Lighten Up!

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When you link to my blog on a forum… I come to see what the conversation is about. Sometimes it’s folks discussing my personal style, sometimes it’s a debate on a topic I wrote about, more often than not it’s one person asking for advice and others offering it and using my blog as a reference.

I am always honored when someone recommends my blog or a certain post of mine for advice, but I find often that those recommendations come with very specific rules on how to flatter your figure, what clothes or colors you can or cannot wear based upon your age, height, or weight. And I am all for flattering your figure… but don’t take the fun out of fashion.

Lighten up, it’s only clothes!

I created the list of wardrobe staples not to force women into a box all wearing the same uniform, but to assist those who are starting from scratch or have a closet full of things that never seem quite right. I made this list after years as a personal shopper, stylist, visual merchandiser, and as a woman who has been a size 4 and a size 18. The list is a guide to help women understand that one can be both chic and prepared for all life throws their way with a few simple pieces of clothing. It is not gospel, in fact no fashion advice is gospel.

One reason I started the True Fashionista series was to show women who break fashion rules but still look utterly amazing. Their choice to forge their own sartorial path helps their clothing choices better define their personality, represent their soul. When you force yourself into a uniform of another’s choosing, you not only lose your personality, but you lose the fun factor.

Fashion should not cause coronaries. No matter what you wear, you will still weigh the same amount, you will still have the same laugh, the same hips, the same life, you will still be the same person.

When you go to the store you have endless options. The same v-neck sweater available in 14 different colors, jeans in half a dozen different leg openings, leather or pleather. Mini skirts, mullet skirts, midi skirts, and maxi skirts all on the same rack. Yes, I do think it makes sense to purchase that which flatters your body, and I always believe that one should dress appropriately for the occasion out of respect, but I do think you should enjoy the process.

Black may be more slimming, but pink may bring a smile to your face. A bootcut may deemphasize your hips but a straight leg seems to fit your personality better. Horizontal stripes may make your large bust look even larger, but you’re a sucker for a great Breton tee. And sometimes even though it may thicken your middle, you just need to add a long leather skirt to the closet just because it’s damn fun.

There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact it’s pretty great to break the rules and listen to your heart. When you purposely and thoughtfully decide to break the rules for fashion, it shows that you’re truly honing your personal style. You know what is best for your body, you’re fully aware of what you SHOULD wear, but you make a very specific purchase against that because it feels more right. And it feels more… fun!

I can see a woman who loves style books a mile away. Her sleeves are ruched and cuffed just so, her jacket is often belted or cuffed, her shoes either carefully classic or carefully quirky, her hair is more often than not in some length of a bob and if she’s over 40, there’s some sort of sideswept bangs and nary a shimmery makeup product in sight. She looks stylish, she looks polished, but she looks slightly awkward and artificial. What is missing is the woman’s personality. A book will tell you red heels add pizzazz but on you they look strange. A TV show says to lighten your hair as you age to minimize the look of wrinkles but you just look like a faded version of your 30-something self. A blog says a scarf can transform a wardrobe but you wear them and look like Frosty The Snowman or a flight attendant. You’re missing your self in your wardrobe, you’re missing the fun, and you’re not listening to your heart.

Lighten up! Make a mistake, buy yellow even though the color consultant said you’re a Winter, wear high-waisted pants even though you’re short-waisted, and buy that sparkly red lipgloss. You won’t die if you wear something wrong, you won’t have your style destroyed for all time, and often this is the only way you can figure out who you really are and what you want your clothes to say. And sometimes, that fashion no-no may be just the yes-yes your personal style has been craving.

Lighten up, it’s only clothes!

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