Before my husband left for deployment, I thought I dressed pretty cute. Looking back, I was in survival mode after just having had a baby and didn’t really know what I liked or wanted to wear.
After my husband deployed, everything changed. I entered a new kind of survival mode. Instead of sinking into sweats and tee shirts, I started really putting effort into what I wore. I learned about fashion and trends, and I started to discover what I truly liked. My favorite resource for fashion is the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style, and I pretty much have it memorized.
Like many military wives, I got married right after high school. I could be indecisive at times, and so I would regularly ask my husband, “Do you like this?” or “Does this belt look dumb?”
I have now learned that he likes the end result of me getting dressed, but his opinions along the way are often wrong for me. Most men don’t really understand women’s fashion, but they do like the end result of a beautiful, confident woman. My husband will tell me I look gorgeous…but he has no idea that all I did was put on eyeliner. He just sees the bigger picture.
So during the deployment, I started playing with my style as a hobby, and honestly, as a way to survive. I thought that if I looked good, I wasn’t falling apart. And as long as I could trick myself into thinking that I was doing well, I could keep going. “One day at a time,” was what I repeated to myself every day.
Now that my husband is home, he loves my new style. Sometimes he tells me I’m so cool, or so fashionable. He likes to see the quirks I add to my outfit that pull it all together.
And, I like having the confidence to do it. Sometimes I find myself asking him what he thinks of my clothes and then I stop and say, “Nope! I know what I like now, and I can choose.” Now, when I’m shopping with someone else, I can listen to my gut instinct about something rather than being swayed by someone else’s opinion.
Here are four tips I learned along the way that helped me shake up my wardrobe and solidify my personal style.
With Pinterest and blogs and books, we have easy access to lots of fashion inspiration. Even the airport can be a great place to people watch and learn about what you like. Keep a list of things that you feel drawn to. My list would say something like: Stripes, button up tops, belted waist, structured bottoms, romantic hair, lace, pearls. This list can help you get a cohesive picture of what you are going for, and will help you choose basic items when you are shopping.
2. Go shopping…. alone.
Go without your kids if you can (although I know those opportunities are rare for many of us). There are times when we need the right friend to help us find that perfect item, or something try something outside of our comfort zone. But there is also a time for just going and being able to take it slowly, trying on as any things as you want, and really making yourself decide on your own how you feel about a piece.
3. Really own it.
When you style an outfit, ask yourself if it is finished. Sometimes you just need to push yourself to add that last perfect thing… maybe it’s some bright lipstick, or adding that pair of shoes that will really punctuate an outfit. A funky bracelet or ring can often give a simple outfit the extra pizzazz it was lacking.
4. Thrift Shop.
When you are experimenting with your style, the least risky thing to do is go thrift shopping. It can really help you learn what you do and don’t like and you don’t have to waste a lot of money in the process. I recently bought a dress that was in my usual color palette and I thought would be great, even just around the house for the winter. However, after wearing it twice, I just kept fidgeting with it and it wasn’t right. It helped me realize how much I really like my clothing to have some structure, especially in the waist. Even a belt didn’t help with this particular dress. On the opposite spectrum, I found a vintage party dress for $4 once that I can’t wait to wear to our next ball! This gorgeous, purple dress with a fitted bodice and poufy skirt made me realize how much I love vintage things.
Have you found your sense of style? Are you still struggling to figure out what suits you?