Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much my style has changed over the past few years. When I started college, I was determined to be studious and professional. I distinctly remember wearing a pair of trousers on my first day of orientation. I was determined to looks sophisticated and like I belonged. As the years went on I interned in professional settings (e.g., PA State Government), developed a devotion to Kate Middleton’s style, and prepared for a career in higher education. In the winters I looked vaguely like Vivian in Legally Blonde and in the summer I transitioned to a brighter color palette, reminiscent of Carly from The College Prepster. After reading this article, I was inspired to share my minimalist style journey with you.
This preppy look defined my college years—always looking put together, always ready to give a presentation of professionalism. And don’t get me wrong, I think the preppy look is great. I love pink, I think good tailoring is amazing, and clothing with bows is adorable…but even though I’d been rocking the young professional look since day one of my college experience, I was kind of over it.
When I first graduated and started working at YRK magazine, I started mixing up my style. What does a magazine writer/blogger wear when she’s covering the latest events downtown? Something on trend and very fashionable. My blazers and trousers got packed away and out came the bright summer dresses and interesting accessories. I tried to push the envelope, be fun and fashionable like the women I worked with. But again, it didn’t feel right so I transitioned back to my “professional” attire because it was safe and familiar.
After I left YRK, I was spending most of my time focusing on my freelance career and attempting to find a full-time position. Those days? Spent mostly in either leggings and t-shirts or my French girl ensemble—stripes, red lips, and ankle pants. These looks left me feeling either frumpy or like I was trying too hard.
When I began interviewing for my position at Web Talent, I brought the suits and Kate Middleton inspired outfits back out. And when I got the job, I continued wearing them. But I work in an office full of delightfully fashionable, casual people and didn’t feel like I was fitting in with my coworkers. And worse than that? The clothes I had were horribly uncomfortable and made sitting for 8 hours a day unpleasant. Even though, I hadn’t gained any weight, I felt like my clothes were suffocating me. The dresses I wore to networking events for a few hours seemingly bruised my rib cage when I sat in them for long periods of time.
I was so tired of being uncomfortable. Tired of seaming pinching my sides. Tired of wearing heels that made my knees ache for days after. How could my supposed style be causing me so much pain?
And then it occurred to me. Style shouldn’t be painful. I shouldn’t dread putting on clothes. I’m not against wearing shoes that aren’t the most comfortable every now and again, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing.
So my style shifted again. This time more toward jeans, flats, t-shirts/tanks, and sweaters. Very simple and comfortable. I also stopped wearing much makeup because why bother? My acne has gotten incredibly painful—worse than I had even as a teenager. And my hair? It’s clean and fairly presentable most of the time. I don’t go more than three days without washing my hair and have a few “dirty” hairstyle I use a lot. But all this left me feeling plain and unattractive.
It didn’t really occur to me until recently how unhappy I was with the way my style has changed. While I’m no longer physically uncomfortable, I now definitely don’t feel beautiful. I know part of the reason, aside from my gruesome acne, is that I have to wear my glasses every day because my eyes can’t focus with my contacts in on the computer screen at work. They don’t make me feel pretty, just dumpy.
But I’m no quitter. I’m not going to “let myself go” or scamper back to the discomfort of heels and tight dresses. Instead, I’m looking for simple ways to make me feel more beautiful without spending any extra money and I’ve found a few ways to add a little glamour back into my style. I thought I’d share them with you in an upcoming blog post in case you’re going through a similar struggle. Stay tuned!