Category5Style.com is a fabulous online fashion experience dedicated to truth in fashion, shopping, and all things style. Lauren is dedicated to giving women all the tools they need to come away with an insightful, honest, and humorous look at where their style truly resides.
By Lauren Deloach, Editor of Category5Style.com
It was a circumstance that was never meant to happen. A chance encounter, that built the foundation for this week’s column. Out at a local mall rushing to a meeting with a client, I took a quick detour to the closest women’s restroom I could find. Just as I was looking for a napkin to dry my hands, a woman in the restroom stopped me and complimented me on my boots. One compliment turned into an entire conversation, in which the woman began laying out for me all her style struggles. Knee deep in menopause and 10 pounds heavier, she had lost her way in the world of style. From her hair whose color had grown out past her temples, to her tattered and withered bag that had seen better days, she was most certainly a lost style soul.
She asked me question after question. “Where do I go to get a good color and cut for very little money?” “I’ve gained weight in my mid-section and now have no clue what to wear with a belly in play. What do I do?” “Should I be wearing prints or solids?” She fired her questions off, and they were all good ones. I quickly realized that I was dealing with a woman with no clear direction on where to take her style. But more than anything, what stood out was the fact that she was in the store, at the mall, still looking for answers. She still had hope that her perfect style was on the horizon, waiting to be discovered. As we closed our impromptu and unexpected style exchange, I handed her my card and told her to email me anytime with questions. She revealed that she had no computer at home, and no internet, but that she would try her best to make it to her local library to email me when she felt unsure of her next style step. No matter her lack of resources, this chick was hopeful, and that hope got my mind ticking. For all the women out there totally lost in their style, how many really know where to begin? As even one chick lost is one too many, let’s cover a couple tips on how to find your way.
“Leg work” The idea of doing style research can seem like a funny notion, but it is truly the key to uncovering your own perfect style. You have to do your research. What that woman in the restroom knew more than anything is that she would get nowhere on her journey if she never took a single step. She was in the store, ready to find something fabulous. If you don’t take the time to walk the stores or scour the internet, you will never truly discover what you like versus don’t. Now, I’m not talking about going to the same goofy websites you currently go to and buying the same nonsensical looks you secretly loathe in the first place. I’m not talking about looking at the model wearing the look and saying you’re too old for this or not fab enough for that. I’m talking about really looking in different places and keeping an open mind. You want to find a fabulous tunic top? Get online and search “tunic top.” Websites like shopstyle.com are a great starting point. No internet? Lean on your local stores for inspiration. This brings me to tip #2!
“Go big or go home?” I am a true fan of this saying as its applicability feels endless, except for when making a case for shopping beginners. If you are just getting started on your style journey, or hoping to revamp your style, do not start off by shopping in large department stores. Bottom line, there are too many options. You will quickly find yourself turning in circles and getting dizzy from all the prints here and ruffles there. No question by the time you actually make it back to the dressing room, you’ll hate EVERYTHING! Focus on stores that are selling only their brand (think J.Crew store/Kate Spade boutique), or small boutiques carrying a limited amount of designers. This will narrow the choices and make it much easier for you to keep a clear mind, which is needed when making purchase decisions. Clouded judgment is the root cause of “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.” When trying to figure out if you’re even in the right store, your most reliable indicator is the sales associate walking the floor. In boutique environments, there is typically a policy in place that the associate is to wear what’s sold in the store. They are meant to be living proof that style does exist. The question is whether or not their said style is a ship you want to board or jump! Look at them. Is their style fabulous? Are you loving what they’re wearing? If you aren’t coveting at least 50% of their look, you’re in the wrong store and it’s time to take your business elsewhere. For all those that would argue whether or not it’s fair to judge a brand by the associate wearing it, the answer is AB-SO-LUTE-LY yes! It is their job to sell a style ideal worth buying into. If you aren’t convinced on first sight, don’t let them get you back to the dressing room with an armful of clothes for your present and a wrecked shopping confidence for your future. This concept is simple, and proven through the bathroom encounter. It was my outfit that caught the woman’s attention in the bathroom first, as I had not uttered a word prior to that moment. If the associates can’t capture your attention on first glance, leave the store and wait to find one whose associates inspire your style and clothing sold move your mind. Even if you only find one store locally that speaks to where you are, one is better than none!
Cheers to the chick (and more that remain) with the tattered bag…
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.