Style Challenge: Are You a Creature of Habit, or a Wardrobe Remixer?

8 years ago

I'm doing this crazy project this year where I photograph what I'm wearing every single day. I've missed a few days, but two months into 2010, I have a pretty good idea of what my look is.

It's jeans and a crewneck sweater. Woo exciting.

My look is simple and practical and consistent; I don't have any issue with the first two adjectives, but the third makes me a little sad. Because in my heart of hearts, I want to be one of those women who are constantly challenging themselves to wear new and different things.

What I Wore in 2010

The dilemma with the challenge, of course, is twofold: it requires creativity and daring. In order to constantly recreate your look, you have to feel confident in your ability to mix and match (does this blouse really go with these pants?). You also have to be willing to leave the house in combinations that would make a lesser woman hide her head (and I don't mean under a cute hat). Many of us worry that spearheading our own personal Wardrobe Remix will be a lot of work, and will result in outfits that are more suited for the circus than for the office.

So we default to the jeans and crewneck sweater. Or at least I do.

But studing what other people wear is a great way to get inspired about your own look. It's easy to pick up a fashion magazine (especially at this time of year) and think I need to go shopping! but it's an entirely different project to look at real people's wardrobe choices and think about how you -- or I -- could recreate that look at home.

So where can you turn for on-the-street inspiration? I love The Sartorialist, because every single person he photographs is doing something creative and quirky with their closet -- often with pieces that I own (jeans, tees, boots). And I will have moments where I think, I could pull that off. Maybe. After all, who says that being chic is the provenance of people who live in Milan or New York City? Why couldn't my suburban housewife day be chic, too?

Good question.

Fortunately, there are some really inspiring women out there, who aren't worrying that they don't work for a fashion magazine or live in a European captial, and who are pushing the boundaries of what's appropriate for a Tuesday. Girl's Gone Child's Rebecca Wolf (who is one of the most beautiful women I have ever met in person) has been chronicling her mom wardrobe in a series she calls Gone Style -- but it's not the usual yoga pants and tees. Rebecca marries practical mom wear with rocker chic pieces for a look that may not work for your suburb but is definately enviable. Your style may not be as cutting edge as Rebecca's, but seeing what she wears while she's wrangling her wee children is inspirational (and seriously, she is actually that hott in person, I swear).

Looking for more practical inspiration? The Tipsy Society runs a feature they call $50 Fridays, where they assemble an outfit for -- you guessed it -- $50. Each outfit highlights a specific look (boyfriend cardigan, hard-core plaid) or retailer (Target, Walmart). This is an easy way to see a whole look and use that to change up your look. If you're someone who never knows what to do with that one hip piece, seeing it as part of an outfit can be monumental. And seeing the outfit put together on a budget forces you to realize that there's no need to stay in your rut. Style doesn't have to cost a fortune, after all. It's the look that matters, not the label.

It's good to have a clearly defiend personal style; it makes getting dressed easier, and it guarantees that you will look good, every single day. But every so often, it's important to challenge yourself, to change up your uniform, to add some bling or a bright color or a fancy jacket to your everyday look. This week, I bought a pair of cargo pants; they're super practical and a nice alternative to my jeans, but I fully intend to roll them up and wear them with peep toe heels. It's not a huge departure from my current look, but it's new and different, and it's something fun.

And in the end, fashion -- and style -- really should be all about fun.

Who do you look to for style inspiration? Or are you comfortable with your everyday uniform?

Susan Wagner writes about pragmatic fashion at The Working Closet and chic suburban living at Friday Playdate.

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