I have never been what one might call a fashionista. It’s kind of a silly word anyway. Whatever it is, this art of putting together a “look” – it is not my area of strength.
Some people can toss on various items of clothing and make it look effortless. They wear the clothes instead of the clothes wearing them. They call this art “personal style.” Now that I am in my last year of my twenties, I feel like it’s sort of do or die time for finding mine.
By the time you’re 30, you’re supposed to have things figured out, or so we have grown up believing. The least I can do is figure out how to dress myself.
People that have a hard time feeling comfortable in their skin have just as hard a time feeling comfortable in their clothes. So I’m going to get real honest here and do my best to get to the bottom of what is not working with my personal style. Right here, in public, on the blog.
Now – let me point out all the awkward.
I always was a tomboy
I have always dressed like a little dude. Sometimes that meant wearing actual boy clothes, sometimes it simply meant the art of throwing something on the top, something on the bottom and something on my feet without much regard for the state of the item nor whether it went with whatever else I was wearing. And a hoodie-type item because I’m always cold.
This is me the summer before my freshman year in high school. The hair wrap was courtesy of Trudee. I thought at the time it was the perfect way to be my new, cool, not hopelessly awkward self. I was a new contact lens wearer with recently removed braces. And with a bowl cut from my GnR loving childhood babysitter Chrissy, I was good to go.
New look, new me. All systems go for the high school popularity stratosphere.
Multiple personality disorder
Not for real, but there really are also the two distinct sides of me: Natalie and Brent. Natalie has a simple and classic style, with a little rustic vintage thrown in, kind of like a alternatingly quiet and creepy little pixie creature.
Brent on the other hand often dresses like a rainbow and leather-clad punk.
You can see my dilemma.
These photos were taken on the same night within an hour of each other. I was doing a little modeling for an old photographer friend filling out his portfolio (many of those are not exactly 100% clothed – not that you can see anything in the shots anyway), and he was so kind as to throw in some photos of Brent where we ran around in stairwells and laundry rooms.
Thus far Brent and Natalie have kept to showing up on different days, like that year I had a friend’s little sister convinced I was a set of twins. I just wonder if there will ever be a way to successfully merge my two personalities.
Seasonal Color Flow
Complicating the matter of wardrobe-making is my coloring. When I am pale and my hair is darker, I fall squarely into the Clear Winter color palette.
Now that I have stopped dying my hair and it is my natural light brown/dark blonde color (first time since 7th grade, woo!) and it is getting warmer outside (more gardening = a bit of a tan), I am going to be flowing into Clear Spring.
The basic idea is that I should stick to clear and saturated colors. I am more naturally drawn to muted colors (because standing out makes me uncomfortable), but unfortunately they do nothing but make me look deceased.
Overly Dramatic Skin
Another obstacle to contend with is my psoriasis. I would share pictures, but no one really wants to see that.
Psoriasis is a condition that makes my skin dramatically overreact to every bit of dry skin or scrape it suffers, continuing to push up new skin cells at an incredible rate in the areas it affects. Your skin makes a whole new coat about every four weeks. Mine does it, on those spots at least, about every four days.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it is chronic, as in permanent and incurable. So that sucks.
Both of my elbows are scaly as well as a patch about the size of a quarter on my left knee and various patches from my left ankle to halfway up the outside of my left leg, and a couple of square inches on my scalp.
Part of the reason I don’t wear dresses is that I feel like I look strange and boyish in them. The other reason is because I don’t want people looking at me like I have the plague.
Everything I wear, I have to worry about covering my spots. There are people out there that can just throw on a dress or skirt or shorts or a swimsuit or even just short sleeves without a second thought. I may never be one of those people.
For now the best I can do is moisturize all the time, use the occasional bit of steroid ointment, and grab some sunlight whenever I can get it.
Rebuilding a wardrobe
Now that I will be getting back to working full time and making a living again, I think I can afford to start making occasional, single-item stops at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and thrift stores and the like. For Papa Bear too. We have each lost about 60 pounds since we were at our heaviest, and we now own nothing that fits us.
Because as Murphy’s Law would dictate, as soon as I got rid of all of those boxes of skinny clothes I hoped to fit into again, the weight seemed to start magically falling off.
My first pair of online-ordered boots arrived in the main the other day, and I could not be happier. I am going to begin to document my search for my personal style on the blog.
So now that I have the boots, it’s time to start building the rest of my wardrobe. I’ll start doing that, you go check my style-related pinboards. We’ll meet back here later.
What obstacles have you run into trying to find your personal style? Share with us in the comments below.
- Learning to Dress Myself - It was a long hard road to figuring out my personal style. These are items I should have in my closet.
- Brent–The Other Me - Ever since I was a kid, I kind of turned into a dude every once in awhile. In more recent years, he has named himself Brent and taken on a whole separate personality.
- Clear and Bright - I’m a Clear Winter when I’m my normal, pale, ghostly self, but when the gardening season hits, I flow into Clear Spring. In reality, I’m more of a neutral. Here’s what my closet should look like.
- Style Beyond Me - While I love beautiful clothes, high fashion, and the like, I don’t actually like it all ON me. This is where I put the rest.
- Cranial & Extremity - Jewelry, scarves, hats, and all the stuff I have recently realized can really jazz you up.
- Things for my Feet - Shoes, socks, accessories de pied – you know, junk that goes on my feetz.
- Papa Bear - My big burly bearded man needs a style Pinboard too!