walking the walk: outfit log review
I'm putting myself through the same style curriculum I write for my clients. First up, my outfit log, what patterns I see in my style, and what that means.
It’s been a while since I took a critical look at my wardrobe and my style, and my style has definitely evolved. In this blog series, I’m putting myself through the same curriculum I’m developing for my clients, and each month I’ll share a post with my progress, my process, and yes, plenty of photos.
Intro: Style History
August: Outfit Log & Review ← you are here
Outfit Log & Review
I took photos of my outfits pretty much every day in August. Most of them were for IG, but there's some elevator selfies snuck in there too. I didn't photograph my gymwear or lounging-around-the-house-wear. I could have, but I'm happy enough with that, and I wanted to focus on my more aesthetic~ outfits.
When I'm working with a client, we'll do this exercise together by grouping the outfits from the outfit log into favorites and least favorites, and then taking a look at what patterns we see. We talk about questions like:
- What patterns are you able to detect in your top favorites?
- What patterns are you able to detect in your least faves?
- Do any items occur in both groups? What are you doing differently between those outfits?
After we look at patterns, we talk about style vibe:
- What do these outfits say about this person?
- What fabrics, textures, colors, and patterns do we see?
- What shapes, fits, and proportions do you see?
So I'll answer those questions for myself here, and give you a peek into my faves and least faves. Then we'll talk style vibe, and last, I'll look a bit forward into the rest of the year, because you never dress the same year round!
My fave outfits mostly fell into three categories, and a very, very particular proportion.
Midi-length, high natural waist, sleeveless dress or skirt
Given that it's summer, and I'm forever sweaty and about to burst into flames, a lightweight dress is a lifesaver. I haven't given up on shorts completely yet, but the comfort of a loose dress, especially in a silk or light fabric, can't be beat.
All the dresses I've been wearing lately are a very particular shape: a calf midi length, sleeveless or camisole straps, and a very high/natural waist. The Sea NY button dress is a bit more structured and voluminous; the silk slip dress doesn't have a defined waist, but they all play to my natural shape. In the fall, I know I'll pull out some of my more fitted, dresses, but for the summer heat, the loose skirt helps.
The natural waist + midi length makes the exact same proportion as I do with pants: a very high rise, ankle crop, especially in a wide leg, and a cropped top. Compare these two outfits above. (I didn't love this pants outfit, but for the shape comparison, bear with me.) Same waistline, same shoulder/neckline, basically the same length and even the same amount of volume in the bottom.
Structured wide or trouser leg and fitted cropped top
Uh, so you may note that I am not only wearing a "fitted crop top," but that in three of these four outfits I'm literally wearing the exact same fitted crop top. Ah well, when it works...
It should come as no surprise that this proportion is a favorite of mine. I did realize during the course of this exercise, that structure in wide leg bottoms is important to me. I'll touch on that more in the "least faves" bit down below.
Very high rise fitted leg and looser top
This is really the reverse of the previous: a high rise, fitted bottom and a looser top. Same proportions but a slightly different formula. I really running out of things to say here: I front-tuck so the high natural waist shows. I can't f'ing wait to wear jeans again (besides these two days, which I was miserably sweaty but mostly inside doing job interviews in). I definitely think bike shorts count in this proportion even though they're shorts, fight me.
The volume + volume exception to the rule
It wouldn't be a rule if there weren't exceptions! These three outfits I did really love, but they don't quite fit the previous groups.
The soft tie dye pants and a loose tucked ES tee work for me because the rise/proportion is correct even if both are more voluminous. I think the fact that the pants are, you know, tie dye is part of it. The raw silk shirt texture makes the tie dye more polished. When I wore it (see below) with a fitted crop, even though that proportion is arguably more "my style," it felt too pajama-y and weird.
I just got this Everlane air tee, because I loved the super drapey tuck and longer sleeves. It works with my wide leg jeans, I think because they're structured. Honestly, I'd like this better with even more structured jeans; these Loup ones are soft and figure-hugging, versus a mostly cotton wide leg jean. These loafer mules help, too, with the square toe: a good balance of structured shape and drape.
Last, these shorts and Linn tee. I'm not 100% feeling shorts these days, but it's often just too damn hot for pants. This still fits my proportions in terms of rise, even though the waistband of these shorts is a bit more volume than say, bike shorts.
One thing I want to note here is that they're "least favorites," not "best and worst" outfits. I liked some of these outfits; some great pieces are in here and I'd wear them again.... but for whatever reason, they're just not perfect. Depending on where you are in your style journey, some of your least fave outfits might be awful, or just okay. And that's okay! Knowing what it is that makes them just okay (or awful) is the first step to making them better next time.
These outfits didn't work as well for me mainly because I think they're all-0ver too soft. With the leggings-and-tee, the hat doesn't make up for the fact that neither piece has structure. Would I wear this again on a casual errand-running weekend? Yeah... but it's not going to be an all time fave.
These old Aritzia wrinkle culottes and—I hate to admit this, but maybe also my Elizabeth Suzann Andy pants—just... they're too swishy and soft. Are they comfy and lightweight? Definitely! But I dislike how they don't keep their wide leg structure, or they verge on the shapeless and pajama-y. I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of either of these yet—I don't hate them—but I think I'm going to not purchase any more soft pants for a while.
Fit or shape issues
These outfits primarily are in the least fave category due to some minor fit or shape issues. Nothing that will stop me from continued wear, but worth noting.
These Esby Lucia pants are amazing—comfortable, perfect rise and never too tight in my thighs/hips, and I love the color—but the lightweight cotton canvas wrinkles so badly. Even in this photo I just... ugh. I don't like being wrinkly!
The middle outfit was actually one of my least faves, despite the fact that I sort-of-almost love these pants. They're an old old AYR style that I picked up in a sample sale and got the waist taken in. The front horn button is beautiful, the fabric is SO nice... but it wrinkles, and it has slant pockets. I hate the way the slant pockets gape when I sit, and this chino fabric definitely gets wrinkly. SIGH! This Cuyana cami I have with it just doesn't tuck very well into a wide leg; better keep that one with skinny jeans.
Last, my ES Mara jumpsuit. I do love this piece, but the shoulders are just a bit too wide for me, so I'm often adjusting them. Not a dealbreaker, because otherwise this jumpsuit is so great. Then again, soft wide legs.... still, it's not going anywhere, but I'm keeping an eye on that.
Style vibe not working
Last, these outfits just... something about the styling or accessorizing I did just didn't quite vibe. The hat + sandals + dress combos are just... okay. I don't love the color combo of that belt + sandals with my white shorts in the bottom right. Kinda over shorts. Why did I pair my nicest bag with sneakers—the Miranda Bennett dress + bag works, or dress + sneakers, but together? Weird. The tie dye pants and crop top made me feel like I was in pajamas, for whatever reason.
A lot of these items I wore in my "fave" outfits, too, so it's more about the styling than it is the item itself. Sometimes it's just about how you're feeling that day, and that's worth knowing, too.
Interestingly, almost all the instances of me wearing a hat fell into this category. Not all: just most. I'm not completely comfortable in hats yet, but I actually don't think that's the reason why. I tend to put on a hat when I'm on third or fourth day hair, too lazy or rushed to fix it, or we're going to be outside and sweaty. For example, the printed midi dress + hat combo? Outside patio dinner. A lot of those days are also ones where I'm in a hurry or just... giving no fucks... so I also tend to not put as much effort into outfits. So maybe I need to wear my hat more with better outfits!
What's my style vibe?
Patterns + Proportions
I tend towards a very high, natural-waist rise. When measuring garments, this is an 11-12" rise; no more than that, but no lower than 10.5". I never want to see my belly button!
I typically pair a fitted top / volume bottom, or a fitted bottom / volume top. Occasionally, a more voluminous or allover fitted combo works.
I want or tend to avoid: low or mid rise anything, tunic length, soft or super wide or long legs, architectural/super-modern shapes, 3/4 length sleeves. Necklines are either high, or relatively low, but nothing super deep-V, square, boat, etc.
Shoes are often masculine or architectural: a platform, a crossover shape, a chunky sneaker, but typically simple. Very few or no heels.
Colors & Patterns
Lots of black and white! Then cream or tan and a toffee or caramel brown. Colors are navy, olive green, a sage-agave green, or rust-rose. Not many patterns, fairly simple (polka dots) versus big prints or art shapes.
Fabrics & Details
Lots of silk (both charmeuse and raw), linen, soft cotton or lightweight twill/canvas, rib knits, or gauze/jersey tee-shirt fabric. Almost all natural fabrics, with some exceptions for stretch knits, stretch in jeans, and technical fabrics for gymwear/leggings/bike shorts.
No frills, ruffles, unnecessary anything. Sometimes a pocket, or a drape, or a wrap/belt, but nothing extraneous.
So, what do these outfits say about me?
Looking back at the words I wrote above, and the photos, I see:
- a traditionally womanly shape, body-aware but not necessarily sexy or body-conscious
- natural fabrics and earthy, relatively subdued or desaturated colors and tonal combinations
- very few prints and patterns; some but not artistic, funky, colorful, or detailed
- modern shapes (a square neck or toe, a drape dress) but nothing architectural, stiff, or dramatic
- lived-in shapes with simple lines, ease of movement
Next, I want to keep noticing. Noticing is such an important part of style work. We wear clothes; we go about our lives. It's pretty easy to slip into a rut and not even notice. So I want to keep thinking about what I'm choosing to wear and buy and make sure it fits into the categories I noted above.
I also want to pay attention as we enter Autumn. Dressing for high summer is different than fall, or winter. In Texas, I spend a lot of my time in super hot weather. If you live in Canada, or Iceland, or Hawai'i, or San Francisco, or LA.. your weather and seasonal style shifts will be different than mine. As the weather cools, I know I'll be eager to wear jeans, boots and closed toe shoes, and deeper colors, even if it isn't exactly going to be sweater weather.
I'm also going to start thinking about my style definition words. In the past I've used words like elevated, casual, polished, and understated. But style words are about how we feel and how things look. For example, you might feel playful, professional, or sensual in certain clothes; a certain outfit might look ornate, or ethereal, or preppy. Some style words apply to both: an outfit can both look and feel athletic or comfortable.
In the next post in the series, we'll talk assessment: what do I have... and where do I want to go?
What do you see in my style?