Since I feel like I lose a lot of people even before the introduction is over, I'll make it quick: "style" can be simple or complex, but whichever it is, it's completely personal and driven by choice. This is my take on my style, composed of my choices.
For those keeping track at home, we have long since surpassed the one-year anniversary of my moving to the bustling metropolis of Anchorage. My family and I have moved from two rentals to a place of our own. Things are falling into place as we continue to settle in, and at our own pace, which explains why I've been so slow to post anything on this blog or pretty much anywhere else, but that's beside the point.
As a recently self-realized adult crashing through my 26th year of existence and counting, in the past year or so I've grown both personally and professionally - but especially professionally, even earning the prestigious title of one of twelve Employees of the Year at my new job this year in the process. From what I've learned, one half of professionalism is through word and deed (with emphases on customer service and resourcefulness), and the other half is inevitably appearance. Considering my age and the field I transitioned to, it made sense to phase out of t-shirts, jeans and sandals (and Danskos, for my masculinity's sake) during the week. This is just one key factor of something I've learned to call my "style philosophy" - a term I've heard thrown around a few times in the realms of style, beauty/grooming and interior design alike. I used to watch a lot of TV.
I've been meaning to write a post about my "style philosophy" for a while, but the more I thought about it, the less I saw a need for it. After all, it is only clothes; as far as men's clothing goes, options are wildly limited in comparison to those of women's clothing, and really, I only hold merit to speak to my own style. This also begs questions of issues of sexism, gender roles and more in fashion, marketing, the economy and even society in general, but I'm not here for that. These are only clothes, my clothes, I'm talking about here, today.
There was a time where I was subscribed to a handful of beauty/grooming and style gurus on YouTube, and I didn't understand most of what they were doing until a few years in but found their videos hypnotic and therapeutic to watch. After a while, with YouTube videos, What Not to Wear, and brief subscriptions to both GQ and Details magazines, I saw enough to memorize how much of what goes where during what part of the year and for which skin tone and type (and I say memorize because I don't consider myself so well-versed as I am just well-rehearsed). From there, I continued learning by doing and finding what I liked and worked for me through excessive shopping (and a lot of trial and error), notoriously meticulous grooming regimens (unnecessary, some might say) and the occasional spa appointment (also unnecessary) - not to mention through Halloween, as well, but I digress.
|it's amazing what you can do with a cream color palette|
and a little bit of liquid latex for texture.
Most of my style philosophy can be summed up with four words: Old Navy by Gap.
|button-ups, sweaters, layering/basic tees and polos|
as far as the eye can see...
Realizing I could finally buy what I want is what I consider the beginning of my "style career" - if I can call it that. With the advent of online shopping, I saw the options Old Navy and eventually other stores had to offer, and I became aware of things like fit and cut shapes, patterns and prints, and material and care - i.e. not everything is machine-wash and tumble-dry, and sometimes things shrink and that's okay. It's from this awareness of possibilities I gleaned the most important aspect of my style philosophy: one of each.
|L-R: button-up shirt, cardigan, v-neck sweater,|
polo, crewneck tee, v-neck tee
|L-R: red, orange, yellow, frog green, olive green,|
kelly green, blue, light purple, dark purple
Men's clothing selections are limited virtually everywhere, so owning just one of each piece of clothing in one color each would be liveable but less than ideal. For me, at least.
After the honeymooning phase of first creating my bank account faded to a close, I also learned to ask myself two things, never in any particular order: one, do I really need this? And two, how much is too much (or how many is too many)? Always remembering what my parents tell us kids whenever we shop for ourselves (if you have to think about it, don't buy it) has also helped and continues to help cut down on time I waste trying to make decisions. Price is usually a dead lock, but versatility is another deciding factor - if I can't make more than one outfit with it, or wear it with more than one color scheme, I probably don't want it.
Outside of these four ideas is another ever-present set of other questions that nag me every time I shop: will this work with what I do from day to day? How will this look in passing? Does this make sense?
There is a word to describe entire looks that make a statement and photograph really well: editorial.
|lady gaga for V magazine, fall 2013|
The most I see of anyone outside of my teammates at work is a passing glance, and in passing, things tend to blur together. Greater contrast in colors and bigger or more unique prints and shapes stand out more than anything else, so I gravitate more toward these when shopping and putting outfits together. This idea of greater contrast helps me narrow choices down when shopping for one of each in every color, too.
Whether or not an outfit makes sense is mostly how it looks and feels on. Before it's worn, it's also a matter of season and/or material, which is something I learned the hard way. The following are just a few examples.
- Am I wearing a winter sweater in the summer just because I want the coverage of long sleeves? I could have worn a long-sleeve button-down or Henley t-shirt. Or a lightweight sweater. You can find things if you look for them.
- Am I wearing linen pants in the middle of winter because they're the right color, and then wondering why I'm so cold? Should have just worn jeans. They make colored denim... or there are also colored khakis. The options are endless.
- Am I wearing a long wool coat during the rainy pre-winter season because it's "basically a trench coat"? Find me a longer-cut rain-proof jacket. Like a trench coat.
- Am I wearing full-on dress boots and wondering why I'm having trouble walking on ice? Someone teach me the difference between inside shoes and outside shoes...
- Am I wearing short, loose layers on top of slimmer-cut pants because "the colors work together"? Get me into loose-fit khakis so my proportions are more balanced like a person and less like a marshmallow water-molecule model.
|courtesy of Pinterest|
This experience, my experience, barely scratches the surface of issues other people of plus sizes face: plus-size or big-and-tall selections from stores that aren't "specialty stores" (like Torrid or Destination XL) are remarkably more limited than men's clothes in general, and are usually plain. In contrast, specialty stores, while welcome, often mostly offer "statement" clothing (i.e. cuts, contrast and prints), which almost implies that anyone that wears big-and-tall or plus sizes needs to dress one way or the other with little in-between if any at all. Such might be why I subscribe to contrast in colors and unique shapes, but not all approaches to style, mine included, are for everyone. Clearly.
I was never good at closing anything that I begin to write. Most of my spoken in-person conversations at work end with my making an excuse to get back to my desk, if anything more than "so... yep!" and a quick turn on my heels. Unless I'm bombing a two-minute presentation or answering a direct question to give the illusion of participation at a department or team meeting, I'm prone to getting talked over and losing everyone's attention, as I have been for most of my life. By this point I'm surprised I made it this far but also feel like I've talked far too much, so I'll wrap this up one last time:
- My family and I finally made it to Anchorage forever ago, and I "became" an adult because that's something that just happens
- To work a work job, you need work job clothes
- I am a wealth of beautiful but impractical knowledge
- Personal style is driven by personal choice
- I shop cheap so I can shop more--er, get one of each, in every color if I need it, it's not too much, or too many, among far too many more considerations than are necessary
- Me taking too long in a store is actually me having gotten better about asking myself things when I shop, along with dressing colorfully yet accordingly both for my station and the weather
- Bigger people are often left out as far as clothes go, so as a big person, my working with what I'm given is "making a big deal" about clothes