This has been an interesting blog post to write because most people I know can attest to the fact that I have had a checkered past when it comes to my apparel choices. These poor decisions have been evidenced in the past when I described my style as one that makes me look like “an extra in a searing documentary on the mistreatment of Walmart towards its employees” or when I pointed out how much I used to favor “Wrangler jeans, [a] button-down rodeo shirt, and cowboy boots.” If those two quotes don’t make you realize how bad my style has been, you should probably find a personal stylist.
You’d think that I would have recognized how poorly I was dressing sometime in high school or college, but I didn’t until it became glaringly obvious upon moving to Ohio to begin my job as an admission counselor. And it was there that I began my “style evolution,” which can be broken down into three parts.
Part 1 | The H&M Shirts
The guys I moved in with all had impeccable style, and I was quickly learning that mine was fine for a social recluse but was nowhere near where it needed to be for a young professional. So I did what anyone in my place would do: I went shopping. *cue the montage*
I’d like to say that it was at this point in 2016 that my style evolved into something worthy of gracing the pages of GQ, but that would be a gross misrepresentation. My shopping excursion consisted of me going to H&M to buy the same long sleeve, button-down shirt in five different solid colors. Yep, I was going wild. It was a huge step up over what I previously had to wear to work (a southwestern-themed button-down shirt and baggy khaki pants), but there was still significant room for improvement.
Part 2 | Patterns, Patterns, Patterns
I wore those H&M shirts until they were threadbare, and it was at the point when I was ready to replace them that I finally sought help (albeit subtly). I was talking with my roommate, Adam, one night and casually mentioned that I needed to go clothes shopping the following day. I brought this up because I greatly admired his style and was hoping that he would offer to assist me in my pursuit of dressing better. My hints paid off because he soon offered to tag along to give me some advice.
This turned out to be the first time I experimented with patterns because up until that point, aside from the various Native American prints I wore, I stayed away from anything patterned. This stemmed from a lack of understanding when it came to matching colors and patterns, but Adam was quick to eliminate this hurdle for me.
We went to a nearby outlet mall, and it was there that he introduced me to J Crew’s patterned button-downs. Adam taught me which patterns/colors would match the chinos I had purchased, and the experience opened my eyes to a whole new world of clothing options. The clothes I purchased there and the knowledge I gained has carried my professional style; however, this summer I finally admitted that I desperately needed help with my casual wardrobe.
Part 3 | Wait, I should dress nice outside of work too?
I wouldn’t say that I was entirely void of style when it came to my casual attire, but my slip-on Sketchers and unflattering t-shirts were starting to seem a bit unfortunate every time I looked in the mirror. So I called up my stylish friend Hannah and said that I would buy her Starbucks if she went clothes shopping with me. She, knowing how unfortunate my style was, readily agreed to help.
Side note about Hannah: she is one of those people whose effortless style is mostly comprised of the coolest thrift store finds, and this, combined with her time spent living in Seattle, has set her lightyears ahead when it comes to fashion. Because of this, I knew she was the person who would be more than capable of helping me define my casual style.
We met at a second-hand store and immediately got to work looking for radically different clothing from what I ordinarily wore. After finding a few pieces that she referred to as “staples” for my wardrobe, we drove to a nearby mall. It was there that I continued purchasing pieces of clothing that I would never have chosen without her encouragement. They included jean shorts, green joggers, white Vans, black jeans, and a plethora of neutral colored t-shirts.
I came home after the shopping trip feeling inspired to dress better and excited to see how I could take the many pieces purchased throughout the day to combine them into different outfits. (Mostly) gone was the frumpy person I’d previously dressed as, and in its place stood a somewhat trendy version of me.
So there you have it, a brief history of my clothing evolution. If I were to define my style, I would say that I am not an exceptionally stylish individual; however, various people who have been gracious enough to help me out have shown me ways to dress well. And honestly, that is good enough for me.