I’ll be completely honest with you here. Despite being a full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger, I know very little about fashion. I wouldn’t consider myself trendy, nor particularly stylish and I truly believe I’ve made so many faux pas that I should win some kind of award.
I will never let myself forget the time I turned up to a family outing at a garden centre in a black leather skirt, knee high fluffy boots, a feathered jumper with a sequin rabbit emblazoned on the front and an equally flamboyant headband. I thought I looked like Blair Waldorf. The pictures from that day say otherwise.
In fact, it was upon seeing that particular set of pictures that I finally decided to stop following trends. Because I wasn’t Blair, nor Serena (this realisation in itself was heartbreaking) and not everything suited me. To develop my style, I needed to discover what suited me, my personality and my shape rather than reaching for everything in the ‘New In’ section.
And so to this day, I’ve stuck to this mantra – and it’s largely served me well. Minus a few interesting combinations. But we won’t talk about those.
Instead, I thought I’d chat to you about personal style and why it totally transcends trends. Because I know I’m not alone in this way of dressing and I thought it might make for a rather interesting article.
On a couple of occasions when I’ve been at a photo-shoots or blog events, I’ve heard myself described as the ‘girl-next-door’. I’ll usually be working alongside a few other fabulous blogging ladies who have quirky, glamorous and colourful styles and I suppose in comparison, I’m largely quite ordinary. I tend to favour more classic styles and shapes over anything too ‘un-me’. I’m not very adventurous and I am completely aware of that. And I guess I could take this as a criticism.
But then again, I suppose the ‘girl-next-door’ tag is quite complimentary, a quick Google search defines this as ‘a person or type of person perceived as familiar, approachable, and dependable’, someone is is ordinary and normal. In the context of style, I suppose this means the same. And some people might question whether someone so ordinary should have a platform in the ‘fashion’ world at all. Sometimes I question it myself!
Don’t get me wrong, I still love experimenting with style – but my go-to looks are pretty samey and while I used to worry about what others might think about this, I now embrace that my style is what it is. Ordinary doesn’t have to be boring – and it’s what makes me feel good.
There have been soo many occasions where I’ve bought a dress or playsuit that has been a little out of my comfort zone. And the intention to wear it was there, but it’s then sat collecting dust at the back of my wardrobe. So back comes the black jeans, white top and camel coat.
Style isn’t necessarily the same as ‘fashion’. Fashion for me means something that’s ‘in Vogue’, something fashion-able, style is what, when and how you wear it.
I am a big believer that you should dress for your body shape, not with regards to limitations but in terms of what you feel happy, comfortable and sassy in. When I was in my teens, I used to blindly follow what my friends were wearing as I thought I’d look out of place if I didn’t.
I was a curvy size 12-14 and my friends were tiny size 6-8’s, yet I couldn’t understand why I didn’t look like them in the crop tops and mini skirts. They made me feel fat and frumpy, but I wasn’t – I had a great figure, I just needed to learn how to dress it to enhance and compliment it. That’s not saying a size 12-14 shouldn’t wear crop tops and mini skirts, but for me, right then – it made me feel uncomfortable and I was stuck in a constant spiral of comparison.
Now, nearly ten years on, I have a totally different body shape due and I’ve had to learn all over again what works for me and what doesn’t. I have big hips and a big bum, so sleek skinny jeans and flared clothes can be unflattering and make me look a bit pear-shaped. However I do like my waist and my shoulders, so I tend to pick items that I know will show off my favourite features and make me feel as comfortable as possible.
Take for example, the outfit I’m wearing in these pictures from Miss Pap, the skirt is A-Line, so it doesn’t draw attention to my bum but it nips me in at the waist and cuts off at the perfect length mid-thigh. I usually tend to opt for bodycon, as shapeless dresses which look fabulous on the hanger, just seem to make me look boxy.
So I suppose what I’ve learned most is not to be critical of what you can’t wear or things that you don’t feel suits you best. Don’t feel pressured to go for a certain silhouette just because it’s trendy. Stick to what you know and what makes you feel fabulous. By all means experiment with different fashion items but don’t critique your body shape, it’s the dress, not you!
One of my favourite quotes is “I’ve never seen elegance go out of style“, because it’s oh so true.
Those classic trenches, LBD’s and classic black stilettos have transcended decades of fluctuating trends and I truly believe that there are some key pieces that every woman ought to treat herself too, because they’ll remain staples forever more.
Every girl needs a LBD that makes her feel fabulous (who cares if you wear it again and again, you can accessorise it to make it something new) and a red lipstick that makes her feel like she can conquer the world. I know I have!
Key pieces are totally underestimated and overlooked when it comes to fashion, but there’s so much to benefit from having 4-5 classic favourites that you can mix and match if you’re having an ‘I have NOTHING to wear‘ day.
Let’s face it, we should never underestimate the power of a good outfit on a bad day!
“With good basics, you’ll have endless options!”
Mixing High Street with High End
I’ve always been a huge admirer of designer bags and shoes. I remember when my mum got a huge bag of her old clothes out from the loft that she’d been keeping for me, and I found a pair of high end sunglasses.
Honestly, 15-year-old me thought that all my Christmasses had come at once.
I didn’t take them off, even in Winter.
In fact, I may have even teamed them with that fluffy, feather, leather combination that we do not speak about.
But anyway, I digress…
I’ve always loved high fashion but until recently, it’s never really been attainable to me because I was a budget-conscious student.
I had a few items that I’d kindly been bought for birthdays, but nothing that I could safely say that I’ve saved hard for and treated myself to. And so last year, my ultimate goal was to be able to treat myself to a new handbag at Christmas.
And in December, I waltzed into Harrods and purchased not one, but two brand new gorgeous bags. It was a bit of a blow out, but I’d worked so hard, I figured we all needed to treat and congratulate ourselves (materialistically) from time to time.
I fell in love with the feeling that purchasing something so luxurious gave me.
But even more so, I loved the ability owning a few key high end pieces gave you when it comes to making outfits look more expensive and classy.
Head to toe designer can look a bit too flashy for me, but when a Givenchy handbag is woven in with high street attire, it can make you feel a million dollars.
Without having to win the lottery to get the same feeling!
For me personally, I do most of my high street shopping online (ironically), because it’s much more convenient for me than faffing around with badly lit changing rooms and bustling crowds.
One of my favourite places to score designer dupes or pick up a new party dress is Miss Pap, who have kindly collaborated with me on this particular post.
I love their mix of sassy fashion staples and wardrobe classics, and I’m delighted to admit that I have spent many hours browsing through their website on the hunt for my next dressing room addition.
This month, I picked up a few pieces which I can’t wait to mix and match as we head into the sunshine season!
This gorgeous gingham skirt is a modern take on the classic A-Line, weaving in a bit of ruffle and frill, while still maintaining it’s classic flattering shape. As mentioned before, I tend to favour A-Line over skater style skirts because I love the silhouette it gives and the flexibility you have in dressing it up or down.
For this particular look, I wanted a slightly more glamorous day-time outfit that I could wear to a festival, event, girls lunch or shopping trip – and feel comfortable and glitzy. The diamanté choker certainly jazzes things up a little bit, and I just know I’ll get tonnes of wear out of it too, as I’m a complete sucker for chokers and their ability to add something a little different to an all-black outfit or LBD. As they say, it’s the accessories that make an outfit!
The tiger motif bomber jacket is another staple I know I’ll get plenty of wear out of, as it’s the perfect in-between cover up to throw on if the UK weather is doing its thing and not quite deciding on rain, sunshine, hail or snow. Or you know, a mixture of all four. I adore bomber jackets and have a couple in my collection, each of which stand to complete an outfit of a certain colour palette, or completely add something new and different to a plain look. Yes, I’m talking about you shiny rose gold jacket!
The black tie heels are also a new favourite of mine, as they’re not only deceptively easy to walk in (I promise – and I’m no expert) but super glam and create a very flattering illusion of having longer, leaner legs. Thanks for helping a girl out, new shoes!
Finally, I thought I’d finish the look with a pair of black sunglasses and off the shoulder crop top.
Because if in doubt, black is the new black.
What are your style secrets – and do you think fashion and ‘style’ are the same thing?
This post was written in collaboration with Miss Pap but all words are entirely my own.
Photography by Yassmine Rerhrhaye