Shopping can be overwhelming. Thrift store shopping even more so. You have to wade through a lot of junk. But if you have an idea of your own personal style it can make shopping at thrift stores or anywhere else a lot easier. Below are three questions to help you figure out who your style icons are. An icon is a symbol or thing regarded as a representative of something. In the Christian faith people often have icons of certain saints to remind them of qualities they want to emulate. One of my friends has an icon of the Holy Trinity sitting at a table that reminds him that he is always invited to the table with them to enjoy their friendship.
At the risk of being irreverent, here is my trinity of fashion iconography- the women in the back of my mind that are always with me no matter where I’m shopping. They bid me, “Come dear. Let us look fabulous together.”
Finding your fashion icons is about how you are actually built- not what you think you should look like or what you wish you looked like. I have a curvy figure, just like Marilyn. I love that she is sensuous, has child-like joy, and knew what looked good on her body. And she wasn’t afraid to wear the clothes that flattered her curves or color her hair is dazzling platinum. Coloring my hair in a similar shade and cutting it almost four years ago actually was a liberating experience for me- I felt more like myself. When I shop, I look for retro styles that are an homage to Marilyn that channel these things in my own style- body conscious skirts, jeans and tops that flatter, not hide my curves.
Question 1: What is your body type? Again- not the type you wish you were or think you should be, but the type you actually are. If you have no idea, check out Real Simple’s shopping guide for your body type- they consistently have helpful advice in figuring out the best styles for your size and shape. And this will give you an idea of the kinds of things for you to look for when you go thrifting!
The t.v show married with children ran from 1987-1997 during the time when I was hitting adolescence and the character Peggy Bundy was emblazoned into my psyche of what it meant to be a woman. Though Christina Applegate should have been the style inspiration for this child of the 1980’s, I loved Peggy’s irreverence to rock leopard print cigarette pants as a housewife, get all dolled up to vacuum, and coif her hair into a bouffant retro style. She somehow embodied a feminist spirit as a domestic woman- choosing to be a homemaker, yet not fitting in the mold AT ALL. When I shop I look for animal print, especially leopard print, bold bright colors, funky jewelry and yes, high heels.
Question 2: Whose style do you consistently love that has a similar frame to you? If you have an idea of someone who has a similar body type to you and you like their style it gives you insight into what you’ll look good in. I’m petite so I always go for 3/4 length sleeves and scoop or v-neck tops- other cuts just weigh me down and make me look frumpy. Just because a color, cut or print of something is popular doesn’t mean it will flatter you. Ask yourself before you go thrifting- what colors look great on you? What prints do you like? What cuts of clothing flatter you? This helps you determine what to try on and what to avoid.
Yes friends, Ms. Piggy is one of the women I count as a fashion icon. She chose her outfit carefully for EVERYTHING- from maniacally chasing down Kermit in roller-skates in Central Park in The Muppets take Manhattan to wearing a feather boa and evening gown to sing a solo on The Muppet Show. Ms. Piggy lives life with gusto, plowing through obstacles and piling on the bling while doing so. She makes me wish evening gloves would make a comeback. When I shop I remember that I need outfits for lots of different things- to preach on a Sunday morning, to go out with my girlfriends, to lounge in after I’ve put in a hard-days work. Context determines style and Ms. Piggy is the master of the right outfit for the right occasion. I also am always scoping out bling. I am an accessory junkie because putting some jewelry, a scarf or shoes with an old outfit can make it look completely new and different.
Question 3: How do you use accessories? Do you wear the same jewelry with every outfit? The saying “everything old is new again” is so true in thrifting. I typically find the same jewelry that is retro or vintage at thrift stores that is now sold at Target or Charming Charlie as “the latest style.” If you feel nervous about accessories- jewelry, shoes or scarves, ask a friend to help you out. Accessories are one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to change up your style without taking a big risk or spending a lot of money on something you’ll never wear again.
Your Turn: Has this given you an idea of your style icons? Let me help you! I’ve had tons of fun doing this with girlfriends to help them figure out their signature style, what to look for in thrift stores and what colors, cuts or prints inspires them.
If you leave a comment below answering the question: “what piece of clothing makes you feel stylish?” It doesn’t matter if it’s trendy- if it fits you, you’ll feel stylish and confident in it! By next Thursday 5/22 at noon EST I will randomly choose one reader to have a 20-minute consultation (either phone, Skype or in person if you’re local in Cleveland) to help you figure out YOUR style icon.
Put my three icons together and you’ve got a mom in a leopard print sweater, bright red jeans hanging out at her in-laws watching her 1-year old play or going to a work meeting with colleagues and speaking to a group of 300 students. Color, a print I love and bright accessories = channeling my style icons.