In a sea of influencer posts and bulging content, style envy is more real than ever. On any given day, it’s rare that you leave the house without happening, or scrolling, upon a style or aesthetic you admire. But there’s so much that goes into our personal style, and appearance, that’s just the start.
Compared to when I was sixteen, or even twenty-two, I know so much more about myself, including what I genuinely feel comfortable putting on my body. I’ve come to love baggy, oversized tops and slim fit jeans. I can’t live without espadrilles and black boots. And when it comes to underwear, the more coverage the better.
But none of this evolution happened over night, something I am forcefully reminded every time I clean out my closet. Instead, realizing my style required a long and thoughtful process of trial and error that eventually helped me tap into my very own je ne sais quoi.
Pin it to win it.
Every time I see decor or an outfit I like, I screenshot it. Some of these pictures get posted to my literal wall while others stay on my phone until I don’t find them relevant anymore.
What exactly do I get from this? The screenshot is like a mental pause. Instead of reaching for my credit card, it gives me a visual reminder I can keep coming back to until I decide to act, or not. Pinterest, the save function on Instagram, and magazine clippings are all great ways to identify styles you’re interested in without making any rash financial commitment.
Fit over flatter.
I remember flipping through Seventeen Magazine as a highly susceptible teenager and racking my brain over which body type I was. A pear? An apple? A hotdog? Okay, that last one was a joke. But according to the magazine, the rest of these strange categorizations were key deciders of what I could and couldn’t wear.
Looking back, that system was a load of hot crap. Overall, I think the editors meant well and wanted to encourage body acceptance but their execution needed some serious work. As companies like Girlfriend Collective now show us, a thoughtfully designed line can look good on literally every body and it’s up to companies, not consumers, to cater to our bodies.
Rather than feeling pressured into certain looks, find fabrics, cuts, and colors, that make you feel comfortable in your skin. Then, make it your mission to identify trends that incorporate at least one of those elements into their design.
Ride it out.
When it comes to trends, no one’s an equal adopter. Some pick up a trend and run with it for the rest of their lives. Others are willing to take more of a risk and incorporate fads liberally.
But Alexis, you say, aren’t trends wasteful? In theory yes, but just because you buy into a trend doesn’t make it inherently unsustainable. Think about it—you could go out and buy 50 white t-shirts, all in the same style. Or, you could buy five different trendy pieces. Which is the better option? In this scenario, the latter would be more sustainable because it creates the least waste and unnecessary excess. When purchasing, why you buy something is usually just as important as what you buy. To stop an impulse purchases in their tracks, ask yourself:
- Do I already own something similar? Will this be a repetitive purchase?
- How often will I wear this piece? (More than 30 times is a good place to aim for.)
- Will this piece help me get more wear out of other items I own?
Think outside the store.
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge but don’t want to swim in the deep end, try finding alternatives to buying new. Sites like Nuuly and Rent the Runway are great examples of rental options. Buffalo Exchange, Savers, and local thrift stores also let you try out a garment with minimal impact or investment. Better yet, raid your friends and family’s closets. Because most trends are simply recycled from another time period, it’s perfectly feasible that you could find the look you want from a decades-old piece.
Locked and loaded.
If you are ready to go all in and buy a piece new, shop around to find a high-quality option. Brands that produce smaller collections, like Reformation or Hack with Design, put less stress on resources, like water and oil, compared to fast fashion brands. What’s more, sustainable materials tend to be more timeless than synthetic fabrics, letting you make the piece a staple of your wardrobe for more than just a season.