How to Not Hate Fashion (AKA On Being a Fashion Connoisseur )

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I love wine, but I don’t know a lot about it. I once subscribed to Food and Wine magazine to educate myself better, but got overwhelmed. I go to the store, look for a bottle between $9 – $15, and often decide based upon the look of the label.

I love coffee, but I don’t know a lot about it. My husband will ask me whether I like today’s coffee better than yesterday’s as it is a different brand or roast… and I can’t tell the difference. Sometimes I like coffee black, sometimes I don’t, but I don’t really think about why that must be. I am not a brand snob- I like Starbucks because they have fun drink ideas and yes, I am a sucker for their bright green straws. When it comes to coffee, I just know I like coffee – I like it hot for breakfast, I like it iced on a warm sunny day, and I love Frappucinnos and coffee-flavored ice cream.

When I go to IKEA with my sister, she will comment on how a chair is inspired by Jonathan Adler, or a table is a copy of Saarien. I just see a shiny white table or a pretty chair. I buy home décor based upon what appeals to me, having no clue what is currently hot, trendy, or a bad copy of a famous designer.

What’s the point of a fashion blogger rambling about furniture and beverages? The point is that I am not a connoisseur but I still allow myself to enjoy these things. No one judges me because I don’t know the difference between coffee from Jamaica or beans from Costa Rica, that I know how many points my Riesling received from Wine Spectator, or what designer inspired my Target shower curtain. No one judges me, and I enjoy myself.

And all this can be true about fashion. The thing is, you can treat fashion the way you may treat coffee, or wine, or furniture. Enjoy what you enjoy, don’t let all the facts and figures ruin your good time. Go slow, and relish in each pleasurable moment.

I often meet people who tell me they find fashion is stupid. During our conversation, I find that they don’t necessarily find it stupid, but instead they don’t understand it, or its relevance in their life. We often find that which we do not know or understand to be “stupid” or “pointless.” Think about it, have you ever found your husband’s passion for football or your best friend’s love of electronica to be strange? It’s not that it is stupid, it’s just foreign to you.

Unless you are a nudist, fashion is a form of art we all have to embrace in some manner. I always feel that if you have to do something, you might as well find pleasure in it. You don’t need to be a connoisseur to have fun with fashion.

How to Not Hate Fashion:

– Buy colors you love. I am always surprised when I meet people who have colorful lives and personalities yet dress in drab neutrals. With discussion, I find they buy nondescript clothing to hide the fact that they fear fashion. 2012 is a wonderful year for color lovers, where you can find everything from dresses to denim in almost any color in the Crayola box. No need to leave the silhouettes and garment styles you find safe and comfortable, but if you love green why not buy a piece in that hue?

– Create a uniform. When I visit the closets of people who don’t like fashion, they usually have two to three times more clothing in their closet than I. Stop with all the mindless shopping and purchase garments that are tried and true. Heck, buy multiples. There is nothing wrong with having three pairs of the same black pants, and the same sweater in four different colors. I may seem to wear a different thing every day, but if you look closely I stick to a uniform of similar silhouettes that I know work for my body and lifestyle.

– Embrace accessories. If you feel most comfortable in simple pieces, show who you are with accessories. Scarves, necklaces, bangle bracelets, brooches, headbands, belts… simple low-cost pieces that can revolutionize your wardrobe.

– Consider shopping online. I used to hate my body. I would stand in a fitting room in a too-tight skirt and see-through blouse, my pale large legs and black trouser socks, glistening with sweat and tears from another horrific mall session. Each time I went shopping, I felt as though I was too fat, too soft, too short, too unusual for fashion. Then I had a baby and no time to actually go to a mall or boutique and had to rely on the Internet. This simple change improved my feeling about my body and the clothes that go on it every day.

Now I can try clothes on with natural light, with a mirror I trust. I can take off the trouser socks and put on a pair of pumps. I can see if a blouse fits better with a different bra, a dress with a pair of Spanx. I can really know if that belt will work with the dress I already own. Now online shopping can be daunting, but once you find brands and retailers you know like your body, it makes it easier; also more and more companies are offering free shipping and easy/free/in-store returns.

– Act as though fashion is a restaurant. If you despise liver yet it’s on the menu, you don’t reject the entire restaurant, you just choose a different entrée. If you find an entrée that looks appealing, but would prefer vegetables instead of the rice you ask the waiter for a switch and enjoy your custom meal. If you’re a vegetarian, you pick entrees that are animal-free, asking the waiter for suggestions and clarification. While society claims that you should drink red wine with beef but you’re craving a glass of Chardonnay with your filet mignon, get the Chardonnay and drink it with joy.

You don’t have to wear what everyone else wears. Heck, you really don’t need my wardrobe staples if you know yourself and your personal wardrobe needs. However, like a restaurant, you may not even know your favorite entrée until you try something new. Start small, an appetizer as you will. Step outside your comfort zone with a different retailer, different color, different silhouette. If you don’t like it, move on. Don’t blame yourself, and don’t blame fashion as a whole. You can’t blame a whole restaurant because you personally don’t like their risotto.

– Treat personal style the way you would a ‘Couch to 5k.’ No one expects you to be an expert fashionistas in a day… or even a year. The only way to find your personal style and have your exterior match your interior is with small steps. Slowly, gently venture out of your comfort zone and find out what looks and feels right.


No one expects you to be a fashion connoisseur unless you have chosen fashion to be your profession and life. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t become comfortable with some aspects of it. Honing your personal style helps people understand the true you, helps you feel and look like a cohesive person, and can make life easier and more enjoyable. Go slow, use care, and remember that half the fun of reaching your destination is the journey to get there!

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  1. Thanks for this — for years I have bought multiples of the same item in different colors because when I find something that fits and is flattering, this means I can stop shopping 🙂

  2. Yours is the only fashion blog I read because I enjoy your personality just as much if not more than the fashion related bits. I’m still working on transitioning to a grown up stay at home mom wardrobe that still stays true to me. While I’d love to wear a nice pair of slacks and light sweater, it’s not practical for crawling on my hands and knees with a toddler on my back. Yoga pants and a tank with a light cardigan for my arms is practical but not warm enough for outside the house in our current 20 and 30 degree weather so I have to change to a completely different outfit for outside the house. And I’m having trouble with the extra 5 lbs I gained when winter hit (in my new climate after moving 2000 miles north from the climate I grew up in.) That sounded like a bunch of whining, but it’s not. I love that your enthusiasm for attainable fashion keeps me hopeful I’ll eventually find my perfect fashion balance. 

  3. Really wonderful post. Yours was the first “fashion” blog I started reading and it has definitely influenced me the most.

  4. I am so guilty of wearing drab colors!  I love seeing color everywhere in my home, yet that surely wouldn’t show in the way I dress.  If my home was judged by how I dress, people would guess it looks like the Adam’s Family!!  I love your blog because your clothing is so happy looking and you always seem to put thought into what you wear everyday.  As always, you are inspiring!  I think this weekend I will try to find a brightly colored scarf or top!  Thank you Allie!

  5. Love this post, Allie–especially the part about COLOR! I’m no fashionista, but over the years I’ve learned which colors look good on me and I stick with them. I look best in bright jewel tones, and I tend to use neutrals as accents (think a fresh white cardigan over a bright emerald tank, etc) since wearing them in large doses can wash me out. It makes me happy to wear the colors I love, and I know I look much better for it. I’m also a big fan of buying multiples of an item, especially basics. I probably have 10 or 12 different colors of the same super-comfy, well-fitted, versatile tank, and I wear them all of the time with different scarves, cardigans, skirts, jeans, etc. If it’s not broken…

  6. I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve never been into what I defined as “fashion”, but slowly I’m learning what I like on me. It’s good to be reminded that it can be a slow process.

  7. I loved this post!  Thanks for the good perspective — it’s a way of looking at it that I’d never thought of before.  

  8. Great post – I know that I’ve begun to enjoy shopping and fashion a lot more since I started buying fewer, but higher quality pieces. I actually don’t have a ton of clothes anymore, but everyone thinks that I do because of the way that I accessorize. My next venture is to add more color to my wardrobe – I’m been branching out, but I’m looking to go bold this spring.

    I should add that I also started to enjoy fashion much more after I lost weight and felt better about myself, too. But the other stuff is a big part of it as well.

  9. Great post, Allie.

    Your last point reminds me of a word I learned (from another blogger site ‘How to be Chic’), about “Kaizen.”  It’s Japanese for continuous and incremental improvement, and is a term usually reserved for business principles.  But I find that I can apply this to my wardrobe principles.  I upgrade where I can, learn from mistakes, fix them when I can, and keep improving toward my “ideal.”Always learning from you 🙂

  10. Allie,

    Wonderful! You’re right. There are very few occasions when it is appropriate to be nude so we have to deal with clothes, like it or not. We can get along without wine, coffee, football, electronics. Yes, I know. Many are positive they can’t survive without those things, me included. But actually we can, quite happily and successfully. Clothes and food we have to deal with, like it or not.

    What I resent the most about clothing is having to spend time on it when I’d rather be doing and thinking about other things. It’s a good thing for people like me that we have you! You provide techniques to simplify and streamline dealing with clothing and still look good. For those of us whose interests lie elsewhere, your help and advice is very much appreciated.


  11. Sorry to chime in on non-fashion stuff but did you know there’s a huge Mitt Romney add right above your first picture in Google Reader?

  12. Bravo!!  (And I feel the same way about coffee and wine.  Except I know I’ll allergic to tannins…)

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