Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Elements of Style

I don't read many "style" or "fashion" blogs. A few, here and there...those that, for one reason or another, grab my attention fairly consistently. I'm more interested in personal style than in fashion, you see, and a lot of those kinds of blogs are more about trends and couture. I firmly believe that while fashion is transient, true personal style can see one throughout one's life. As Oscar Wilde had it, "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." Which isn't to say, of course, that I never find myself trying out something that's a current hot item or fashion. But only if I feel that it meshes well with what I consider to be my own "look" or style identity.

And here's another quote for you, one that I actually ran across while reading Scott Shuman's blog, The Sartorialist: "...I am realizing that great personal style is made up of a certain percentage of "always" items and methods, mixed with a certain percentage of "sometimes" fashions, and a certain percentage of "nevers."

And that really resonated with my own thoughts on the subject. There are definitely things that I consider my "always" or my staple style elements, some few things that I mix in as fashion comes and goes, and a whole heaping pile of things I'd never consider. (Hello, peep-toe boots? I'm looking at you! And Uggs, you're on my sh*tlist, too!)

It inspired me to really think about my own personal style and to discover what I consider to be my "always" staple items or elements. It was kind of fun and illuminating, and I think it will be useful, too! With a list of my "style rules" well defined, I will (hopefully!) be less inclined toward impulse buys that don't really go with my wardrobe and will be worn once and then gather dust at the closet's back.

My "Always" Style Staple Elements

  1. Multiple pieces of heavy/chunky silver jewelry all worn together (at least 6 rings at a time, often paired with dangling earrings and a pile of bangle bracelets or a thick cuff.)
  2. Chunky leather boots such as: motorcycle harness boots, cowboy boots, and combat boots.
  3. Well-made leather purses/messenger bags in brightly saturated colors.
  4. Clean-lined, unfussy dresses, shirts, and skirts in natural fibers (cotton, linen) and jersey.
  5. Dark denim.
  6. Black leather jackets.
  7. "Americana" styles...that is, worn-in jeans, soft flannel workshirts, cotton chambray shirts, and simple white v-neck tees or ribbed white tank tops.
  8. Punk detailing such as studs and heavy metal hardware.
  9. Structured blazers and classic cardigans in bright colors
  10. Simple and comfortable ballet flats and sandals.
  11. A few versatile pairs of what I think of as "dangerously impractical heels."
  12. Aviator style sunglasses

And there you have it! There are certainly items in my closet that don't really fall into any of those categories, of course. Those would be the "sometimes" fashion items, or just the "occasion" know, the fancy dresses you just don't have a reason to wear very often. But mixing and matching from that list encompasses the majority of what I consider to be "my look." It really covers my personal sense of just 12 basic style elements. Admittedly, some of those elements encompass multiple actual items (the various types of boots, the "Americana" section), but's more a general philosophy than a list of specific things, I suppose!

What are your "always" style elements? Do you have a philosophy of personal style?


  1. I love the Oscar Wilde quote.
    My 'always' style items: 1. cardigans...even before they became so trendy 2. grunge boots 3. my fabulous vintage blue coat (one day I'll put it up a picture of it).

  2. I recently purged my closet. I kept 20% of my closet, this includes bags, shoes, not just clothing. I don't think i've ever discovered the cutest outfits with what little I have. My philosophy is less really is more.

  3. Diana...I really need to purge my closet. Heavily. Mercilessly. I'm very bad about hanging onto things "just in case." When I find the time and energy, I'll do so, and only keep items that fit my personally defined elements of style. The great part is, a lot of the elements I listed are not mutually exclusive within single items of clothing, so even though there are 12 elements listed, that doesn't mean I can't still be "less is more" about it.