Fashion is an interesting concept.  What is “fashion?”  What does it mean to be “fashionable?”  I’m not really sure of the answers and I don’t think I’m alone in that, but I thought it might be interesting to peruse the topic for a bit.

That is a rug she's wearing, FYI.
That is a rug she’s wearing, FYI.

To be “in fashion” means to fit within the accepted practices of your current context.  Fashion is a time-based concept and sometimes it feels like a lot of bother to keep up.  Style, on the other hand, is timeless.  Style is your distinct way of doing things.  I think many of us would hesitate to call ourselves “fashionable” (even though we more than likely are, according to my definition) but I think that’s because what we are lacking is style, not fashion.  We are not sure what to do to be stylish and it seems somehow selfish to put thought and effort into it.  Here’s the thing though: no matter how much or how little effort you put into it, you have style, inherently.  You get dressed every day; you take your walking billboard of yourself out into the world and give off something.  I don’t believe it’s selfish at all to put some thought into what that’s going to be.  In fact, the people who I find most stylish are those that appear most confident in who they are, that seem to have nailed it down, regardless of what they’re wearing; there’s a match between inside and outside.  Lucky you if you just know yourself really well and achieve that with little effort.  As for the rest of us, we might have to work at it a bit!

Maybe she's born with it; maybe it's a *real* no make-up post-camping no-shower for 3 days shot.
Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s Maybelline a *real* no-make-up post-camping no-shower-for-3-days no-filter shot.

After shopping with Penny recently, she emailed me:

I was never very interested in fashion or style … I always thought that it was too fussy for me and I didn’t have time for it. But our shop made me realize that at least for me, it’s about feeling put together and feeling good about myself, and that’s a great thing! However, I don’t have much of a clue what I’m doing. For someone completely new to style, what do you think are the most important things to know?

Thank you Penny for the awesome email!  I will do my best to share some tips on Fashion for the “Unfashionable!”

  1. Firstly, give yourself permission to put time, effort and money into your personal style.  It’s not selfish, it’s self-honouring.
  2. Next, start paying attention when you get dressed in the morning.  What are you wearing when you get that “YES” feeling, when you feel like you’re wearing a great outfit?  Take a selfie or make a note.  Over time, you will likely see some patterns emerging.
  3. If you have a style board on Pinterest, look it over for themes.  Do you like ruffles, belts, a certain silhouette?  Browse through the Monday Style Prompt style personality posts and see what catches your eye.  You can also do this exercise with magazines – it is fun and helpful!
  4. Avoid the fast-fashion temptation.  The daily new clothing lines coming out in popular retail stores are the modern equivalent of slave labour.  Just don’t do it.  Don’t get stuck in fashion with heavens-knows-who essentially telling you what to wear.  Instead, go thrifting!  Bypass “fashion” and go hunting for style!  There are still plenty of contemporary pieces in thrift shops, but seen out of context, you will be more apt to decide for yourself if the pieces fit your personal aesthetic.  Buy some different pieces, give them a try then refer to No. 2!  Thrifting is an affordable way to explore your style!
  5. Try some styling tips.  There are plenty of “fashion formulas” (a misnomer!) – give them a try!  Two of my favourite styling tips include the “short over long over skinny” and the “rule of 3.”  Or, take your current style (which most likely includes a top of some kind and a bottom of some kind) and add something – add accessories or a finishing layer (a blazer, cardi, jacket, scarf)…  I guarantee this will help you look put together!

Style is not about being a certain size or having lots of money.  Style is not about being trendy and it’s not about defaulting to jeans and a t-shirt because you’re not sure what else to do. No!  Instead, let your default be “does this feel like me today?”  This simple question will help you develop your style.

Here’s an example of how I got dressed one morning.

Started with a basic dress - Cabi $3.50 from Goodwill
Started with a basic dress – Cabi $3.50 from Goodwill.  (There must be lots of dead people hovering around me with all those light spots.)
Next I tried some shoes.  I love these shoes and haven't worn them lately plus I had a mostly-sitting day so I knew they would work.
Next I tried some shoes. I love these shoes and haven’t worn them lately plus I had a mostly-sitting day so I knew they would work.
Next I added some coordinating accessories - mix of thrifted, She Does Create and others from my collection.
Next I added some coordinating accessories – mix of thrifted, She Does Create and others from my collection.
By this point, even though I'm smiling, something doesn't "feel" right about my outfit...
By this point, even though I’m smiling, something doesn’t “feel” right about my outfit…  It looked fine, just didn’t quite fit my vibe that day.
So I tried different shoes and accessories!
So I tried different shoes and accessories!
Closer, but still not quite right...
Closer, but still not quite right…

I ended up wearing the first shoes with the second accessories!  As soon as I put them together, it felt right which meant that my walking billboard that day would give off the vibe of a comfortable stylish woman!

I hope this helps, Penny, and I hope it encourages anyone who might consider themselves “unfashionable” to rethink things and start exploring style!  It’s fun and thrifting makes it accessible for almost any woman on any budget!  Speaking of thrifting (!), I’m heading on a road trip and looking forward to exploring the thrift shops along the way!  I hope to find a Starbucks and do a post or two over the next couple week but there’s no guarantee!  I might just be enjoying the drive, enjoying my family and enjoying my style!  Follow along on my travel adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and meanwhile enjoy the start of summer and, hopefully, some thrifting and style!  

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