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.
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.
Personal style reflects who you are and who you became
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).
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.
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. We made our own necklaces. Faux pearl necklaces were a must. 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.
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-haves. I never bought the latter one. 🙂
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 to dark. Thus, I went for a red skirt suit and a black hat.
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.
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.
Midlife – turning fashion into style
It still love wearring 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). 😉
Style elements that were 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.
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