7 Style Rules: Clashy, Baggy, and Ugly

Warning: Read no further if (A) you are unable to withstand confused looks and unsolicited comments such as “WTF?” and/or (B) you are a single woman hoping to attract men. Forreal. Much of my style sense can be summed up in two words: jarring and man-repellant. Maybe two more: Not Pretty. If Not Pretty is your steaze, then keep reading.

It should also be noted that I get it; my fashion Dos are not — nor should they be — for everyone. I don’t think you should wear what I wear; these are just my particular style codes. But I do hope that if there is something inside of you that is tired of wearing your particular tribe’s uniform, that you will be inspired to break free and go for it! Having a tongue-in-cheek attitude about clothing is much more fun.

Finding my style voice has taken close to thirty years. Growing up in the ’80s, I was a victim of Aqua Net, pastel colors, big ass shoulder pads, and other fashion atrocities. In my 20s, I went through a rebound stage where I overcorrected, and you could find me enveloped in J. Crew and living in a uniform of knit polo shirts, khakis, and loafers. Another overcorrection occurred in my 30s, where I got tired of being corporate and appropriate. I got a crew cut, and my wedding photos show me sporting blue highlights and carrying a blue feather boa (I was married at the Madonna Inn, so it worked). Finally, in my 40s, I hit my sartorial stride. After years of experimenting, I had at last settled into my style personality, and the results are below.

1. No matchy-matchy. Garanimals may have value for children, but I enjoying mixing pieces that would not normally be paired. Everything from price (high end and low end), to tone (feminine and masculine), and prints (stripes and floral). One of my favorite types of outfits is pairing a dress with combat boots.
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2. Minimal body con. You will never see me in an Herve Leger bandage dress (do they even make those anymore)? I prefer things to hang, drape, and gently kiss rather than cling and adhere to my skin. Weird, right? I workout so much but have no desire to actually show it off…unless you follow me on Instagram, and then you can see it every darn day. Hmmm, actually even my workout clothes aren’t particularly tight — I gotta breathe, OK?! Anyway, I tend to wear clothes at least one size too big, and my pants — including jeans — are almost all exclusively drop crotch (or I buy them too big and make them drop crotch). For sure part of this is for comfort, but I also just prefer this aesthetic. And while I might wear a tight stretchy top, I will never pair that with a tight pant or skirt, and vice versa. Only one clingy piece at a time!
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3. No to F.M./super fem shoes; yes to “ugly” shoes. If I wear a heel, it’s stacked. I like wearing kicks with dresses. And yes, the Stella McCartney Elyse are my favorite shoes. So think buckles and blocky — not slim and pointy — and a closet full of super dope sneakers. Basically, I have a shoe collection that both an Amish woman and a 14-year old boy would envy. Chances are that I will have bought the shoes first and figured out the outfit later. Speaking of…

4. Yes to dressing like a 14-year old boy. The awesome thing about being 5-feet nothing is that I can buy boys sizes, and it’s cheaper! My Lebron XVs were about $30 cheaper than if I had bought a man’s size. Anyway, my favorite at-home clothing are my basketball shorts from the Target boys section. Paired with my Jordan slides. Up-top.
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5. No to leopard print; yes to small animal prints. When I was 25-years-old, one of my best friends told me that her mom said nothing signaled a middle-aged woman more than wearing leopard print. I have never been able to shake that. Even though I am now well into my middle-aged womandom and it would totally be appropriate for me to wear such print. Just.Can’t.Do.It. However, thumbs-up on small animal prints. I grew up a preppy, and I loved the tiny whale prints found on turtlenecks, and this is my favorite blouse: a button down with little ponies on it from Top Shop. A middle-aged woman would NEVER be seen in that, right?

6. Yes to conscious consumption.  This has only happened in the past two years. It began when I went vegan, and I started buying clothing from this awesome vegan company called Crazies and Weirdos. All of their clothing is sustainably and ethically made, and a portion of the sales proceeds goes to animal rights organizations. Around that time, I heard a podcast that mentioned fast fashion, and that made the road even narrower…Thing is, once you know, you can’t unknow. And once I saw how stores like Forever 21, Zara, H&M, etc. are destroying the planet; not to mention the consume-consume-consume attitude it has fostered, I have made an effort to purchase consciously. I can afford 10-20 pieces of clothing a month at Forever 21, but I don’t need it. I really don’t. I don’t know anyone who does. And if I can buy something that is ethically made with sustainable materials, or ala TOMs benefits disadvantaged communities, then I try to make that purchase.

7. Hoodies are the perfect clothing. Fight me.

So there you have it. I’m sure if you know me IRL and have actually seen me wearing these clothes, you may have thought I dressed in the dark or just grabbed something last second. Nope. I have a well-thought-out and specific style aesthetic. And while most may find it weird or inappropriate or not for them (all valid points), I will point to this quote from an article in the Harvard Business School Journal which addresses nonconforming clothing choices and their correlation to status and competence:

“We argue that while unintentional violations of normative codes and etiquette can indeed result in negative inferences and attributions, when the deviant behavior appears to be deliberate, it can lead to higher rather than lower status and competence inferences.” The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity, The Harvard Business School, Journal of Consumer Research, June 2014.

This is why I wore sweats to Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop located in Brentwood. And why I encourage you — if you’re feeling it — to go ahead and wear that asymmetrical Snuggie proudly! Stick your hip out, OK!

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