I wanted to title this Editor’s Notes “What to Do When You Outgrow Your Personal Style”. But then I realised that I have absolutely no idea what to do – at least if you are as fervent in your anti-waste, anti-throwaway inclinations as I am, so getting rid of your entire wardrobe in favour of a new one is not an option. So here we are.
Since I first started working in fashion over a decade ago (before even starting university), I have been passionate about personal style. Over the years, I was consistently less thrilled by what was on the runways than what was worn by the people around them. What people chose to wear fascinated me so much more than what designers and magazines told them to wear.
My own personal style has been somewhat chameleon-like – and I don’t mean that in a good way. Not a chameleon like an eclectic fashionista, who manages to look good in a dress over jeans (how? How do people pull off that look?). No, more like a confused student on a budget who has watched too much Sex and the City. I matched floral dresses with boots, because I’d seen it in a magazine, but my boots were cheap Primark copies of the sleek, expensive Jil Sander ones I coveted, and they made my dress look like I’d found it on the street. I wore all kinds of weird colours. I bought lilac kitten-heeled boots (oh, the humanity!) and wore them with pale-pink knee socks. I repeat: this was not a “hipster girl ahead of her time” situation. It was not an “experimenting with cool hair colours and not giving a f**k what people thought” situation. It was an I Have Absolutely No Idea What I’m Doing situation.
Ironically, it wasn’t after I left the mainstream fashion industry that I found my personal style. At some point, I realised that I wanted to look and dress like a grown-up. Instead of having actresses and celebrities as my style icons, I found myself drawn towards the knowing, relaxed sophistication of fashion editors. I started to love the simple yet luxurious feel of a thick cotton-blend knit falling effortlessly over a pair of faux-leather trousers, or the reassuring height of a chunky-heeled ankle boot paired with a structured coat. I craved the feel of timeless basics (I love that word, and all it will ever mean to me is classic and essential, regardless of silly pop-culture references) with a touch of rebellion – a stud here, a tough biker detail there. My new style – edgy minimalist – was born.
The problem? My wardrobe was full of patterned tops, denim mini skirts and floral dresses. And I could not (still can’t) afford to throw them all out and get new clothes. And neither did I want to! It’s incredibly wasteful to throw away clothes just because you’re tired of them, and some of my garments held such powerful memories and emotional value that I couldn’t bear to part with them. Still, every time I pulled on that bright knitwear or floral skirt, I cried inside. My inner Anine Bing was fighting my outer teenage-Carrie-Bradshaw – and bear in mind, I was in my early thirties.
So…what did I do?
Well, firstly I read the amazing Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees. Oh how happy I was when I found it at the library, and how reluctant I was to give it back. It’s a true game-changer in managing your wardrobe. It prompts you to completely overhaul your entire way to view your personal style, and opens you up to new possibilities with the same clothes.
Secondly, I discovered second-hand shopping. A perfect way to renew your wardrobe minus the environmental guilt. Ebay is your friend here, and I’m in love with the charity shop and vintage shop scene in my current hometown of Brighton. Right now, I’m on the hunt for the perfect pair of vintage Levi’s.
Thirdly, I simply got more creative. I found the strength to part ways with the clothes that I had really and truly outgrown, by donating them. And then I experimented with what was left. I dressed down that bright orange knit with a pencil skirt and ankle boots. I gave those distressed jeans a grown-up edge with a black faux-silk blouse. I teamed those starry Converse with a sleek black jumpsuit. Slowly, a new personal style began to appear – the one that up until now had lived in my head.
Well, not quite. I’m still many sweaters and pairs of jeans away from the smart-grunge fashion editor I would like to be. But I’m getting there, one vegan biker jacket at a time.
This month I am reading…The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simson
This month I am watching…The Good Place on Netflix
This month I am listening to...my favourite female guitarist Nili Brosh’s album A Matter of Perception
This month I am planning…a vegan Valentine’s Day dinner with my husband! Stay tuned for more on my Instagram @saschacamilli
All photos by David Camilli