I’ve decided to start a new series of posts on the topic of personal style. One of the reasons why compulsive shoppers buy too much relates to our effort to cultivate a look that works for us. We look in the mirror and don’t like what we see, so we hit the mall to try to improve our appearance through new clothing, shoes, and accessories. Unfortunately, this rarely works, as we typically have not done the necessary “pre-work” of defining the style statement we want to create.
Styling Client Questionnaire
In my work as a wardrobe consultant, I always asked my clients to complete a questionnaire before we met for a closet audit, styling session, or personal shopping trip. Not only did this questionnaire help me to learn more about my client, it also assisted them in gaining clarity on their goals for our work together. While my questionnaire was honed over time and revised based upon feedback from my clients, I never actually answered the questions myself!
It wasn’t that I believed I had everything figured out, I just never thought to complete my own questionnaire! Now that I’ve been blogging for a number of months and better understand my issues related to shopping, clothing, and style, I believe it’s beneficial for me to answer my own questions now.
In this post, I share my answers to many of the key questions from my “Client Pre-Consultation Questionnaire.” If you are struggling with your wardrobe and style, I invite you to respond to these questions as well. If you feel comfortable sharing some of your responses in the comments section below, I’d love to read about what you learn (and I’m sure others would, too). Also, if you have any insights for me based upon what I wrote, I’d be interested in reading those, too.
Now it’s time for me to answer my own questions!
Describe Your Current Style
List 5 or more adjectives or phrases which describe your current style.
- Classic – I prefer timeless shapes and styles over trendy statements.
- Conservative – I don’t like to show a lot of skin or wear anything very tight or ultra-sexy.
- Comfortable – I don’t like to wear anything that feels too constricting or binding.
- Uniform – Too often I rely on “formulas,” some of which I’ve grown tired of.
- Undefined – My style is hard to pin down and is in flux at the moment.
What about your current look do you like? What do you want to change?
I like the colors and patterns I wear, as well as many of the shapes and styles, but I feel there is too much “sameness” among my outfits. I wear too many knits and many of my garments are quite similar. I would like to incorporate different types of fabrics and garments into my wardrobe and focus more on higher-quality, more “special” pieces. I would also like to add more creativity and a bit of “edginess” to what I wear.
What is the biggest challenge you face each day when you look into your closet?
I have far too many clothes and my closet feels overwhelming! Even though I have pared things down considerably, I still feel there are too many garments from which to choose. I also feel that I lack the “special” pieces that would create the types of outfits that would inspire me. I have a lot of basics and a lot of knits, but I lack blouses and “wow” pieces.
Are you going through a transition that is leading you to want to re-evaluate your look? If yes, what?
I feel like much of the past decade of my life has been a transition! Ever since I left my corporate job in 2003, I’ve been trying to find a career/business that is a good fit for me. I’ve tried several entrepreneurial ventures that haven’t taken off and now I’m in another phase of working to reinvent myself. I’m also entering into my late forties and have changed a lot of my life priorities in recent years. I’ve embraced the concept of minimalism and simplicity and would like my closet and wardrobe to mirror the rest of my life in this respect.
Describe Your Ideal Style
List 5 or more adjectives or phrases which describe your ideal style.
- Sophisticated – I’d like to keep the “classic” vibe but take it up a notch.
- Creative – I want my outfits to be more artistic and show more of my personality.
- Edgy – I’d like to be a bit more eclectic and unexpected in what I wear.
- Comfortable – This remains a priority with me for both physical and emotional reasons.
- Minimalist – I’d like to have a small, functional wardrobe filled with high-quality pieces I love!
Is there a celebrity – or several – whose style you admire? Why?
- Kate Middleton – She always looks classy, sophisticated, stylish, and beautiful.
- Cate Blanchett – I love the artistic and creative nature of her outfits, plus she always looks elegant and sophisticated in whatever she wears.
- Jessica Alba – She really knows how to do casual in a way that looks effortless, cool, and classy.
- Carey Mulligan – I love her real-life style, as well as her style in “The Great Gatsby.” She always looks elegant and stylish while maintaining a classy image that I admire.
- Gwen Stefani – While many of her looks are too “edgy” for me, I love her black and white ensembles and feel her hair and make-up are always flawless. She’s quite striking and I admire that.
On a scale of 1-10, how important is it for you to follow current trends?
This varies, but I would say around a “5.” As I get older, trends are becoming less and less important to me, especially as I embrace minimalism and simplicity more fully. I used to try to buy a bunch of new, trendy pieces each season, but I’m now trying to buy fewer, higher-quality items. Ideally, I’d like to get to the point where I purchase a few new items each season. That way, I can incorporate a few new trends and keep my look current without stressing too much about being “in” or becoming a “fashion victim.”
Some Body and Life Details…
What do you feel are your best features (face and body)?
I always encouraged my clients to tell me at least five things they like about their appearance, so I will do the same!
- Eyes – Relatively large, expressive, and a nice shade of brown.
- Smile – I’ve often been told this is my best feature and maybe I agree…
- Height – Although it can be difficult to find clothes that fit me well, I basically enjoy being tall and having long arms and legs.
- Arms – Long and lean and well-toned, especially for my age.
- Narrow Torso – I like that my upper body is slim and I often enjoy accentuating this feature with my clothes.
What aspects, if any, of your figure do you want to downplay?
- Wide Hips – My hips are several inches larger than my bust and I often feel “pear-shaped.”
- Larger Thighs – Pant legs are often tight on me! To fit my hips and thighs, I often have to buy a larger size and take in the waist several inches on pants, jeans, and even some skirts.
- Varicose Veins – My legs and knees look quite “veiny,” which is why I prefer knee-length skirts and dresses.
What types of things do you do for fun and leisure?
I would like to cultivate more interests, as shopping used to be my main hobby and interest! I enjoy walking (perhaps I will branch out into hiking), movies, personal development (workshops, classes, etc.), writing, and reading. I sometimes struggle with what to wear when doing certain activities, especially in terms of footwear. I have “fussy feet” and find many shoes uncomfortable in short order. I also feel too “dressed up” when I’m out and about in San Diego, as people dress ultra-casually here. I’d like to find a way to dress appropriately for my environment while still remaining true to my personal style preferences.
Wrapping It Up & Coming Attractions…
While I did not include all of the questions from my pre-consultation questionnaire in this post, I have answered the most important ones here. I actually found it very helpful to answer my own questions! It gave me a better idea of why I feel dissatisfied with my clothes and my style. I see a fairly large discrepancy between my current style and the ideal style I’d like to cultivate. This provides a good starting point for the upcoming work I’ll do on my style.
In future posts, I will present more style-related questions and style challenges. I’ll use my own ideas and the ideas of others as I work to refine my personal style. I believe that as I feel more comfortable and satisfied with the style statement I present to the world, I’ll be less tempted to over-shop. When I do shop, it will be more to fill in legitimate wardrobe gaps, rather than as a means of searching to define myself.
Will You Join Me on My Style Journey?
If you are at all dissatisfied with your current personal style, I invite you to join me as I embark upon my style journey. Answer the questions I pose and embrace the style challenges I introduce. Share your ideas for new challenges and your insights from taking on previous exercises. Join me in cultivating an inspiring and workable sense of personal style. I believe this will help us tremendously as we endeavor to become “recovering shopaholics.”
*** Special Notice for My UK Readers ***
BBC One is working on an upcoming documentary on shopping addiction. They are looking to talk to people based in the UK who struggle with this issue. The documentary is being made by a small team and will be a sensitive portrayal of a serious problem that many people face.
The flyer below outlines what the documentary team is looking for and how to get in contact with them. CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy of the flyer.
The documentary team is looking to talk to a wide range of people – some may be in treatment for this addiction already, some may have taken positive steps towards recovery, and some may be in denial about how bad things are.
Those who participate in the documentary will be filmed over a period of time during the autumn of this year. The documentary team would spend time getting to know the participants, hearing about their addiction and how it affects their lives, and would look at potential treatments on offer for them.