I’ve gone through just about every style phase that you can imagine. In high school, I spent an ill-advised year trying to combine California surfer girl with emo-punk… even though I was decidedly neither Californian nor punk, and those two looks don’t really “go” together. Late in University, I was suddenly really into all things prim and proper: pearls, sweaters with bows, and an overwhelming amount of tweed. For my first few years in the workforce, I decided to completely eschew proper outerwear. For an entire winter, I wore layered sweaters and blazers with kitten-heel shoes and no socks. Might I remind you that I live in Canada. I don’t know how I didn’t freeze to death.
After all of this trial and (a shocking amount of) error, I seem to have finally found a style that works for me. Sure, maybe in ten years I’ll look back at this as just another phase, but I finally feel less like I’m dressing to fit a specific mold, and more so like I’m just dressing in a way that makes me feel comfortable. If I had to give a name to this style that I’ve landed on, I guess I’d call it “semi-casual vintage goth, with a twist”.
Let’s break it down.
Although I like getting dressed up for special occasions, I don’t love situations (or jobs) that require a specific dress code. Maybe it’s some sort of weird rebelliousness I didn’t know I had in me, but the idea of having to dress formally every day just makes my soul want to curl up and die. That’s not a judgement on people who do dress formally or who have chosen professions that require them to; it’s just a personal preference.
I used to be really into dresses and skirts, and I didn’t understand why anyone would encase their legs in fabric when they could experience the freedom of a dress or skirt. Although I still love a good dress on a really hot day, for the majority of the year, I feel more like myself in pants–ideally jeans, preferably ripped.
It’s not so much that I wear a lot of vintage clothes (real talk: it’s hard to buy vintage when you’re larger than straight sizes), but a lot of the clothes I like have a bit of a throw-back sensibility to them. For example, I love my new-to-me leopard coat because it reminds me of something Edie Sedgwick might have worn en route to Warhol’s Factory.
I’ve also bought a few handbags that are either vintage or vintage-inspired. The black one and the silver one in the photo are both from vintage stores in LA and Toronto, respectively. The green one isn’t vintage (I think I might have bought it at Aldo years ago), but it has a similar look, which I’ve played into by adding my Grandma’s cameo pin.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point, I started dressing mostly in black. I had kind of registered it when I no longer needed to separate my laundry, but I could no longer ignore my monochrome life when the cashier at Tim Horton’s referred to me as “The Black Lady,” explaining to me (when I must have looked very confused) that she’d noticed that I wore black every day. Similarly, just a few weeks ago, I got asked multiple times if I was in a Halloween costume when wearing the top and hat pictured above (in their defense, it was the weekend before Halloween, but maybe don’t ask someone if they’re dressed as a witch unless you’re SURE that it’s a costume, or they’re at a party…).
In addition to preferring black (or other dark neutrals), I’m also not a huge fan of most things with a print–loud florals being one exception. It’s the kind of thing that I see on other people and think it looks great, but as soon as I try it on, I don’t feel like myself. As a result, most pieces in my closet are solid colours.
With a Twist
I’ve never met a sparkle, glitter, or sequin that I didn’t like. I mean, I wrote an entire blog post about a single sequined jacket. That’s love.
Although most items in my closet are solids, I do love a good texture or unexpected detail, like a bell sleeve or tie-neck. One of my favourite sweatshirts has these really dramatic, flowy sleeves that I just love even though they’re forever getting in my way. (It’s all I can do not to flap my arms like wings whenever I wear it.)
What’s your signature style? Do you have a specific piece or type of clothing that makes you feel most like you? Tell me about it in the comments!