I’ve always been obsessed with clothes; I love the transformative power of a great dress or killer pair of shoes, or how a warm jumper can make me feel all warm and cosy when I’m feeling blue. They say it takes only six seconds for someone to make a judgement about you, and I’m a firm believer that the clothes we wear and how we present ourselves plays a big part of that process – whether subconsciously or not. The clothes we put on in the morning can provide little snippets and insights into our personalities, but also convey what we want others to think of us; it only takes a bit of power dressing to be taken more seriously in the office, or a band tee to prove we know just as much about the Glastonbury line-up as you! Although I have a certain ‘style’, that style can evolve from one day to the next depending upon who I want to be, where I want to go and who I want to meet.
Over the last year or so I’ve really been reflecting upon my style and how it’s evolved since my teens and twenties. Back in the early 2000’s fashion wasn’t exactly the most stylish (most of my uni pictures involve fishnet vests, flouro colours, rainbow heels, lots of lycra-enriched material and wide leg pinstripe jeans; cringe!) but I definitely dressed according to the hottest colours, textures and styles of the season. I spent most of my student loan in Select, Bay Trading and Etam on a combination of corduroy and denim, dressing to suit what the magazines and celebrities were telling me was hot – rather than what actually suited me and my body shape. I didn’t really know how to accentuate my favourite features or conceal my hated ones, instead just dressing like everyone else in an attempt to fit in.
By the time I’d reached my mid-to-late-20’s I’d started to dress in shapes I knew worked for my small waist and big hips, making the most of my large boobs rather than being embarrassed that they were there. I was less fussed about the big trends of the season and more focused about an outfit that looked good on me, flitting between Topshop, New Look, H&M and Zara to find that perfect dress for a Saturday night out. Although I wanted to look good, comfort was never at the top of my priority list: I was well known for having to pop out at lunch to buy a new pair of shoes because my choice that morning was so uncomfortably unpractical, or having to pick up a scarf or cardigan because my notion that ‘a jacket just doesn’t go with this’ was regrettable as soon as it started to rain.
Since I’ve hot my 30’s, however, I’ve suddenly become so much more concerned with being comfortable and dressing to suit my mood rather than needing to feel ‘high fashion’ or dressed up to the nines every single day. Maybe it was an age thing, realising I’m so much more than my appearance and the clothes I choose to wear, or maybe it was the fact I started to work from home and rarely see anyone other than the Starbucks man and my gym manager from one day to the next, but it was really quite liberating to stop caring so much. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to look nice and add a sprinkling of something on-trend and current, but that is more likely to be in the format of jeans and a jumper or pleated midi and tee than a fully coordinated look.
What I’ve also started to realise is that those shops I relied on for so many years no longer seem to offer much for me anymore. I can’t remember the last time I bought anything other than a tee or pair of flats from Topshop or Zara, or the last time I could even get one of H&M’s rather annoyingly small dresses done up around my breasticles. I’ve subconsciously started to rely on Next, New Look and Marks & Spencer to get my fashion fix – knowing that their clothes are designed with a curvy woman’s shape in mind, brilliantly combining fashion and comfort without overcharging for the privalege.
Most of the contents of my wardrobe are from a few stores and online destinations I know I can rely on, providing the room I need to move (and breathe) in textures and fabrics that actually last longer than a season. (God that makes me sound old.) A few years ago I wouldn’t have been seen dead in M&S, but now most of my fave things have been picked up while popping in for a lunchtime food fix; similarly, I always thought Next clothes were for old ladies and mums on a school run, but I’ve got so many great accessories, dresses, jumpers and even swimming costumes from their stores. When I walk into Topshop I see all the clothes I would’ve loved to have worn in my teenage years, but very few pieces that would actually make it onto my person as a 34 year old woman with hips, booms and a rather large posteria.
So is it me? Is it them? Are the stores I used to love getting
younger, targeting slimmer and more youthful customers with their
‘quickly translated from the catwalk’ outfits? Are the stores I used to
hate waking up to the fact women over 25 also need clothes and probably
want them to last longer than three washes? Is it the fact I now look at
a PVC skirt and thing ‘lord that’s going to chafe’ and look at a
snuggly jumper and instantly want to take a nap in it? I guess it’s
probably a combination of all of the above, with a little bit of ‘I just
want to wear what I want’ thrown in. It’s not rocket science, but
living by a few little rules can really make a difference to your
wardrobe and outlook on your fashion choices; here are the ones I like
to stick to.
1. Accessorise. For me, the key to a
great outfit is all in the accessories – you can be as comfy as you like
if you’ve got a cute bag or killer pair of sunglasses, because that’s
what people remember. Right now it’s all about a statement earring, so
popping on a pair of tassels will transform even those baggy jeans and
old tee into something stylish.
2. Flats are cool. I
don’t get this thing of wearing five inch heels all day every day,
especially when there are so many great flats available now. Embrace
comfy boots, ballet shoes and even sparkly sandals and change them up to
suit your look; shoes really can make an outfit, as well as a
statement, and they don’t have to be uncomfortable.
Dress to suit your body shape and needs, not just for fashion. Although
there will always be trends, colours of the season and high-fashion on
the high street, it doesn’t mean you have to embrace it all. Pick and
choose bits that work for you and your body shape, as well as your
lifestyle, working from a capsule wardrobe of shapes and shades you know
work for you.
4. Embrace colour; if in doubt, wear a
flash of colour and it will instantly make your look way more
interesting. It’s so tempting to stick to a uniform of black, white and
grey, but colour keeps a look youthful and fun – and also means you
don’t have to over-complicate the shapes or styles.
how about you? Has your style evolved over time? Have to started to
swap Topshop for M&S, or are you just baffled by fashion altogether
and wish it was acceptable to leave the house in PJs?
M&S Cable Knit Jumper | £35.00 | LINK
George @ ASDA Jeans | £20.00 | LINK
Thanks to Kirsty from Fashion For Lunch for the photos!
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