So you’ve all heard about this project that Sarai started over at Colette Patterns by now, right? Since I’ve been working on trying to figure out my style for years now, and one of my goals for the year is a more cohesive wardrobe, the challenge couldn’t have come at a more perfect time!
She posted a series of questions recently to help narrow down your own individual fashion story. So I figured I’d answer these questions, with photographic evidence when I can.
1. History- How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why?
I grew up going to a private Christian school, up until my college years. I did not have a uniform, but we had a fairly strict dress code that included things like no blue jeans, no t-shirts, and no skirts shorter than 4″ above the knee when kneeling. So aside from weekends and summer vacations, much of my teenage wardrobe was a combination of staying within the rules while still displaying my own personal style. In addition, my mom made a lot of my clothes when I was a kid, and started teaching me to sew before I was done elementary school. So this meant I was used to having clothes that weren’t exactly like what the other girls in my class wore. As I went into junior and high school, I discovered thrift shops, so my style was generally a combination of things I found there, things I made myself, and things inspired by the 60’s and 70’s, some of which were things my mom had sewn for herself in the 70’s. I think this is still a big part of my style today. I also still love blue jeans and t-shirts, and pretty much wore that straight for a lot of my college years, since I couldn’t in high school.
I couldn’t find many photos of my day-to-day look, unfortunately, since digital photography was just starting to appear and wasn’t quite affordable for a college girl yet. So most of the photos I have from high school and college were from “special” occasions that I could justify using my precious film on. I think this pic of me and my two best friends from college was probably fairly typical, though. (Even though I have no idea what sort of goofy pose we were doing at the time…)
Now that I’m in my early 30s, I still love a lot of the same things, though I’ve tried to maintain at least some level of professionalism in a lot of my clothes, as I’m partially self-employed and would like to make a good impression with my students.
2. Philosophy- How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?
Growing up (and still being involved) in a church culture definitely affected my style. We didn’t dress like nuns or anything, but modesty was important. I still shy away from things that are too tight, too low-cut, too short, etc. It’s honestly not really a sense of being uncomfortable with my figure. I just don’t really care to flaunt it in an overly provocative way, though I still want to be stylish.
3. Culture- How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?
My background is classic western European–heavily German on my dad’s side, and predominately English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh on my mom’s. I definitely look more like my mom, and do have a strong leaning towards Celtic-influenced designs and British culture. (What can I say, their books, tv and music tend to be great!)
4. Community- How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?
My family is generally pretty casual, and my church increasingly so. Also, a lot of my friends are moms of fairly young children. This means that I often feel overdressed when I wear my dresses in particular, even though they’re really fun to sew! My mom has always had a thing for bright colors and funky prints, and this has most definitely rubbed off on me. I do have to admit that I’m also often influenced by geek culture, and like to work subtle references into my clothes when I can! (You know, TARDIS skirts, Lord of the Rings-inspired shirts…) This also explains my t-shirt collection, which I’ve included a sampling of here! Finally, as a classically-trained musician, I do tend to keep an eye out for black clothes that have interesting details, because I always need black for performances.
5. Activities- How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?
When I’m at my garden center job, I don’t really have much choice in the way I dress. Just thrifted jeans that I don’t care if I wreck, and the company t-shirt (and whatever layers I need to get by if I’m outside). When I’m teaching, I generally like to go for an artsy-professional look, which is a lot of what I sew and show on here. If I’m just bumming around the house, or hanging out with friends on weekends, I tend to go for jeans and t-shirts or other casual tops.
6. Location- Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?
I do get 4 seasons, so I need to have clothes for both hot and cold weather. It gets really humid here in the summer, which is when I tend to go for things that are flowy and sleeveless and such. I also get cold easily, so in the winter, I just want things that will keep me warm! Which usually equates to sweaters and jackets, as long as they aren’t made of wool. Spring and fall here can go either way–it can (and often does) swing from the 40s to the 70s within the same week, or even the same day! So layering pieces are a necessity for me. I’m much more likely to wear skirts/dresses in the warm weather, and pants in the cold weather.
7. Body- In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
I wouldn’t say I have huge body image issues, though I can be a bit self-conscious about my butt and thighs, and prefer to keep them covered up. I generally feel best in clothes that have waist definition and are fairly modest. I feel like a slob when I wear sweatpants (and only own them for exercising), or clothes that are just shapeless.
Are you playing along with the challenge? I’d be interested to see others’ take on this!