Photography: Corinne Cumming (ft Donnie and Stumpy the dogs)
You can follow a trend and still be individual. Let’s talk about it.
I’ve never really been all that good at being a poster girl for a certain style, or with a personal style that’s trendy. I follow trends, but I always twist and make them into my own style. I get a little bit down by the lack of mainstream bloggers in our country not showing more individual style, which I get is the way fashion is, but I wanted to write something for those of you who blog or read blogs but have a very different style – like me. This isn’t just unique to white alt girls either, but to anyone of any background who chooses to dress how they feel in and out every day without feeling the need to make it the best look possible for their Pinterest board or instagram feed.
Finding your own personal style is super hard, and doesn’t come overnight.
This is a demon i’ve battled – and i’m still battling – with for a long time. It’s not easy to find your own personal style and you should never feel pressured to reinvent yourself overnight or change who you are to follow the crowd. I remember the pressures of being at school and feeling like I had to have a certain style or brand of clothing just to fit in, but what I also remember is rebelling and often refusing to do so. Style is easier when you’re a kid, you’re fearless and you care less about how the world perceives you. As you get older it all becomes a lot more judgemental, people judge you on what you wear to the office and how you decide to dress. I actually have just been re watching Ugly Betty, and even though in comedic jest, the absolute ribbing she goes through for years for wearing the Guadalajara poncho never leaves her. Betty is a really good example however of someone refusing to bow down to what is considered ‘right’ in fashion, and even though through all four series she’s constantly picked apart by Marc, Amanda and Wilhelmina – and even Daniel sometimes! – she refuses to change and walks proudly in her clothes. Only through the series does her style become more refined and more grown up, but is always still very Betty.
I can relate to Betty, and I think she’s quite a good narrative for the average person.
Betty isn’t the super wealthy designer loving girl, she’s just a woman with a passion, and her own style shines through. Part of the reason why I rewatch and rewatch this series to death is because I see me in Betty, from not fitting in to standing out, yet being proud of herself all in the same one. But also confused, in a world where you feel you need to dress a certain way, it’s tough to stand your own – especially when your job is being judged on how you dress. It’s different for everyone, but i’ve found over the years a few pointers on developing my personal style that I thought i’d share with you today.
Try new things all the time and don’t be afraid.
The first thing I found over the years as I was growing into my personal style was to be fearless in trying new things. Not everything will work, and you might love how things look on the hanger but hate how they look in the dressing room – and that’s all part of it. Exploring and trying out new things is a really key part of finding out what you really love, and also not lingering too long on the things you think you should wear. When I walk into a shop, I look at the mannequins and displays for inspiration – and I pay attention to the front of the store. Sounds obvious, but after a few years working in visual merchandising, you pick up on the tricks – and one is to always check the front of the store. The new, hyped, trendy items will always be by the door, as a lure to get you in. Don’t walk straight past them, have a browse and see if anything takes your fancy. Remember to pick up staples and basics, and no colour is off limits. Be adventurous, and try new things. After all if you hate the way it looks in the changing room, it was only you that saw it, no one else. You can learn from it, and try something new next time!
Separating an instagram/blog photo outfit from an outfit that translates into real life.
This is what i refer to at the start of the post, the pressure to feel ‘pinterest worthy’ or take an instagram worthy snap, when really what works in real life is very different. Magazines and visuals have been around for years to inspire us, and they can make us feel inferior, but they are just imagery, not actuality. I never really go too overboard with styling my blog outfits, because I like them to be a real outfit i’d wear out and about – and do on the day we shoot. I think we can all be so guilty of pinning photos on pinterest that are really actually lovely photography that tell a story, rather than a style note we need to take heed of. I find this when I get comments on my style diaries videos saying my outfits are ‘boring’, well, they’re not boring, but they’re real. They’re what I wear day to day. It’s not average or normal to strut around dressed to the nines (unless somehow this is a requisite of your job in which case, awesome, i’m jealous) and I personally don’t like to represent that. Take this outfit for instance, my genuine every day style – a soft shirt, some shorts, and a jazzy bag. Easy! Remember when you pin or like photos that you’re usually in love with the visual aesthetics and not to pin your hopes on the outfit you see in front of you.
Identify your body shape and fall in love with a classic signature style.
I’ve gotten to know my body shape well over the years, and by learning what suits it and what doesn’t, you begin to pull together an idea of your signature look. I think if you read this blog a lot, you’ll be thinking of my signature look in your head – and that’s because I straight up know what doesn’t suit me at all and what my style is. When I think of Carrie from Wish Wish Wish, Lua from Le Happy or Jenn Im, I associate them with a signature look. That doesn’t mean they don’t switch up their style, because they do, but they’ve learned what suits their body shape, their personal favourite pieces, colour tones that work, and they work to the style within those. It’s not limiting yourself, but instead opening your mind to a new way of seeing clothes, finding something that fits personally tailored to you almost so perfectly you’d think it was made for you. It takes a long time to get used to this if you’re a bit like me and a bit clueless mixed with scatty (I change my style mind every minute one day slouchy next day tight fitting) but I do have a signature look, and signature shapes I know suit me. For example, I LOVE the flare trend. I love it. But my up down lank frame suits a skinny jean, or a mom jean – and sadly flares do not look good on me. Not all is lost however, because I found that flared sleeves on tops and dresses look awesome, and it’s quickly become part of my every day signature look. The less you limit yourself trend wise and the more you open up your mind, the sooner you’ll find signature items that you’ll wear again and again.
All in all, don’t stress. You’ll find your personal style, and it may not necessarily be in the depths of instagram. Don’t depress yourself, and don’t get down looking at the people around you. Take some time out to go into stores and really browse the items, look carefully at everything and let your mind style you. After all, no one knows your body as well as you. But I mean, the sales assistants will have a good idea and definitely will be able to help. The process of style and fashion should be fun every single day, and I hope you feel a little inspired to rummage and truly emerge as the you you know you are. Be a Betty!
This ‘shirt’ is actually a dress that is way too short for me and my lanky legs, but instead of returning it I made it work into a cute look with shorts! Defo mix up how t shirts sit – make them into dresses – chop your old favourite jeans into long shorts and create a wardrobe of things you truly love.
Thanks to the gorge pups Corinne looks after – Donnie and Stumpy – for making this shoot extra fun! Bet you can’t guess which one Stumpy is…