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At the end of 2018 I decided to draw a hard line under working for free. My thinking was that as I’m ill and have less energy, I want to spend my available working hours on something I love or something I’m getting paid for. Hell, maybe even both! What I didn’t realise was that this decision would lead to me not undertaking any paid work AT ALL so far this year, either on this blog or elsewhere.
This article isn’t about how shitty that made me feel, maybe I’ll write something about it one day. In a way it’s about how the above choice gave me the time to get to grips with what my personal style really is.
For the first time in four years of blogging I’ve found myself with no obligation to wear specific clothes for any reason; nothing that I’d committed to reviewing or featuring, no bending over backwards for a £15 skirt and ‘exposure’. I remember thinking that being gifted items to review was so exciting, but once the novelty wore off I just found it to be a massive pain in the arse. I’m sad it came to that, but there we are.
I can absolutely see how consistently receiving clothes from seasonal collections meant I was getting increasingly bogged down in FASHION. Fashion is fun, of course it is. It can be a means of expression if you have access to pieces that you like, it’s a passion for some, and a vocation for others. I’ve always said that I love fashion but I think that was wrong, I think I meant that I love clothes and style.
Up until recently, even the most cursory glance at my wardrobe showed me that it had become clogged with clothes that I wasn’t wearing: old season fashion pieces, styles I don’t favour, stuff I tried out but ultimately didn’t wear again. Following my own advice from an article I wrote a few years ago I rolled my sleeves up, separated the wheat from the chaff, and donated A LOT.
After this clear out I looked back at some photos and also took notice of how I’d been dressing since the new year, which outfits I felt best in, and what my style staples were. I realised I almost always wear my Vans, I like specifics like oversized fits and high waisted trousers, I enjoy a bold print and a knee length skirt.
From there I made a simple list of pieces I was wearing and wanted more of, then the bits I felt like I was missing to complete outfits. Very slowly and softly, mostly thanks to a couple of big Monki sales and ASOS vouchers, I’ve been building up a wardrobe of my style staples. It’s really nice to be able to reach into my closet and pull out clothes I like that take no effort to make into an outfit.
I’ll admit that before I started blogging I felt like I had my personal style pretty sewn up, it was influenced in equal measure by everything that had come before: my mum, high school in the 90’s, a dash of emo (although I would never have admitted that at the time), a lot of black, and then my seamed stockings and red lipstick decade. Although not unique by any means, I knew where I was with it.
Letting go of the cycle of fashion has, for this occasional blogger, given me a bit of room to let my earlier style incarnations flow and inform how I dress again. Admittedly, my hand was forced by the hard line I took at the end of last year, but it’s interesting to be on the other side of the ‘gifted for review’ part of blogging for now.
I had no idea how much fashion blogging would throw me off in the style stakes and push me to realise – of all things – that I maybe wasn’t so into trends after all. Perhaps I’m focusing in too much on one factor here and give more credit to other elements such as my budget or my age, but after six months away from fashion trends I’ve been dressing how I want, I have a ton of easy outfits I feel good in, and I’m confident that I know how that looks.
Turns out, all I needed to do was step away from fashion and give my personal style a little room to breathe.