1. Personal style is always in flow
  2. Personal style evolves with your lifestyle
  3. Re-discovering my love for leather pants – Rock’n Roll
  4. My Banker style phase
  5. Wearing the 90s uniform
  6. Falling in love with American Classic
  7. Midlife – turning fashion into style
  8. When your style evolves some elements may remain a constant

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Personal style is always in flow

Having personal style is an active process that every gal can take control of once she liberates herself from the superimposed style of the parent who buys the clothes and makes the outfit decisions. Developing personal style is work under progress. Having great personal style is a life long journey of picking the items that are right for you and so you. It is also about knowing how to turn fashion into style.

Style evolution also means learning to turn fashion into personal style. Click To Tweet
Nicole in bell bottom jeans in the 70s Me as a teenager wearing a fuchsia jacket and bell-bottom jeans and wood clogs in the 70s
Nicole as a teenager in Indian hand-painted dress Me as a teenager wearing an Indian hand painted dress with paisley print during my Bohemian tribal inspired style phase. The hem length highlights the ankles

A while ago, I wrote a post about my fight to wear jeans. Putting my old blue jeans on – a pair of washed Wranglers – was a major milestone on my rocky road to personal style. One of the first style fights with my mom was about my favorite color – black. In the 60s, it just didn’t seem right for a toddler to wear black.

toddler in pink jacket Me as a 3 year old toddler in a pink cardigan that my mom had knitted for me
toddler in lederhose Me as a toddler in my first lederhose that started my love for leather clothing

Personal style evolves with your lifestyle

Having personal style means that you will permanently make changes – call it updates or upgrades –  as you change your lifestyle. I had my retro style phase as an early teenager followed by a Bohemian tribal style inspired phase. Around graduating from  High School and in my early college years, I loved wearing “hand-me downs” or flea market finds as I had to save money for college and in college live on about 600 DM a month, respectively. My mom called that style “Lumpenlook” (shabby look).

Personal style reflects who you are and who you became. #personalstyle Click To Tweet

Re-discovering my love for leather pants – Rock’n Roll

This style phase ended when my brother grew about a foot in a year and hand me down his leather pants. I adopted a Rock’n Roll style. They ended around my ankles and I made my ankles a feature. Today, I still love to highlight them.

At about that time, I had found a job that did pay less than 360 DM a month. However, it permitted buying a pair of cool pumps or booties from brands like Peter Kaiser, or Bally when they were on sale twice a year. I also picked up dancing again after a long break since graduating from High School. Guess what kind of dancing? I joined the University of Cologne’s Rock’n Roll team.

#youthstyle woman working in a casual look at a gas chromatograph Me in midnight blue jeans and gray turtleneck working at a gas chromatograph at the Nuclear Power Research Center in Jülich, Germany
stylist in abstract print skirt and red top Me wearing a self-sewn Rock’n Roll style peasant skirt in abstract print, lace-up sandals with ankle straps and a red top on vacation in Miami Beach, Florida

My Banker style phase

When working on my MS and PhD theses, my style developed towards what was called in West Germany the Banker Style also known as power dressing. It was a cheap version of Euro Chic. This style was worn by young women who wanted to look professional, but couldn’t fork over the money for high quality suits, blazers, pencil skirts, coats and bags – you name it. We made our own necklaces. Faux pearl necklaces were a must-have. We shopped at H&M for cheap business clothes. Denim and anything casual was reserved for the weekends, but statement pumps and a bold statement necklace were a must. Lust items were a swatch or Tissot watch.

young woman in gray jeans and pink cable knit sweater Me as a PhD graduate student at a party wearing a cable knit sweater with gray skinny jeans, DIY statement necklace, and zebra pumps
casual vacation outfit Me in white Bermuda shorts and red racer back top, baseball hat and Birkenstocks on vacation in Orlando, Florida

Pink with black were a big thing to do color-wise. The love for black and pink seems like a red line in my style evolution when I see how many posts I wrote about outfits with this color like wearing pink with camouflage or pairing pink with navy for a fall outfit.

Wearing the 90s uniform

In the 90s, when working on my second PhD, my style turned to Euro Chic with a twist. Think Emanuelle Alt. My closet blackened literally. Black became my Goto neutral. Prints were reserved for silk scarves, silk bows, and some summer weekend and vacation dresses. Blazer, shirt with bow or scarf, dark jeans (midnight blue or black) plus pumps or blazer, sweater, necklace, dark jeans and pumps were my uniform. In summer, I wore straight or pencil skirts with a silk sweater, scarf and pumps or a LBD on warm days, add a blazer for cool days. Lust items were a Festina or Tissot watch. A Swatch was a must-have. I never bought the latter one. 🙂

young woman in fake black suits in the early 90s
Me in a fake black suit on Crete in 1991 wearing a straight black skirt, cropped jacket with 3/4 sleeves, black silk scarf, DIY belt and red top

I even wanted to get married in a black fit-and-flare dress with a daisy head band. However, my husband had already his gray double breasted suit and thought the wedding photos would turn out too dark and dull. Thus, I went for a red skirt suit and a black hat.

#weddingstyle wedding attire
My husband and I at our wedding in 1992

Falling in love with American Classic

I date the onset of my American Classic style back to 2000, when I spent my sabbatical at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. I fell in love with denim beyond the pair of black or midnight blue jeans. I added denim jackets to my wardrobe and wore them with my straight skirts or over my printed summer dresses.

#fashionover40 midlife woman looking posh chic in denim shirt dress and leather hat
Me in the 2000s wearing a denim shirt dress with leather hat at the Tanana Valley Fair


My blazers got patterns like herring bone, plaid or hounds tooth. My standard wardrobe neutral black got gray, and blue as companions plus the white button-down shirt. I invested in a pair of riding boots to wear with a tweed skirt. In the 10s, I revisited the pants in boots style I loved so in fourth grade, but use skinnies instead of wool pants. I discovered the eternal chic of an Irish sweater.

#fashionover40 midlife woman in casual look with Russian scarf
Orvis Irish cable-knit sweater with Russian scarf, Newport New leather pants, Coach Chelsea, and Kieselstein Cord belt and buckle (all own)

Midlife – turning fashion into style

I still love wearing black. However, lately, I like to add a very dark brown like dark chocolate to the neutrals. This color still permits playing with the dramatic contrast of my light skin with dark clothes, but the color is more forgiving to my changing skin (read wrinkles). 😉

When your style evolves some elements may remain a constant

Other color that have been always in my wardrobe are red and pink. Once I was an adult, I never had short hair. The shortest ever was a bob. I always loved 3/4 sleeves, skirts around knee lengths or slightly higher, leather, great shoes, scarves, abstract floral print on black background. Furthermore, I always liked to play up my thin ankles either with booties, a hem line at the ankles or buckles at the ankles.

When your style evolves, some elements may remain. #stylevolution Click To Tweet
fashion blogger in abstract floral print skirt and sweater
Me in a self-sewn straight floral print skirt and red sweater in Fort Lauderdale, Florida


What’s your personal style? Don’t Know? You can find it out with my free online personal style finder.

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