Style Journal Prompt #1 – What item or pairing always makes you feel more “you” when you wear it?

New series! Figured I might as well do some more traditional journal-style blog posts since this is at heart, well, a blog. These are meant to be more like bite sized food for thought posts, a little sartorial navel-gazing mainly for fun. A bunch of them are “would you rather” questions I originally came up with for Instagram Polls, but are worth some extra rambling. And if you’re joining along, the prompts can also help you more concretely understand your own style and wardrobe preferences! Feel free to share your own answer as a comment, or just muse about it on your own 🤓

So to kick things off:

Is there an item or item pairing that always makes you feel more “you” when you wear it? What do you like about these anchor pieces?

A staple of your personal style. A security blanket for your outfits. It might not be your most flashy or flattering piece, but you can always count on an outfit feeling comfortably familiar when you mix it in. If you’re trying something else a little outside your comfort zone, pairing it with said item(s) makes the whole look feel more grounded to your personal style. (Versus items that you always feel more professional or conventionally attractive or athletic etc in but doesn’t really feel like “you”.)

I suspect that most people who have a more distinct personal aesthetic or are very particular about what makes up their personal style will have more than one of these. After all, most folks will have different clothing for different activities, and ideally you’ll find something that you at least don’t find actively awkward to wear for all of them. And if your style preferences have some breadth, then you might have multiple anchor items to support different aesthetics.

It can be as simple as a favorite accessory. For me, I’d definitely call my orange butterfly baseball cap an anchor piece because it’s the perfect combination of colorful, informal, nature inspired, and girly.

  • Hat from local garden center, but you can find a lot of custom color/machine embroidered motif baseball cap options on Etsy
  • Free People “I’m Still Obsessed” mini dress in “aqua haze”, S
  • Teva Terra Fi 5 hiking sandals in “sun and moon insignia”
  • Columbia “Popo Hip Pack”

I feel more casual and practical when I add it to an outfit with a dress, and more playful when I’m wearing something really basic like jeans and sneakers. The traffic cone orange is a statement color, but on a baseball cap, I rarely feel like I need to actively coordinate it with anything because baseball hats are one of those accessories like tote bags, socks, or commuter bags that are a practical and peripheral enough that it’s not unusual to have it doing its own thing. Although if you have a baseball cap, slouchy tote bag, and crew socks in loud and potentially clash-y colors like in the outfit below, then it can totally become ~a look~ 😁

  • Cotton-acrylic fair isle sweater via Poshmark (tag was cut out)
  • Madewell “Perfect Vintage Jeans” in “sumner wash” size curvy petite 28 (lunar wash is similar and comes in curvy+petite)
  • New Balance Classics WL574v2
  • Baggu Crew Socks in “lime rose”
  • Baggu Giant Pocket Tote

For a more recent piece, I’ve found the combo of my slouchier full length turquoise corduroy pants and Converse high top sneakers an excellent balance of generic and distinct, structured and soft, polished and chill, colorful and neutral to go with almost any top I’d want to wear in an everyday sort of outfit. Blue jeans and white sneakers are definitely a classic (though particulars of what wash and cut are generally deemed “the best” is just going to vary by macro trend), but swapping denim for corduroy gives it enough of a twist to not feel completely uninspired, which feels more consistent when wearing more eclectic items in the rest of the outfit. The straight cut full length pants with some drape creates a clean but relaxed look that works as a foundation for more boxy pieces to more frilly or fitted ones.

Can’t go more blah-casual than an untucked slightly ill-fitting gray crew neck sweatshirt. While it still wouldn’t look actively bad with most basic pants/leggings options, I think the slightly more trouser-y direction of corduroy makes it feel more like An Outfit, especially when paired with one ‘styled’ element (here, the neon hair claw. I could have just used a hair elastic or a more plain clip, so going with the statement hair accessory feels more actively styled).

Since I usually aim for “casual but put together” (or more obnoxiously put, “effortless style”, aka “styled not just dressed”, aka “informal but intentional”….) the ever so slightly dressier pant with the low profile lifestyle sneaker (as opposed to like, the more technical gear look of trail running sneakers or any sneaker that’s more distinctive/trendy) means that both parts of that ethos will already be represented in an outfit no matter what else I’m wearing.

From blah to bright: still works with colorful-af everything else since the corduroy is a nice clear turquoise but the shoes are more true neutral. Again, i think the corduroy is what’s carrying the “makes it feel more you” aspect, because I LOVE that fabric and it’s not something (at least in my circles) that most people have in their closets.

Another one of those “would look perfectly fine with jeans” outfits, but I really like how the slightly fuzzy cords soften the look.

  • Sleeping on Snow (Anthropologie) wool cardigan via Poshmark

Two variations of a casual layered fit. This one’s a good example of how the straight cut pairs easily with a relatively androgynous style of top, but the slightly softer drape doesn’t make it too boxy to the point that it feels off with the fitted, lower neckline, floral top.

As a bonus, the baseball cap also goes with the corduroy pant + sneaker combo!

And most recently, I have learned that it also feels A+ with mesh tops! This one has a relatively low-key fitted silhouette which I think lends to a casual look more easily than if it had, say puff shoulders or flared sleeves or a dramatic neckline, but it’s still a ton of ruched lilac mesh with lettuce hems, which is A Look for sure. But the balance of that with the textured (and less common than denim) corduroy works out in that neither of them feels like the clear statement piece of the outfit.

Not everything you add to your closet needs to 100% contribute to solidifying your ~signature style~ if a distinct aesthetic is something you’re after, but knowing offhand which pieces you can call in when you don’t have enough brain cells available to come up with an outfit is just clutch. It can also be a good litmus test when you’re shopping for everyday sorts of pieces – does the prospective addition work with any of your anchor items? And if you’re figuring out what concrete fashion elements are key to your personal style, zooming in on your items that always seem to feel right can help you tease out those specifics.

And once you’ve identified one item or pairing, you might be able to use that info to come up with more anchoring combos. For example if I’m going off the corduroy pants + Converse pairing, can look for another “chill basic in fun fabric + neutral shoe” combination in my wardrobe. Or in the case of the hat, I realized that the rare occasions when I didn’t go with it were usually because the color palette felt too warm if the main outfit already had a lot of yellow/orange in it, so after much browsing, I got a similar baseball cap in a washed periwinkle blue.

Feel free to share what your own anchor pieces are in the comments, or let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to discuss in future style journal posts!

1 Comment

  1. Ooh, I love this idea. My immediate thought for anchoring pieces is my yellow jeans. They work with both my earth tone items and my jewel tone items perfectly, they add color without feeling ostentatious (bold move to say about yellow jeans, but they’re a marigold color, not canary yellow), and they’re super comfy and work in all weather. I’m kicking myself for not buying an extra pair when I had the chance.

    I have another anchoring piece I need to replace, which is this open front red cardigan that somehow works perfectly with pants as well as dresses, is super comfy, and easily ‘upgrades’ any look. Unfortunately the material is pretty low quality, and it’s showing its age these days. I’m considering making my own version because I don’t think I’ll find anything like it in stores.

    As for future questions, how about ‘how to learn to describe your clothes’? I noticed you described your hat as girly, nature-inspired, etc. and I think that’s a great way to realize what you’re looking for in clothes. I’ve been trying out an exercise like that for a new aesthetic I’ve always wanted to have (more modern, geometric-inspired, slightly avant-garde) but which I haven’t found has an easily identifiable name. It’s much easier to do my earth tone looks because if I ever need inspo, I can google ‘cottagecore’ or ‘light academia’ and immediately get both outfit inspo and item suggestions. But I’m really struggling with this other style because I can’t figure out if it has a name beyond ‘I think 2010 was the peak of avant-garde fashion and I’m choosing to stay in that lane’.

    On a different wavelength, I really enjoyed your posts about apartment living/interior decor and would love prompts about that! Decorating, storage, feeling… nicer and better? Especially when living with another person.

    Like

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