WIW: from classic casual to arty eclectic

These outfits show two sides of my style that seem rather different from each other: an arty, drapey, multi-layered, unconventional look and a fairly classic slightly tomboy look. Why do I wear both of these looks? How well do I carry them off? Are they in fact both me?

To be honest, I think neither one is squarely in my comfort zone. I feel both are slightly off the mark for making me feel my best, style-wise, though both are certainly comfy as far as fit and fabrications go.

The outfits:
1-3 (worn for a day off and teaching a sewing class): cadet blue boyfriend chinos (Eddie Bauer); blue and gray scroll-print burnout tee (made by me); light gray high-low boyfriend cardigan (Halogen); pewter narrow belt (Calvin Klein); gray shimmer oxfords (Naot, Kedma); taupe trench (Calvin Klein); taupe shoulder bag (Aunts & Uncles).

4-7 (worn for a day off): black skirted leggings (Eileen Fisher); black and dark amethyst stripe handkerchief-hem tunic (Comfy USA); black shredded-knit cocoon shrug (made by me); black flat booties (Munro, Lexi); mauve and black packable rain coat (Mycra-Pac); taupe shoulder bag as above.

Thanks for looking! I welcome your thoughts and suggestions and any insights on my musings, as I continue trying to hone my style.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • rachylou replied 3 years ago

    Very very interesting. I like both outfits. I lean toward #1 for tightness of composition. But - right, here's the but - for you I feel #1 is too "yang" and #2 too "yin."

    Can you tell I'm reading about Kibbe right now?

  • AM replied 3 years ago

    I can sympathize. I'm contemplating just how well I am adding modern (and or creative) to classic. I definitely see where you are coming from with your post and your images. Maybe that is why I often feel like I relate to your style!

    I'm going to throw out possible ideas but I may be off base.
    I am drawn to your outfits that have some drama. These outfits have fresh/contemporary color combinations, long lines, artistic details (that belt that I commented on in your travel post), probably more darkness than lightness, and are perhaps on the minimal side with some interesting pattern as a "behind the scenes player" (plaid under your sweater -- again in your travel capsule)

    Outfit #1: This is reading pretty classic to me. Perhaps it is this shade of gray with this shade of blue. The tee is fabulous (I'm so impressed your skills and don't say that enough). But I feel like I want to see more striking colors. Maybe a deep plum with ink/black. I think you can do tomboy but it needs to have more of that artistic edge. Maybe just throw on black cardigan?

    Outfit #2: This feels pretty right on to me. Maybe try for a long black boot as an other option -- would help to elongate the line even further?

    Just ideas...

  • replied 3 years ago

    Firecracker, (hey, just by your name I think I see what's not-you about the first outfit) ... here are a few thoughts FWIW.

    #1-3 immediately reads to me as "practical." The metallic oxford, pewter belt, burnout tee, and wrap coat are great ... but I think the sweater and chinos dominate the conversation and are too "boyfriend" to work together. Too traditional in shape ... not oversized enough for drama ... flat in texture ...? (This is not meant to be critical in any way, just trying to articulate some impressions.)

    With #4-7, the pics are dark on my monitor (can't see the texture of the sweater, for instance). But I immediately like the silhouette better on you -- the tight lower leg looks sophisticated compared to the straight-leg chinos, and doesn't hide your great calves. I wouldn't call the outfit arty exactly -- more chunky jewelry needed for that -- but it expresses your creative side more clearly. The coat (color, line, side closing) is a great addition. (Why don't my "packable" raincoats look like that?) 

    In both outfits you're wearing an item of your own creation ... that's the link between the two. And you teach sewing, so construction is important to you. So ... maybe each combo should have something unconventional in texture/shape and some structure? (Easier said than done, of course.)

  • Caro in Oz replied 3 years ago

    You look good in both outfits but how do you feel in them? If you feel equally good in them, then I don't see any problem wearing both looks.

    Waving to rachy - I'm reading Kibbe too. So from that perspective imo the first outfit is very "natural". The second one much more "dramatic" & maybe that's more to do with the contrast & depth of colour than the style though. So if you feel better in one it might be worth exploring Kibbe :)  Blending seemingly opposing styles is the hardest thing to get right for me & since reading his book I understand why.

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    Rachylou, I'm laughing at your comment about reading Kibbe. It's on my mind a lot lately, too, after recent posts here.

    AM, you have described my style better than I could have. Your assessments of the outfits are enlightening. On outfit 1, I love the colors in the tee and pants, but not in the cardigan. So simply changing to an ink blue cardigan would probably make the whole look work better for me. Come to think of it, I don't know why I'm hanging on to that cardigan. I wear it with a few things, and yet, rather than adding to an outfit, I think it tends to detract. I like your idea of taller boots with the second outfit. The other option I considered wearing was my pewter high-top sneakers. These shoe choices were more about the walking I needed to do than the overall look, I must admit.

    gauche, you have offered great insights as well. You are spot-on when you identify the chinos and boyfriend sweater together--and their prominence--as what doesn't feel like "me" in outfit 1. I do love boyfriend and slouchy pants, and I like a long boyfriend sweater, but I usually do not try to pair them! Good idea for an aspiration: aim for something "unconventional in texture/shape and some structure." I think I typically do that in some way, but sometimes other imperatives lead me astray. With the chino outfit, I was trying to dress for the shoes. When I got to the t-shirt and needed a topper, I just grabbed the sweater for color. Your idea of structure made me think of my denim cropped moto jacket as an alternative topper for outfit 2 (see Finds below). I think I'd like that a lot!

    Caro, I think I need to get a copy of the Kibbe book! Our library doesn't have it, unfortunately, so maybe I'll buy it. I think I may have exhausted the free resources online. :) Anyway, I felt much better in the second outfit. In the first outfit, I love the tee and the shoes (too bad they do not an outfit make, in themselves!!), like the pants pretty well, and feel quite ambivalent if not slightly negative toward the cardigan. And I felt pretty frumpy in the outfit, though I kept telling myself it wasn't that bad.

  • AM replied 3 years ago

    Firecracker, your posts really get to the heart of your style challenges. You pick the right outfits, ask the right questions. And then you provide some background so we get context on where/what it is that you would like feedback. Well done!

    I continue to feel like Kibbe would help us out. I also looked for it in the library -- no luck. Caro seems to be getting lots of good insights!

    gauche's comment about boyfriend pant and boyfriend cardi -- was so dead on. Great insight.

  • AM replied 3 years ago

    And I wouldn't throw out the cardi. All black outfit with big apres ski boots in gray -- and a gigantic scarf? Who knows. I must say I think I need furry apres ski boots in black.

  • Summer replied 3 years ago

    I think you carry off both looks well, but do you feel equally comfortable with both?  I'm wondering whether one style came before the other, or if you have always had these two personas running at the same time? and whether you wear one or other look depending on the activities you have planned for a particular day?  Sorry to bombard you with all these questions!   

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    Summer, good questions! I think outfit 1 fairly well represents the kind of look I gravitated toward in recent years pre-YLF. It's a different incarnation but similar vibe. Practical, as gauche says, and classic, and a little sporty. Then I decided to get more creative and started trying some leggings and tunics looks, more like in outfit 2. I do tend to fall back on cords/jeans and cardigans a lot, though I try to work in some creative, chic, or elegant touches these days when I do so, to feel more like myself. And usually a great pair of shoes goes a long way to making me feel more fabulous. The Naots are not really in that camp, and neither are the Munro booties here--now there's an insight right there, huh?? I do really, really like both pairs of shoes; they just aren't in my "Most Fab" category, style-wise. (Meaning that they do not in themselves elevate an outfit to fab status the way, say, I feel my pointy-toe Miu Miu moto boots or my Paul Green metallic peep-toe booties do.) 

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    Interesting. I wonder what would happen if you took the second outfit and substituted jeans for the leggings and the more structured coat on top. In my mind that would balance the two tendencies. I don't think there is anything wrong with dressing differently but it would be interesting to see if there is a sweet spot where you felt most you.

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    That's an idea, Jaime. I usually don't put this kind of drapey tunic over jeans, because of the more bulky fly front. But I should give it a try!

  • Caro in Oz replied 3 years ago

    Firecracker, I meant to say too that taking outfit photos, AND noting how I felt in them at the end of the day, has really helped me get a handle on what works for me :) 

  • Jeweled replied 3 years ago

    Firecracker, I love your creativity in putting together outfits - and I agree that a bit more drama would suit you very well.  These are great outfits - and although I liked #1 on you - when I got to #2, I preferred it on you over #1.

    I went back to compare the two, and I agree that that #1 feels a bit too classic for you - that you were created for something that's more extraordinary than classic.  Your own long lovely lines and striking facial features need outfits that deliver that for you.

    I felt that outfit #2 delivered more of that needed drama - and I also think the extra bit of yin in outfit #2 suits you better.  Your facial features and pretty, curvy calves resonate with a bit of yin drama.

    All the long, unbroken lines in outfit #2 suited you well too - the long sides of the top, the dark leggings merging with dark shoes, etc. - very flattering on you, echoing your own long lines.

    In outfit #2 I think an artsy, contrasting statement necklace - either chunky and above-bust, or a long waist-length chain with a bold pendant - would add a dramatic focal point as well as the artistic touch that suits you.

    I also think the streamlined leggings in outfit #2 were more flattering on you.  In outfit #1, I kept wanting to either hem or cuff the pants to straighten and "un-scrunch" the pant legs. To me, scrunched pant legs didn't feel right for you - sleek and streamlined is better.

  • Style Fan replied 3 years ago

    I prefer outfit #2.  My initial reaction was YES to #2.  I think you carry that look off very well.  The other Fabbers have made some great suggestions about how to tweak #2 with tall boots and jewellery that you could try.  I found #1 too much BF look and I like BF.  I wonder if a different topper would work in #1. 

    I agree that sleek and streamlined is a better look for you.  You strike me as an artistic and creative person.  I don't get that impression from outfit #1.

  • Dee replied 3 years ago

    I like both outfits but agree with others that #2 seems more your usual style than #1. Both have casual, drapey aspects which I always think you pull off well.

    Do you feel that one or the other is closer to your comfort zone or ideal outfit? Are you looking to add more structure, more statement pieces, or something else entirely?

  • Lisa replied 3 years ago

    Hmm, I agree that both outfits look just fine, although diving into why don't 'feel fine' is a good exercise.  For #1, is it because of the colors that you don't like it?  Or is the more classic style just not working for your personal preferences?  Personally I associate your style with more of the second outfit (a little arty) compared to the first (a little classic).  I can see outfit #1 with a tighter fitting bottom and a stronger print or interesting detailed top.  For the second look, this is an all black (and dark) look.  Perhaps you like a stronger contrast in your outfits?  

  • texstyle replied 3 years ago

    I much prefer the creative side of the second outfit on you - I agree the cardigan likely is detracting from the first outfit. But it's not really just the cardigan (for me), I think it's the combo of the shoes with the pants and the tee and cardigan all together are too classic for where I think your style is directed.

    The pants with a different top or topper line like something asymmetric hemmed would probably solve it for me. But do the pants seem just a little large?  I feel like I want to see them rolled or something to take away some of the extra fabric - which I know is not practical for winter weather.

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    Caro, that's good to hear. I've been taking daily photos since last May. I should create some system for taking notes on the outfits.

    Jeweled, wow, great analysis! I though about jewelry and was afraid it would be a step too far with outfit 2 --ha ha! (I was wearing earrings.) I think you're right, a necklace could have finished the look nicely. Both you and Texstyle have a similar point about the pant legs in 1. I struggle with that aspect. I like the boyfriend, slouchy fit, and I have some that are narrower on my calves. But my calves are shaped such that narrow pants are almost always tight on my calves, and I like the feel of a looser fit. My struggle is that it doesn't look that flattering. Rolling is an idea, but as Texstyle says, it's not practical right now.

    Dee, probably outfit 2 is closer to what I like. But--and this answers Lisa as well--I would also like to wear a version of outfit 1, as it just seems easier to me for some reason. Easier to put on and go. I like your suggestions, Lisa, about tweaking outfit 1. Ah--food for thought!

  • MuseumGal replied 3 years ago

    Those are both nice outfits, and look good on you, but you know what?  Kate would never wear either of them.  Are you still on an elegant tomboy (aka Kate Hepburn) kick, or are you moving on?

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    Ha, Museumgal! You're right! I think Kate's is a shadow style for me. I have a few pieces that evoke that feel for me, but it would be a major wardrobe overhaul if I were going to really pursue it.
    Oh, and Style Fan, thanks for your thoughts, too. I agree with your observations. And while I do see myself as creative, I don't think I'm artistic.

  • replied 3 years ago

    Firecracker, I like what Jeweled said above: "You were created for something that's more extraordinary than classic." Keep it in mind~!

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    I don't have much to add except I found the two looks posted side by side and the discussion to be very enlightening. Oh, and despite having a somewhat yang/ boyish/ androgynous style gene, I can't stand to wear chinos, FWIW. I always love the idea of them. And then the reality is, I feel way, way, way too...boyish in a bad (i.e. not elegant) way. Sveta wears a pair with such panache I can scarcely believe it, but when I put them on, I feel immediately frumpy. I don't know if Kibbe could explain that, but maybe something similar is going on for you in this case? 

  • CocoLion replied 3 years ago

    I think you look good in both outfits.  The first is more low-key.  The second, more standout.  I think if you had a different topper in #1, it would improve the outfit, although nothing is wrong with it.  I"m thinking an edgy moto jacket, sort of a beat up brown or black one with a good shoulder line.  That would add interest to the soft academic vibe of the rest of the outfit.  I do like those pants on you.  Sort of a Boho Grunge look, although perhaps that's too overplayed in Seattle to sound interesting to you.

  • Firecracker replied 3 years ago

    Yes, Suz, exactly: I want to look like Sveta in chinos!! And it's not quite happening with this pair. Ha ha!
    Denise, you always have such great ideas--thank you! I do have a cool new moto jacket that I could wear with that outfit. Oooh, must try it with my not-so-hip looking chinos and see if it can rescue them.

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