Almost two years ago, I started keeping an outfit journal as a way of better getting into touch with my personal style and helping it to evolve. Although I had previously taken photos of my outfits for at least a few years, I believed that capturing my feelings about what I was wearing would be even more beneficial. Well, I was right! At this point, I can unequivocally state that my outfit journal has been the most important tool in my style evolution. And since it continues to produce benefits, I have no intention of giving it up anytime soon.
I’ve shared a number of insights from my outfit journal since its inception and have recently created a separate category for these posts, if you’d like to check them out. In today’s post, I’m going to highlight the shifts I feel my style has made in 2016 thus far, as well as my style goals for the rest of the year and beyond. Most of these shifts and goals are a direct result of my outfit journal, as I capture my feelings there about what I wore and what I would change about each look. Over time, these thoughts have led me to make changes and try new things. Also helpful to my journey are the “outfit of the day” (OOTD) threads on Facebook. Seeing what others are wearing and reading their and others’ comments about those outfits (and mine) has helped me to increase my style awareness and make changes to what I’m wearing.
Tried and True Style Elements
Before I delve into what’s changed, I’d first like to highlight some “tried and true” style elements that I loved in past years and continue to love.
- Stripes – Not only are stripes my favorite pattern, but they remain my signature style.
- Bright toppers – I continue to enjoy wearing my favorite jewel-toned coats and cardigans on a regular basis.
- Cobalt and black – This is my go-to color combination and I find that I’m wearing it even more often than I did last year. It’s almost as much of a signature for me these days as stripes are.
- Burgundy/purple – In addition to black and cobalt, shades of burgundy and purple remain my favorite hues to wear.
This year, I have recaptured my love of wearing scarves and necklaces. I find that a scarf is an easy way to dress up the simple jeans and t-shirt combination that I wear much of the time. Alternatively, a fun necklace can easily liven up a minimalist ensemble. Interestingly, paring down my scarf and necklace collections has led me to wear the remaining pieces more often. Sometimes when we have too much of a given type of item, it’s hard to find our favorites in the mix; thus we don’t wear them. Smaller, tighter collections make it easier to pull a scarf or necklace out and include it in an outfit.
New Styles and Silhouettes
While the style elements mentioned above have been in my repertoire for quite a while, I have introduced some new looks since the beginning of this year. I’ve enjoyed shaking things up a bit by adding a few alternate pieces to my closet and by combining pieces that I never paired together previously.
- Asymmetry – I got into asymmetry to some degree last year, but I have fully embraced it in 2016. I love how it adds both edge and modernity to my style.
- Vests – Vests have been a “game changer” for my style. I love how they can update a look, as well as dress up a casual outfit. My new black puffer vest (which reverses to a white and grey pattern) works well for my cool weather dressed-down lifestyle and also injects some fun into simple ensembles.
- Shorter toppers with pants – For years, I’ve mostly worn longer toppers with pants and shorter toppers with skirts and dresses. But this year, I decided to try pairing some of my mid-length jackets and cardigans (which now feel too long for my skirts and dresses) with pants and jeans. I like the look with wider-legged pants, as it creates a more balanced proportion than the long and loose open cardigan style that was my mainstay for years.
- Long toppers with pants – I’ve enjoyed pairing long toppers with pants, including my new duster cardigan and black longline vest. My black velvet blazer has also been rescued from “dressy” territory to be paired with jeans and other casual pieces.
- Sandals with pants – After growing tired of wearing boots every day and in an effort to wear my jeans and pants more in warmer weather, I decided to try pairing them with sandals. I feel the look is more “open” and laid back and is a more balanced look with short-sleeved and sleeveless tops.
What I’m Moving Away From
In addition to adding some new styles and silhouettes to my wardrobe, I’ve also started to move away from a few of the looks I used to love wearing:
- Grey – For many years, grey was my secondary staple neutral after black, but it no longer holds my favor. I feel that the medium tone grey I used to love washes me out. Perhaps a different shade of grey would work better for me, but the color in general would likely be problematic if and when I decide to transition to my naturally gray hair.
- Solid white – White also used to be one of my staple neutrals, but I now feel it looks harsh and unflattering on me. Off-white or another softer shade of white might work better for me, but I mostly prefer to wear white as part of a pattern (i.e. stripes) rather than on its own.
- Loose over loose – While I still like my mid-length open cardigans with slimmer-fitting jeans, I no longer like how they look with boot-cut or wide-leg pants. I feel that the combination overpowers my frame and looks too conservative and even frumpy (I hate the word, but if the shoe fits…).
- Flats with jeans – I used to love pairing ballet flats with my jeans, but I almost never wear this combination anymore. I feel that I look shorter and heavier in this look, especially if I’m also wearing a longer topper. I’m sure the flat shoes would look better with a shorter top and/or topper, but I prefer to stick with some sort of heel when wearing pants. Even a small heel makes me feel longer and leaner. Fortunately, I don’t own many flat shoes anymore. I’ll keep the ones I still like (e.g. my black AGL flats, which used to be a favorite) in case my feelings change in the near future.
- Plain solid t-shirts – The problem with plain solid t-shirts is that they either need a topper or exciting accessories in order to look polished. This isn’t too much of a problem in cool weather, as I’d likely need to layer anyway in order to keep warm. But when it’s warm out, I don’t want to feel like I need to keep my jacket or cardigan on so that I don’t look boring (check out this post to see how I re-worked such an ensemble in the “outfit lab”). I’d much prefer to wear tops that are interesting enough on their own and don’t need many bells and whistles.
Here are a few pictures of the types of looks I’m moving away from:
Style Goals for the Rest of 2016 and Beyond
The most important part of my outfit journal is the section in which I ask myself what I would change about a given look. What I come up with helps me to formulate both my shopping priorities list and my style goals. Here are some of my personal style intentions for the remainder of 2016 and next year:
- Standalone tops – I would like future tops that I buy to include prints, interesting details, or texture such that they will look good on their own and won’t require a topper or a lot of accessorizing.
- More edginess – I like that I’ve added a bit of edge to my style and would like to incorporate even more as time goes by. I don’t think I’ll need to buy many more pieces in order to accomplish this goal, but it would be nice to have a few more edgy accessories to wear.
- More asymmetry – This is a style element that I’ve grown to love. I’d like to wear the asymmetrical pieces I have more often and add a few more to my closet as well.
- More black, black and white, and monochromatic ensembles – Most of my outfits include color, yet I’m always drawn to black outfits, as well as black and white and monochromatic looks. Since this is clearly a style preference of mine, I’d like to translate it more into my own ensembles moving forward.
- Easier, more stylish hair – This is a “biggie,” but it’s also scary for me. Probably the most frequent note I make under the “what I would change” section of my outfit journal is “better hair.” As you know from my recent post on my hair woes (as well as this previous one), hair is a loaded issue for me. I don’t think my hair will go from being a bone of contention to an area of delight anytime too soon, but I do plan to explore alternate styles and ways of better dealing with my hair. Hair is our most important accessory and it’s time for me to start maximizing mine, plus I really want to escape from “hair prison.” This is a key goal for me as I move into my fifties.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
I’m sure I will come up with more style goals over time, as well as additional favorite styles and looks I’m moving away from. But the looks I’ve included in this post are a good start. It was very helpful for me to go back and look at my outfit photos and journal posts. I feel like I’m on the right track with my style and am happy to be evolving in terms of what I wear and my sartorial likes and dislikes.
Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts. I know that not all of you maintain an outfit journal or take photos of what you wear, but I’m sure you have opinions on what is and isn’t working for you. If not, why not take some time to consider the following questions:
- What style shifts have you made in the past year or so?
- What colors, cuts and silhouettes are you embracing? Which ones are you moving away from?
- What are your style goals for the remainder of 2016?
- What helps you to evolve your style?
Please respond to the above questions and/or offer your insights on the topic of style evolution in the comments section of this post.
About Those Accountability Posts…
Some of you may have wondered what happened to my April accountability post. I’ve decided to move these monthly updates to the Facebook group (where others also share their accountability), but I will still do shopping and wardrobe goal reviews here on a quarterly basis (see my 2016 goals here). I know that many readers enjoy the accountability updates, but they take a very long time for me to put together and I’ve decided that I’d rather dedicate that time to other types of posts. While I continue to experience challenges with my shopping and wardrobe, I have far more difficulties in other areas of my life. In that vein, stay tuned for an update on my 2016 balance goal very soon.