Donna was always dressed. She wore what was appropriate for the hour of the day. She dressed for dinner. She liked well-tailored boys’ suits. If you went to her room at four A.M.—she was an insomniac—you’d find her sitting at her desk, smoking a cigarette, wearing a perfectly pressed white shirt buttoned to the top, collar studs, trousers with a knife crease. —A former classmate on Donna Tartt
Style. The older I get the more I notice it. The more I obsess over it. The more I think about. What is it? Do I have it? Like charm, its elusive nature makes it as hard to understand as it does define. If it is what fashion designer Carolina Herrera believes: ‘style isn’t only what you wear, it’s what you project,’ then I guess, in a way, your style is your charm.
Yet I can’t help thinking I haven’t found my style yet. That my style, like my voice, has not yet matured. That I am still someone looking for an identity, still sharpening my sense of self, still looking out for the one thing that will make me complete.
“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”Diana Vreeland
Sometimes I tell myself that I’m waiting until I have enough money for the right clothes. Then I’ll have style. But then I realize that not having a ‘style’ is a style. That my casual jeans and t-shirts is a style in itself.
But what does my style say about me? One of my friends recently asked why I bothered wearing jeans during quarantine. I told her because jeans make me feel better. That I work better when I’m dressed better. My mind functions differently when I feel I look the part. I guess the way I dress, in part, reflects the way I want to feel.
So now I’m beginning to believe that style isn’t about how you dress, but why you dress. As Caitlin Moran said, When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.” Our styles reflect the lives we want to live. Dressing is a form of manifesting. The person you want to be. The life you want to live. The kind of people you want to attract.
If that’s true, if dressing is a form of manifesting, and style is a form of charm, then what can we learn from the fashion designers and style icons about it? What can the women who have made their lives around style teach us about it? In pouring over hundreds upon hundreds of quotes on fashion, style, clothes, trends, taste, I’ve noticed a trend. The best style advice is really just life advice. The way you dress should thread seamlessly into the way you live. And if you can blend the two, that’s when you’ll find your style.
Understand Your Strengths And Capitalize on Them
The older you get, the more you understand your strengths. You start making a career around those strengths and over time, become a professional. You’re the best at what you do and when you’re a professional in one field, it doesn’t matter what other fields you’re not in or what skills you don’t have. You’re hired and admired and paid for that one amazing thing you know how to do so well. Diana Vreeland said it best: “If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body & good carriage. You held your head high, & you were a beauty. You knew how to water-ski, & how to take a jet plane fast in the morning, arrive anywhere, & be anyone when you got off.”
The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.
— Coco Chanel
I think that there are so many women who understand nothing about clothes and they should try and understand themselves before they start putting on disguises: they should stand in front of the mirror for a day, two days or three, and find out what they have which is beautiful, interesting: what they should show: hair, neck, arms, or hands.
— Sonia Rykiel
Personal style is accepting who you are.
— Diane von Furstenberg
Strangeness is a necessary ingredient in beauty.
— Donna Tartt
Realness Attracts The Right Attention
Coco Chanel built an empire by creating clothes that didn’t fit into the trends. She didn’t want to wear dresses, she wanted to wear pants. Pants she could ride in and play in and love in. By wearing what appeased her, what suited her best, she created a style that became iconic to her and known by the rest of the world. As you start to develop your own sense of self, you start to radiate your own glamour and people pick up on it. They want what you have because no one else has it.
Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.
I’m not terribly interested in beauty. What touches me is someone who understands herself.
— Vivienne Westwood
If you’re honest and fair as you can be, not only in business but in life, things will work out.
Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.
Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.
People always like things that seem exotic.
Dress Up When You Feel Down
When you look good, you feel good. It’s a simple expression for a reason. The same may be applied to those trying to get to the gym. No one ever feels like working out, but once you do it, you’re glad you did. Diana Vreeland said it best: energy creates energy. The more you do, the more you can do. The better you dress, the better you feel to take on whatever problems lay ahead.
The worse a woman feels, the better should she look.
— Coco Chanel
With women, the more unhappy they are, the more undressed they are.
— Miuccia Prada
Put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.
When you’ve got nothing left, all you can do is get into silk underwear and start reading Proust.
Embody Your Philosophies
“If you inherently long for something, become it first. If you want gardens, become the gardener. If you want love, embody love. If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation. If you want peace, exude calmness. If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint. If you want to be valued, respect your own time. If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself. This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.” ― Victoria Erickson
In order to lead a fascinating life, one brimming with art, music, intrigue, and romance, you must surround yourself with precisely those things.
Surround yourself with the things you love. Discard the rest.
I advise women to live their life to their fullest, invest in who you want to be and live it well.
You have to find your own style, and it’s difficult to define what style is. It’s not what you’re wearing; it’s how you wear it. It’s something very personal, and it reflects the way you live and your house, the books you read, the art you have.
Emulate The Life You Want To Live
Manifestation is nothing more than believing in what you want. Believing in something so strongly that unconsciously you start driving all your energy, action, and thoughts towards it. It’s not magic, it’s emulation. If you dream of living in Paris, you mustn’t just dream it, but dress like a Parisian, take french lessons, meet French people. By emulating the life you want, you’re creating it.
You have to hold onto your fantasy.
We will always buy clothes because they let us live our dreams.
I’m constantly falling in love with objects, and they follow me around the world.
— Lee Radziwill
Before even the technique, there is a dream. Chanel had it. The dream is everything.