensive.

  26. I would love to see you sporting a maxi dress! You’d look like a tall drink of water! I think her ideas (and by your own admissions) you would look fantastic in more casual and slightly edgier clothing. You have a great figure and I’m sure you can come up with some new looks that really show it off.

    I do wonder about your general avoidance of “skinny jeans.” You actually look like you have THE figure to rock them. I wonder if you gave them another try (in a dark wash or black) and see what you think. They are definitely edgy and lend themselves to be worn with looser fitting tops (so you could avoid the issue of too many “loose” pieces). Just a thought.

    Anyway, I love following along on your journey :-). Keep up your positive attitude and I’m sure you will find the style you have been searching for.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love maxi-dresses, Chelsea, and have been wearing them often this summer. I also got two maxi skirts that I also like. There’s a photo of me in a maxi in my May style reflections post: http://recoveringshopaholic.com/may-2014-outfits-and-style-reflections/ That one is more of a high-low style, but my others are full length. As for skinny jeans, there is a physical reason why I cannot wear them. I have a painful nerve condition that flares up when I wear tight pants, especially when I sit in them for long periods of time. I can wear a straight-leg style (which looks pretty skinny on me, actually) as long as there is a fair amount of stretch in it. I still get self-conscious about my back-side in those types of jeans, but I’m warming up to it. I’m gradually moving to slimmer fitting pants, but I have to be careful that they aren’t too tight or I suffer. I have ordered quite a few pairs of jeans that I had to return after I wore them around the house for a short period of time and ended up with pins and needles sensations in my legs. I especially can’t have pants be tight around my knees, which is why the straighter fit is a good compromise. I’m only willing to suffer so much for the sake of fashion 🙂

  27. Hi Debbie, just spent a little while checking out your pinterest board ‘style inspirations’ – I’m no expert but your inspirations say ‘dramatic classic’ to me. You seem to like asymmetrical lines and bold pattern, both add drama (maybe that’s what your ‘edgy’ is?).

  28. That was an interesting post. Thanks for the insights.

    I think she’s got a good point that you have tons of things to wear, and you could distinguish outfits more with accessories that standout. Shop your closet first! You already know you like those things, perhaps they just need to be in new combinations.

    As to colorful shoes, I love them too. However, I would tread carefully. The cutest shoes are often totally unwearable, and shoes that hurt your feet area a waste of money. Unfortunately the comfy colorful shoes are often European and oftentimes on the frumpy side.

    Thanks for a good post. That was brave to let her into your closet.

    • Good point about colorful shoes. I’ve been wanting to try leather dye- I’m betting if you bought a pair of nude leather shoes you could dye them any color you like. The dye is pretty cheap on amazon. Maybe I’ll try it on an old leather purse of mine and report back.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I definitely need to shop my closet first a lot more often, Ginger! Your point about the comfortable shoes is well known to me. I have had to get rid of a lot of shoes that hurt my feet (which are very fussy) and I still have some shoes in my closet that are basically “taxi cab shoes.” Most of the shoes that I can walk in for hours are not the most stylish, but I have to put comfort first these days.

      Sarah, I had a pair of boots and a purse dyed from brown to black last year. I took the boots (which I rarely wore since I’m not really into brown these days) to a local cobbler and he dyed them for me. Since I liked the result, I followed up by having the purse dyed. I shared before and after photos in this post: http://recoveringshopaholic.com/september-accountability-update/ I’m not sure how easy it would be to dye something a bright color, though. Perhaps if the starting item was tan or another light color like you said. I’d love to hear how it goes for you if you try it, as this would give all of us more options, especially those who need to buy shoes from some of the comfort brands (who seem to stick mainly to neutral colors).

  29. Very interesting post, with just the right amount of detail. I’m currently working on my fall & winter wardrobe versions, including accessories, so it was inspiring to read Bridgette’s tips. I’d like to put in another plug for Tieks, in case someone has foot issues like mine: need bendy flats to fit a wide forefoot (C width), normal width heel (i.e. duckfoot from pregnancies with giant boy babies) with very high arch & instep, with a low enough vamp that it doesn’t cut into a high instep, and an elasticized heel that doesn’t cut into the Achilles tendon. The leather (not the vegan or patent versions) in your normal size will stretch over several wearings to fit a moderately wide foot like a glove. (I’m being literal here – the fit is so soft & close, you can see the outline of the end of your big toe, but I tolerate that for the comfort. They are the most comfortable flats I’ve ever had, by far.) There’s no arch support of which I am aware, but the insoles are a bit cushioned and the plastic(?) rubber(?) turquoise outer soles wear really well. Oh, and I’m not affiliated with Tieks; I just own two pair and am saving up for my third.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with Tieks, Terry. I’m sure it will be helpful to others who are considering buying them. I have a normal width forefoot and a narrow heel, which makes a lot of slip-on shoes fall off my feet sometimes. I’m hoping the Tieks would work, as they seem to have elastic around the top to hold the foot in. I can see how you would buy two or three pairs if they work well for you, especially since they have so many colors and patterns available. In the past, I never would have spent so much on shoes, but now I’d rather have fewer pairs of shoes that work well for my feet than a bunch of mediocre pairs. I’m glad you liked this post and I wish you the best of luck with your fall/winter wardrobe! I won’t be visiting that subject until at least mid-October, as we have late summers here, but when others are wearing summer clothing in May, I’m still feeling a bit chilly where I am (it DOES get cold here, especially since I live very close to the water).

  30. Mrs.M in MI says:

    I have to second Bridgette’s vote for colorful shoes. I’m wearing a navy dress and red peep-toe pumps right now! I wear mostly neutrals, especially black and navy, and greens and blues. I’ve found that yellow shoes (closer to mustard than taxicab) are the most versatile color in my wardrobe, but I also like to wear red shoes when the rest of the outfit is neutral. My yellow flats are a couple years old, from Rockport.

    I think that a red, cobalt, or burgundy/cordovan/oxblood shoe would add color to your wardrobe, and depending on the style of shoe you chose (like a pointed toe or cut-outs or broguing, maybe) it could still be “edgy” and modern. Just two cents from a shoe lover!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your outfit for today sounds lovely, Mrs.M. I have a navy dress, too, and I’m sure it would look great with red shoes. I wear a lot of neutrals, too, as you’ve seen in my posts. I love color, too, but have really only extended color into my clothing pieces thus far. I’m excited to explore color options in shoes and accessories, too. I think your color suggestions would be right up my alley and would work well with the garments in my wardrobe. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Debbie- Just a brief follow-up re Tieks: the elastic at the heel is very comfortable and might work well for you. The Tieks staff is very responsive to fit questions. As for winter wardrobe, I’m in the same climate as you, but like to transition to darker, richer colors in autumn/winter, even when it’s hot until mid-October. I just don’t feel right in white linen and ice cream colored tops in the fall. Still really enjoying your posts, thanks.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing this additional information, Terry. I will probably invest in a pair later this year. As for colors, I don’t tend to vary mine all that much by seasons. I do wear some lighter and brighter tones in the summer, but most of my core colors are pretty much the same. I do want to add some more light colors to my wardrobe overall, including for summer, though.

  32. I know it’s not easy to post photos of oneself on the internet, but your photos are so very helpful to review why something did or did not work. Thanks for putting yourself out there. Now I’m even more curious about Bridgette’s skills for myself. I’m looking forward to your future updates on your sessions!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for saying this, Lisa. I continue to post the photos from time to time because I know they are helpful. Being a very visual person myself, I know it can be difficult to conceptualize things without a photo to refer to. Even though it’s hard, the point of my blog is to help others, so I’m willing to put myself out there in order to do it. I will definitely post another update on my work with Bridgette soon. I had to let the information “digest” a bit, but the next step is to play in my closet and create some new ensembles based upon Bridgette’s advice. There will be a bit of shopping, too, but that’s going to be more gradual since I’ve already purchased a lot this year!

  33. I really enjoyed these posts Debbie! My comment on the 1st one was lost and I never came back to post it. You’ve inspired me in many ways, and I cannot wait to hear more about this. Please do post outfits- I enjoy them very much. I regret if I made any comments that were unwelcome before (I never went back to see what I wrote, but I may have given advice when NOT solicited lol). I know you’re not putting yourself out there as a ‘stylist’ or ‘fashion blogger’- I love the realism with which you have ALWAYS presented yourself. I’d love to see the result- perhaps an outfit featuring similar items but paired in the new way that you now enjoy more? If not outfit pictures (if you’d rather not) perhaps items?

    I’m doing a major overhaul of my own in that I am stopping the semi-senseless shopping and have decided to concentrate on ‘investment’ pieces to make my wardrobe really shine, and accessories to make me better put my wardrobe together. I think this will be fabulous and I’m really excited. I might even get Bridgette’s help when I feel I’m in a good place- but for outfit creation. Sometimes I feel sapped of inspiration and I think I could use help in this area.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sorry that your comment was lost, Meli! Sometimes that happens and I’m not sure how to avoid it. It happens to me, too, with my responses. Fortunately, it’s a pretty rare occurrence, though. I don’t think any of your comments about my outfits were hurtful, but I don’t really remember what each individual wrote (nor do I wish to dwell on that). I will post outfits from time to time to illustrate concepts, but sometimes I think people forget that I’m not a fashion blogger and that there are many different ways to dress that will be pleasing to different people. The most important thing is that we are each happy with our wardrobes and style. I haven’t been as happy as I could be, but I’m getting there, and I know my work with Bridgette will help a lot in that regard. I would highly recommend a virtual session (or even in person for you since I know you aren’t all that far from NYC, compared to me anyway), as you can get a lot of insight from even an hour with her. I worked with two stylists in person years ago to help with auditing my overly large wardrobe and creating outfits. I found it very helpful, but the virtual work is just as valuable to me now.

Comments are closed for this article.