It’s kind of pathetic, actually, but I’ve been getting a little down on myself for my outfit choices lately, which means I’m taking this crap waaay too seriously. So I vowed to relax and take this journey as it comes, and guess what? I had a realization which none of you will likely find surprising but which was big news to me. Ready? This journey is exactly that: a journey. If I already knew everything about fashion, I wouldn’t have anything to write about! I’m exploring, learning, and having fun.
So, here are five things I’ve learned about myself and my style so far:
Lesson #5. Long torso + short legs = disproportionate body (if I’m not careful with clothing choices).
At 5’5″, I’m considered average height, but I’ve discovered that I have short legs compared to my torso. This means that certain outfits can make me look out of proportion. When I wear a shirt that’s tucked in with low rider jeans, the look is awkward, like below:
If I wear something that cuts in at the waist, or stops just above my waist, my legs look longer, especially if I’m wearing heels. Maybe that’s why I like peplum tops so much: they’re nipped at the waist and then flare over my hips, so I look more lengthened. This jacket, below, that stops above my hips does that for me, I think:
Another thing that helps is adding a belt higher up on my body, above my waist. In the outfit below, I first tried the shirt over the skirt without the belt, which made my top half seem overly long again. I was surprised at what a difference it made to add the belt.
Here, I think the peplum lace makes my waist look higher, and my legs longer. (I think the cuffs on my jeans are one roll too high, though…)
Lesson #4. Find pieces in your wardrobe to repurpose. Not everything must be brand new (says the woman who has been shopping like an addict since January…)
My old wardrobe was lame and minimal, but I didn’t have to get rid of absolutely everything. In this outfit, below, I’m wearing jeans that are several years old (for me) and I got them from a second-hand shop, so who knows how old they really are. I think they’re slightly funky because of the way they flare – somehow it looks a little different than today’s boot cut jeans. I added a pair of decades-old Doc Maartens because I was tired of all my winter shoes and it was too cold to wear sandals.
An old Banana Republic cardigan over a (new) BP T-shirt completed the look. When I wore the cardigan in the past, I paired it with plain tank tops and “mom” jeans, and it looked totally frumpy. But with the tee tucked in just at the front, and the fun jeans, I think the frump factor is toned way down.
Finally, I added some silver necklaces that I am totally tired of and was going to give away. But when I put them all together, they morphed into something new and maybe a little creative.
Note to self: when I raise my chin like that, you can’t see any neck wrinkles. Keep in mind for future pics.
Lesson #3. Fitted shirt + skinny jeans = not good.
This should have been self-evident: when wearing a tight or fitted shirt, pairing it with skinny jeans is not flattering… At least on me. But somehow, in front of the mirror it seemed to work. It was only when I took a selfie that I realized how sort of, well, lumpy I looked. The lesson here is, when wearing a more fitted shirt, wear looser jeans or add something over the shirt that is more flowing. When wearing tighter jeans, go with a looser shirt.
Skinny jeans with looser top, better look:
Looser jeans with fitted top, better look:
Same with leggings: wear something flowing and/or long.
Lesson #2. Experiment and be courageous
Though I started off this experiment wearing only outfits that were suggested or put together for me by Nordstrom Liz (read about Liz on my “about” page), I quickly wanted to put my own spin on things, but wasn’t always sure what I liked and didn’t like.
I tentatively began stepping out of my comfort zone, trying a variety of things. For example, mixing colors. As you may have read in an earlier post, my daughter strongly disapproved of the outfit below, and she suggested I never wear it again. An artist friend liked the look but wasn’t sure the color of the T-shirt was the right tone of green for the pink pants. Nordstrom Liz said it was great. I liked it, but think I could make it work better with some experimentation. Anyway, my point is, I wasn’t sure about it (and am still not) but I went with it.
(Also, let me just mention the short leg thing again: don’t you think the combo of sandals with heels, the cropped pant, and the vest that hits above the waist make me look taller and more proportional?)
Here’s another experiment, below. This one went awry, but it started off with good intentions. I wrote about it the other day: I started with just the skirt and the brown T-shirt, but then the weather was dismally cold and I had to add layers, all of which ended up being brown. Ugh–I ended up with an outfit that was too dark for the light skirt. I looked off-balance. As one of my comments said, with a darker skirt, the outfit would have been great.
Lesson #1. Have fun
I can’t take this too seriously or I’ll get sort of crazy, and getting dressed in the morning will be stressful rather than exciting. Because after all, fashion is supposed to be fun, says Nordstrom Liz.
You don’t always have to worry if something is not in fashion right now. Wear it with grace and confidence and I believe you’ll look beautiful. Combine funky pieces with more traditional or trendy pieces. Choose an outfit that isn’t particularly eye-popping and then see how much you can wow-it-up with accessories.
I love the outfit above. It may be too busy: there’s the Free People top with the flowy hem, the patterned scarf, and the denim blazer (my favorite $20 eBay purchase). Black leggings and black boots give my legs a sleeker look. All the business going on up top draws the attention toward my face rather than my shortish legs. It’s funky and fun and, to me, feels successful. So, though it’s likely not many other people would combine it the way I did, it worked for me — that is, it made me happy and I felt good wearing it. Make your style your own and have fun. In our middle age, life’s too short to worry about what other people think!