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Finding Your Style – Carly the Prepster

Do you guys feel like you have your style on lockdown? Over the past year, I think I’ve finally honed in on what clothes truly make me feel like, well, me. I’ve had a pretty distinct style my entire life with a healthy dose of cringe-worthy outfits thrown in for good measure. Probably when I was feeling the least confident (high school) or the most down emotionally (college) was when I struggled the most to find and wear outfits that truly suited who I was. That’s been one thing I’ve discovered over the past year, among a few other things too.

Carly Heitlinger

Even though I’m a blogger who posts my outfits daily, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fashion blogger. I’m not wearing gowns to showcase on my blog on the reg or carrying the latest and greatest handbag just because it’s the most popular of the moment. I tend to describe my blog as “life and style” as it’s a mix of lifestyle, personal posts, and my everyday outfits. But even then, saying that I have “style” never really felt right to me. Style to me was the chicest of outfits, the effortless cool girl, the sartorial risktaker. Not me. But just because I am not going to grace the pages of the New York Times style section anytime soon doesn’t mean I don’t have style. I do have style– even if it isn’t the most exciting.

(I was thinking about all of this when I was going through this particular set of photos. I’ve been wearing my Jacks for over a decade now, although my white pair has been replaced twice because I wear them so frequently. This dress has been in my closet for more years than I remember and it’s still something I reach for, especially when I’m packing for summer travel. And the hat is one of the best ones I’ve ever owned as it goes with just about everything in my summer wardrobe. I clearly like the same things and this post could have just as easily gone live in 2014.)

Navy and White Dress    Ice Cream

BUYING. I have been buying fewer articles of clothing this year and it’s forced me to reexamine how I work with my clothes. As a blogger, it’s been an added challenge because there’s such a huge emphasis placed on bloggers (by whom? ourselves probably) to have brand new clothes and to never, ever outfit repeat. Trip coming up? Time to buy an entirely new wardrobe to suit the location. Found a great wall with a beautiful painting? Must purchase a coordinating outfit for Instagram. Big sale just around the corner? Better run to the store and stock up on all the pieces to promote. It’s exhausting and never quite felt like me. I’ve been having so much fun putting together outfits with my existing wardrobe, even if it means the exact product isn’t available. And I actually think it’s more realistic to see how I styled the same handbag in different ways over the course of a couple of weeks (like with this dress or with these jeans or with this dress), as an example.

I’ve been rewearing clothes I’ve had for years so frequently and I’m seeing everything in a new light. I’m examining what it is about a particular article of clothing that makes me want to wear it again and again. Certain things I’m discovering have yet to go out of style despite having worn it for four summers in a row. Basically, it’s forcing me to hone in on what I love the best and why.

Carly the Prepster

TRENDS. My approach to clothes tends to err on the more classic side of things. Give me a cable knit sweater, a simple shirtdress that stands the test of time, a striped tee that can be worn 200+ days of the year. However, I have been finding ways lately to embrace trends. I used to I wish I could “pull off” certain trends or looks, but I never quite feel like myself. I have found that for me to successfully wear a trend– and feel comfortable doing it– it still has to align with what I typically love. Maybe 90% of what I wear is classic and traditional and then the 10% is something trendy. It lets me push the boundaries of what I think I can pull off, while still staying true to myself. And instead of wearing something only once or twice, I’m challenged to come up with more ways to incorporate it into my existing wardrobe.

Boca Grande Gasparilla Inn

DOCUMENTING. I swear my blog and Instagram has also helped me figure out my style. First and foremost, it’s forced me to continue trying new things and to put together new outfits so that my feed isn’t the same outfit every single day. I’ve also been able to review photos of how I look in certain outfits. And I don’t mean my body! Nine times out of ten, I can read my own body language through a photo and can determine whether or not the outfit is actually something that I felt good in. (Or I can also review a photo and think, “Hmmm maybe this isn’t the most flattering thing I could have done.) Documenting has also provided me with a backlog of outfits so I can see how my style has changed– or hasn’t changed– over the years. I can look back at old outfits to re-remember something that I loved or inspire a new iteration of it. Or to laugh at something that I thought worked for me, but in retrospect, it absolutely doesn’t.

You totally don’t have to have a public social media account or blog to document things, but I highly recommend the exercise if you’re trying to figure out your style. Don’t try to think about cultivating a style, instead take the photos of the outfits you’re naturally drawn to every morning when you get ready… and then review to reveal the common thread.

Maybe you’ll be just as surprised as I was to discover that you already do have style!!

Similar Dresses // Shoes // Hat

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