Eight Ways To Improve Your Style This Spring

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One of the reasons I started this blog back in the day was to document my outfits and to figure out what I liked and didn't like to wear along the way. It might seem like a bit of an obvious thing the way you know your food preferences instantly, but since I was very shy and self-conscious growing up I wasn't very comfortable in my own skin and didn't think about clothes as a form of self-expression or something to have fun with until I was older. Then as I developed an interest in fashion I still didn't know what was "me." And even when I found styles I liked I didn't always feel comfortable wearing them; like this dramatic skirt from Shein would have intimidated me back in college (PS use code "aclotheshorse13" to get 13% off at Shein). These days I know my style pretty well and what I feel good in, but it has been many years and loads of trial and error to get here. I've been pretty open through blogging that this has been a process for me--I didn't wake up comfortable in my own skin with a ginormous closet! So I get a lot of questions about developing personal style, so here's a post with my top tips to help you step up your style game. Spring is a great time to experiment--you can spring clean your wardrobe and comfortable temperatures means there's less you have to wear to avoid frostbite!
1. Watch a stylish film. I find so much inspiration in movies, particularly those made or set in the 1950s, although even a good Jane Austen adaption can have me craving a Regency-inspired look. I always feel incredibly inspired after watching a stylish film; one movie can inspire my wardrobe for weeks even if it's just reflected in little details. So consider it a bit of homework: identify and watch a film in an era you love or featuring a style/actress you admire for a instant jolt of inspiration. Pay attention to the clothes; what outfits speak to you and why? Is it a silhouette or color combination?
2. Spend a day in character. Build an outfit inspired by one of your favorite movie characters (or book characters!) and wear it for a whole day. It could be as simple and subtle as a color combination (like the way Anna Karina wears so much red, white, and blue in A Woman is A Woman), or it could be as bold as trying to channel Birkin in a crochet dress, oversize sunglasses, and basket bag! The goal is to directly let a movie or film inspire your style and see what you already have in your wardrobe that will let you channel your favorite character and to try something you wouldn't have put together naturally. Get outside of your comfort zone. It was through one of my "character" days that I fell in love with winged eyeliner (I was emulating Brigitte Bardot).
3. Start a dedicated Pinterest board. One of things about style preferences is that themes will quickly start to show if you gather all your inspiration in one place. So start pinning your favorite Instagrams, pictures you admire, and so on into one place and see what themes shake out. Your might discover there's a signature color developing or favorite silhouette that appears again and again. The key is to let your favorites guide you rather than building the board with a specific theme or idea in mind.
4. Go shopping alone. In college I started to notice when I went shopping with friends we would inevitably ask each other what we thought about what we were trying on. My friends wouldn't like some of the things I picked out and it would make me change my mind about them. It hit me one day that I was buying clothes that reflected their style, not mine. So I started shopping more alone and also just not asking what they thought; even if you shop alone it's important to silence that little voice in your head and figure out what you like. At the end of the day you have to wear what you buy, no one else--so make sure you love it!
5. Get rid of things that aren't working. If you haven't worn something in six months or a year (and it doesn't have sentimental value), it's probably safe to say that you can get rid of it without missing it. A closet clean-out is a perfect way to refresh your perspective and sometimes less options is more inspiring. Even just switching out things seasonally so that you have to stop wearing a favorite jacket for a few months will inspire you to use other pieces more creatively. I also find my closet is always tidier with less in it which means I can see all of my options quickly and think about combinations; when there's too much going on I'll get overwhelmed and go for the same pieces again and again because I don't know or can't be bothered to hunt through things hiding in the back!
6. Tailor! It's amazing how much better you feel in clothes that just fit properly. Keep this in mind when you're sorting through your closet--what could be kept if you tailored it a bit? And when shopping--could this dress work with a slightly shorter hem or the waist adjusted? I tend to only buy or keep pieces that need a small amount of tailoring (like moving a row of buttons over an inch or shortening the hem slightly). Tailoring can be expensive if the pieces need more major adjustments, so I would only advise doing that for more investment pieces you know will get a lot of wear or will last you a lifetime.
7. Think about the details. Sometimes I think the focus for style is put too heavily on the "big" pieces, like a dress or jacket, but in the end it's the combination of those main pieces with classics that makes a look more unique and personal. A bandana around the neck transforms a basic tee and jeans combination into something else. It also means if you're building your style, don't focus on buying a load of new jeans and tees, but think about accessories that will transform the pieces you already have. Look at purses that make a statement, hair accessories from berets to flower crowns to headbands that feel "you," even layered jewelry, or colorful flats add polish to the most plain outfits.
8. It's a marathon, not a sprint. The wardrobe I have today is the result of years; even the blouse I'm wearing in this post is one I've had since 2014. Most of us aren't going to end up with a sudden inheritance that enables us to buy our dream wardrobe in a matter of days, or even just have a huge closet clean-out and total refresh. Instead build your dream wardrobe piece by piece, even if that means only being able to buy one piece a month. Don't get discouraged that you can't get everything you want at once (some of those things you want aren't probably going to become staples anyway)--instead choose what you invest in as wisely as you can and plan future purchases in advance. Since you aren't buying it all right away, make a list of the types of pieces you want (vs specific pieces that will sell out) and cross off or amend the list as you work towards your goal. My list would be more seasonal and for this spring it was something like: classic Birkin basket bag, basic espadrilles to replace my ruined ones from last summer, vintage day dresses from the 1950s, etc. You can always shop off the list, but having that guide is a good way to build up your staple pieces. suspender skirt-14suspender skirt-22
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bow earrings, old blouse, Shein skirt c/o, espadrilles

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