This post was inspired by my dear friend, Erin Riley, who’s perfectly imperfect explanation of “her style” nearly had me in tears with its precision. FYI, she’s one of the most stylish people I know, with a look that’s so unique—so her own—that it should come with its own trademark. She’s also beautiful, sweet, and an incredible writer so basically the whole fashionable package. Check her out here!
While she was reflecting upon “what her style is” on the other side of the country, I was (unbeknownst to her) asking myself the very same question. In my closet, you’ll find a sea of mixed knits, denim with different levels of distressing, an abundance of sweatpants, and an assortment of graphic tees befitting a quirky bookworm. There’s many-a-sneaker, various flats, sky-high pumps, and a collection of really hideous shoes that I’ve had since the beginning of time but just can’t seem to part with. It’s a semi-color-coded mess. There’s absolutely no cohesion, no overall theme or vibe. It’s just a hodge-podge of random articles of clothing and accessories (designer and non—I’m not that bougie) that I’ve collected over the years.
Despite working in the fashion industry (totally unforeseen, by the way), I’ve never considered myself a stylish person. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always found myself playing catch up. If something is trending, I’m usually the girl who is wearing it long after that trend has fizzled out. I remember back when ripped jeans just started becoming “a thing”—sometime around 8th grade I think—and I so desperately wanted a pair to match my friends. At the time, they were going for around $90 and my parents weren’t having it. I totally don’t blame them. Fads come and go, and I’m sure the last thing they wanted to do was throw money away on jeans that had already been destroyed before I ruined them playing kickball. When I got my first job as part of the maintenance crew at my local pool, I remember one of my very first purchases was—you guessed it—a pair of faded light blue Abercrombie & Fitch jeans with blown-out knees. Oddly enough, the style was named Erin, so we’ve come full circle. I still own those jeans and, if you can believe it, I still fit in them (this photograph is proof).
I’m not exactly sure why I think of those jeans specifically when I think about my style, but I do. I love them. They fit. They’re still on trend all these years later, but I guess it wouldn’t really matter if they weren’t. I’m much older than I was back then. I don’t really care so much about what’s “in” anymore. There are trends that I love, trends that I hate, trends that I’m willing to try, and trends that I’d rather leave for my much-more-fashionable friends. I suppose confidence comes into play too, especially now that I’m a mom. In the back of my head, I’m constantly thinking things like, “Is this too much?” or “Am I too old for this?” or “Is this ME?” Once I begin asking myself those questions, I know it’s not the right fit. The perfect outfit makes me feel good. It makes me feel like “the cool mom” who’s not trying to be cool, but just is. Sometimes it just takes a few tries, a few mindless and unnecessary online shopping splurges, a few “what was I thinking” moments, and a few crumpled clothing combinations on the floor, before I get there … but I DO get there. Even if it’s the same handful of looks that are only slightly tweaked each time (spoiler alert: it is).
If I had to define my style, it’s AMPLIFIED COMFORT. I want outfits that pair well with both sneakers and heels—probably my #1 requirement—because I’m not the kind of girl who’s bringing a change of clothes. I have a toddler for goodness sake; she’s like my very own permanent overnight bag. I want to feel relaxed in whatever I’m wearing, but still look decent wearing it. Whether it’s sweats, jeans, a dress, or a midi-skirt, I want to feel confident and move freely. I want easy, fuss-free fashion, nothing that draws too much attention but also doesn’t get overlooked. If I’m walking down the street, I’d hope just a handful of people would notice and say, “Hm, she’s probably cool.” Am I there yet?