Trial, Error and Hard-Earned Fashion Lessons
I might be writing the most #firstworldproblems sentence possible when I say this, but it’s been a struggle for me to find my personal style. And dad, if you’re reading this, yeah, I have a personal style. I call it Recovering Catholic Schoolgirl, as its roots lie in the fact that for 11 years of my life, I wore a uniform.
During school hours, we slowly graduated from plaid jumpers (adorable!) to plaid skirts we rolled at the waistband until they were more like plaid tutus (inappropriate!), to men’s pleated Dockers with a polo shirt (asexual!). After school, I cycled through a different jersey for every season.
I loved my uniforms, even during the high school years where I ran the risk of accidentally wearing one of my brother’s shirts, which were indistinguishable from my own except for all of the pudding stains down the front of them.
But eventually, entirely against my own will, I had to graduate from high school and leave the friendly confines of my high school and my high-waisted dad-khakis. Without the safety of a daily outfit pre-selected for me, I was taking all kinds of ill-advised fashion risks.
For a period, it was necessary for everything in my closet to be hot pink, sparkling or short and tight (and especially loved if they combined all of these factors). This was followed by a period where everything made me look like a conservative young professional (I will not confirm or deny if I ever owned a lady suit). Finally, there was the period where I first discovered American Apparel, which happens to coincide with the period of time when I perfected the ability to look aloof and disinterested while smoking cigarettes.
It took a lot of trial and error to get to where I am now: accepting that my style is just trial, error and lessons learned.
Now that the good stuff is finally hitting the malls, I’ll be doing my spring/summer shopping with these lessons in mind:
• Cargo skinnies will not make me look skinny. In fact, adding any kind of volume around my thighs is a mistake. I have all the storage I need in my oversized purse.
• It’s booty shorts or pants. Anything else is reserved for Forest Rangers and middle-aged golfers.
• If there is a version of that outfit that would fit my 5-year-old niece, you’re doing it wrong.
• That being said, do not let the fact that you are pushing 30 prevent you from buying some disposable items at Forever21.
• Colorblocking is a buzz word for what is essentially just wearing a bunch of colors. You already did that in the 90s, back when Justice was called Limited Too and if you were really, really good your parents would buy you a pair of turquoise jeans to layer with a purple turtleneck and a yellow sweatshirt. Don’t get suckered into some goofball dress you’ll be disappointed in next summer.
• The models in the Urban Outfitters catalogue are 16 or 17, tops. Remember that when you’re sad that a crop top doesn’t make you look carefree and waifish.
• Cutting your hair seems like a good idea every time the weather heats up. Trust me, you will regret making yourself look more like a giant bird.
• When in doubt, add more jewelry.
What fashion lessons have you learned the hard way? Are there any trends you’re passing on this season?
by Nora McInerny
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@india, but lite lime is an accessory that looks good year-round. a wise investment for any young lady.
@Ali - agreed! And I actually went to the hair academy so she is not even an official stylist yet!
or, summers, whatever, writer. nora, help.
i hear bud lite with lime is summer's hottest new accessory.
Beachbabe, good on the stylist to stop you from chopping your hair off! That's the sign of a good stylist when they are more concerned that you look your best than that they get to play with your hair and experiment with styles that don't suit you.
I totally agree with the "When in doubt, add more jewelry" point! It's amazing what a few more bangles or a classy pair of earings can do.
Nora, I think I would die of embarrassment if those ever got out.
Nora, I loved working with you when you would arrive at the office every morning and say "I don't know what I'm wearing. I'm sorry this is see-through everyone!"
You first, my friend. You first!
Maybe we need to do a high-school posing wall?
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