24 Jun 2013

Signature Style

Cinemagraph - Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

What is signature style? Is it something we grow in to… or is it a look that has always been ours?

Style and signature style aren’t one and the same, in my mind at least… Style encompasses every facet of our lives and can manifest itself in both tangible and intangible expressions… Signature style, the concept I am thinking about…. is the way we appear, the way we dress ourselves… our presentation to the rest of the world…

I believe we develop into our ‘signature’… that it morphs and changes over the years… it grafts itself onto our beings and moulds the way we look at not only fashion but also ourselves.

My sense of style has had as many re-incarnations as Nefertiti… my signature style is now starting to find it’s feet and I notice that there is a pattern over these past years that spell ‘signature’. When I was younger my style was a creature of split personality… everything was possible. One week it would be one fashion and the next week another…

A lot of this is to do with knowing who I am, what I like and what suits me… it’s also about what makes me feel myself and makes me feel good. Signature style is a visual description, an instant snapshot of what you are about. Think about your friends… isn’t there something that comes to mind about the way they dress that immediately spells ‘them’? When I think of my favourite style icons… they all have their own signatures… their special fonts… their hand crafted messages…

Signature style finds a language of it’s own… ‘that’s so me’… ‘I could never wear that’… ‘I have to have that’… Those expressions that are so familiar to us and that we say without thinking. Whenever I am searching online for our fashion posts… those questions are the ones I’m asking… especially the ones about whether I could, or indeed whether I would wear that certain something. That’s my rule… and I suppose that has become my ‘signature style’…

Cinemagraph - Jamie Beck Kevin Burg

How do we write our signatures?

I am lucky, it has always been easy for me… I have been blessed with that ability to instantly know if something is for me or not. Don’t ask me how or why… I just know… It might not always work out… but in my mind it’s clear. My taste is never diluted with shades of grey… I am truly black and white when it comes to style decisions. I am not always right… my opinions are certainly not the only ones that count… but for me, the answers are clear.

A friend called me the other night and asked me to help her with necklaces… which one was ‘the one’… she was umming and arring over the selections… I looked and in less than seconds I told her my choices… ( you can see them here) She found it baffling that I could decide so quickly and definitively. As I said… I’m fortunate like that.

My signature style is based on knowing what I love. That is the first and most important point to creating your signature style… Knowing what you like.

Make a point of understanding your body shape and what suits it, what is flattering. That is something that has changed for me over the years… and truthfully, between us… this is not a happy but necessary adjustment. Those days are long gone when I would look at a magazine or in a shop window and all that I had to consider was the price and whether it, ‘had my name on it’… These days it’s more about what likes me as opposed to me liking it… The attractions are not always mutual…

One of the reasons why handbags, shoes and accessories are so much a part of our signature style is because we can really express ourselves with these items… despite height, weight and shape.

Accept your body shape, be confident with that image and a signature look will be forthcoming.

Lifestyle is a big determiner of ‘signature style’… Are you a tailored type, a sporty girl… do you have an artistic spirit or a bohemian bent? Is the office your playground or the country your turf? All these elements will effect your choices and will, without you knowing, effect your style.

I think I have two signatures… one for the city when I am in London and one for the country when I am in France… rarely do my two wardrobes cross… although those principles of knowing what I like and what suits me still applies.

The major influences in your life define your signature style. The role models who have shaped your upbringing… Are you a child of the ’60’s 70’s or 80’s? Were you singing away to Abba all blonde and dressed in white… or were you a rocker type with a crush on Bono? Did you pour over fashion magazines? Did you watch endless movies… where the fashion was the star and the plot only the chorus?

Our families shape our signatures… we either go with them or rebel against them… we might not think they are great influencers… but either way, they are.

Cinemagraph - Jamie Beck Kevin Bur

Signature Wish List

Eddie Borgo Rose Gold Bracelet… I’m never without a bangle or two…

 I am a woman who waxes and wanes between a heel, an ankle boot and a loafer…

Christian Louboutin     Isabel Marant     Jimmy Choos

 

I can’t resist a tote… it’s my bag of the moment…

all colours… slouchy… soft… deep… a home away from home…

 

Joseph Laurent Long Line Blazer… A black blazer… my ‘go to’ worn with skinny jeans…

Marc Jacobs Jaguar Print Scarf… I have always worn scarves since I can remember and it is one of the accessories that make me feel like me…

 

For those days when my ‘signature’  really needs a lift…

Bobbi Brown Burnt Red Lip Colour  … however tired or overwrought… a dash of red brightens my spirits…

and because they cover a multitude of multitudes…

Illesteva Glasses…

 

Have you defined your signature look? Let’s chat…  xv

 

Images via Cinemagraph, Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

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36 Comments

Nancie Bartley

Great post. Especially loved the first picture that didn’t move at first….totally freaked me out because I did ot realize it was a video. My morning wake up!
Definitely have a signature now. Had it when I was younger but didn’t always stay true to it. And it evolves.
Finding I love my accessories even more now since they always fit! I have one bracelet (silver cuff) that has been on my wrist for 40 years-others come and go but this one is a constant. Right now it has four friends and I clink and clank and don’t care.im closing in on sixty so Im allowed to make a little noise.
Also have a bead necklace that I’ve been wearing the same amount of time. It has been in style, out of style, restrung, but mostly just worn. It always seems to pull an outfit together and the fact that it is so ME seems to elevate it beyond whether it is “fashionable”.
Love your outlook.

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Karen Albert

Dear Vicki, one of my cousins just a few years older helped to shape my style. She reminded me of Audrey Hepburn who is another icon I adore. I used to be more crisply classic, now I also can be casually elegant; read: sheer tunics over jeans, maxis for spring and summer etc. Fall and winter are still more tailored, yet with sweaters instead of shirts. Comfortable has become the key!

xoxo
Karena
Enchanted Home Giveaway!

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Vicki

I cofess I don’t always dress for supreme comfort… but much more than I used to! :)

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Jacqueline

Hi Vicki,
Well, I know exactly what I like and have always been the same ….. slightly edgy and usually black !!!!
I have also learned to trust my own judgement and not listen to friends too much. They always have my best interests at heart but often say something is right for me because they can’t wear it. It’s done with the best intentions but it can prove to be a mistake.
I am lucky that I know what I like as I have a few friends who haven’t yet found their style and get into a real pickle when it comes to shopping for clothes.
Happy shopping Vicki ….. I’m stuck to the sofa watching Wimbledon !!!! XXXX

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lisa thomson

I go between sporty and feminine. Little to no office attire for me. My hobbies dictate my casual wardrobe as well. I love anything tomboy chic. Simplicity. But when I’m collecting pieces for my wardrobe I know instantly when I see something that it’s ‘me’. Still, I make mistakes once in a while and wonder why did I buy that? Thanks for the inspiration, Vicki!

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Vicki

We all make mistakes with our wardrobes and if we didn’t it wouldn’t be much fun…:) The trick is not to make expensive ones… ;)
I am more inclined to spend money on ‘investment’ pieces these days as opposed to one season wonders… I think I am a much better winter than summer shopper…

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Kathy

Did you realize that Joseph blazer is midnight blue? I also thought it was black, but when I read the “details” it said it’s blue. I’ve been “eyeing” it as well. Great post and a lot to think about.

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Vicki

It looked more black than blue to me… and I do like that inky black… It’s just one of my favourite shapes… :) And one of the most flattering, I think…

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Karen in CT

.. yes, knowing what we look best in is key … years ago I bought the Bonnie August “Dress Thin System” book, and it was an EYE OPENER … after that it was easy to tailor my style to what worked per her formulas.

But still we make mistakes .. I try to keep them in mind for future shopping.

Good post … your first picture is the charming Bill Cunningham snapping photos … he is such a style icon … if you haven’t seen the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York” it must be rented, I saw it on Netflix. I used to talk to him every morning at the deli in our building when he came in for breakfast. Then off he would go on his bike to snap NYC sidewalk fashion. His photos appear in the NY Times on Sunday.

Best wishes for a good week …

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Gigi Thibodeau

My signature style has changed with age and with a huge shift in my lifestyle. I work from home now, so I dress more casually most days. In fact, I spend so much time on Skype with my writing clients that I have many more wonderful tops and sweaters than I do slacks and skirts. I have become a blue jean girl most days, or cropped linen pants–simple and easy. The other influence is moving back to coastal Maine, which is a very casual, very practical kind of place. Style here is decidedly LL Bean. While my own personal style has a funkier edge (after all, I was a punk rock/new wave girl in the 80’s complete with asymmetrical shaved hair), I do tend to wear a lot of navy and cream sailor stripe tops with capri jeans and clogs on Converses. When I dress up, it’s usually simple black dresses combined with vintage scarves and lots of silver bangles–always white metals for me. I’d say my signature style is casual, layered, and quite simple. I almost never wear patterns, except stripes. Instead, I let accessories do most of the work.

Thanks for this post, Vicki! It’s not only fun to think about, it’s a good idea to consider and assess our own style choices from time to time. Some of what worked for me 10 years ago, definitely would not work now. On the other hand, I feel freer with my color choices than I did back in the days when almost everything in my closet was black! :)

xo Gigi

P.S. I love that Bill Cunningham clip! Like Karen, I greatly enjoyed the documentary, too.

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Vicki

It sounds as if you, like me Gigi have had many reincarnations… :)
The fashions i have followed and the hair colours I have worn… I am very happy that these days I am more relaxed and know my style!

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PattyM

My look is defined by a white top – a crisp white shirt (collar turned up, of course, and sleeves rolled up) for the office, a magic white t-shirt for casual, and occasionally a sheer, ruffled organza top for evening. Of course the crisp white shirt can also do double duty with a full length red silk taffeta skirt. My signature has always been classic, quality pieces, and I suspect it always will be. Now that I’m more mature, I am much more comfortable with that look and do not have to constantly shop for the latest style. What a relief.

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Marie Angelique

Great question. My signature style has remained the same thanks to a mother of French heritage. Always keep it classic and simple. I have a few trendy pieces to keep it fun, but for the most part I am a black and white person. Always look for quality fabrics. A crisp white linen blouse is a signature for me. Definitely a loafers and ballerina slippers type of girl. I love that I found a kindred tote bag sister! :)

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Vicki

Yes… I have a serious crush on the tote! They are so practical for me… with all the gear I carry around… they are perfect… :)

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Jean Bragg

Hello Vicki;This posting was most thought provoking.What is my signature?Do I know as I approach seventy in a couple of years?It is a life long journey,including accepting myself as I am.To tell the truth I am getting much more enjoyment out of my style than I did as a young woman.Classic lines,white shirts(one can never have too many!)navy blue and other shades of blue….this is much less draining on my skin tone.Love black,so it will have to be skirts,pants,shoes and bags.And I came to this conclusion only recently.I am a Minimalist at heart,so the idea of a 10 item wardrobe appeals.In my view,accessories (shoes,scarves,bags,jewels)don’t count in the 10 items.That’s what makes it possible to wear 10 items.
Loved the video.It made me jump when it started to move.
Thank you for your amazing blog.

Jean

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Vicki

Accessories can’t count in the ten… that would make life very dull… and I think we all agree there, Jean…
I often think navy is underrated… I just bought a navy dress and I am really enjoying the change from all black… it’s only a subtle difference… but it’s there… :)

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Lorrie

I’ve been frustrated at not being able to determine my style. Then I realized that I had one, I just hadn’t defined it. Well-fitted, casually elegant. Good fabrics. I’m working on refining it a little – adding the accessories that really finish things off. My lifestyle is casual, but I don’t want to run around in blue jeans all day long. And I’ve learned that the way I walk and carry myself can add a lot to my clothing, or horribly detract from it. Great post, Vicki.

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Vicki

Posture can make or break… I am always trying to remind myself of that… not always easy though… :)

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Mary Jo

This was so beautifully and thoughtfully written Vicki. It’s interesting, I’ve always had certain signature pieces since my early 20s — things that now feel a bit like comfort food, and like you, also experimented with other looks when I was young. I think the difference now is that I’m less concerned with surprising others and more about finding something amid all my expected choices that surprises me–like my newly acquired taste for a fitted bandage dress. That to me is where the fashion fun really comes in :)
xo Mary Jo

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Vicki

Surprising ourselves with fashion is the most fun of all, Mary-Jo…
I think my shoe taste definitely gets more adventurous, the older I get… :)

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Heather in Arles

I too loved this post and have really enjoyed reading the comments–these French Essence women know their style, don’t they??

My lifestyle has changed so much but there are still signature things that apply even for walking the dogs: white shirts in summer, cashmere sweaters in winter. Lots of silver jewelry in summer, big boots in winter. Leopard…all year round! :)

But the shapes of the bottoms have definitely changed…le sigh…I ran into a friend recently who was wearing a pencil skirt that I had given her and I thought “how did I ever fit into that???”

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Vicki

France has been too generous, Heather… giving those unwanted pounds! ;)
Still… I could learn the word, “NO”… but somehow, it seems to get trapped in my throat and comes out as a “YES” !

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Garden, Home and Party

Vicki,
I was just having a discussion with a couple of friends about this topic. We concluded so many of the same points you’ve shared. We also decided that our style has become so much clearer to us as we’ve gotten older. :D
Karen

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Jan Graham-McMillen

It seems to me that the most notable “signature’ styles maintain a consistent element or two that serves to anchor every presentation. Whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a fragrance, an identifiable design element, what makes it interesting is it’s deliberate use. Signature to me always imply thoughtful dressing. That’s always interesting!

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24/7 in France

I think how we carry ourselves defines our signature style, which can make or break what we actually wear/put on. Thanks for the interesting post.

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Cathy Wong

Thanks for this especially great post! I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot for awhile now….(hopefully not over thinking it-as I suspect that would work against the whole thing) maybe because I’ve just turned 50…
I’ve been enjoying the comments too-everyone has had something insightful for me to consider! Lorrie’s comment sums me up completely.
I think for me it is now knowing myself, and what I really like….not just what i “should” like based on trends and advertising.
Cathy (Nova Scotia, Canada–where style is generally just as Gigi described of Maine!)

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Darlene

Great article. What’s your signature style?? Do you have one? I sit here pondering that question about myself and the interesting thing is I can honestly say that once upon a time I did indeed have a signature sytle. I would have called it soft, romantic sophistication. :-) However, at this very moment, I’m not sure if I still have a signature style. I love the Boho look but don’t often wear it. I still love romantic and sophisticated but don’t always wear it. My style is kind of all over the place these days — as is my life, or at least my emotional life.
Ummm, is it fair to say then, that my “style” mimics my life?? Yes, seems that way over the past few years. So, as I move towards taking my life back — making it my own again — I’ll regain my “Signature Style.” That style may be new, may be old, or possibly something in the middle. :-)

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