In a previous post, I mentioned that everyone has a style. Your style communicates volumes to other people. There is no such thing as lacking style. It’s there. Many people showcase a style that doesn’t suit them. If you are one of those people, you may be committing one of these style sins.

woman-looking-in-mirrorNot Knowing Your Style

I like to play a little game where I guess other people’s style type. It’s great at parties. Most people can’t define their style in one or two words. Once I throw my guess out there, they usually nod their heads in agreement. I have given their style a category. We like categories. Our brains function best that way.

Even if you lack knowledge in fashion jargon, you should be able to describe your style in concrete terms. If you can’t, you most likely have no idea what style you convey. There are two reasons for this. Some people throw caution to the wind and test out every trend available, hoping something sticks to the wall. Other people are so frustrated, they’ve given up, selecting the non-style route. Remember, non-style classifications don’t exist. Throwing on whatever still fits in your closet from 10 years ago is still a style.

Trying to Hard

I observed an ordinarily lovely woman in her mid-forties prancing around a restaurant in clothing that was way too tight and way too young. I get it. She looks good for her age. Correction. She would look good if she wore more age-appropriate clothing.

Clothes are not a form of self-help.

Wearing younger styles does not erase the creases on one’s face. It communicates that you want to be viable in a world you feel is leaving you behind.

Wearing overtly sexy clothing all the time does not make one sexy. It communicates that your only asset is sex.

Cramming your body into a smaller size does not make you skinny. It communicates that you are insecure about a season of your life.

Overall, it communicates that you are are trying too hard to be something you may or may not be.

Taking Your Style Too Seriously

Every generation has a subset that disassociates itself from the fashion industry. They communicate their beliefs, values, and opinions with their style in a way that communicates a particular ideology. Remember grunge, anyone? I do. I was one of those people. Grunge. Goth. Hipster. Same rebellion, different style.

My intention is not to disparage particular styles. I still love Doc Martens. If you like it, wear it. But don’t stick to an all-black ensemble to communicate a point.

I see this with mothers all the time. Motherhood presents many stylistic challenges I can appreciate. Babies are messy. You’re trying to make peace with a post-baby body. This is the point at which your style does, and should, evolve.

The problem occurs when the child(ren) is 10 years old, and you let yourself go completely. Your style communicates martyrdom. You are more than a mother. Please don’t use the excuse that you are a mom, and you no longer matter. I understand finances are tight. This is why I created the blog in the first place.

Use your clothes as self-expression and not a visual representation of an ideology.

Incorporating Too Many Trends

Trendsetters showcase trends before it’s popular. Once those trends hit the market, the stores lure you in with promises of style.

Trendy is not the same as fashionable. Only embrace trends that look good on you. You don’t have to wear every single one.

Chevron maxi skirts are a good example of trends go awry. Only thin, tall women can pull this look off and only when paired with less dramatic pieces. It’s a lot of fabric and a lot of print. If you find yourself caught in the trend spiral, consider the next style mistake.

Dressing to Impress Other People

I mentioned this idea at length in another post. As women — and men — we concern ourselves with other people’s opinions way too much. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to impress a potential employer or partner. The desire to impress others becomes wrong when we find ourselves caught in the people-pleasing loop.

Betsey Johnson is fabulous. She designs beautiful clothes. Maybe you missed her on Dancing with the Stars or Project Runway: All Stars. Betsey has a very unique style. She loves color and pattern. Her style reflects fun. It’s apparent in interviews that she doesn’t care if others appreciate her style or not. She gives us inspiration — and permission, as if we needed it — to experiment with our style.

If your first reaction while looking in the mirror is to question if so-and-so will find it appropriate, you are stuck in the people-pleasing loop. If thinking about clothes and shopping creates anxiety or dread, focus on yourself before focusing on what’s in your closet.

Not Considering the Occasion

Society sets certain expectations of dress for specific occasions. We all have that one friend or relative that dresses inappropriately. They show up to interviews or funerals in club clothes. It’s not that they don’t own appropriate attire. They choose not to wear it, all while proclaiming they don’t care what other people think.

While we shouldn’t dress to impress other people, we should respect the standards in place for certain occasions. I will always wear a suit jacket to an interview or business event. It’s what is appropriate in my field. I never want to communicate disrespect. I can adapt my style to business situations. I love sweat pants, but I would never wear them to a business luncheon for the sake of showing my style or rebelling against social mores. Your style should accentuate your personality, not overshadow it.

Never Evolving

Style evolves. You evolve from one stage of life to another. Your style should reflect your personal evolution.

Somewhere down the line, we embraced a specific style or clothing item. It made us feel good. We associate it with a happy time in our lives.

But as we evolve and age, we need to let those items go. We should never have a personal attachment to clothes. Just as trying too hard communicates an unhealthy attachment to some sort of fleeting ideal, maintaining the same style for decades communicates the same.

I make many fashion decisions based on the realization that I am nearing 40 and will have to evolve as I age. My skin and hair will mature. I dress around health issues that I cannot control. Holding on to the past and dressing like I am 15 will not bring back my health and youth. It only reminds me that I am no longer as agile as I once was.

There is nothing wrong with predictability or consistency. Just don’t hold onto it with all your might. Life is neither predictable nor consistent. Change is indeed evident, my dear. Let your wardrobe cheerfully express your acceptance of these things.

Not Knowing Your Body

Body image is a tricky mistress. She is very hard to please. Few women — and increasingly men — are not a slave to body image problems. We don’t see ourselves in the proper light.

Maybe you have a pooch. Who doesn’t after 30? You can wear clothing that deemphasizes the pooch. The pooch still exists, of course. Tight-fitting or loose-fitting clothing does not conceal but rather emphasizes the area like a magnifying glass. What others may see as a pooch, we see as 15 pounds of excess weight. We obsess over it. Surely everyone else does too.

We can’t dress our bodies properly if we don’t see ourselves properly. We will avoid flattering styles, because, well, that looks good on you but would never work on me. We will settle for unflattering every time. Why? It reflects how we feel others see us. Style is a luxury afforded to those with waif-like waistlines.

What would happen if we dressed well? What if we looked, dare I say, pretty? What if all clothing isn’t cut for the 5’10” model? What if we dressed for the body we have?

If you have an overinflated sense of what we think we look like, you will dress to hide your body. This negatively affects your sense of style. It says “hey world, I’ve given up, because I don’t look like someone else.”

Author’s note: The exterior reflects the interior. Hopefully, you’ve noticed none of these style mistakes have to do with clothes. Retail therapy is a poor counselor. Once you address your inner style, you can address your outer style. Not before. Let your style reflect the confident, fabulous woman or man you are.