My Style Statement

I’m not trendy or fashion forward and that isn’t a goal of mine. I want to dress to express me, and if that fits with what everyone else is doing, that’s fine, but that’s not a desire.

I love boho — long flowy skirts, flat shoes, long necklaces, natural fibers, bootcuts, flares, wide leg pants, floppy hats, long cardigans, tunics. I like the Free People stuff, but I need much more color than that. I don’t like fringe, feathers or pussy bows, though.

I like color. I look good in some pastels, but I shy away from them because they’re too soft. I’ve started to think I much prefer tertiary colors: teal, aqua, yellow-green, red-violet: all colors that combine cool and warm.

I love natural fibers. I wear them almost exclusively. Polyester and acrylic make me itch. (So do metals other than gold, and maybe platinum.) I think what Eva (thecharmofit) said on an earlier thread about this, that I’m probably somewhere around the Yin Natural / Romantic Natural area.

I love wabi sabi. Visible mending. Lots of Asian art inspires me. I love handmade things. I value that work.

I like asymmetry.

I’m picky about pattern, at least on my top half. Organic, asymmetrical, and paisley are things that will make me like a pattern.

I think there’s also a place for whimsy in my wardrobe, but it’s quite unpredictable, and I often shy away for reasons I haven’t been able to articulate.

My lifestyle is casual, and it’s likely to remain that way. I live in jeans. I live in a four-season climate. I require my clothes to be practical. I don’t like fussy clothing.

I love layering, but that’s mostly impossible in the summer. I’m a much happier dresser in autumn and winter, but I still don’t feel like I’ve fully expressed who I am, what I want to express, most of the time.

I think there’s an artsy element to who I am that doesn’t often come through. I haven’t always been aware of this as part of me, I’m somewhat recently acknowledging this aspect of myself.

I’m bookish, too, but I don’t think that always comes through (I love tweed, and elbow patches, I wear glasses; for me I think this is potentially related to the whimsy I mentioned.

Because of my size [Amiable described this as my body being soft, which may be more on point.] combined with wearing my hand knits — especially shawls but not exclusively — I fear I’m sometimes seen as much older than I am — dare I say matronly? Grandma? Invisible. I really dislike people seeing me and instantly assuming they know everything about me, and that’s happened for most of my life, but I don’t like it. I’d like people to understand from my clothes that they can’t easily stick me in a cubbyhole and feel like they know me based on how I look. Or at least not a sweet, safe, boring, neutral, staid cubbyhole.

To this end, I want to add some edge to my look. Which is why I plan to get some black combat-style stompy boots this fall. But it’s been tough to figure out what else I can add without straying into territory that just isn’t me. Black isn’t a great color for me to wear by my face.

The only other thing I’ve thought of that will probably work is a leather bracelet of some kind. (I’m thinking one that wraps around a bunch, rather than a more rigid cuff, although is that potentially another option?)

I also like moto/engineer boots and I’d love a moto jacket. I haven’t found one yet, though. And it might have to wait until I’m at a stable size, since I don’t really want to buy one and then have it not fit.

I’m thinking of buying all my footwear in the men’s department. The wideness of my forefoot has been determined, and combined with my high arch and shunning of heels, I don’t think it would be a hardship (except for maybe sandals, but Birks are working at this point).

I am not: sporty, luxe or otherwise; classic; trendy; maximal; neutral; prim; earthy; cutesy; pristine; nautical; girly.

I’m currently: colorful; casual; handmade; natural fibers; comfortable; utilitarian; modest; RATE.

I’d like to be: colorful; natural fibers; casual; floaty; handmade; boho/70s; comfortable; practical; modest; edgy/urban; rocker/grunge; steampunk; unexpected; RATE; fun.

So. Am I on the right track? Any specifics that will help me get where I’m going? Thoughts?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • replied 8 years ago

    It sounds very much like you are on the right track.  I find identifying what I don't like is as important as identifying what I do like.  You seem to be covering both sides of the spectrum. 

    I also find that writing things out is very helpful to me.  This helps hone your assessment.  Good luck on your journey.  

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Thanks, Sterling! I've had most of this written out here and there for weeks and weeks, but I was finally able to shape it and make it fit together this weekend.

  • donnat replied 8 years ago

    I love hearing your thoughts. It helps me to reflect on my own style. I see you as feminine and very much a 70's flower child. I think a pair of black Doc type boots would give you more of a rate, grunge look.

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    It's interesting to hear how people perceive me, too, Donnat, because I have a tendency to overthink things. I'm a bit surprised by your use of "feminine," mostly because I'm in jeans 95% of the time. Of course, I don't feel like I'm actually giving off the bohemian vibe I crave, either, most of the time. ;)

  • Alassë replied 8 years ago

    I also enjoyed reading your realizations. Keep us posted - we look forward to seeing your style self-expression evolve!

  • Stephanie replied 8 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this! I think it's important to stop and assess your style to establish where you've been, where you are, and where you'd like to go.

    I can really relate to what you said about the more arty/bookish side of you. Both are part of my personality as well, yet I don't feel that I always look very much like either at a first glance. Working on it.

    Re: adding edge. I don't think black leather has to be your only option. You mentioned you wear glasses - what about shopping for a secondary pair in an unexpected shape and/or color? I like Donnat's recommendation for some Doc Martins too.

    I'm not sure what size you need, but ModCloth has some really fun options for jackets. Do you like burgundy? The leather look gives a bit of edge without being black as you mentioned you don't like black against your face. I could see this color working on you:

    I'm not sure if this helps at all but hopefully :) Best of luck in your style journey!

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Thanks, Alassë

    Stephanie: I actually just changed glasses, again. (ETA: So many photos I haven't gotten around to posting yet, alas!) I'm not sure what kind of glasses would be edgy, but the new ones are definitely interesting, and I like them! And Doc Martens (or similar) are #1 on my shopping priority list. I'll look at ModCloth, I haven't shopped there before.

  • Stephanie replied 8 years ago

    I love those glasses! I think they'll help give you a bit of that unexpected/artistic vibe you're going for. Combine that with some edge/punk and I think you'll have a very unique style in line with what you've described here.

    I think you may enjoy ModCloth. They are 100% online but have a good return policy. I've found some really unique pieces there and they suit a variety of different styles.

  • Angie replied 8 years ago


    VERY on track. Loved reading this, Word Lilly. Rock on. 

  • Maneera replied 8 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this. You really are good with words :)

    I can see everything you've stated as things you "like" in your dressing style already. A look that particularly stuck in my head because you looked so fantastic in it was a seasons challenge you did with a hand-knit shawl and your dark glasses. That was Dramatic, Boho, Unexpected and Stylish. Infact I think all your seasons challenge outfits were super ---- the teal sweater comes to mind too.

    I think you manage to look feminine even though you live in jeans. Your floaty hand-knits capture the bohemian element and add a feminine charm to your outfits. And I also think you manage to look unexpected and unique because you pair those floaty tops with masculine footwear.

    A leather bracelet is a great idea for you. I also love Deborah's necklace (the ring in what I think is a black leather string) for adding a edgy vibe to an otherwise polished outfit. Your bracelet could be something like that, perhaps?

    And while I agree investing in a leather Moto jacket when your weight isn't stable may not be wise, how about adding more dramatic scarves and wraps to your wardrobe? Since you knit, go for an abstract pattern in a dark shade that flatters you (I'm thinking teal or navy blue) combined with a bit of black. They could add colour and style to your outfits, especially if you come up with a unique design.

    Another suggestion - maybe change your hairstyle for something edgier?

    I don't know if these suggestions will help. But I wish you all the very best!

  • Jenn replied 8 years ago

    This was great to read.

    I'm especially intrigued by the juxtaposition between "floaty" and "rocker/grunge" in your aspirational statement. I love the combination of a floaty skirt with western or combat boots. 

    Have you thought of going with non-black combat boots? I could see you in green or blue Docs. 

    Also, do you have any outfits that visually represent where you want to be? Either your own or someone else's? Alternatively, do you think you could put together, say, a Polyvore collage of an ideal outfit?

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Thanks, Angie

    Maneera: Well, I was a writer, ages ago. :) That's all really helpful, thank you. I have a bunch of other knit accessories that haven't seen the daylight on the forum yet, trust me (scarves, cowls, hats, mitts ...). As the weather actually cools off, they'll come out and play. I'll have to ponder what's edgy, and look and see what designs I can find that I have yarn for and that fit that aesthetic. I can think of one I queued, although I was planning on making it in burgundy and fuschia ... 

    Last summer I had this red and purple hair (style and color), but it still didn't feel edgy, to me. And the maintenance would have been astronomical. If I go just cut, it never looks edgy, somehow. I've had short, pixies, etc., for quite a few years and just started growing it out, so I think I'll stick with it for now ... 

  • amiable replied 8 years ago

    Yay!  Well written and well articulated.

    Just a couple of quick comments, since I'm in the middle of something.

    1 - your red and purple hair was awesome.  I wish it was more maintainable :)  
    2 - your femininity comes from your body shape - you're curvy.  You'll look feminine in anything, which is neat :)  (I get mistaken for a man when my hair is short - not many curves here).

    Kids are arguing, maybe more later.

  • Maneera replied 8 years ago

    Oh that hair is gorgeous!!!! But I'll take your word when you say your current hairstyle works best for you :)

    I really look forward to seeing more of your hand knits this winter. I love hand knits too - couldn't live without the berets, gloves, woolen socks and cozy mufflers!

    I love Jenn's idea though! Floaty tops and boho skirts with combat boots! You rock your cowboy a different, edgier pair will be a great addition to your wardrobe

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Jenn: (cross-posted, sorry!) I know, that doesn't exactly make sense, does it? Maybe I don't need to be all those things in every outfit, either. 
    I would wear #1 ... Actually, maybe quite a few Free People looks would work, except with more color generally.

    #s 2 and 3 are Fall 2015 runway looks that fit in the rocker/grunge idea that I would wear (although I'd probably need some color in #2).

    And all three of these also have elements of floaty, too, if not full-on bohemian. Although I wouldn't consider these three as encompassing all of my style goals, at all. Probably too hard/dark for every single day.

    Would the colored boots give me the edge I'm looking for? They read as significantly less edgy and more feminine to me (although also more fun and unexpected).

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Amiable: Thank you! :) 1) I don't think I even have any decent photos of the red and purple hair, it was so short-lived. 2) Oh, duh. That makes sense.

    Maneera: Yes, when I saw that pin, I just had to have that hair! It took a few months to get there (had to grow it out, etc.), but it was fun while it lasted.

  • Jenn replied 8 years ago

    Those are men's boots, so I definitely wouldn't consider them feminine!

    I really like all three of those looks (especially #1 and #3), but they do heavily rely on black. Here's one with the green boots.

  • Joy replied 8 years ago

    Word Lily, I loved reading your post. You have made many discoveries about what you like and don't like and it sounds like you are on the right track. I found that adding a studded belt or bag feels like it's a way of getting a little edge. Boots of any color, especially if not stilletto heeled, should look great with your style persona. We often go to art fairs any I like to study what the artists wear. Big statement jewelry would work well for you, I think, and add that arty vibe. If the outfit is simple, it does not need to look maximal.

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Thanks, Jenn

    Joy: Yeah, I could do a studded belt (or bag, but I don't change out bags very often). I'd like to find some big statement jewelry that would work for me. I have a tough time with that (metals make me itchy, including silver, with gold being the only exception I've found). Of course, in the cooler months, I probably have knit accessories that would take the place of most jewelry.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Very well thought out!  Reminds me of the rubric and lists we were all doing a while back.  It's just as helpful to winnow out what you DON'T wear, especially because you often see others wearing those styles so well and start to covet them. :)

  • replied 8 years ago

    Very well expressed and a pleasure to read!  It sounds like you'd be happiest in comfortable, casual, simple pieces of clothing, with interesting accessories to express your creative side.  Let your creative muse loose among the shoes, bags, jewelry, etc!

  • unfrumped replied 8 years ago

    Good analysis!

    I can see the stompy boots, but wonder what is the best way for you to add edge to the "softer" fabrics and silhouettes. It might be a round-toed stompy boot, or it might be something edgy in a sharper way--something metallic and sleek. Or would that be considered "polished" and not RATE? I wonder if RATE is the right goal--yes, it well might be. Would you like to be Moto-Boho?!  Or   another form of juxtaposition? What kind of attention and not blending -in is desired?

  • replied 8 years ago

    You have a very clean look. I don't see much pattern.
    I think a defining feature are your awesome leather items. I wish you would start wearing skinnies to show them off better.
    I think woolens and chunky knits ARE inherently earthy, and I'm surprised you said that "earthy" was NOT you. You are so earthy to me!

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Una: Yes, I was digging through the blog archives and did several of the assignments I came across. :) 

    LavenderMoon: Yep, that's about right! 

    Unfrumped: Metallic: yes; sleek: maybe not. The RATE vs. polished thing is interesting for me to think about. I don't necessarily aspire to be RATE, I just am, and I'm fine with that. I will never be overly polished. It's been years since my nails have been painted, I almost always prefer messy hairstyles to sleek ones. I like juxtaposition generally. I could go with Moto-Boho, sure. With maybe just a touch of Artistic thrown in, too? As far as what kind of attention? That's hard for me to articulate. Countless times over the years I've had people make assumptions about me — Oh, she'd never get a tattoo! She's so sweet! — and I rebel against the easy characterization as such, at least by people who've never spoken to me. Does that make sense? Mostly I don't want people to think they can know everything about me based on a single glance. 

  • Joy replied 8 years ago

    How about a leather vest or long skirt?  If leather is too rocker, suede may be just right.  Faux suede can be machine washed and dried.

  • Cerinda replied 8 years ago

    Great thinking, and a pleasure to read!  What you detail matches well what you've posted, so I'd say you're definitely on track.

    I echo the ideas about pendants on leather cords and black Docs; your leather cuff idea, too.  I also suggest you push the wabi sabi note:  raw hems and exposed seams are so unexpected that they may successfully suggest I am more than I appear.

    I really hear you on that score.  Invisibility plagues me, too. All I know to do is focus on dress as self-expression.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Just wanted to add -- be careful about dressing in reaction to what you're perceiving as other people's interpretation of who you are.  I think  a lot of people are just oblivious to what we have on, and are totally wrapped up in their own concerns.  Are you sure you're not just projecting something on to them that they might not really be thinking?

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Well ... I've had them actually say that. I could recount conversations where I pressed them, and this was their reasoning. I know that in general what you're saying is true, though. And I don't think that's entirely why I want to dress the way I do.

  • kerlyn replied 8 years ago

    You sound like you're heading the right direction, and you've articulated your thoughts really well.  I'm also a boho fan whose been trying to add a bit of edge to my style.  Two of the things that I think have worked best for me are my moto boots (I have a pair of mid-tone brown Rocket Dog moto boots with some buckle details) and wide leather cuff bracelets.  The best thing about the boots is they look equally good with  skinnies, leggings, or bootcuts/flares.  I tend to love a clompy, stompy boot too, and these fit the bill.  For some reason, I never tend to wear my black moto boots, but these brown ones I live in.  I suspect they're bookending my hair better.  I wonder if brown might work better for you as well?  

    As far as leather cuffs go, I've found a couple in the jewelry-making section of my local craft stores.  They're probably meant to be embellished with rhinestones and jewels, but honestly I love them just plain.  And they'd be a good way to experiment with the trend for just a few bucks.

    Another idea as far as jewelry might be to buy some long leather cord and look for interesting pendants.  That way the metal wouldn't be touching your skin.  Those same craft stores have a plethora of interesting pendants in styles that would fit boho, steampunk, victorian, whimsical, etc.

    Just a few thoughts from a fellow boho lover.  I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, as it helps me in defining my own style.

  • replied 8 years ago

    I love boho, too, but can only get away with touches of it here and there. I can't do the complete boho look. It's great reading your thoughts!

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    So as far as what you're aiming for in terms of not wanting people to assume they know everything about you, the key to that for me is TENSION.  I feel like that's an inherent and instinctive part of what I'm drawn to and how I dress and act. 

    So to break it down, start with what people assume about you regardless of how you dress.  For me, it's petite Asian woman = feminine, docile, passive, quiet, traditional, maybe not an English speaker

    Now, I want people to think (if they care to think anything): assertive, confident, articulate, strong, fierce

    Enter STYLE!  UWP, RATE, boots, hair, glasses, anything I can do to say "Don't think you know everything about me" or alternatively, "Here's what I want you to know about me."

    Not sure if that's an approach you want to take, but I feel that tension between my physical presence and my style choices makes life more interesting. :)

  • MuseumGal replied 8 years ago

    You know, people who dismiss you with one look, aren't necessarily people you want in your life anyway.  The more interesting people will take the time to get to know you for who you are.  Having said that, I think what Una (alaskagirl) has to say is worth thinking about too.

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Kerlyn: Yes, I’d love some moto boots, and leather bracelets (whether wrap or cuff) are definitely on the list. That’s interesting about the brown vs. black for you. I’m not sure which I’d wear more (if I only had one, I’d wear them, though!), although since I already have taupe, I’m still leaning toward black. And leather cord for pendants is also on my list, yes!

    BettyCrocker: Thanks!

    Una: I’m a fan of juxtaposition anyway, it’s just more interesting. And I think that’s basically what you’re saying by tension? So, yes! Which is why black, and leather, and metal (that edge I’m talking about) — all those conflict with what they’d assume. Probably high tension color combinations do that to some extent too (like in my Seasons interpretation of the blue sky with trees).

    Definitely, MuseumGal. But I do like juxtaposition, just for the fun of it, too. :)

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    This is a great thing to have all hashed out and written down.

    FWIW based on the outfits you've posted, to me I get: festival-boho, rugged, earthy, textural, a little girly but not overly sweet, casual. Not all of those jive with what you've listed as ideal though, possibly because I've mainly seen summery outfits.

    I don't see the Docs as particularly "edgy" for you, they seem to already fit with your footwear aesthetic. I think a change in hair would be a great way to add in one of those desired elements that perhaps you like but find tricky to wear.

    Looking forward to seeing your action items get put into action :)

  • Sal replied 8 years ago

    I think you have a great starting point for adding new purchases....I think those tertiary colours such as teal, wine etc  do suit you so well - more than colours that are too sharp or too muted.

    I think accessories are the way to make a bit of a statement to work along with a practical closet.  When my children were smaller I found this the best way to go, and fortunately at the time there was a good range.I could definitely see you in clompy boots - how about cherry red Doc Martins?  Paired with jeans and a funky bag, and a colourful shirt.   

    I attached a few pieces I could see you in, they are NZ retailers so I don't mean these exact pieces but just some ideas :)

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Aida: That’s very helpful, thanks! Textural, casual, absolutely. Rugged: OK, sure (not intended, but probably somewhat goes along with my “practical” vein?). What does earthy mean to you? When I say I’m not earthy, I mean mostly colors. I guess when I said I don’t want to be girly, I mean: no peter pan collars, ruffles, bows … I’m also curious what other kinds of boho you’d separate out, if you’re saying I’m festival-boho (in contrast to what?).

    I certainly don’t think my summer wardrobe, in particular, is very close to ideal, very much of the time.

    I don’t think of Docs as edgy for me (They don’t take me out of my comfort zone, if that’s what edgy means.); I like them, though, and they’re tough. Which I don’t have much of wardrobe-wise, and which I do want to convey, at least to a certain extent. What would you think would be better for footwear, then, if not Docs?

    I’ll ponder the hair thing; is it possible to have long hair that’s edgy?

    Sally: Thank you! I hadn’t considered red Docs; I don’t really wear red (although the cherry red is more of a burgundy, maybe?) And yes, I really like that cocoon-style cardigan!

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Earthy as in.. a connection to the earth -- the natural fabrics you choose, the muted shades (textural and practical do probably both play a little into that as well), and the boho feel. The types of "boho" elements you describe sound to me more along the hippie/festival side versus say the more glamorous/eclectic/richly dark bohemian side. My hunch is the rugged is coming from the more masculine vibe of your footwear, the clothing itself doesn't feel that way so much. And I think the Docs would be a great option for you, they certainly would add an element of toughness and grunge.

    Would definitely be curious to see how your style differs in fall/winter, since you've said that feels closer to what you're after.

    You can ponder edgy long hair, and I'll join you in pondering how to unsweeten curly hair ;) Certainly possible but my hunch is it will require spending time on it. Long hair always seems to take a while, short hair you can muss up or spike up quickly and easily.

  • Tania replied 8 years ago

    What a great post!  So thoughtful. 

    In my notes to myself, I've conceptualized "edge" as playing with juxtapositioning/unexpected combos and looking for toppers/shoes/glasses that can bring that in.  Hair is another option, of course.  I'm still working on these elements myself. 

    As for the Docs, I started to go on that path a couple of years ago, a throwback to my younger self.  I found that they didn't work well for me anymore.  I've been gravitating towards Fryes.  I don't think brand matters as much as whether they are comfy and help you project what you want!

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Aida: OK, so by earthy you're kind of meaning the same thing I meant when I said natural. I'd like to have some of the more old-school, traditional bohemian, at least at some point, but yeah, I don't think that comes through. But again, that may be because I've been gazing on pictures of summer looks? Maybe that's completely off, but I'd like to think I like both, at least to a certain extent. I've always had artistic eclectic in there, even though I'll never be in Approprio's league.

    Sounds like a plan, re: hair! :) I'm kind of anti anything that takes too long (there we are back at the earthy/natural again — or is it just lazy/practical in this case?)

  • Aida replied 8 years ago

    Ah yes natural fits that just as well. Those two overlap for me a good bit. I think it's quite easy to skew hippie side for warm weather and eclectic/romantic for cooler weather; the fabrications and styles just lend themselves that way.

    I wonder if you could do something that had a really jagged end which you could just add some pomade or something for choppy texture, but leave the rest more "natural". I put a lot of effort into my hair, even though the end result is just... curly and very messy. But it does it just so ;)

  • Jaime replied 8 years ago

    It is always a pleasure to read a description by someone with defined taste and perception. The pictures from Free People were a bit more dramatic than the description would have me imagine - great aspirational images. 

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Tania: Juxtaposition is fun to play with! And I agree, brand isn't the point. I've never worn Docs but I hope to go try some on soon; the first step, you know? And I definitely won't be sacrificing comfort in footwear. I love looking at Fryes! I don't think my first pair will be quite that pricy, though. 

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 8 years ago

    Very interesting read, and I think you have done a great job of articulating your desires for a style direction. I like the green Docs, but I'm thinking Fryes could be a little tougher looking, actually. And more grown-up, less young and fun, if that makes sense. I also picture this Frye bag for you. 

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 8 years ago

    P.S. On your boot thread, you were debating combat, moto, engineer, and harness boots. Here's a harness style that has a low, closer-fitting shaft, so it would be easy to wear under your jeans.

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    The being visible (and/or not being seen as too nice) totally catches my attention. Also, the words *haute hippie* are coming to mind, the brand with and without standing. I love all your pics in this thread (and I have the same issue with edgy hairstyles not looking that edgy on me... I out edge my hair, haha). The glasses in particular I think are awesome. My question is... What will you do with all the attention? ;)

  • Word Lily replied 8 years ago

    Thank you, Shevia! I feel like I've known how I want to look/dress for a long time, but putting it into words, and then actually getting there are very different things. And yes, I think I do like drama.

    Firecracker: Thank you! I love Fryes (to look at; that’s the closest I’ve allowed myself to come so far, because budget), and that bag is pretty great too (although I’m pretty staunchly in the cross-body bag camp at the moment). That does make sense. I need this next pair of boots (whatever brand, whatever style) to have a lug sole, something with decent traction.

    rachylou: :) Thanks! It was actually your new glasses that led me to this brand and my new frames, so thank you for that, too! And as to what I’ll do with the attention? I guess we’ll see!

You need to be logged in to comment