You’ve Got Style (Choices!)

As I was showing my husband Will an adorable picture (a friend just had another baby!), he replies, “Why is the husband wearing khakis and a button-up in the hospital? That looks so uncomfortable.”

I replied, “It looks so handsome and put together!” Which is true, but did not faze my husband. He is the King of Casual. He tells people he picked emergency medicine as a profession so he could wear pajamas (read: scrubs) to work. I can pick out a button-up, khakis (and maybe a tie!) for church or weddings or certain family events, but casual khaki wear is not for him.

Our daughter, 18+ months, will stuff her feet into shoes too small if she wants to – specifically the silver boots-with-the-fur she found at Old Navy last winter. They’re soft and now the sides don’t velcro together, but she loves them stuffs her feet into them every so often, even though she has new, cute, correctly fitting shoes available.

Which makes me wonder: what influences style?

Style is “a manner of doing something.” If Aristotle thought that virtue becomes a habit by constantly choosing so, then surely fashion style and sense come out of the same practice.

Will and I are not naturally stylish. At our best, we dress in a classic manner. At our laziest, we are grasping for clean clothes. Style, I think, is in the middle: it’s the every day dressage – the choices we make.

We both grew up wearing uniforms. His go-to was athletic wear: shorts and a tee-shirt. Mine was always nicer wear: polo shirts, skirts, jeans and pearls. College meant shorts year-round for him, and ballet flats with everything with me.

Why? Comfort.

Not only with the individual pieces of clothing, but the style – what your clothes project to the world, as well as their function.

I’m more into scoop neck shirts than polos now; I love mocs and flats; button-up cardigans are my jam; I love fitted pant and shorts in solid colors, and patterned A-line skirts; button-ups do not work for me or my body type.

Projecting my style on my daughter (for now!)
Projecting my style on my daughter (for now!)

I love the concept of a uniform – and no matter what our style, we all create a kind of uniform: those favorite, comfortable pieces to wear again and again. But once you’ve picked out your favorite pieces, is there still room to expand? I hope so – a scarf, necklace, glasses or other kind of statement piece can really create a beautiful image of self. (And one day, maybe, casual khakis for all!)

A lot of my current wardrobe is transferring from third trimester maternity (winter) into breastfeeding postpartum (spring with a dash of snow). I’m finding myself wanting to do a major overhaul of my wardrobe because there are simply too many items that do not fit into this season of my life.

Am I keeping this shirt because I love how it fits, or because I want to wear it eventually? Too often, it is the latter.

I’m also finding my style is changing. Sure, I’ll love cardigans and headbands forever. But maybe I don’t need to still have cardigans from high school and college?

I am currently reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and I am most struck by her insistence to only keep things you love; things that move you – not things you want to love. Isn’t that a trap too many of us fall in?

I have at least eight pairs of jeans, and I realized last night that only one brand fits me well: and still, I keep all the other pairs “just in case”… in case of what?? If disaster hits, the last thing I need is a pair of ill-fitting jeans.

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This weekend, I am re-claiming my style. Here’s what is on my mind:

  1. Keep clothes that fit well (not “good enough” fittings)
  2. Ask myself, Do I feel lovely in this piece?
  3. Is it worth wearing? Sure, have a few around the house pieces – but keep clothes that make you feel good and look good!
  4. Don’t forget accessories!

Style takes time and practice: by knowing what I like, which pieces are versatile, and thinking of needs v. use. It also takes a certain amount of bravery to admit what works, what doesn’t, what you like and how you’ll proceed once you know (or think you do!). But fashion isn’t final, and we should try to allow ourselves to experiment in colors, fabrics, and – of course – different styles.

How have you developed your own style, readers?

Julie Baldwin
Julie is editor of Ignitum Today, a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative, and former statehouse report for the Watchdog Network. An American Studies major at Hillsdale College, she currently teaches lower and AP U.S. history for a classical school. She has been published in outlets including The Christophers, Our Sunday Visitor and The Washington Times.

She blogs at The Corner With A View, and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their baby daughters.

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