Personal Style for the Anti-Trendy

In which we face a conundrum…

Personal style is a tricky thing, especially when you draw from non-fashion sources. Nearly every post I’ve read about determining one’s personal style recommends deferring to your favorite fashion icon. But what if your fashion icons are all fictional or fantasy characters?

Dear friends, that is my problem. Here’s a little inspo block:

And my inspo page for fall/ winter 2016:

See? Nary a real person. So how am I to translate the characters’ fantasy style into everyday garments?

I should note that you can apply your inspirations to fashion from just about anywhere – architecture, art, science, etc. (check out blueprints for sewing’s architecture-inspired patterns, for example).

Things like color and silhouette can easily be adopted into a wardrobe. For me it’s about subtlety. To the average person, I want my fictional references to go unnoticed.

The main point is how the garment makes me feel. And wearing certain clothes can make you feel differently. They embolden and empower, or make you feel lovely and calm. I like to use my wardrobe as a versatile set of status buffs (for non-gamers, “buffs” are akin to spells or potions that affect the user positively).

The theory is: If I feel confident, I will act confidently. If I feel powerful, I will act powerfully.

Take the fall winter inspo page- my choices were based on what “buffs” I anticipate needing in the near future. This year has been one of standing up for myself, so my inspo page was based on female strength and power.

One of my two chosen characters is Khaleesi. I love her outfits and her attitude. But I cant walk around in a loincloth dress like her, now can I? So instead, I’m making a long blue cardigan and kid gloves. Earlier this year, I made a test version (totally wearable, yay!) of the Safran pants in a very Khaleesi-esque fabric, reminiscent of her leggings. I can’t wait to wear the whole outfit.

{ Side note: My other character choice is Lao Ma, from the show Xena. I chose her for her famous philosophy (which the show borrowed from a real life philosopher, Tao Te Ching), “to conquer others is to have power, to conquer yourself is to know the way”. She’s got this ultra-serene presence but she’s a deadly fighter.}

You can also use color and color combinations to pay homage to a certain character. I have a green dress with a pink bow (DD Bleuet) ala Sailor Jupiter.

Pink & Green Thunder

My second pair of Safran pants are brown with blue top stitching – a color scheme I stole from Ash of the Evil Dead movies. (Side note: I wore those pants with a button up shirt to Thanksgiving and my husband said I looked like Westworld’s Delores – bonus!!)

Ash and Delores

Essentially, the key is to find the usable elements from your inspo, whatever they may be, and incorporate them as best you can, even if you’re the only person who recognizes your references. I feel like it adds a little secret touch to my clothes that make me feel true to myself and gives an extra boost.

The Embarrassing Blouse

In which a blouse unearths some internal misogyny.

I was excitedly impatient to make a new blouse, so I pulled out a light-weight voile with bright little flowers over a blue-gray background, that was originally purchased to make a camisole. A camisole nobody would see. 

The pattern, Aierelle, is from one of my favorite designers – Deer and Doe. Their patterns have a marvelous touch of whimsy and fit me really well. Recently, they added a “hack” to create short sleeves to the Airelle blouse and I knew I had to make it! So I pulled out the flowery voile and some solid pink voile I used to make my Mother a nightdress. Together, I had enough to craft a blouse that had a contrasting pink yoke with the brunt of the blouse being flowery.

Airelle is a relatively easy blouse to sew – the hardest part is gathering the sleeves to fit within the sleeve cuffs. I had a relaxing time of it and expected to be thoroughly pleased with the final product. And I was.

Until I tried it on.

Looking in the mirror at my flower-and-pink blouse with it’s little Peter Pan collar and gathered sleeves, I suddenly got really embarrassed. All I could think was, “it’s so…girly. How will anyone take me seriously in this?”. So I pulled it off, hung it in the closet and sulked to bed.

Just because something is generally deemed feminine or girly doesn’t mean it’s embarrassing. It’s such a crucial tenant of feminism – that being a woman, being femme, is OK.

Even knowing that, believing that, I felt self-conscious.

It’s strange how certain ideas creep so deeply into our minds, subverting what we believe, cutting the legs out from under independent thought.

So I wore it to work the next day. And guess what? I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. Once the blouse was on my body, once I started moving though my day, once I had filled it with my energy, I didn’t care that it was girly. I didn’t care that I’m NOT girly. I became one with the shirt. The shirt became one with me.

It’s difficult to shake the deeply seated notion that girly things are shameful. In the end, you have to wear what you like (and isn’t that what sewing is all about?). You have to assert your true being. For me, that’s a mix of the masculine and feminine. It’s wearing a pink-and-flowers blouse with confidence and pride. We can conquer our own insecurities -if only one blouse at a time.