New Mama Musings

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Style Quest Update

Last year I wrote a blog entry about my plan to tackle the problems I had with my personal style (or lack thereof). It felt as though I were missing some sort of basic style knowledge that was obvious to other people. So I started to read fashion blogs, checked a few books on style out of the library and went through every item in my wardrobe.

And then I discovered Peak Oil and started freaking out about TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It). Dressing stylishly didn't seem that important anymore, at least not while I was busy planning for zombie attacks.

I've calmed down a bit, though, and decided that while I'm waiting for TEOTWAWKI I might as well be dressed decently.

This does not mean that I've become super stylish. In fact, I'm not sure if anyone who knows me IRL has noticed a difference in the way I dress, since I still mostly wear jeans and t-shirts. But I feel better about the way the jeans and t-shirts I wear now fit and look.

The biggest thing I learned was that most of my clothes fit me wrong. Once I noticed it I was kind of appalled that I'd been wearing them that way for so long.

For example, the problem with most of my shirts was that the armholes were too far from my torso. You would think that if I had the right size shirt that wouldn't be a problem, but I've found this to be true even with some extra-smalls.

I used to buy small shirts and if they fit loosely in the wrong places I'd think, Well, it's a small, which is my size, so the problem must be with me. (Yes, I have some lingering self-esteem issues.)

However, I began to realize that clothing is cut in all different ways, regardless of the size on the label. Now when I buy shirts I check to make sure the sleeves start just under my arm, and even if I love the item in every other way, if there's a big gap under the arm, I don't buy it.

Another issue I had was the length of my pants. I found a fashion blog written by a style consultant who says that the bottom of your pants need to skim the surface of the floor when you're standing up straight. Once I learned this I started noticing incorrect pants lengths everywhere, and saw that when pants almost touched the ground it just looked better.

Doesn't this:

look better than this?

The same stylist says that when you're wearing an untucked shirt with pants it should be 1 to 3 inches above the crotch.

So this:

and not this:

When you wear an untucked shirt with a skirt, however, the hemline should be on or just above the hipbone. And again, I started noticing this in my own wardrobe and others' and it makes a difference.

Oddly, I even found that many of my sandals were a size too large. I'm not sure how this happened, but once I replaced them with some that fit properly (with the ends of my toes almost to the tips of the shoes) they just looked better.

Learning how clothes should fit was huge (no pun intended). But I also found it helpful to learn what colors work for me and what colors don't. Remember the 1980's fad of having your colors "done"? I read the book that started that fad, Color Me Beautiful, and found it to be surprisingly helpful even twenty years later.

I'm a Summer, by the way:

I don't wear only the colors from my palette, but it's one more objective tool for me to use when I'm trying to decide whether or not an article of clothing is flattering on me.

Oh, and I did give my hair some highlights, and I did get bangs. I did not, however, get my nose pierced, though I came pretty close to it a few times. I started wearing jewelry more often, even buying a few funky pieces from Etsy, but I forget more often than I remember. And I continue to resist wearing the pretty sundresses I have in my closet because, let's face it, a t-shirt and shorts are more comfortable.

I still have some work to do.


  • The pants thing drives me crazy. I'm almost 5'9" with I guess freakishly long legs. It is almost impossible to find pants that are long enough! The best place I've found is Eddie Bauer, and now it looks like they're going to go out of business, sigh.

    By Anonymous gearhead mama, at 10:08 PM  

  • Well, can't agree on t-shirt & shorts being more comfy than a sundress. For me it's way more freeing to have that openess down there, if you know what I mean.

    As for the length of pants and shirts, don't forget that that is the style NOW and it will change as it always does. Shirts didn't get a bit longer because it was more flattering but because the style changed. When they go back to a shorter length stylists will tell us the reasons THAT is more flattering. If we're still wearing those lengths of jeans and shirts in five years we'll be hopelessly out of it. ;)

    I do commend you on putting so much thought it this. It's important to dress in a way that makes you feel good. And that doesn't have to mean diamonds and stilettos. It can be as simple as proper fit of a t-shirt.

    By Blogger Jan, at 8:31 AM  

  • I remember the conversations about this on the AP Mamas group.

    I *finally* (as in just yesterday) signed up to the Missus Smarty Pants service I linked you once. I also checked out Color Me Beautiful from the library (I'm a Winter) and found out I'd been wearing all the wrong colors. I've been slowly building a wardrobe of beautiful jewel-tones that fit well. It makes SUCH a difference. (I've been buying makeup samples like mad, too. My makeup colors were all neutral.)

    And... haha. I started my own beauty/fashion blog. I figure I have so much to learn, I should document it while I'm doing it. :)

    By Blogger Amanda, at 1:31 PM  

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