on the steps in brooklyn

Finding your personal style can seem like the obvious solution to not feeling stylish. But the secret is, you alread have a personal style.

When I was a kid, there was a period of years when I would only wear dresses.
But not just any dresses – dresses. with skirts. that twirled.
Skirts that – with some imagination – elevated playgrounds to ballrooms, and turned dresses of every color into yellow ballgowns.

The point is, I wore dresses everywhere.
Sun, rain, snow? Whatever.
Playing, dancing, building, skiing? Didn’t matter.
I knew what I wanted to wear. I would wear it. And practicality would bend itself to my 5 year old will.

This got me thinking.

At some point or other, I bet you knew exactly what you wanted to wear – maybe for some period of time, or to a specific event – but you knew what you wanted to wear and you were going to wear it, dammit.

What to do instead of finding your personal style? Remember it.

Not (necessarily) to recreate the look.
I’ve definitely worn looks that I don’t want to remember, let alone recreate. (But then again, the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s have all come back around at some point or another – so maybe let’s keep our options open.)

But what if we remembered the feelings of clarity, of confidence, of delighting in what we were wearing.

What if instead of searching to find our style, we remember what it felt like to know our personal style.

|| written by Holly Chayes || photography by Madison Neugebauer || model Holly Chayes ||

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4 Comments on What to do instead of finding your personal style.

  1. While I love this idea, while reading it the point that I was HOPING that you were going to make — is that rather than trying to find (or remember) your personal style, simply embrace what you want to wear right now. When you were younger, you unabashedly wore dresses for years. But, when you were done with dresses — and before your dress love — there was doubtless other loves, other obsessions. And as long as they were honest to you, none of them were ever more right or wrong.

    When I was little, I HATED dresses. Refused to wear them. But I loved giant sweatshirts and sparkly leggings. Fast forward 20 years and you wouldn’t catch me in a giant sweatshirt, but I had fallen in love with dresses. Both were totally honest about what I wanted to be wearing right then.

    For me, it isn’t about remembering. Its about listening. And it isn’t about “finding my personal style” which suggests some degree of stasis… but about listening to what I want NOW and letting go of the cacophony of other voices: the magazines, the friends, the looks from other women, the not-really-me critical voice in my mind, the trend report, the reactions from men…

    And for me personally, remembering looks a lot different from listening.

    • <3
      I love that you brought up the distinction between listening to what you want now, and remembering. It's a beautiful distinction.

      And I also love that you also touched on clothing loves being fluid - they change as we change.

      For me remembering my style is about remembering what it felt like to be 100% absolutely, positively certain in what I wanted to wear - not to recreate it, but to get back to a head-space where I am able to listen to what I want.

      So for me at least, remembering is a way to get back to being able to listen and recognize to what I want right now.


  2. when i was three i would wear two dresses on top of each other. i wanted to wear this dress AND this dress. my granma asked me what colour skirt i wanted -i said ‘all colours!’
    so certain and knowing

    • Yes! And with fantastic disregard of what other people might think. (I totally layered dresses too.)

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