Thursday, 9 April 2009

Dream Style: Getting the Inspiration

Image thanks to DerrickT

This post is part of The Dream Style Series.

If you’re anything like me, you feel completely overwhelmed by the appeals of fashion. One day you’re all bubble hem skirts and cowboy boots, next you’re tea dresses and Mary Jane’s, and then, out of nowhere, you’re all about the skinny jeans and gladiator sandals. You aim for consistency but are always being distracted; too many styles appeal to you, leaving you and your poor wardrobe a mish-mash of goth rock boots and prim lace cardies.

Why is this? Well, put simply, we are the instant messenger, microwave meal, sky plus generation, we want EVERYTHING and we want it right NOW. We scour fashion blogs, idolise celebs, paw our style bibles and magically it all seems to appeal, we love it all. Do you see the issue here? We are talking about personal style and yet our main three inspiration wells are external; they’re focused on a world of style quite far removed from our everyday situation; we are imitators. And why does it nearly all appeal? Because it is all marketed to us. Think about it, it is someone’s, no, several people’s full time job to market even a single product to you, to make you think you want it. Are these people are paid for nothing? No. What they do works. To most young females, fashion is an all you can eat buffet and we want a taste of every dish.

Now, it’s taken me quite a while to figure out that this actuality doesn’t matter, navigating your way through this abyss is all part and parcel of sussing out your dream style. Of course, blogs, celebrity style and fashion magazines are all legitimate ways to get inspired, but it is how you sift, process and mould these external sources into a style that is true to you that’s the key to the dream aesthetic. I may like every new style that passes beneath my nose, but can I wear it? Will it suit me? Will it suit my lifestyle?

The fact is, you will never feel completely satisfied with the way you look unless, on some level, you feel it is a true representation of you. When cultivating personal style we have to work from the inside out; the origin of our exterior aesthetic must always be our interior ideals, and not just our likes and dislikes when it comes to abstract trends but the very root of our beings, the things that really make us tick.

Grab the notebook you used when laying your foundations and ask yourself some questions. What is your idea of the perfect life? Where would you live, in a city penthouse or country estate? Who would you spend the majority of your time with? What would you fill your days doing? Dancing? Reading? Baking? Picture yourself living this life. Now, what are you wearing?

Hopefully, the images you have in your head are a realistic starting point for your dream style, but there is probably still a bit of work to do to clear your head of the fashion ideals implanted by the media marketers. Let’s imagine, in this perfect existence, that you were going to be completely self contained for two weeks. That’s right, no outside contact, no stints to the shops. Let’s say that maybe you wouldn’t be exposed to any media either; no magazines, no internet. No one is going to see you in these two weeks, no one is going to judge you, but you still have to get up and put an outfit on everyday (no all day PJ fests!) What would you wear now? Something fun? Something outrageous? An outfit that, when you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, makes you grin, giggle, or leap for joy? What would you wear if you were dressing for yourself and yourself only?

I’m sure more than one of you is thinking that many of the items you may enjoy wearing and that would be a little more true to yourself would be impractical, perhaps because of your job or just because you simply aren’t prepared to be stared at! And that’s fine; you can take the whole concept of dream style to any level that suits you, but I think it is important that you at least have an idea of how you would love dress so that, even in the subtlest of ways, it can influence your everyday attire.

Once you really start to think about and begin to get a picture of your true style, as opposed to what you think you should be wearing, what next? What do you do with this information?

I think it's imperative to dream style that you keep a style journal, a scrapbook, make a mood board, or simply get your Polyvore on like the examples I’ve put together. You must get these ideas into some kind of physical form otherwise they’re all too susceptible to being nudged out of your head by the big ideas imposed upon you from exterior sources.

These collections don’t have to be set in stone and of course they will adapt over time, but the more evidence you show yourself of your dream style journey, the better equipped you’ll be for the future.

You want to get to a position where you will rarely shop without a clear picture of what you’re hoping to achieve, even if that be merely and idea or an impression you want to create as opposed to specific items.

Next in the series will get down to the nitty-gritty of the pitfalls and plus points of various shopping habits.

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Leia said...

Megan, these posts are amazing! I love the idea of envisaging yourself in an ideal situation and trying to suss out what you would be wearing. Great polyvore sets, too :)

sandraaa_xo said...

This was very very helpful!
you're really really good at these, i'll be waiting for the next part.
the previous ones are so helpful too!

Voila Megan said...

Thanks so much ladies! I'm having a great time writing this series so I'm glad it's being enjoyed ♥

curlyseas said...

I'm sorry, but isn't this still ultimately pandering to marketing whims? It strikes me that even creating a layout on Polyvore requires you to cull images and clothes that have already been carefully presented and edited by marketeers.

Also, isn't the whole myth of our clothes being an extension of our identity a media construct? Why should my clothes extend or reflect my identity? I am myself so why would I need to construct an identity or present a public face? Why should any girl have to construct or confirm her identity through clothes? Why do appearances, even the appearance of not caring about appearances, have to matter so much?

Just some thoughts in the wake of feminism class... i admit fashion is still something fun.

Harriet said...

That was really helpful, thank you! I think you got to the crux of why personal style is so *hard* to get right, and why people who have great personal style always look so good.

I spend *way* too much time reading the fashion blogs of people with really well defined personal style and thinking 'damn, I wish my wardrobe looked like that!' but knowing that actually it would be completely wrong for me. I'll definitely be trying out some of your ideas for furthering the development of my own style!

Voila Megan said...

Curlyseas - Eye-opening points, I think you have an interesting angle on it; as I put together the Polyvore sets I did wonder if perhaps I was being slightly hypocritical. I think ultimately though, it is a creative outlet to cultivate personal style, not something you should feel pressured to achieve. I'm not sure that you need to present a public face, but the fact is we do whether we like it or not and I think feeling comfortable with the way you look is important. Why should it be inferior to any other area of self-improvement if it makes you feel confident and good about yourself? Of course, if you're happy as is that is fab and this series is not something you need to bother reading! Simply put, if it's not your thing it's not your thing.

Harriet - I do exactly the same thing with other bloggers! Ironically, that was the very reason I decided to do a series of posts like these (it's being as much of a learning curve for me as anyone!) As a culture, I think individuality is celebrated perhaps more than we realise, and the sooner we all catch on the better!

Miss May said...

From one Megan to another, I just have to say quickly that I lovelovelove your blog. Your posts are so well-written and clever. What good ideas you presented in this one! I think that my personal style isn't shaped so much as what is 'trendy' as much as if I see someone (celebrity, random on the street) rocking an outfit, I always want it or want to incoporate elements of it into my style. Thanks so much for this wonderful blog!

Eternal*Voyageur said...

I loved this post ! Especially the part about clearing external influences from our heads before letting our imagination loose...
I am really looking forward to the rest of the series ! I hope there is lots more to come !

curlyseas said...


Thanks for a gracious and wise response :) as you probably guessed, I asked you the same questions I'm trying to figure out myself. So, thanks for giving me your take on it!

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