Now that summer is well under way, I wanted to reflect on how my warm weather style has changed since I started this blog two and a half years ago. I took some time to go through my outfit photos from 2013, 2014, and this year. I selected some ensembles that were fairly representative of what I used to wear, as well as a group of looks that fit my current style quite well.
In today’s post, I share eight looks from the past two years, as well as eight looks from 2015. I highlight what I no longer like from the previous outfits and what makes me happy about the current ensembles. I also reflect a bit on what I would change about the older looks to make them work for me today.
Summer Outfits from Yesteryear
Before I show you the outfits I have selected from 2013 and 2014, I want to say a few things. The looks that I have selected are ones that I liked at the time. While I may not love them today, I was happy with these ensembles when I wore them. I could have chosen “dud” outfits from past years like I did in my last outfit journal installment, but I really want this post to be about how my style has changed since previous summers.
The major reasons for my style change have been doing Project 333, keeping my outfit journal, having virtual styling sessions with Bridgette Raes, and taking on my “Love It, Wear It” challenge (LIWI). These four things have helped me to better understand what I like to wear, as well as what hasn’t worked for me in the past. This increased awareness has helped me transform my style to what it is today.
Here’s a look at what I was wearing back in the summers of 2013 and 2014:
Some of the features that the above outfits had in common were:
- Knit blazers
- A-line midi skirts (my skirts always look longer in photos, but they were still too long)
- Formal-looking shoes (and flat/low-heeled in many instances)
These features are a lot of what led to the “churchy vibe” that I lamented when I started working with Bridgette Raes a year ago. I often felt too dressed up in what I was wearing, especially in relation to the ultra-casual vibe of the area where I live. I didn’t really understand what I was doing wrong, as I often liked my outfits, but I frequently felt out of place compared to those around me. I wanted to tone things down so I would feel less formal and fit in better with my peers.
I still own about half of the pieces shown above and still wear most of them. However, I style them in different ways so that I feel less dressy. I’m more likely to pair cardigans or moto-style jackets with skirts and dresses these days, rather than knit blazers. And I’ve found that changing out the shoes for more casual sandals has made a big difference in terms of looking less formal.
What I’d Change About My 2013/2014 Summer Outfits
Just for fun, here are some notes about what I would change about each of the above outfits if I were going to wear them today. In some cases, only small tweaks are necessary, whereas in other instances almost a complete change is needed for me to want to wear the look now.
- Striped blazer outfit: I really want to find a shorter and narrower black skirt, but I haven’t been able to locate one that works for me just yet. I would switch out the skirt and wear more casual shoes, such as one of the pairs shown below.
- Purple tank outfit: I love the color of the tank, but was no longer a fan of the ruffled front (so the tank is gone). The skirt has been shortened since the photo was taken and I like it much better now. I would wear a plain purple tank with the shorter skirt and one of my other pairs of black sandals (the pair shown was returned after just a few wears because the straps kept falling off my heels).
- Black/grey blazer outfit: The skirt is the problem in this outfit and I no longer own it. I would like the look with a shorter printed skirt (perhaps the zigzag skirt shown below). For a more casual look, I would switch out the knit blazer (which I have passed on) for my black tie-waist cardigan.
- Turquoise blazer outfit: I would wear a shorter and narrower skirt with more modern sandals. I no longer own the tank and blazer, but I have another striped tank that I could wear with my cobalt cardigan. That would be a more casual look that would work better for my life.
- Coral blazer outfit: I still own all of the pieces shown, but may pass the blazer on soon (I’m just not as into knit blazers anymore). I would prefer the look with my fuchsia tie-waist cardigan (shown here) and black shoes (the silver shoes are too light and don’t really work with the rest of the outfit). I still love the skirt and it is actually shorter than it looks in the photo. I can also fold the waistband over to shorten it even more.
- Black cardigan outfit: I would switch out the skirt and the shoes here. The skirt is too formal (and I no longer own it) and the shoes are too heavy. I no longer own the top, either, as it was too ruffled, but I like the print and would wear something similar. I really need to find some shorter and narrower skirts if I want to wear these types of looks and stay true to my current style aesthetic.
- Green tank outfit: I still like this look with the exception of the skirt (which is gone). If the skirt were shorter and narrower, I would wear the outfit today. I love the color of the tank, but sadly the tank got too worn out and left my closet in July. I would love to find another top in that color or slightly darker (emerald), as it’s one of my favorites.
- Leopard print dress outfit: I still love and wear the dress, but I think the knit blazer is too long and formal for it. If I need a topper, I would wear a tie-waist cardigan or denim jacket instead. I would also switch out the shoes, as I no longer like the style of the shoes shown. One reader commented in response to a previous post that they look dated, but they were purchased in 2013. Even so, they are no longer a favorite even though they are comfortable. It’s hard for me to find shoes for my fussy feet that don’t look “old lady,” but it’s a worthwhile pursuit!
So basically the main changes I would make would be the following:
- Wear shorter, narrower skirts
- Switch out the knit blazers for cardigans (unless I want to be more dressy/formal)
- Wear more modern, less heavy shoes
- Wear plain, non-ruffled tops
2015 Summer Outfits
Now let’s move on to my ensembles from this summer. I have been wearing maxi-length skirts and dresses far more often than shorter versions, but I still have some mid-length options that I like. Shown below are eight looks I have enjoyed wearing in recent months:
As you can see, I now enjoy wearing asymmetrical skirts and dresses, as in the first three outfits pictured. I like the way the asymmetry adds a bit of visual interest to the looks. All of those skirts are shorter in real life than in the pictures, I think due to the camera angle when my husband does the photographs (we can’t seem to get it quite right…).
I’m not wearing toppers in most of my 2015 outfits because it’s been quite warm and I haven’t needed them. When I do wear a topper, though, I usually grab one of my three tie-waist cardigans (see the black one above). Those look best with the maxis and don’t overpower my frame the way longer jackets and cardigans can. I sometimes wear my striped blazer (see the first photo above) with the blue dress, and I pair my denim and moto jackets with many of my summer ensembles. I’m really moving away from the knit blazers and have passed many of them on already. I do still like them with some skirt outfits but not so much with dresses (and definitely not with maxis).
In terms of shoes, I generally wear my plain flat sandals (either black or metallic) with my maxis and a few other pairs of black and metallic sandals with my shorter skirts and dresses. I really don’t need many pairs of shoes (the me of three years ago would cringe at that!), as I find that I wear the same few pairs over and over again. I will likely pare down my shoe collection soon, as I no longer like and wear many of my older pairs. I am often hesitant to get rid of shoes (and pants), but it gets easier as time goes by and I find that I’m happy wearing just a few favorites and have little or no need for more.
I feel quite happy with my summer style these days. It’s easy for me to get dressed and I have been rating almost all of outfits as “8”s or higher (with many “9”s and a few “10”s in the mix). Over the past few months, I have been happy with almost everything I’ve been wearing. My track record continues to improve and I know it’s as a result of LIWI and my outfit journal. Focusing on wearing what I love and taking notice of what doesn’t work has led me to make changes and hone my style. It has taken time, but it’s working.
I would still like to find a couple of shorter, narrower skirts to replace some of the older ones I’d like to pass on, but I haven’t been having much luck in the stores. It seems like almost all of the skirts on offer are maxis, minis, or pencil styles that look pretty corporate. I am looking for skirts that come to the middle of my kneecap and are straight rather than tapered in, which seems to be a tall order these days. I may visit a few consignment stores to see if I can find some better options. I have been hesitant to do any resale shopping due to my poor track record, but now that I have a better handle on my style and am more deliberate about what I want to buy, I think I will experience more success these days. We shall see and I will keep you posted…
If you are in the process of honing your style or if you’d like to make some changes, I encourage you to take some time to review your current season’s outfits, both those from this year and from previous years. Look at what you love and what didn’t like so much – and why. If you’ve been photographing your outfits, the process will be easier, but you can still do a version of the exercise I did even without photos. Just spend some time in your closet and jot down a few notes about your favorite and less favorite looks and why you did or didn’t love them. That will be a good start to help you improve your style. Repeat the process each season and I believe you will happier and happier with what you’re wearing.
I would love to hear from some of you about what you’re learning about your summer (or for those in the southern hemisphere, winter) style this season:
- What have you loved wearing and why?
- Which looks have fallen flat? Why they haven’t worked for you?
- What improvements could you make to your summer outfits?
- What strategic additions do you need to make to your wardrobe to increase your outfit happiness quotient?
- Could you possibly make the changes you want to make through shopping your closet instead of the stores?
I invite you to answer the questions above and share any other feedback you have on your current season style. If you have comments on what I wrote as well, you’re welcome to chime in there, too. I will be back soon with my July accountability update and some reflections on my recent birthday and the upcoming last year of my 40’s. Stay tuned…