It all started on a cold winter's evening.
I started making my annual list of resolutions for the new year that was quickly approaching. I always keep these resolutions in the back of my mind as the year comes to an end, but it was time to write them down on paper. Solidify them. Make them real. My list for the year was simple enough. It wasn't long - a few little goals. Cook one vegan meal a week - was one. Complete three paintings for fun - another. Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator - fun. Define your personal style. Woah.
My initial list never includes how-to's, just goals. The how-to's are established when I decide to tackle them as the year rolls on. It makes it feel a little less daunting and overwhelming when I go to write them down. It isn't my job to figure them all out right off the bat, just commit to trying.
But this one - it was a big one. I could sense that from the moment I put the pen to paper. Defining your personal style is a huge task. A multi-step process. But thanks to a great recommendation and a quick trip to the book store, I had a good tool to start the ball rolling - this book, called The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees.
In the book, Rees shares the Curated Closet Philosophy about personal style and guides you through the process of defining your personal style. The book is beautiful and minimal and breaks down the steps so simply, but beyond that, it is practical. Ridiculously practical. She nails the concepts of searching for quality over quantity, being selective, being authentic, and realizing the difference between being stylish and being fashionable. Yes. Perfect! Exactly what this dazed and confused style-seeker needs - a step by step guide with homework and research and tangible steps to nail it out. So I dove right in.
The book is not a quick read. It requires breaks between chapters to put in the work and test out the waters. I've been taking notes and saving mental tips to work through the steps. I've been at it for the past four months and have only made it through a few chapters, but I can assure you at it is worth the time. I finally decided that I wanted to document it here so that I could keep myself accountable and see how I progress throughout the process.
So, step one - set your style goals. But before you can set the goals, you have to determine where you're at. What you like. What you don't like. Rees challenges you to document your daily outfits for two full weeks, including exactly what you wore, where you wore it, why you wore it, and how it made you feel. She also encourages a daily photo, but that didn't last very long for me personally. The purpose of documenting is to determine where you are hitting the nail on the head and where you feel like you are falling short. Then, based on this documentation, she includes an extensive questionnaire to work through once you can see your two-week wardrobe.
When I had finished the two weeks and worked my way through the questionnaire, I generally felt discouraged with my wardrobe. I felt trapped between two places in my life - a young university student (which I no longer am) and the stylish professional person I long to be. The majority of my outfits were fine, but just that - fine. They weren't extraordinary, fun, or expressive of myself. They were boring, simple, and bland. I realized that although I value comfort in my clothing, I was very majorly prioritizing practicality and comfort over feeling good about how I looked. The majority of my outfits made me feel immature and insecure because they didn't fully encapsulate who I am or who I want to be.
So then began the goal-setting. The purpose of painfully documenting your frustration is to make some realizations about what you're wearing and how you can change it. Realizing that I love textures, neutrals, warm colours, and layers was key. Recognizing that I value being comfortable and feeling put together was key. And seeing my wardrobe as a series of different "uniforms" that can merge together to establish one distinct style was also very key. These realizations all manifested into goals for my curated closet. And goals are a very great place to start.
These are my five style goals:
- I want to take my style from half-way there to all the way there. I love my wardrobe fifty percent of the time, but I realized that those times are when I am feeling really excited and free in what I'm doing and where I'm going. I need to find a way to put in the effort to make all of my outfits feel exciting, regardless of whether I am going on an adventure or simply going to work.
- I want to dress for how I want to feel, not how I do feel. Some clothes make you feel frumpy and I realized that I wear those clothes when I am in a grumpy mood. I want to use my clothes as a way to boost my morale and keep me motivated and going on the tough days.
- I want to find ways to perfectly marry comfort with style. There is no doubt that comfort is high up there on my priority list, but I want to prove to myself that clothing can be practical while still making me feel good. I don't want to wear "junky" clothes to work anymore just because I know they will get ruined. I want to find ways to still be stylish while trying to live my day to day life.
- I want to learn to shop better. A lot of the clothes in my wardrobe that I don't like or don't wear are poorly made. They change shape, colour, and fit after only a few washes. I want to be able to recognize the items that I will love and wear for a long time before I actually buy them.
- I want to appreciate the process. I don't want to rush through the process, but allow it to marinate. Like all forms of style, it's a process to discover and I really want to embrace that process. I feel like it makes it so much more meaningful and lasting. So I'm in for the long haul here.
That's it. Those are the goals, laid out there in plain fashion. So now what?
Now we tackle the how-to's.