Every so often I get myself into a bit of a rut with how I dress. I think it happens to the best of us from time to time, even those who always seem to look so effortlessly chic and ‘together’ whenever you see them. When you start to question everything you thought you knew about yourself and your style, your likes and dislikes. When you start to wonder whether you’re really wearing the right type of clothes for your age/shape/lifestyle and when you realise you’ve been reaching for those same old comfort pieces day in and out for far too long.
For me, it usually happens around periods of change in my life. I think my clothes and style are so directly linked with my mood that when life feels a bit topsy turvy and I’m not quite myself, I start to feel uneasy with my clothing choices too. And vice versa, when I’ve fallen into a trap of neglecting my style and appearance, it affects the way I feel in myself as well.
I’ve always been somewhat of an eclectic dresser, with a love for colour, print and shiny glittery things. I get bored with clothes easily, and need injections of pretty every so often to keep me feeling engaged with my wardrobe. I’ve tried, on many occasions, to only buy investment pieces and create that elusive ‘capsule collection’ and while it works with certain pieces (namely shoes and bags, and beautiful vintage dresses and coats which I’ll happily keep forever) I’ve accepted the fact that overall I’m just not a ‘capsule collection’ kind of person when it comes to fashion. The idea of having a wardrobe which consists only of black skinnies, white tees and a camel coat quite frankly bores the hell out of me (but of course that’s just me, and I know some people who have wardrobes just like that and make them work in ways I never could so each to their own). It’s taken me until the age of 31 to be able to say; ‘you know what? I need to treat myself to some goddamn glittery shoes every so often in order to feel like ‘me’ and that’s ok’
But of course, despite more or less knowing the things that make me happy when it comes to fashion, I still have major wobbles about my choices. Like should I even be buying the glittery shoes at the age of 31? Because, honestly the pair I’m wearing in this post are not that dissimilar to the pair I wore to my first ever school disco at the age of 9. I guess in some ways your tastes really don’t change that much at all, hey?
Most recently, I can think of three stand out points where my style (and confidence in that style) took a bit of a nosedive. Firstly, when I initially went freelance and started my own business. My life completely changed, and therefore so did my style. I found myself working from home much more, which frankly is an easy way to get stuck in a rut of joggers and slouchy knits and not much else, and my need for fancy dresses and sky high heels lessened (not that it stopped me buying them of course!). I also found myself shopping for more professional looking clothing that would give the impression I was more together with my freelance work than was the truth behind the scenes, and soon had a wardrobe which was full of shirts and blouses and and abundance of black skinny jeans. It took me a while to realise that I could still look professional and smart dressing in the clothes that felt like me and made me happy.
Secondly when I turned 30, entered a new decade of life and suddenly questioned whether I could still wear a lot of the things I had been wearing in my twenties. My head was telling me I should be dressing more grown up, but my heart was telling me not to give up the mini skirts and pink jumpsuits just yet. As it happened this wobble was just a short one, and as soon as I reminded myself that age has nothing to do with style (Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb is one of my favourite advocates of this fact) and there was no reason to give up the things I loved because of a number, I wore the pink jumpsuit and felt better than ever in it.
Thirdly was at the start of this year, when I returned from my honeymoon and a winter spent in a bikini and found I’d almost missed out a whole season in the fashion calendar. After almost a year of thinking of nothing but wedding dresses and tiaras when it came to my personal style, I found it difficult to re-adjust and re-find my everyday look again. I challenged myself to get my mojo back and it eventually returned to me around the time of my birthday, along with the arrival of spring. It took a dramatic hair change, a touch of pink dye and one of my favourite ever charity shop finds to get me back on track.
So as you can imagine, the current big life change I’m going through (brewing a baby) is once again throwing me off course and leaving me in a bit of a quandary over my usual style and what to do with it. Since I got pregnant I’ve found myself reaching for the same pieces day in and out, some out of habit, some out of comfort and some out of ‘I really don’t have anything else I feel good in right now’. It’s frustrating, because I always thought I’d love dressing a baby bump and giving myself the challenge of remaining stylish throughout pregnancy. But let me tell you – it’s harder than it looks. That bump gets in the way of everything!
Now, at 24 weeks, I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I’m just going to have to embrace it, this new body of mine, and attempt to cling on to any last scrap of personal style that I can for the next 3 months. The bump has now reached a point where it seems I can hold off buying maternity clothes no longer (why oh why do they have to be so ugly though??) and so, me and my fat belly are waddling through this pregnancy style rut as best we can. And this pink and leopard outfit is the beginning of the end of my comfort clothing cycle.
Usually when I find myself in a style rut, my personal solution is to thrown some pink at it, which is exactly what I did with these Boden Richmond trousers. To be honest I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to make them work, as I’m wearing them much lower in the waist than they really should be worn, but they are darn cute, comfortable and pretty smart too so here’s hoping I can keep them going for a few more weeks. They look good with both heels and flats, but the addition of these Topshop glitter heels just makes my heart sing that bit more. I’d been eyeing these up for AGES and kept telling myself I didn’t need any more metallic shoes and had no place for them in my fat pregnant state, but in the end I couldn’t convince even myself, and after a particularly emotionally strung day (silly hormones) I gave in, and I couldn’t be happier I did. They’re sold out online now I believe but check in stores (Selfridges in London still have them) and you can also buy them in silver and black too. Plus they’re surprisingly comfortable – that block heel is do-able even when six months preggo! My final new addition was this leopard print coat from Mango, which I got via Octer. If you haven’t yet checked out Octer, it’s a great little shopping tool – basically it houses all of your favourite high street stores under one roof and allows you to save items to a wishlist and shop directly so it’s ideal if you’re shopping for multiple items from different stores. I’ve been wanting a leopard print number for a while (we’ll blame Erica and her ability to layer leopard so brilliantly) but didn’t want full length. This shorter biker style is perfect and still warm and cosy. It might not do up in another month but hey ho.
So, if you too feel a little lost with your personal style, I’ve highlighted what I think are the signs to look out for that might signal you’re in a rut. And my personal solutions for how to get out of it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too?
SIGNS YOU’RE IN A STYLE RUT (and the solutions to get out of it)
The sign – you have a wardrobe full to the brim of clothes, but are wearing the same four outfits on repeat
The solution – have a big clear out and challenge yourself to rediscover one old item
You might have a spring clean once a year and get rid of all the things that no longer fit you, but I find doing regular small wardrobe clear outs rather than big seasonal ones are actually much more beneficial. Every few months I go through my wardrobe and have a cull of items I haven’t worn in a while (with the exception of forever pieces). Re-arranging your clothes to help you see pieces more clearly day to day is hugely therapeutic. Another trick is to pick one key piece that you don’t want to get rid of but haven’t worn lately and challenge yourself to wear it in a new way. Style up last season’s coat with this seasons dresses for example.
The sign – you haven’t bought yourself anything new in months
The solution – hit the charity shops or sell old pieces to make way for new
Style ruts so often come around when we simply get bored with seeing the same pieces in our wardrobe every day. When you’re saving or on a tight budget it can be hard seeing people on Instagram parade new clothes every day when you feel like you haven’t treated yourself in months. I fell into this trap while saving for our wedding and found it oh so difficult not to be able to shop as much as I normally would. In these cases, charity shops and second hand stores really are your best friends, and I’ve been amazed at the gems I’ve found in the past. Also selling a bunch of pieces at a carboot or on Ebay can give you an injection of cash to treat yourself to something new, which might just be the ticket to re-discovering your style.
The sign – you wake up every morning repeating the phrase ‘I have nothing to wear’
The solution – re-evaluate your wardrobe for your lifestyle and split clothes into categories
When we have a full wardrobe, we don’t really mean ‘I have nothing to wear’, we mean ‘I have nothing I want to wear’ or ‘I have nothing that’s right for the occasion I’m trying to dress for’. I sometimes find it helpful to go through my wardrobe and consider what part of my lifestyle those clothes relate to. Remember those shirts and blouses I was talking about, well as I’m now working from home more and more I don’t have as much need for them so it’s time to get rid. Do you have a wardrobe full of jeans, when denim is a no no at work? Or 50 similar pairs of white trainers when actually you normally wear heels day to day? It could be time to re-evaluate. One trick is to separate your wardrobe into categories such as work wear, weekend wear, occasion wear etc. It might help you gravitate towards the pieces that actually work for any given occasion.
The sign – you find yourself always reaching for the failsafes
The solution – remove your go-to items from your wardrobe for a week and see what happens
It’s easy to get into a spiral of always reaching for the nearest outfit of jeans and jumper, especially over winter I find, and almost forgetting other key clothes that could do the same job. Try removing your go-to pieces for a trial period and see what new outfits you come up with instead. You might surprise yourself with a few new favourites.
The sign – you’re feeling down about your appearance and have stopped ‘trying’
The solution – make a change to your look
We all have periods when we don’t feel good about ourselves – maybe we’ve put on a bit of weight, are going through a lifestyle change or just need an injection of happy in our routine. For me, the easiest way to pull myself out of this and make myself feel fabulous again is to make a big change to my appearance. At the start of this year I chopped off the locks I’d been growing for two years previous and I can’t tell you how good it made me feel. But it doesn’t need to be as drastic as that. Maybe it’s wearing a lipstick colour you never normally wear or styling your hair differently one day. Whatever helps, because we should all feel fabulous more often.
Do you ever find yourself in a style rut? What do you do to get out of it?
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P.S if you’re wondering why I’m looking a bit miserable in these photos, it’s because it was POURING with rain when we took them. Also I really wish I’d worn lipstick as my lips look dead in that grey light #bloggerfail