Now I know it sounds simple, but I feel my most comfortable in vintage styles, I love my hair when it spent the night in pin curls, and vintage clothing is simply better quality than most of the clothing produced today. There's just something special about taking the time to curate a wardrobe and knowing that behind every piece is a long history and a long list of women who have loved it as much as you do now.
It's all about attention to detail. It's about the silhouette. It's about the colors, and the textures, and the accessories. And it's also about the journey - you can't walk into any old store and find a new addition to your wardrobe. It takes time, and patience, and trial and error to find your style.
And it also takes a new attitude. In a world where casual is king, it takes gumption to be the most dressed up person in the room. Expect stares. Expect comments. And expect the all-to-common "wow, you're dressed up" remark. But more than that, you have to be confident in your own ability to wear the clothes, instead of letting the clothes wear you. You have to be comfortable in your own skin.
I always think of my grandparents - both exceptionally well-dressed - who always gave me pieces of advice, whether or not they knew they were doing it. When she was grocery shopping, entertaining grandchildren, or cooking for Thanksgiving, even when she was in the hospital, my grandmother always wore lipstick. The same shade, the same brand, for my entire childhood. She kept a small box in the bathroom with lipstick, powder, and a small bottle of perfume. She kept her nail polish in the fridge because she swore it lengthened its life. Her hair was always done, even when she could no longer do it herself. She didn't do it to impress anyone, she didn't do it to please society - she did it for herself.
My grandfather was always meticulously dressed. He was a man who owned approximately 14,000 blue button down shirts because they were his favorite. A man whose closet was better stocked and more organized than a Prada warehouse. And a man who could rock a bathrobe and slippers just as much as he could rock a tweed suit. He taught me that one doesn't always need to be daring in one's appearance. Sometimes the basics are simply the best.
Now, I don't keep my nail polish in the fridge, and I have a really hard time sticking to the basics, and therefor my grandparents are probably both wagging a finger at me right now, but these lessons can be adapted to fit your own lifestyle. Welcome to my three rules of style. These are by no means strict, and are open to interpretation, but when I'm having trouble coming up with a new outfit or find myself feeling gross no matter what I'm wearing, here are the rules I fall back on:
1. Don't overestimate simplicity. A fitted black skirt, a white blouse, and black ballet flats. Black and white stripes. Black cigarette pants. You don't always need to be loud to be stylish.
2. Find your length. Also known as, Mini Skirts Aren't for Everyone. As someone who owns five miniskirts, I clearly have both a problem abiding by rules, and getting rid of clothing, but I also know that I look best in mid-length skirts that hit three inches below the knee. This knowledge comes from years of wearing super short skirts in ballet class that barely grazed the derriere (over tights and a leotard, and point shoes), and another number of years wearing maxi skirts in the summertime so I wouldn't have to shave my legs. One was too short, one was too long, and one was just right.
3. Dress by the silhouette. When you begin to think what you want to wear, instead of thinking about colors, patterns, and particular styles, think about your ideal silhouette. What shape do you want to wear? If someone took a high contrast photograph of you, so that everything was split into light and dark, what would your silhouette look like? Once you know what shape you want to achieve, then you can work from there.
And the most important rule? Life is too short to wear boring clothes, and too long to hate what you wear. So build up from the basics, and never be afraid to be the most dressed up person in the room.