Editor’s note: Remember Deanne’s SY Unlock Your Style story? Paula’s Unlock Your Style family? Sheree’s Unlock Your Style letter? And Mindy’s story about gaining new style confidence? Today we’re featuring a post from Michelle. Enjoy reading about how Michelle unlocks her style with a good dose of humour and experimentation.
Unlocking my style has been a work in progress my whole life but I think I’m finally finding my groove. It’s only taken me 44 years to get there, but then I’ve always been a late bloomer. I was the last girl in my year to get my period at nearly 16, and I’m still waiting for boobs!
I am a baby of the late 1960s which means that my formative fashion years were the big-haired, shoulder-padded ’80s. It was a confusing decade for fashion. You had your batik skirt/roman sandals look, your rubber bracelet/ra-ra skirt combo a la Madonna, your Olivia Newton-John inspired headbands and leg warmers. And there was hair, lots of hair, preferably permed or in a lopsided New Romance style. In other words, the ’80s were a dog’s breakfast.
Fast forward 30 years and I was still wandering around in the fashion wilderness. I found myself stuck in a holding pattern of jeans, t-shirts and boots for winter, and nondescript floral shifts for summer. Not to mention a whole lot of tracksuit pants behind closed doors.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those garments, but I simply had no idea what I could do to make those choices more exciting, more on-trend, less boring. I’m also a hopeless shopper. I find it difficult to visualise how a top, a jacket and a pair of pants on hangers are going to look on me, let alone how to put them all together and accessorise them. Cue high frustration levels and more than a few terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fashion purchase disasters!
But over recent years I’ve developed a few tricks to help me “fake it till I make it”.
Accessories are my new best friend. I always felt a little ‘blah’ in my jeans, boots, shirt combo. Now I always add a cropped blazer, scarf, a necklace (or three!) some statement earrings or a gorgeous chunky arm party. Not all at the same time of course!
Being a lady of a certain age, I always have my “mutton vs lamb” radar on. Occasionally in the past I’ve made a big mutton mistake (stiletto boots and a mini-skirt anyone?) but most of the time my radar stands me in good stead. Essentially, I try to dress appropriately for my age, while still aiming for a chic edge. That means a short skirt, heels OR cleavage. Just one. Not two, never all three and absolutely never ever in eleventy billion years expose a midriff.
If you’re anything like me, you have champagne tastes and a sparkling wine budget. The good news is you can take that budget and get some pretty good copies of the latest trends at places like K-Mart, Cotton On and Target. I have bought skinny jeans, tank tops, t-shirts and the occasional frock from those places. I think the trick is to go with plain styles and block colours as a base for some of the fancier garments in your wardrobe and then accessorise with belts, scarves and jewellery.
Small local boutiques are also a gold mine of well-priced items. I recently picked up a gorgeous cream kimono jacket from a local boutique for $25.
Thrift stores are another favourite for inexpensive, yet often groovy items. I’ve picked up a fabulous winter coat, cool leather belt and a beautiful lined woollen skirt which still had its original price tag of 80 pounds attached. I paid $7. Score!
And last but not least, read Styling You every day for inspiration! Since I’ve been following Nikki’s blog, particularly the Nina Proudman series, I feel like I’ve been on the fashion equivalent of a magical, mystery tour. I’ve discovered that floaty tops don’t have to make you look fat, kaftans aren’t just a bad memory from my mother’s ’70s wardrobe and that single items of clothing that I thought were just a one trick pony are actually so versatile they can be worn in winter or summer. Amazing! I feel like my wardrobe has been holding all sorts of secrets (cheeky minx!) and now I know how to tease them out of her.
Nikki has also taught me the holy grail of fashion lessons – how to pull an outfit together from head to toe. Thanks to Nikki, I no longer have fashion nightmares filled with stirrup pants and acid wash. Although I must admit I’m still partial to a Farrah flick.
Perhaps you’ve got a SY unlock your style story to share? Email it to: email@example.com or leave a comment below.
Michelle Barraclough is a Melbourne gal with a Sydney lifestyle, merrily wielding a hairbrush, paintbrush, whisk and iphone by turns. Her blog Bumparella is all about the great universal fertility story, as well as the comedic-tragic-dramatic performance of being a parent & partner. A place where over-sharing is not only welcome but encouraged. Get yourself a folate smoothie and join in.