Holiday party season is upon us, and that means women everywhere are staring into their closets, panicked, wondering how to throw together chic, memorable, and event-appropriate looks for various upcoming events. Although many opt for dresses – definitely a good bet, as a dress will always help you look pulled-together - separates can work, too. I always get loads of compliments when I do the Carolina Herrera thing and wear a white button-front, statement necklace, and floor-length formal skirt. In fact, that’s become my go-to for evening events around the holidays.
How about you? Do you have a holiday dress that always makes you feel dynamite? A combination of garments that always works? Do you feel pressure to buy new items each holiday season, or are you able to creatively recycle your looks?
You don’t need ME to tell you that the holiday season approacheth, as I’m sure that every media outlet and local shopping center has been hammering that message home for a month or more. Holidays mean family gatherings, and for many women family gatherings are extremely challenging when it comes to body image. Whether it’s the pressure to overindulge, judgy relatives, or mental body comparisons, many of us struggle. But there are plenty of other times and circumstances that may trigger negative self-talk and body blues.
When do you struggle with your body image? The holidays? Swimsuit season? On any kind of vacation? If you’ve identified certain times or circumstances that challenge you, have you been able to prepare or create any ways to keep your confidence up? Please share any ideas and resources for others who may be facing similar struggles.
Reader Pretty Pink sent me this question via e-mail:
I have a question around which I would love to hear what other women think and feel- this is about social pressures, Facebook and how the culture of pictures has changed the way we dress and the quantity of clothes we buy. I don’t feel very proud saying this but I am conscious about not repeating too many outfits because pictures are being clicked at all events, parties and get-togethers and being posted on Facebook. On one hand I really enjoy it but on the other, I feel this pressure for having a wide variety of clothes and outfits that I put together. This has also affected my shopping patterns since I tend to buy more and sometimes lesser quality just because I would like people to see me in different outfits in my pictures. Of course, I have plenty of women around me who do not repeat outfits in their pictures. I almost feel embarrassed as I write this but I was wondering if the culture of pictures has changed the way we shop and dress and what other women think and experience around this.
I am not the best person to weigh in on this, as you might imagine, considering that I post my outfits to this website, the platform upon which my business is built. Although I don’t shop specifically to keep the blog fresh, I certainly feel some pressure to wear new combinations and new pieces with relative frequency … but I’m definitely not a typical social media user! So I’d love your input:
If you’re an active user of Facebook, Instagram, or other social media that can involve photos, do you feel pressure to wear new or different outfits in your photos? If not, is this something you feel women around you might be doing? Has this pressure influenced your dressing or shopping habits?
Reminder: Be respectful when expressing your opinions or your comments will not be published here.
As you’ve likely seen from my outfit posts, I am a jewelry dabbler. Aside from truly delicate, fine jewelry, I pretty much wear it all: Long and short, chunky and thin, retro and contemporary, ladylike and tough. I think jewelry – like shoes – can completely change the feel of an outfit, and love to mix up my looks by mixing up my accents.
How about you? Do you have a defined jewelry style? How did you come to it? Ever mix it up, or do you stick to what works?
With fall settling in I’m reaching for more neutrals, but I generally adore and love to play with color. I enjoy accessorization and love layering, but I feel like creating interesting color mixes is my style specialty.
And you? What’s your style specialty? What do you feel you do best when it comes to outfit assembly, shopping, or wardrobe curation? Do you have a master eye for proportion? Are you a wizard at print and pattern mixing? Do you know exactly how to tell if an item will become a wardrobe staple? What’s your sartorial superpower?
Reader Beth e-mailed me this fascinating question:
What do you do when you’ve been copying other people’s styles for so long, you have absolutely no clue what your own authentic style is? How do I separate my admiration for other women’s styles from what I actually like because it’s “me”?
Authenticity is a big buzzword these days and I can understand how copying the outfits of others would make Beth feel like she’s lacking it. But here’s what I told her:
Even in re-creating the outfits of others, you’re still exercising your taste and preferences. So what I’d suggest is examining the women whose styles you love, photographing some of the outfits you’ve copied, and thinking about the generalities. What unifies these looks? What do they have in common? Where do they overlap? Use of color? Cut? Patterns? Proportions? Era? Layering techniques? You’re drawn to specific things in the outfits you’ve copied, you just need to figure out what those things are. Once you have a short list, you might feel more comfortable playing around with outfits you’ve created yourself from scratch.
How often do you copy outfits you see other women wearing – in real life, in magazines, online, or elsewhere? Does it make you feel like you don’t have any essential style yourself? Or are you able to still feel authentic within the context of emulation?
Reader Dorothea introduced me to this idea, and I find it completely fascinating. She had been struggling to find inspiration for her own style, when she came across this innovative suggestion from Lisa Pippus. Basically, if you want to know how to dress (or accessorize) in a way that suits you and makes you feel happy, think about where you’d go on vacation if I handed you $5,000 and a plane ticket right now. It doesn’t even need to be a place you’ve actually visited, just somewhere that you long to be. Lisa was working with two clients when she first tried this tactic, and says:
“The first woman said New Zealand and when asked why she said for all the beautiful nature. She is a warm autumn in colouring and I immediately knew that pearls and ornate looking jewlery could be eliminated. She was delighted with the results. The second woman – a clear winter – said New York – for the energy and style. She had bought a beautiful dark blue outfit with a cowl neck during our shopping and wanted to accessorize it. Again I knew immediately what to eliminate – anything small, cute and natural. This was bold expensive looking statement jewelry.”
When I responded to Dorothea, I initially said I could see this working for accessories, but not clothes because a person could get hung up on the pragmatics of a location. My heart was left in Edinburgh years ago, and I know I’d need rain boots, scarves, and layers to keep me warm and dry … and then I realized, those things are what I love wearing best. I mean tall boots not rain boots, but still!
Could this system work for you? Think about where you’d most like to vacation for a month. Then think about your clothing and accessory preferences. If you dressed like your beloved location, would that work for your style?
Since Nadine opened up such a fabulous discussion about making huge changes to her hair, I thought I’d keep the ball rolling with today’s poll!
Most appearance-related changes are gradual. Your body shifts and you adjust your style accordingly. Your hair goes gray over many years. You decide you’re stuck in a style rut, and begin making different shopping and dressing choices over a long period of time.
But SOME changes are drastic. You give birth to a wonderful baby, and are suddenly presented with a body that feels entirely new. You get sick of your long locks and shave your head, or get sick of your blonde hair and dye it black. Your sister calls Stacy and Clinton and you’re thrown into the What Not to Wear machine. (I’d LOVE to know if anyone who reads has had that experience!) Or, slightly less traumatic, you hire a personal stylist to help you overhaul your style and are suddenly wearing your same clothes in drastically different ways. You get a makeup lesson at the department store counter and, overnight, you’re a daily lipstick and blush wearer. These things do happen!
Have you ever made drastic, overnight changes to your style or appearance? What prompted them? Were you pleased with the results? How did the people around you react? How did you respond? Do big changes in appearance thrill you, or do you prefer to approach change slowly and gradually?