style

Finding Your Style

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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26 Comments

Nina Dhollander

Looking back at old photos, I find that whether or not I look “good” in it always depends more on my memory of the place/time than on the actual photo. Especially on holiday I spend less and less time on picking the “right” outfit, I realized that as long as I’m comfortable the clothes I wear have zero impact on how good I feel or how fondly I look back on any pictures! (added bonus is that I have to bring less clothes). Not sure where I was going with this comment… Anyway, I much prefer seeing the same pieces come back every now and then. It’s way more relatable and I find that mixing and matching teaches you a lot more about style than buying a statement dress, wearing it once, buying a new one,……

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Genya

I know exactly what you mean… I am in college now and if have been through insecurity and laziness and being unhappy with my style anyway. I am now in a period of time when I start to understand what my style is and what I feel good in. And just like you: I show outfits on my blog but I am not the typical “fashion blogger”. Really loved your post! 🙂
XO
http://www.lifeofmissg.com

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Allie

You look beautiful! I’ve been thinking about my personal style a lot more lately too, as I try and refine my wardrobe and not just add clothes too it. I’ve also realized that style has a lot to do with finishing details, like a pair of earrings or how I cuff my shorts, and not just big new expensive items.
Happy Wednesday! xAllie
http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

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Christina

Carly,

I’ve always admired you and your style. Your posting clothes that are “old” and unavailable makes me really happy, actually. I feel like when you DO recommend something, it’s because it’s timeless. That makes me feel more inclined to invest in the pieces you recommend. Like, this may sound a little nuts but I actually reference the “wardrobe staples” post you made ALL THE TIME when I’m out shopping. I want to build a wardrobe filled with things I’ll wear forever, and I want to be able to look back on what I’ve worn and feel good about my sartorial choices. Thanks for inspiring me by sharing what you wear!

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Robi

Your post is so refreshing Carly! I used to follow a lot of fashion blogs but found myself getting frustrated and over spending trying to keep up with the Joneses as one might say! I found myself not getting to wear my favorite outfits very often because I was buying too many clothes that I thought I needed because they looked good on someone else or because I thought I needed them to be in style. I hope you’ll do more posts on how to style the same piece several ways for those of us who have a limited budget!

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Robi Francis

Your post is so refreshing Carly! I used to follow a lot of fashion blogs but found myself getting frustrated and over spending trying to keep up with the Joneses as one might say! I found myself not getting to wear my favorite outfits very often because I was buying too many clothes that I thought I needed because they looked good on someone else or because I thought I needed them to be in style. I hope you’ll do more posts on how to style the same piece several ways for those of us who have a limited budget!

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Taylor

Great post Carly! I think it is great that you are tryin to focus on what actually feels like you and find fun new ways to wear old pieces. that is much more relatable for readers than never re-wearing a piece and having a new wardrobe every month.
I think you are setting a great example 🙂

Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

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Agnes

Dear Carly, this post seems as good an opportunity as any to just let you know that I love your blog. Although I am at a different stage in life (married with two kids) and older than you, I love following your blog and see what you wear, read what you write and get inspired by you. I think it shows that a lot of work and love and effort goes into your posts – so I just wanted to thank you for that! Thank you for sharing. Agnes

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Emily

This post speaks to me on so many levels! I am so inspired by what you’re doing here that I plan to start documenting my outfits daily to see if I can figure out my style. So often I’ve fallen for fads that are really not flattering, or just aren’t true to my style. I also love that you are challenging yourself to create new outfits using pieces from your existing wardrobe – its such a great way to get the most wear out of your closet, and save some money while still creating new outfits! I can attest that I have yet to be bored with any outfits you’ve posted – they are all so fun and inspiring!

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Nele

Hi Carly!

First of all: Greetings from Germany! I have loved reading your blog for the past months and I am certain that I will love it even more in the future! (You are only getting better and better, when you were already the best to begin with!)

Second: Do you think you’d ever do a “Reacting to and/or recreating my old outifts” video on your YouTube channel? I think it would be so fun to know what you’re thinking about some of your old outfits, especially since (like you said in the post) your style has changed!

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Rachel

I love this! I’m about your age and I am going through similar things. I’ve come to accept that I am probably best described as classic/preppy/New-englander and that is perfectly fine with me. I am happiest when I feel like my personality can show through in my outfit, and if others think Lilly Pulitzer or whatever else I come up with is over the top, thats ok. I also own enough navy striped shirts to wear one every day of the week. That is just me!

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Malinda

I love your style because most of your outfits could have been worn four years ago, and they’ll probably still be stylish four years from now. Classic and timeless pieces that will never go out of style make you look put together and sophisticated, even if it’s a casual outfit.
Cheers,
Malinda
https://pearlspinotandparmesan.blogspot.com/

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Ally Stuart | The Bombshell Bard

I couldn’t agree with you more about the impact of documenting outfits as a way to nail down what kinds of clothes are ‘you’. I’ve been doing it for a while (a few months) on Instagram and it’s helped me to realize what pieces I wear over and over, what shapes I like, and which pieces in my closet aren’t necessarily ‘me’ anymore.

Do you find that it’s easiest to mix up the ‘trendy’ stuff when it comes to accessories? I tend to wear the same outfits with different jewelry or brooches to mix it up, so I thought I’d ask.

Kudos to you for shopping your own closet!

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Eva

I really enjoy your style and though it’s not what I choose to wear, I think it suits you perfectly. You’re completely reasonable in your thoughts about buying, I think the need to buy new things all the time has gotten ridiculous, wasteful and unrealistic. Better to have great pieces that last, don’t contribute to the massive waste of cheaply made clothing, and things that you’ll wear for years.

Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

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Tiffany

My personal style is definitely classic with an (overly heavy) emphasis on navy. I thought I had my style locked in until I became a mama six months ago. Now nothing fits the same way and with nursing/pumping, shift dresses simply aren’t practical. I’m in the process of re-evaluating my wardrobe to better accommodate my new role as an older mom.

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Bianca

Love this! I love searching your blog/instagram for outfit inspiration- it’s nice to see a blogger who wears everyday outfits that people can actually wear!

Thanks!
Bianca

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Amelia

I definitely am in an awkward “lost my style” phase right now. I was confident in my style in high school, and then figured out my own “big kid” style by the end of college… now I’m in the middle of figuring out how to style myself at work and at home as an adult. I appreciate your honesty, and I’ve loved watching your style morph!

Amelia
http://www.workandwhatshewore.com

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Erin

Carly,

What a great post! I personally don’t mind at all when bloggers show outfits with “old” clothes or things that aren’t available to purchase. It definitely serves as inspiration to me to dig in my own closet and see what might work in a similar way. Giving new life to those things that may have been overlooked or forgotten. We have very similar styles so I always look forward to seeing what you put together.

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Danielle

I think “style” is something that your encounter everyday (and not just fashion!) I’ve always been drawn to your blog because you have such timeless style! It is hard to not get drawn into the trends, especially if they last for 6+ months. I’ll find myself hating a trend at first and then 6 months later completely loving it! I’m not sure if this shows how much trends can influence us or how anything can be made a classic.

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Shayna

This post explains so much of why I love your blog! I was just telling my husband (literally less than an hour ago) that even though my style isn’t 100% the same as yours, I actually get so much more inspiration from you than from other bloggers because you stick to a style that’s YOU and don’t just post any new “it” item because everyone else does. And I LOVE that you rewear items again and again. It definitely proves what pieces “normal people” (i.e. non bloggers, people with limited budgets, etc.) should invest in! And I love that even after all these years (I’ve been following for almost 8 years!) you haven’t sold out and started posting only ridiculously expensive items “normal people” can’t afford.

P.s. It’s kinda funny that when I start rambling about “something Carly said” without further context, my husband automatically knows I’m talking about you! Lol.

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