Style Musings: My style story

Not long before I started looking for my personal style. Photo by Kamil Mirkowicz (early 2012)

I tell a lot of stories on my blog. Stories make this place what it is: a quiet, personal corner of the internet, where I can open up and feel safe and happy to share my day to day life. I hope you guys feel it too! There is one large story to be told here yet, and it's an ongoing one, weaved into the visual part of things: my style story. I have shared snippets of it in writing before but I want to have it here, complete, in one place. Not total, by any means, but important. It's the basis of this blog and it's a big part of me, as I am.

The before

I didn't always have a style. 

When I was younger, I would usually be in one of the two states: one being curious about clothes and one being totally un-interested. I'd either try on clothes that were new and unusual to me: skirts and colorful blouses, or I'd stick to my usual routine of a grey turtleneck and a pair of loosely fitting jeans, much like in the outfit pictured above. I'd either want to be invisible in my regular clothes or I'd be feeling empowered but also nervous in something out of my comfort zone.

Most of the time, I was confused. Why did I not know how to style myself when all my friends did? Did I lack something? Also, I kept thinking maybe if I wasn't born with this knowledge of beautifying myself, then I should abandon it altogether.

I grew up in an idealist family and was taught to not pay attention to superficial values. As a result, I'd always believed it was the things inside that were worthy of interest. It is a beautiful sentiment, isn't it? The society on the other hand, I felt told me that I had to choose one of the two ways: being beautiful but shallow and vain or being smart and deep but unpretty. With more of the weight placed on the latter version being morally better, I stuck to what I knew: I'm unpretty and I'm not able to change it, so I should just stick to my depth and intelligence.


left: my regular style (2007), right: trying something new. Despite the untucked blouse, intuitively, I was on to something! (2008)

Beauty is in the eye


That way of thinking kept making me feel unhappy. I would be too scared to take a dive in the sea of fashion and style while at the same time I always could tell when a person wore their clothes with taste. I'd look up to them. I just wouldn't know how they did it.

That --this ability to see harmony instantly and to appreciate it so much --was a clue in and out of itself.

Seeing is vital to me, and beauty has always been extremly important in my life. Looking for beauty and seeing it everywhere is innate to me, it drives me and it's a thing I've always cherished. I want to have beauty and harmony all around me. So in fact, I was going against my own insticts when I was denying myself either feeling beautiful by dressing well or feeling good about making myself beautiful. I was making myself unhappy.

Reclaiming style


I'm not going to tell you about all the phases that lead to the moment when I realized I wanted to have a style. One of the crucial things that happened was when I found style blogs back in 2012. I got hooked on Elsa's whimsical take on adulthood, Elizabeth's free spirit and Rebecca's adorable quirkiness. They were the proof I needed to accept that a person can be the best of both worlds: stylish and smart, deep and beautiful. Watching them helped me embrace the idea that style is a choice. It's not identical with following trends or watching fashion tv or spending money on designer clothes. It doesn't mean dressing to attract attention and it certainly doesn't mean abandoning your intelligence. I now know that it can be all and none of these things. It can mean anything you want. You do it your way.

In my case, the key to finding my own style was to open up to seeing beauty --both internal and external --without judging one as better than the other. With it came the idea that I could be both of these worlds.


Figuring out my style (2012, 2013).

The rebel without a clue


But it wasn't a snap of the fingers kind of transformation. The realization that my style is my own choice was a rebellious act in itself. You have no idea how scared I was when I decided that I, the girl who only wore jeans and tees, liked dresses and pretty prints and girly blouses. At 25 years old no less. What would my family and my friends say to this change? How does the society react to a girl like that? A girl I've never been before.

I was met with some mocking and rised eyebrows. But the sense of satisfaction I got from trying new stylistic routes far outbalanced this pushback. So, after a while, my concerns about what others thought about my newly developing style waned. I shifted my attention to my own curiosity and imagination. I sometimes felt nervous about my stylistic choices but I didn't feel confused or ashamed anymore. The most prevailing feeling was that of empowerment. Maybe for the first time in my life, I accepted and embraced my own looks --and I wanted to adorn them and make them shine.

Early blogging style (2013) and more recent style (2017).

The after

I will keep on stressing that personal style is a road. It's not a point where we stay forever. It evolves just as we do. Some basic principles don't change --like the silhouettes that look best on us and lines with which we balance our bodies. But the rest? The ornaments, patterns, details --that's something that can and will inevitably change along with us.

I thought it was important to tell this story now. You see, I've long been thinking about writing a series on finding personal style. Tips and tricks, but also more in-depth stuff. When talking about ways to search for personal style, I will inevitably take into account my own experiences.  Sharing my story was important to me because I want you to know where I came from and what has shaped me. My tangled path taught me to be sensitive to others and to always aim to see a person for who they are rather than for who I'd like them to be.

I believe that if we find ourselves longing for a style of our own, there is a story connected to that. Some things in our lives brought us here. It can be a conscious decision to take care of ourselves. Or it can be a necessity, brought on by a change in lifestyle. It can be a reflection of yearning for self expression. Or it can be so many other things.

So this is my "why". Why I found my style and why I stick to it. It's not just about the looks. It's about feeling deeply connected to myself and feeling secure. It's a big part of being happy. This, in turn, made me want to help others figure out their style, for their own reasons.

What are your "whys"?
What is your style story?


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16 comments

  1. Hi Klara, thanks so much for writing about this topic. I truly related to your article and I found myself nodding in agreement to so much of what you wrote here (including the acceptable perceptions regarding clothing when you were growing up).
    And that beauty can be "both internal and external" - love that!!
    I would be very keen to read any future posts about finding personal style too. 馃槉

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    1. Thanks for your comment Chrissa! So glad to read you enjoyed this post. I have more in the works and will be posting them soon, when I feel they're ready :).

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  2. I loved reading about this Klara! I hope I can make a post like this one soon as well :)

    I can relate to your why so much. I think that if I think deeply about it, it might be just the same. Though my style is mostly a mix of two different personas, one more on the rocker side and the other cute and feminine with all the frilly dresses, I think they perfectly define who I am and are rooted in the fact that I am a mix of so many things and interests!

    I'd love to read more tips and tricks from you! :D

    Sora | http://dangerouslyme.com/

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    1. Style can be such a multi-faceted thing! And it's a wonderful thing at that. I love playing dress up and wearing more feminine pieces like elegant blouses and skirts but wearing simple corduroy dresses is just as much 'me'. It's good to have a persona for every day and weather :D.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! <3

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  3. Cze艣膰,
    To by艂 jeden z najbardziej inspiruj膮cych wpis贸w jakie czyta艂am na blogach. Bardzo mnie poruszy艂. Sama nie mam stylu. Nie wygl膮dam tak super jak Ty (bo wygl膮dasz super!). Ale dobrze si臋 z tym czuj臋. Mo偶e to o to chodzi? 呕eby si臋 dobrze czu膰?
    Pozdrawiam,
    Kasia

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    1. Dzi臋ki za komentarz i mi艂e s艂owa :).

      Uwa偶am, 偶e styl nie jest czym艣, co ka偶dy musi mie膰. Je艣li jest on komu艣 potrzebny, to super i warto go poszuka膰, by poczu膰 si臋 we w艂asnej sk贸rze komfortowo. Ale je艣li nie masz stylu i dobrze si臋 z tym czujesz, to jest to tak samo super i ciesz臋 si臋 razem z Tob膮 :). Dok艂adnie o to chodzi: 偶eby dobrze si臋 czu膰.

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  4. I blog quite often and I truly thank you for your content.
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    ReplyDelete
  5. Amazing things here. I'm very glad to look your post.
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    ReplyDelete
  6. Wspania艂y wpis, pi臋knie pos艂ugujesz si臋 s艂owem pisanym. I r贸wnie rewelacyjny Tw贸j styl! Gratuluj臋.

    Kojarz臋 Ci臋 z blog贸w Marii i Grety. Jako, 偶e nie tylko masz wyczucie stylu, ale nawet szyjesz ubrania, ciekawi mnie Twoje zdanie na temat pod膮偶ania za tymi odg贸rnymi wskaz贸wkami (np. Kibbe, analiza kolorystyczna itp.) a kierowania si臋 w艂asnym gustem. Czy postawi艂aby艣 tu jak膮艣 granic臋? Co z osobami, kt贸re 艂ami膮 wszelkie zasady i wg Ciebie wygl膮daj膮 niefajnie, mia艂aby艣 ochot臋 je przebra膰, ale one same czuj膮 si臋 w tym 艣wietnie, nie widz膮 problemu? Albo ostre przemiany w osob臋 o zupe艂nie innym wygl膮dzie (np. Dita von Teese?) Mo偶e wpis na taki temat?

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    1. Dzi臋ki za mi艂e s艂owa i za komentarz :).
      Poruszasz ciekawy temat, sama od d艂u偶szego czasu nad tym my艣l臋. W tej chwili odpowiem tak: patrz膮c po bli偶szych i dalszych znajomych, kt贸rych garderob臋 jestem w stanie obejrze膰 szerzej, widz臋, 偶e wiele kobiet ma bardzo dobre wyczucie tego, co im pasuje. Jestem przekonana, 偶e stylistka pracuj膮ca z typologi膮 Kibbe/McJimsey czy w innym podobnym systemie powiedzia艂aby im tylko to, co ju偶 same dobrze wiedz膮c. Kiedy si臋 uwa偶nie popatrzy na siebie i pos艂ucha swoich preferencji, a do trend贸w zachowa si臋 zdrowy dystans, to trudno jako艣 mocno przestrzeli膰, bo wszystko wynika z cia艂a. Taka by艂a moja droga - trwa艂o to, jak wida膰, kilka 艂adnych lat, ale dosz艂am dok艂adnie w to samo miejsce, kt贸re mi p贸藕niej opisa艂a stylistka (co艣 oko艂o Soft Gamine wg. Kibbe).

      Je艣li kto艣 przestrzeli sw贸j typ i ubiera si臋 wg innego, ale czuje si臋 w tym jak ryba w wodzie i daje mu to radoch臋, to tylko si臋 z nim cieszy膰! Jestem za tym, by styl traktowa膰 przede wszystkim jako element harmonii wewn臋trznej. Harmonii wizualnej nie jeste艣my nikomu winni i *wymaga膰* jej mo偶na chyba tylko w miejscach, gdzie jest rzeczywi艣cie wystawiona na ocen臋: np. w edytorialach, sesjach modowych, na wybiegach... Ale nie na drugim cz艂owieku na ulicy. Nie oceniajmy ludzi po ubraniach.

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    2. Dzi臋kuj臋 za odpowied藕. :) Ciesz臋 si臋, 偶e tak uwa偶asz.

      Te偶 zawsze ca艂ym sercem jestem za tym wy艣wiechtanym ju偶 chyba okre艣leniem, by "wyra偶a膰 siebie" ubiorem, nie przejmuj膮c si臋 jakimi艣 wytycznymi. (Cho膰 one s膮 bardzo pomocne, ale nie warto zamyka膰 w jakim艣 schemacie na si艂臋) Z drugiej strony jestem wra偶liwa na wszystko, co wizualne, lubi臋 wok贸艂 harmoni臋, 艂adne przedmioty itp. i mi艂o patrze膰 na harmoni臋 widoczn膮 w czyim艣 wygl膮dzie ALE zgadzam si臋 z tym, co napisa艂a艣: styl to "element harmonii wewn臋trznej","harmonii wizualnej nie jeste艣my nikomu winni".

      Jeszcze w kwestii samej harmonii- warto pami臋ta膰, 偶e w naszej kulturze wykszta艂cili艣my okre艣lone wzorce harmonii wizualnej, a przecie偶 w innych kulturach mog膮 (i pewnie s膮) one inne... Tak jest pono膰 z muzyk膮, wi臋c z innymi dziedzinami sztuki (a mod臋 mo偶na nazwa膰 sztuk膮) podobnie... Ju偶 samo znaczenie kulturowe poszczeg贸lnych kolor贸w jest r贸偶ne w r贸偶nych rejonach 艣wiata, a kolory to dopiero pocz膮tek... Zreszt膮, celowe 艂amanie harmonii bywa cz臋sto uzasadnione w ramach w艂a艣nie "wyra偶ania siebie" czy jakiej艣 idei. Nie zawsze celem za艂o偶enia konkretnych ubra艅 musi by膰 pi臋kno ;)

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    3. Bardzo mi si臋 podoba ta szeroka my艣l, kt贸r膮 si臋 podzieli艂a艣 w temacie harmonii. Oczywi艣cie, 偶e tak jest, 偶e r贸偶nimy si臋 kulturowo wzorcami wytwarzania harmonii. A jednak przy tym my艣l臋, 偶e samo dostrzeganie harmonii jest uniwersalne dla r贸偶nych kultur (boj臋 si臋 to pisa膰 ze swoim wykszta艂ceniem z antropologii kulturowej, to brzmi jak herezja :D), bo wszyscy jeste艣my homo sapiens. Natomiast przejawy r贸偶nych rodzaj贸w harmonii, kt贸re sami wytwarzamy, jak r贸wnie偶 ich opisy, zasady tworzenia, a tak偶e zasady 艂amania tych zasad - s膮 bardzo lokalne.

      We藕my na przyk艂ad ogrody: francuski i japo艅ski. Oba s膮 przejawem lokalnego sposobu wytwarzania harmonii. M贸wi膮 co艣 o kulturach, z kt贸rych si臋 wywodz膮. R贸偶ni膮 si臋 od siebie jak niebo i ziemia. Ale nie w膮tpi臋, 偶e harmoni臋 zar贸wno w jednym, jak i w drugim wypadku dostrze偶e w nich zar贸wno Japo艅czyk, jak Francuz, jak i Polak, i Nigeryjczyk, i wszyscy inni. By膰 mo偶e czasem zobaczenie harmonii wyprodukowanej w innej kulturze wymaga zerwania z przyzwyczajeniem do w艂asnych sposob贸w wytwarzania harmonii - ale nie w膮tpi臋, 偶e jest ono mo偶liwe dla ka偶dego. No i, jak zauwa偶y艂a艣, harmonia nie musi r贸wna膰 si臋 pi臋knu. Mo偶e to jest w艂a艣nie ten haczyk trudny do prze艂kni臋cia.

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    4. W艂a艣nie od jakiego艣 czasu mocno intryguje mnie my艣l - na ile wzorce harmonii i pi臋kna s膮 uniwersalne. Je艣li b臋dziesz mia艂a kiedy艣 ochot臋, naprawd臋 ch臋tnie poczytam d艂u偶szy wpis na Twoim blogu na taki (lub podobny temat).

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  7. Oh, I was exactly like you in 2007! I never wore something feminine, then I started wearing what I really liked, feminine and retro style, it Made me so happy. Now at 36 I feel it's the moment to wear just simple things like jeans or black trousers and sweaters like every orsetto woman. What do you think about?

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    1. I think it's totally up to you! I mean, there's nothing wrong with changing your style. If you feel like you've had enough of the feminine retro pieces, it's equally ok to just feel like yourself in jeans and sweaters. I too am going through many transitions in style in the recent years. It's all evolving and it's totally ok. We do not owe it to our past selves to keep sticking to styles we no longer enjoy.

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