There are two questions I have a hard time answering in interviews — 1) Where do you see yourself in five years? (answer: let me get through this month’s Google calendar and I’ll get back to you) and 2) How would you describe your personal style? (answer: can you just describe it for me?) It’s a tough question to answer on your own. You get dressed, put on the clothes you want because you like them but never really stop to think “what IS my personal style?” Maybe it’s because you haven’t figured it out just yet…
Most people’s style is constantly evolving, including my own. I’ve always had one central theme, I guess, but I didn’t always dress the way I do now. Even just a few years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead in flats…now they’re my life (thanks to every designer making stylish loafers and sneakers — my feet are forever grateful). Before that (mostly in college and right after) I was totally a dress and heels kind of girl. Not your typical short fitted dress and 5-inch stilettos but still, I loved a good dress and heels. So what happened in between? How did I go from what most would call a “feminine” style to however the hell I dress now?
At fashion week in 2010, 2012 and around Chicago in 2011
Growing up, it’s all about conforming right? You want to wear what everyone else does so you fit in and don’t get made fun of. I remember after 6th grade I was graduating Montessori school (yes I went to one of those up until the program ended in 6th grade), I had to decide whether to continue with private school or go to public school. I didn’t know anyone either way and because the public schools in my district were great, I went with it. A few of my neighbors told me that before I start school in September, I had to get the following things: a Juicy Couture velour zip-up, a shiny Michael Stars shirt and Steve Madden platform sneakers. I think I knew about Steve Madden at the time but had never heard of the other two. Regardless, I thought this was a joke. I HAD to have those before entering a new school? Come on. But because I was scared and didn’t know anyone, I did it…even though I thought these things were so ugly (ironically a few years later, they became wardrobe staples for me). As wearing what everyone else wears continues to be a popular thing throughout high school, I do it but I do it in my own way. I’d wear just enough of what was “in” but incorporated other pieces to make it my own. And even though I wasn’t the coolest girl in school, I still won best dressed senior year and that was more validating to me than belonging to any clique. That was really the point where I decided that I didn’t totally care to look like everyone else…and I’ve felt that way ever since.
A few of my best “funky fresh” moments
Now why am I giving you this crazy long story right now? Well it’s my birthday today and I just feel like I can do whatever I want (although technically I can do what I please with ChiCityFashion at any point but you get the picture). As I reflect back on my now 26 years of life, whether you’re into fashion or not, it does play a big roll in your upbringing. Whether you wanted to fit in, stand out, or didn’t even care about clothes at all — they matter. What I really love about fashion and what initially drew me in is that it’s an industry that embraces individuality and if you don’t feel like you fit in, it means you’re doing something right.
It’s funny to look at fashion now (especially in the blogging world) because as much as everyone wants to stand out, we all want the same things. We all covet those “it” items that are so cool and different but then we all end up looking the same. So you have to ask yourself, are these $800 “Birkenstocks” really my style? Or do I just want them because they look cool on everyone else? It’s being able to answer questions like this that help you develop and understand your own style. Also asking yourself — What types of items are you drawn to? How do you put them together? Where do you draw inspiration for your outfits? — helps too. It’s not like you need to know the answer to “what’s your personal style?” to ace a test, but it’s kind of a fun thing to figure out…even if it’s always changing. I could only confidently answer the dreaded question after my best friend from high school, Jennifer, (who has seen me at both my fashion highs and lows) started describing it for me as “funky fresh.” And I can’t really tell you what that means other than the fact that it’s both funky and fresh but it somehow makes me better understand my own style and taste.
With Jennifer at the Burberry Chicago opening
Although I used to dress a little more “out there” and have toned it down quite a bit (but who knows how I’ll be dressing in a year or two from now?) — funky fresh lives on.
So, now I’m going to put the pressure on you — how would you describe your personal style? Have you figured it out yet? Would you say your style is constantly changing or typically remains the same?