New Season, Same Style – Blue Collar Red Lipstick

Seasonal transitions are always an exciting time for my closet, especially this time of year as we head into summer. I recently switched out my fall/winter clothing for spring/summer, and it feels like I have a brand-new wardrobe to play with. Fun times! But unlike in previous years, I’ve been giving very little thought to planning for the new season … and it’s not because I’m not excited about getting dressed every day, because I am. In fact, I’ve never been happier or felt more comfortable in my style. I just barely think about it anymore.

Let’s unpack this!

If you’ve been following me for a long time, you will know that personal style has been a constantly evolving journey for me. There was the J. Crew and Anthro era, the corporate goth era, the colour!sequin!pattern! extravaganza era (the pandemic was a weird time, ok?). Has the journey reached its final destination with this current Ivy-and-boho, all-things-Ralph era? It feels premature to make a definitive statement. I am only 43, after all; hopefully, I have a few more decades of living ahead of me. I cannot say that my self-discovery is at an end because I hope I never lose the capacity to surprise myself – in other words, the capacity to learn and grow. But I know who I am, now. I never expected it to take so long to figure that out. Your 20s are supposed to be the decade of self-discovery; I thought I had everything figured out at 30 but, looking back, I think that was only because I believed that I should have had it all figured out – who I was, what I wanted out of life, etc. As it turned out, I didn’t know. Not really. It was my 30s that were actually the “figure me out” decade. In documenting my personal style over that period of time, this blog became a snapshot of that process. Kind of neat, in a way, when you think about it.

Knowing what I like is part and parcel of the whole knowing-who-I-am bit. I’ve been noticing that a lot of what I buy these days are simply variations of things I already own and love. I see that as a sign of confidence in my own taste, though I am mindful of balancing that with receptiveness to new ideas, which is also an important value to me. I don’t want my aesthetic sensibilities (or my mind in general) to become a vacuum-sealed closed system. To learn and grow, we need to be exposed to new ideas. When it comes to fashion, I like to visualize that balance using a travel analogy: I am always interested in seeing new places (i.e. trends) but I use my own compass (i.e. personal taste) to find my way around rather than relying on the signposts put up by other people. I don’t mind looking like a tourist in the process – aka untrendy and, therefore, uncool – because I am comfortable showing up as I am, whether I’m at home or abroad (metaphorically speaking).

I still get excited by clothes, though these days, I’m mostly excited about the clothes I have in my closet, rather than clothes I see at the store. I wear a lot of what, to me, feels like “the same thing” – which is actually just different iterations of the same formulas. I used to love the high of creating a “brand new” outfit (either through a novel formula, new clothes, or some combination of both), but I’ve come to appreciate and value the pleasure of a “perfect” outfit (something that feels most “me”) over novelty. I still enjoy taking photos of my outfits – and, in any case, lack the resolution to break the habit – so I expect that I will continue to share them here and on social media, but I am probably going to shift to writing more about my other hobbies that are taking up the majority of my active mental focus. Lately, that has included books, art, home décor, perfume and a few other niche interests. This is neither a warning nor a promise, by the way – though you can probably expect to start seeing a slightly more diverse range of posts in the coming months.

So, yeah: I am excited for a new sartorial season, which isn’t really a new beginning but, rather, an opportunity to riff on my favourite themes.

To get myself in good shape for that exercise, I did a little bit of housekeeping that I would recommend to everyone this time of year. I went through my closet and pulled out fall- and winter-weight pieces and replaced them with summer-weight ones that have been in storage since last year. Even if you don’t have a large amount of clothes, I think it’s helpful to separate clothes by season (unless you live in a seasonless climate); no point keeping heavy sweaters at hand during summer, as it can make it harder to see what pieces are actually wearable. This “closet switch” is also a good opportunity to evaluate clothes. Before I put away my fall/winter pieces, I look back on the past season and think about how often I wore them. If I didn’t, it may be a sign that I need to let them go, or at least put them on a “maybe purge” list to be re-evaluated come fall. I also check them for signs of wear or damage that needs to be fixed before they go into storage. Then I do something similar with incoming summer clothes: consider if they still fit my style; assess if they still fit my body; check for signs of wear or damage and take notes of anything that requires replacement. It’s a kind of working edit of my closet – a few key tweaks rather than a major overhaul – but it helps keep it running smoothly into the new season.

Here’s to new (and not so new) sartorial adventures and happy almost-summer!

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