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odd realizations
I have no style.

That may be harsh.  I have a sense of style, yet I don't seem to apply it to my wardrobe/hair/makeup at all.  Mostly I wear jeans and t-shirts, with the only excitement being whether the shirts are long or short sleeved, or have a graphic of some sort.  I tend to wear minimal makeup and most of what I do with my hair is about getting it out of the way.  Over the past few months, this has become bothersome to me.

Several things have led up to this point.  Before the move this summer I spent time cleaning out my closets of the things I don't wear, and realized that it was a decent chunk of what I owned.  Due to technical issues our closet currently doesn't have doors so I can see all my clothes all the time and I've realized what a mish-mash they are, there's no cohesion to anything.  I also was watching a lot of 'What Not to Wear' this summer for background noise, and of course 'Project Runway' is back now.  And I just finished reading the book Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters.  I've always been attracted to the goth look, and even dressed up that way for Halloween for a few years.  In general I've always been attracted to more extreme personal looks, but have always felt like I don't have the right to do that; somehow on me it would be playing dress up instead of a style.  But then, I've always liked how I felt inside the look few times I've tried things out.

So I'm thinking of doing a major overhaul to my personal style.  This obviously wouldn't happen overnight, both the time and money factors require this to be a drawn out process.  I tend to lean towards the Victorian style of goth and Steampunk which I think overlap in fun ways.  I was trying to figure out how to do this yesterday and realized that if I bought new pieces that fit the theme, I could slowly phase my current wardrobe out.  Honestly, I'll probably still end up in pants regularly, but maybe it could be slacks instead of jeans, with a button down shirt and cool vest and my hair pulled back into a snood.  I have a color palette in my head of mostly browns, blacks, and grays with the occasional bright color thrown in.  I'd be aiming for a style that mostly wasn't noticeable as a specific label, but that would have a few specific fabulous pieces for those dress up occasions that would be unmistakable.

But here's the biggest question in my brain - Am I being ridiculous?  I'm 36, and while I certainly don't believe that only 20somethings can make statements with their wardrobe am I starting way too late?  Can I own this without looking like I'm playing dress up?  (I do know the only appropriate response to that question is 'I don't know, can you?')  I'm excited by the idea, but a little afraid of the execution.  And I know me well enough to be a little concerned about my ability to follow through, though shopping with a specific look in mind might actually be easier.

Have any of you ever tried to overhaul your style?

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I have no style, and I'm older than you. I'd like to have one, but I'm clueless about how to go about it (and to complicate things, very very broke!) I see people and think "Hey, I'd like to dress like that!" but I don't know how to do it on my own. Accessories are a complete mystery to me.

If you get any great advice, I'd love if you would pass it along! *ponders forming a support group for the stylistically challenged*

I like the support group idea. We could organize field trips to stores with a consultant who could say yes or not to things.

I have an idea of what I want right now, but a lot of it will be expensive so I think I need to adopt a local thrift store as my very own. Maybe start a small side fund where I put cash every week until I have enough saved up to get the custom corset (want so much) or tailored wool pants.

If I had the money, and lived somewhere I could find one, I would TOTALLY hire a stylist. Same with the support group- I made a call out to my local friends to help me thrift shop this weekend, but they're all busy and have, you know, lives, :(

I don't have the money, but I do have costume friends who make theatre money who I might be able to entice to give me an afternoon in exchange for lunch or something. Knowing which pieces of the look I want will actually look good on me is a huge part of this, otherwise I will look like I'm in costume which is bad.

Too bad we don't live closer to each other, I could totally use a girls' day out of shopping.

Seriously! Why are all th people I want to hang out with lately 800-3000 miles away?? *pouts*

I know. Someone needs to get on inventing transporters already.

Wouldn't that be awesome?? Scary, but awesome.

Well, I'll let someone else try the transporter first, and wait for a phone call confirming their safe arrival. But then, I'm all over it.

I have no style either, so I am no help.

But you have an Awesome t-shirt collection, which counts for something.

Approximately every three years I go on a Shopping Expedition with a friend. It's always a new friend, one who wasn't there the previous attempt. It's always some big ambitious overhaul that seems like a brand new idea at the time. We both have high hopes, and the Expeditions are usually born out of some excited conversation about wanting to change my look and be less lazy about that sort of thing, and a sneaky desire to "look nice" (because I never do, and usuaully don't care) that probably invented itself after some sort of recent or potential near-future rejection. I get a totally new wardrobe, occasionally accompanied by new-and-interesting haircut. I am briefly excited about said new wardrobe. Within a month I find myself wearing, maybe, one item from said new wardrobe, the rest deemed not comfy enough for regular use. So I've stopped trying to overhaul my style. I always end up feeling like I'm playing dress-up when I wear "nice" clothes, which makes me uncomfortable. So I go back to my brighly colored t-shirts and jeans. I probably have the opposite issue that you do since you liked how you felt inside the look.

This is a little bit what I am afraid of, especially since I tend towards comfy as well. But I'm hoping that if I do this a little at a time, it will either stick and be really cool in a year or so, or if it falls apart at least it won't be too big an investment. I also really want to color my hair, but it's really long right now so that's a fairly big commitment either to upkeep, or finding some way to not let it look silly growing out. But I enjoy it when I get dressed up, and tend to wish I could find excuses to do it more often.

What's interesting to me is there isn't any specific thing inspiring this this time around. I've got a boy I love who loves me back and a job I'm stable in (even if not entirely thrilled). I can't tell if this is wanting something /anything new, or really a transition.

I'm in the same "no style" boat as you. However, when I visited a fashion-conscious friend over the summer, we spent a day at a bunch of stores, me trying on all sorts of clothing, even pieces I ordinarily would never consider wearing. I tried on different colors, and it's true -- you don't really know which colors look best on you until you actually see yourself in a dressing room mirror. Ditto certain cuts, etc. I may not have any extra money to spend on new clothes, but at least now I have more of an idea of what looks good on me.

That said, you really need someone to go with you on such a trip. I wish we lived closer -- I'd go with you :)

I wish you lived closer too, I'd love to have a girls day of shopping!

Years and years ago when I was looking for sunglasses I ended up in this tiny independent glasses store and the clerk spent three hours with me looking at frames, talking about color and shape and what matched my face. I've used that knowledge every time I've gotten glasses since. I guess I need to do the same for clothes.

Working in theatre, I have several friends who work with costumes, and I've joked before about hiring them for an afternoon to shop with me. Maybe I should actually do that and go hit department stores, just knowing what works would be a huge help.

I say, go for it!! But maybe start with one or two pieces that are radically different (one nice shirt or pair of pants or a dressy Victorian skirt) and see how it is to wear that "regularly" before going wholesale into it.

As for the "old age" factor (btw, you're NOT old), be happy to know that in the goth culture, it is generally the older people who get into the steampunk or victorian look as a regular style. I think it has something to do with the "maturity" of the look? I dunno, just saying you'd probably feel like you fit it if you were out and about in that scene. Less dancing and makeup, more cocktails and talking.

Dammit. that was me. :)

Thanks for the insider info about the scene - that is something I really don't have.

Yeah I think I want to start small, maybe get a couple really great blouses and a nice pair of slacks that could really be worn with what I already have. Then get a fabulous long, hobble skirt and small hat with veil so I can do the look all the way occasionally.

I also have to figure out my hair. While Marty would love to dye colored streaks into it for me (go figure) I was thinking of maybe going all over copper instead, just a little too bright to be natural but not quite so over the top as blue. If I really am going to get out of theatre whatever I do has to be able to work in a more mainstream environment.

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Let's see if I can do definitions.
A snood is something that is worn in the hair, it's kind of a net bag that attaches near the crown of your head and then holds all your hair at your neck. It was a very 1800's thing.
Victorian Goth is essentially goth dressing - lots of black, lace, velvet, but kept more strictly in a Victorian period style: so lots of long skirts, the occasional bussle, corsets, cameos.
Steampunk is also of the Victorian period, but as if they had the ability to do things we do now built out of the technology available then, so lots of steam powered things and gears, buttons, metallics. (I don't know if you watched Warehouse 13 but the tech stuff in that show like the computer with a keyboard that looked like it was made out of old typewriters is very this esthetic.) Here's an article to look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk
and I adore the photo that accompanies - though I could never wear a skirt that short. In general the clothes are in sepia tones with lots of embellishments.

I absolutely think you are not too old to have a pink strip in your hair, I say go for it! (Especially since I'm thinking of dyeing in a blue streak myself).

Theatre definitely lends itself both to a casual look and to being able to have a more extreme style. No one would particularly care if I started dressing differently, though I'm sure they'd comment. I think I just have to be careful about what pieces I use - like avoiding the tiny skirts that pop up sometimes, and figure out what I'll actually wear, as opposed to what looks good on others but not so much for me.

Thanks for the support. I'm thinking I want to get a really nice pair of tailored slacks and a great blouse to start, and then build from there. Doing this in pieces will be better for my bank account, as well as let me figure things out before I dive too far into something I won't actually wear on a regular basis. Maybe I can ask for money for a custom corset from everyone for Christmas, though I don't know how that would go over.

I love that you've dreamed about me - this internet thing is more real than some folks will ever give it credit for. And speaking of J - hopefully this year we'll get to spend New Year's together, since that hasn't happened since the first one.

Oh and a leather bracelet would fit either esthetic, so I'll add it to my list - just for you.

You're never too old.

There are realistic parameters: it has to fit your lifestyle, it has to be comfortable, it has to make you feel good. Additionally, it should fit somewhat in your surroundings or you won't feel comfortable.
(it = style or clothes)

As long as you're working it, internally, the rest is AWESOME AND FINE. The only thing, imho, that violates age? saggy flesh. Otherwise, work it and sell it.

but some individuals pieces and work them in, but don't go too much too quickly, because you need to know what works for your comfort level.

When I first became a professional I struggled and hated my tights/pantyhose/skirts/blouses, while now they're actually a more comfortable armor than my socal raised beach clothes.

Find what shape makes you feel good in your body and works with your job, and then slowly build a closet in that style.

I personally love pencil skirts with little pleats and other details, but I have massive junk in the trunk so I live in various A-line, 50s looks that are delicate and girly, flattering my bum and hair. Not perfectly my aesthetic, but works for my professional and social. Lately, at 32, I've adopted hair accessories times 12 and have started using flowers and feathers because the main thing people remember about me is my hair -- if it was curly first time they don't recognize me when it's straight. And so on. So I get shit from friends, but hair accessories are my new thing, and so I'm rocking it. Gray hairs and all.

PS- my, admittedly hip and hot, 83 year old grandmother announces last year that from now on she would be seen in black accented with metallics, royal blue, and metallics. She WORKS IT.

Your list of parameters makes perfect sense to me. I will be going slowly partially out of necessity and partially because much as I want the new look, if I suddenly switch to all skirts all the time it would probably last a week.

I am a little concerned that the shapes I am most attracted to will not match my body, but it looks like you found a good compromise for that and I'll have to do the same. I'm thinking that in general I will do an every day version of the look, and then have a few crazy full steampunk pieces for dressing up. ie - I want a long, skirt with a bustle, but that would be entirely unpractical for day to day. I like the idea of picking an accessory that is 'mine' I may have to give that some thought.

And thanks for helping mitigate my age issues. I need to remember that I most notice confident women rocking whatever look they're wearing, so I just have to be comfortable and confident in whatever I choose to put on. Oh, also your grandmother rocks.

heh, I just reread what i wrote. Forgive the half bottle of wine, but yeah, you'll find shapes that fit you perfectly and make them yours.

and you might find a few bracelets or rings or whatever that can be your everyday tie in of steampunk.

Heh everything was intelligible. I can do this, it will just require some work up front, the trick will be to see if I follow through on that work.

And yeah, I'll want to figure out something to have daily. I'd love to find a great pocket watch with chain, but I like the idea of bracelets too.

if i had to guess, i would say that my style is that i have no style. and i prefer being warm and comfortable to being fashionable.

and i don't know whether it's worth it to change all that if it means i'm more likely to get pneumonia.

Warm and comfortable is nothing to be sneezed at, especially if the opposite will make you sick. I'm certainly not going to get rid of every heavy sweater or flannel shirt I own, there are times when that is what I want to wear. I'm just tired of day to day t-shirts.

I'm just tired of day to day t-shirts.

Maybe it's all in what you're used to. Sometimes, I wish I could just wear my t-shirts instead of having to try and pull something together that's work appropriate. I resent having clothes that are only good for work and not for anything else.

That makes sense. If I was in more business like clothes all the time I would probably be a lot less excited to try for a more formal look. I am hoping to mostly be getting clothes that I'd be happy to wear to work or out, but that is always a difficult thing.

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I have a sewing maching that's been on permanent loan to a friend for about five years. It was sitting in my closet before that, and she actually used it. But I have room for it in the new apartment, maybe I should claim it back. My sewing skills aren't up to tailoring anything from scratch, but I could certainly do alterations. I would want to lose about another five pounds before I started buying pants but I figure I can start on shirts now.

I love the idea of making a "fabulous statement", mostly I just want to be making some statement other than jeans and t-shirts. We'll see how it goes.

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