Dressing Within a Defined Aesthetic – Part 2

Back in May, I posted interviews with three women who dress within defined aesthetics. Many of you wanted this to become a regular feature. It has proven difficult to find folks who adhere to a single look or style AND are willing to participate, but I’ve finally got another three collected. Huge thanks to the women who contributed!

As I said in the previous post, I consider myself to be a confirmed sartorial dabbler. There are definite constants within my personal style, but I refuse to be tied down to a single aesthetic. Which is why folks who have actively chosen to dress within a narrow set of parameters fascinate me. I’ve called upon a few such women and asked them to share their motivations and choices. Read on to find out more about their wardrobes, their decision-making processes, and their lives within defined dressing aesthetics.

* * * * *

Candice, Super Kawaii Mama – Old Style Glamour

What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single defined aesthetic?

This is an interesting question because I personally view my style as very eclectic. While it has a strong vintage bent and many refer to me as “The Vintage Queen”, there is much more diversity than that in my choices though. The singular defining characteristic of my wardrobe is glamour. Not an elegant, understated type of glamour, but a full throttle, old Hollywood, sequins and feathers type of glamour. Whether I’m wearing vintage, vintage inspired or even a more modern eclectic look, the litmus test of success for me is the drama element in the glamour.

I can trace the point of my wardrobe decision back to a moment when I was about 7 years old. I grew up on a diet of MGM films and remember watching Rosalind Russell in “Aunty Mame” for the very first time. Both she as a character and her wardrobe (despite her changing age and circumstances) took my breath away. At that moment, I knew she was the kind of woman I aspired to be, both inside and out. I’ve been following her lessons ever since.

How long have you stuck to it?

I’d have to say this my style has been a life long quest, and like all good quests has been filled with adventure and the odd demon to over come. There has certainly been times in my life where I have really struggled to maintain my stylistic self, both through style fatigue, and life issues. Having two children presented challenges I hadn’t considered, as did things like ageing, having money, having no money, and dramatic weight differences. All of these experiences though, have given rise to a breadth of understanding in my style that makes it all the more empathetic when relating to readers situations.
When I look back at photos of 14 year old me, the same style signatures, as well as the dramatic poses, are all still evident.

What do you love about it?

I love that my style is about more than just the transient nature of trend based fashion. My style is in fact a lifestyle philosophy. I believe that by presenting my most glamorous version of myself, no matter the time, place or circumstances; I’m able to find that rose coloured version of reality which we all seek. It is about taking what you have and putting the best possible spin on it, polishing it till it shines and inspires others around you to do similarly. When so much of life is presented in shades of grey, dressing with glamour in mind is like watching in colour.

What’s frustrating?

I though about this for awhile as there are far too many flippant answers I could give like, “not enough closet space.” but to be honest, the thing at frustrates me, makes me sad and angry at the same time, is how many people just give up on themselves. How many people believe that,”I wish I could, but that’s for every one else. That’s for special people, not for me.” And the other thing that I feel very strongly about is raising the bar for the next generation. As a society we have never been so well off (historically) or had such ready and cheap access to good clothing and beauty options. We spend billions on advertising in these markets, spend our pay-checks on magazines of celebrities looking fantastic, and yet never as a nation have we been so poorly dressed / presented. It is a maddening irony and one that will only change if people are brave enough to challenge that status quo and raise that bar.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?

Fashion and style are a language. Learn which language is the most true to your creative heart, then spend the time to develop your vocabulary. Yes, you can get by on the basics, but you could also use it to write the story of your life. Your story belongs to you alone. Don’t allow someone else to write it for you without you realising it is happening.

Erin, Work With What You’ve Got – Rocker

What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single, defined aesthetic?

It was more organic than that, really. When I was 15, my favorite store was The Gap. I wanted to work there, so when I applied, I dressed head-to-toe in GAP, and I got the job. I used my first paycheck to purchase a classic black motorcycle jacket from Contempo Casuals , and I’ve been adding a touch of rock-and-roll to everything I wear ever since.

How long have you stuck to it?

I’ve had phases since then when I tried new things, but I always come back to that black leather jacket. In the early 90s my favorite look was a short floral dress, pink patent leather mary janes and that biker jacket. Now I love anything flowy, and lacy paired with black ankle boots and a black leather jacket (or vest!) so even though my style is always evolving, always changing, it always comes back to that black leather jacket. I have several motorcycle jackets and one fringed leather vest today. The original jacket (which I keep in a hall closet for sentimental reasons), a thicker Winter weight one, a lighter weight one for Spring and Fall by H&M, a Red Suede version by Zac Posen for Target, a grey denim version by Alexander McQueen for Target, a drapey black version by Bebe for dressy events, a black lace sheer version for Summer, and the crowning glory of my collection; a light pink leather one with an airbrushed unicorn on the back for that authentic 80’s mall rock look. And I’m always on the hunt for more (no pleather!). While the jackets are not the whole of my look, they are the heart and soul. And anything you wear them with becomes a little more rock-and-roll by default.

What do you love about it?

It makes me feel young, and it makes me feel like ME. The most uncomfortable I ever feel is in something preppy, with a black blazer instead of one of my biker jackets. Some of my other standard rock and roll wardrobe elements are lots of jewelry, which I like to keep very edgy. I have a lot of skulls, animal bones and bullets in my jewelry collection. I also rely on my denim studded vest, and my leather shorts. I love leather shorts paired with a dressy blouse. I love the freedom to mix and match and I love knowing that no matter what new thing I want to try (neon, color blocking, prints), I can keep it me by incorporating my leather and jewelry into the look. An added bonus? Black leather boots. Very rock-and-roll, very comfortable. I keep them around in ankle, mid calf, knee high and thigh high versions.

What’s frustrating?

Business casual. I have been working on a jewelry line for a local boutique in Dallas for the past few months but it turns out I really am a people person. I have been looking for part time work and there is really no way around either ditching or watering down my look. I have to wear matching earrings ( I never wear matching earrings) , and real shoes (not boots) and a BLAZER. Blazers are my mortal enemy. I really need to focus up and find a leather one soon.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?

Wear what you want. (Love you Wendy B!) But remember that sometimes what you want may not be appropriate. When we choose an extreme look for ourselves we have to accept that sometimes we have to tone it down or abandon it altogether. Know when to let your personality and skill shine by not overwhelming people with your edge. Sometimes, you have to tuck your bullet rosary inside your shirt. It’s still there. You’re still you.

Most importantly, if you find something you love, and you want to wear it, but you don’t think it fits into your aesthetic, WEAR IT. Having a defined style is not meant to feel like a prison, it’s meant to feel like home. Feel free to take a vacation sometimes.

Lisa, Privilege – Classic

What made you decide to dedicate your wardrobe to a single, defined aesthetic?

Lack of imagination? No, no, that’s not it. I just couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. I want to feel stylish, it’s a non-trivial component of my self image, as we say in the software business. But I need to feel refined and sophisticated, and as though I might go unnoticed. Especially as my personal communication style can be quite direct and forceful.

How long have you stuck to it?

The question is really how long did it take me to get here? I’ve never wanted to dress any other way, I simply thrashed about a lot in the attempt. I had a phase in the 80s, replete with Japanese knitwear. Clothes were fantastic, a Rei Kawakubo kimono sweater and matching pants in particular, but the look was downright silly on me.

What do you love about it?

I always feel appropriate to the situation, but never like I’ve lost the opportunity for self-expression.

What’s frustrating?

So many patterns and colors that I’ll never know. So much swashbuckling that I’ll never do.

What would you say to someone considering a similar sartorial path?

Enjoy! Most of all, find pleasure in subtlety. Find your perfect t-shirt, in your perfect color, and wear it under simple cardigans and blazers. Befriend texture, tweed, cable knit, and stretch jersey all. Layer textures, keep your silhouette simple. Invest in delicate pretty jewelry – like a little gold script initial necklace, or pink baroque pearl earrings – classic but not cookie-cutter. And don’t worry, huge sums of money not required. Replace cashmere with merino, use quiet mixes of color in your best shades, and celebrate American jeans in all their glory – especially paired with a jacket.

Oh, and remember, motorcycle boots are their own kind of classic, and can be worn with the most decorous of outfits. The best part of fully exploring an aesthetic is the creativity you find at the fringes.

  • http://keepwarm-daniellabella.blogspot.com/ Danielle

    I enjoyed this so much! I love when people have a look and you know straight away that it is just so them!

  • http://www.considermelovely.com Rocquelle

    This is great!! I loved seeing each of their styles and reading the reasons or history behind them.

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  • Jenny

    Oooh I love this post! It’s a nice introduction to other bloggers. It can be tough finding ones that you really click with.

  • http://www.awellstyledlife.com Jennifer

    Fascinating concept. Staying true to your personal style is a challenge with so many “advice” columns and magazines bombarding us. These ladies are so fun in their contrast to each other.

  • Anna

    Lovely, every one–and so different from one another. There really is room on this planet for every kind of aesthetic. So refreshing and encouraging.

  • http://www.amidprivilege.com Lisa

    Thank you so much for having me Sal! Always my pleasure to hang out with the Already Pretty crowd.

  • http://monkeyobsessions.blogspot.com alice

    Yay! I’m glad to see the classic style represented here too. I admire how others look in vintage or (fill-in-the-era)-inspired looks, but I can’t wear that stuff without feeling like I’m in a costume and that the costume is camouflaging my personality instead of reflecting it. I feel best and most powerful in subtle clothes that don’t distract from what I have to say. I have a uniform and I love it. Thanks Lisa!

  • Sarah

    I love this feature…reading about women with strong personal style really inspires me to find my own! What I find interesting is that I identify most with Lisa in terms of my style but I don’t really consider myself to have a strong, defined aesthetic. It’s more my default style because classic pieces work best on my figure and for my lifestyle. I guess I had it in my head that I had to push envelopes or wear head to toe vintage or wear things that make me uncomfortable to be truly stylish.

  • http://themagicsquarefoundation.wordpress.com E B Snare

    Great idea for a series, fantastic bloggers who participated and all so different (plus it introduced me to them, which is awesome!). Marvellous.

    Elly

  • http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/ Trystan (the CorpGoth)

    I love this feature! Thanks for doing it again :)

  • http://wendybrandes.com/blog/ WendyB

    Ooh, I can’t wait to show Lisa some swashbuckling outfits I have coming up — she can live vicariously ;-)

  • http://www.meganmaedaily.com/ Megan Mae

    Love these posts. I’m insanely jealous of people who have words to accurately describe their aesthetic. Thanks for giving us insight into the styles of these lovely bloggers!

  • BelindieG

    I dunno==I think branding yourself is one thing, but always wearing the same costume is rather dull, even if it’s a “far out” look. I guess it makes sense for the vintage dealer, but otherwise? Too limiting.

    • Litenarata

      No one is always wearing the same “costume”. It’s about choosing a style, not an outfit.

  • Lisa

    What a fun article. Loved it and admire each of these ladies and will be checking out their blogs. Lisa’s style is similar to mine. I want to exhibit myself as polished and sophisticated and simple. I don’t like trying too hard and I certainly don’t mind blending in. That’s just my personality, and it makes shopping and getting dressed so much easier!

  • http://www.unefemme.net/ Deja

    What a fun post! I really enjoyed reading how each of these women developed and view their unique style.

  • BelindieG

    Why do so many bloggers stand pigeon-toed? Is it supposed to make the audience feel like the person is just a gawky kid? It’s not flattering.

    • Kelly K

      Looking forward to your tutorial, B!

    • Zed Master

      I think it’s meant to be an ‘aw shucks, you’re looking at me?’ pose. You’re fashion bloggers – of course we’re looking at you.

    • Shay

      It’s supposed to be flattering and make them look ‘twee’ but unfortunately it reads as try-hard.

  • Olivia

    I’m happy to see Lisa’s style included. I after reading the first five bloggers’ styles I was trying to figure out what I would call my style and I was leaning toward preppy. Classic sounds nicer. :)

    I’ve never gone much for the trends of the day, and any particular style makes me feel like I’m wearing a costume. So classic, leaning toward casual with my “edge” being my hippy shoes (birkenstocks) and earthy jewelry.

  • http://viktoriasbookshelf.blogspot.com Viktoria

    This is a great series, I totally get this! And I heartily agree with Candice, that there are a lot of badly presented people out there. I often watch the Antiques Roadshow, both from Britain, the US, and Sweden, and it´s amazing how many middle class, clearly well-off men there are out there who don´t mind showing themselves on television in washed out, over-sized t-shirts, why not with an advertising slogan on it! When they get their heirlooms priced, I often wonder what their great-grandfathers would have thought.

  • Allison

    Sweet Sal – I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!! Gah! You picked such wonderful people here! I admire what each of them do and I will admit, I do have a bit of envy. I, too, am a dabbler, but I cannot help but think that if I had a more clearly defined style, it may be a teeny bit easier. I would have a more solid framework by which I could express my creativity. Sometimes I feel all over the place – even though I feel my wardrobe is heavily edited. Le sigh. It’s good to have a dream, and an end goal! ;)

  • http://www.superkawaiimama.com.au Candice DeVille

    Thanks Sal for asking me to be a part of this. They were fantastic questions and really gave me pause for thought. Even the comments here have given me an idea for an outfit challenge series over the next few months, and I do love a challenge!

  • http://thatsnotmyage.blogspot.com That’s Not My Age

    Excellent post! And I love Lisa’s ‘find pleasure in subtlety’ approach.

  • http://www.designerindianwear.com Shop Sarees Online

    It’s really glad to read your article. Thank you for very nice article and for giving specific & useful information.

  • http://www.poppisima.blogspot.com Poppy Buxom

    Great post! I love Lisa and have been reading Privilege for years. She definitely swashbuckles her classics. Now I’m going to make a beeline for the other two blogs. Thanks for starting this series!

  • http://butaneanvil.blogspot.ca/ Amber of Butane Anvil

    Great series, Sal – thanks!

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  • http://etsy.com/shop/flatironvintage Tova Friedman

    Thanks for this series– it’s an absolute pleasure to read, and an entirely different and new way of appreciating how people express themselves (in contrast with street style single-snapshots).

    I’ve (somewhat recently) committed to a style– I rarely go out without wearing a dress and a hat–and I love that the people around me know what to expect in terms of my “look” but are still always surprised by the looks I create.

    Thanks again!

    xx

    Tova

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