Lately, I’ve been feeling like my style might be changing.
Life has evolved, and most importantly my attitude has evolved.
When changes solidify and I feel like I’m finally entering a new phase of life, I have a new appreciation for style. Or rather, for what style represents — that connection between who we are on the inside + how we try to artfully communicate it to others on the outside.
For me, showing a change on the outside is a special part of owning + celebrating the growth on the inside. It’s an opportunity I’m grateful for.
But what do you do when you want to reflect those changes while honoring the clothes you already have in your closet? What do you do when you’re trying to be mindful of your purchases, make your clothes last longer, and consume less?
Typically when we think of styling, we think of accessorizing or adding more things to an outfit. A necklace, a bracelet, a scarf, a hat.
Accessories are a great way to style. But you know me, and I’m not big on lots of accessories.
So I approach styling as simply adjusting or tweaking, instead of adding things to my outfit. Here are my three favorite tweaks:
- Pair unexpected pieces. This doesn’t have to get zany. In fact, for me, these shorts + clogs were an unexpected combo. Not sure why, sometimes I just get it stuck in my head that certain things don’t go together — like shorts and clogs. But I tried pairing them and this outfit feels completely new — I feel new in it. It’s fun to play outside of the lines we subconsciously draw.
- Try wearing your hair differently.I’m starting to believe that hair is the ultimate power player when it comes to changing your style. Again, this doesn’t have to mean chopping off your hair or getting a bold new color (unless you want to). It could be as simple as changing the way you part your hair or trying a braid.
- Make an adjustment to what you’re already wearing. Roll your jeans differently, tie your shirt in a knot, cuff your sleeves, tuck your shirt or try a half tuck. Try each adjustment a little differently than you have in the past and see what happens.
Styling can help us feel new without a wardrobe overhaul. This doesn’t mean we don’t get new pieces along the way — we can honor the clothes in our closet and learn to style them while thoughtfully adding intentional pieces that reflect our style shift.
I’m excited to let this “new style” process unfold and share it with you over the next few weeks / months as I figure it out for myself.
In the meantime, go on, practice styling today and let me know how it goes!
Your turn. What do you do when you feel your style start to change, but you still want to honor the clothes you’ve already got in your closet?
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Liked today’s outfit? You can shop it and support Unfancy at the same time by using these affiliate links below:
01 | Shirt by Madewell | similar in plaid
02 | Shorts by Everlane — also available in tan (made responsibly)
03 | Clogs gifted by BRYR (handmade to order in USA) | similar for less by TOMS
04 | Necklace in yellow raw diamond by Julia Szendrei (handmade in USA)
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Tania // girlwithanakita says
I’m with you on how some pairings just seem off to me. For the longest, I thought booties and cuffed pants are just weird, but lately realized that the feeling of open breeze on my ankles is weird, but the pairing is actually cute! I think growing up in style is more about being comfortable in your own skin so you don’t feel like you have to try as hard.
Tania, that’s is a great way of putting it! :) xo, Caroline
I love these tips! I change my style all the time and it’s so wasteful to go out and buy completely new items. I love your idea to mix and match unexpected pieces together! I’m terrible at doing hair, but I’ve seen how much of a difference it can make in your overall look. I have to practice some hair styles tonight :)
Andrea! Have fun practicing! It really takes work to get those perfect styles, but the outcome is worth putting in the effort I think :) xo, Caroline
This got me thinking…I’ve worn my hair in a short pixie cut for over a decade now. In my early twenties I work it more spiky and crazy. Now that I’m in my early thirties, I still feel like the pixie represents who I am, but I wear it a bit longer and smoother (and lower maintenance). I think learning new tweaks and ways of styling are so much more satisfying in the end than going for a completely new look because it represents an evolution of who you are in an authentic way rather than your effort of trying to be someone else. Personal style is a process and I think it’s important to enjoy and appreciate the journey in order to be content with what you have.
Thanks for the post!
Christy, yes! Wonderfully stated. :) xo, Caroline
I go through this sometimes too. I usually try wearing a piece with something different. That usually works for me. Or I might change my jewelry. It’s amazing how that makes a totally different outfit from something I’ve had for years. I love mixing and matching and trying new combinations. Sometimes, though, I’ll see a picture of myself in an outfit and think, “that’s not my style anymore”. Then I know it’s time to toss it out, Great post.
Cassandra s says
I really love your style and I value your outlook on life! Thank you for inspiring me to look at fashion and life from a new point of view=)
Good advice. I totally agree that changing your hair can signify life changes. Almost every woman I know has somehow significantly changed her hair after she got married, had a career change, got divorced, or some other major life shift.
When I feel in need of change to reflect new circumstances or personal growth, one of things I like to do is change up my perfume, since scent is so strongly tied to memory.
Caroline, I’m curious how you feel your style changing. Like, what words would you use to describe your style that you wouldn’t have used before? It’s so interesting to see how people’s style evolves over time.
Hi Ariel, I love the perfume trick — very clever. And don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging! My style evolution is something I’m excited to explore with you guys over the next few months. I probably should have clarified that in the post, but YES I’ll definitely be going into it more in detail as time goes on (and as I figure it out, hah). :) xo, Caroline
Mary Beth says
I am curious to hear more about how your style is changing! Would love more specifics. ?
Hey Mary Beth! I won’t leave you guys hanging! This is something I’m excited to explore with y’all over the next few months. I probably should have clarified that in the post, but YES I’ll definitely be going into it more in detail as time goes on (and as I figure it out, hah). :) xo, Caroline
Hannah M. says
Thank you so much for this post, Caroline! Occasionally, I become extremely discouraged about what’s in my closet and have the urge to start from scratch. But with these tips, I feel more encouraged to honor what I have as I grow. Always love reading and learning from your perspective. :)
Hannah, we all get those feelings from time to time — trust me! :) xo, Caroline
I completely agree. This is also why a deliberately streamlined closet has become so important to my mental peace. In the past I would find something that represented me fully in that moment (I went through a silky scarf phase, for example — the thrift stores loved me), but when that style season ended and transitioned elsewhere due to my own maturation or the development of other life things, I’d look at those things, not with fondness and appreciation for what they had done, but with disgust at my excess and frustration at their lack of apparent utility in expressing the present. Instead, I do one thing (like one pair of simple threaded earrings, instead of lots of those unique earring shapes of all kinds and colors), and use it every day. If it ceases to make stylistic sense for expressing me, I will look on it with appreciation and satisfaction, instead of surveying the personal disappointment of panicked maximalism. (Or at least that is how it felt for me — like I was panicking about losing an opportunity! Now those feelings are gone and it is bliss).
Chloe, I totally related to your comment. The sentence “I’d look at those things, not with fondness and appreciation for what they had done, but with disgust at my excess and frustration at their lack of apparent utility in expressing the present.” I really get that. I like your new approach. You gave me something to think about.
Chloe! This is spot on. Thank you for sharing! xo, Caroline
Ditto on wanting to hear more about how you feel your style changing. Also, how, precisely, is that reflected in your clothing choices? For example, your choice to combine your clogs with your shorts: What is it that felt wrong at one point, that no longer feels wrong? How does that express a change in another part of your life/personality/outlook?
What is it that I’m supposed to understand about you when I see you wearing your clogs with your shorts? …Other than that you’re cute & hip & know how to look good! :-)
Hi Marisa! Not to fret, I won’t leave you hanging! This is something I’m excited to explore with you guys over the next few months. I probably should have clarified that in the post, but YES I’ll definitely be going into it more in detail as time goes on (and as I figure it out, hah). :) xo, Caroline
I’d love to hear this too. I have to say that putting on different shoes does almost nothing in changing an outfit for me, mostly because it’s summer and shoes are fairly optional now so it’s still the same outfit. I also always pay least attention to my shoes it’s almost never what I notice on someone else.
Interesting! Maybe you only wear one style of shoes, e.g. only casual shoes?
Of course, two different pairs of casual shoes won’t make different outfits.
But I think different styles of shoes can completely change an outfit. Even if you don’t look at someone’s shoes they can still influence the overall style. For example, a simple black dress with flip flops or sneakers will look like a beach coverup, but with heels it looks like a cocktail dress. You may not notice the shoes but the overall impression changes.
This is probably my favorite piece that you’ve composed and posted! Thanks!!!!
Thank you so much Gina! :) xo, Caroline
Amy D says
Caroline I loved this post! I’m definitely going through a style shift…we recently moved to another country, and I’m pregnant. So working within the confines of my maternity clothes (instant capsule!) and the style of my new home, I’m floundering but finding my way. New haircut, streamlined makeup, entirely different approach to layering….it’ll all work out. I’m curious to hear about the rest of your journey!
Hi Amy! So many huge transitions for you! I hope you find an easy approach and make it work for you. I will definitely be sharing more with you guys about my evolving style. Hang tight :) xo, Caroline
Tanya E says
I really like the idea of tweaking what you’ve got! I have turned up my boyfriend jeans twice, which feels right for the summer (looks good with clogs too!). I like to take elements I’ve seen others too; for example, a friend of mine recently wore a vest top and a thin scarf which looked great. I have also lightened my hair, which has pushed me to try different hair styles, if only to protect it from the sun. Lots more messy plaits (braids) and buns.
I think it’s that balance of being true to your own style and feeling current. It’s evolving, but it’s still you.
Tanya, yes! I love wearing my boyfriend jeans with clogs too. Sounds like you’re having fun experimenting! :) xo, Caroline
Love these tips.
Hair is in itself a very strong accessory, and a drastic change of cut or color can give an old outfit a new vibe.
All the times my style have shifted, since I never had a big budget to re-buy my entire wardrobe, I have slowly replace old and worn pieces with new ones more in sync with my new style direction. It’s a slow process, but it’s worth it.
clare dowling says
This was a very timely and helpful post, because I’m going through something similar. It’s a very intuitive process, so I don’t have a grasp on my style at the moment, which is frankly a little scary when it’s so much a part of me. And since the emotional side is working its way out, I tried a couple of practical things to help me find my direction. The first was using your original closet purge process (taking everything out and only putting the “love” items back in) to create a capsule within a capsule. Instead of storing the pieces that don’t feel quite right at the moment I hung them alongside the collection of clothes that I do feel represent me exactly, as I am (or think I am, or am becoming…) in this phase of my life. Then I simply mix the two. It helps me keep track of what feels right and what feels awkward and inconsistent with this growth I’m experiencing, by forcing me to examine which tangible elements I want to retain ultimately. Plus, I’m emotionally very connected to some specific pieces of clothing and don’t want to let them go. This feels like a good transitional solution.
The second thing was, having done a clear out of things I definitely don’t want to keep (not with a view to replacing them now or all at once, just to streamline things), before donating them I had a very pregnant friend go through them all to see if there were items she liked that she thought would work both for now and for when she’s breastfeeding. Seeing her do that was a bit of a wrench, but it clarified for me, again, what aspects of my style I want to keep and which I’m happy, with a bit of adjustment, to let go.
Hi Clare! What wonderful tips! I like that you mixed in your old pieces to not only possibly get some more use out of them, but really test them out and see if they make you feel good. Great ideas. Thank you for sharing :) xo, Caroline
Marie Therese says
Yes! Would also like to hear how you/your style is changing :)
You got it Marie! :) It will be coming over the next few months (as I’m figuring it out! Ha.) I’ll be sharing more soon. :) xo, Caroline
I had a moment like this when in a cafe I saw one of the workers wearing a sleeveless chambray type shirt open like a vest over another tank. It was so cute/cool and it never would have crossed my mind to do that…now I do:)
Katrina, I love finding every day inspiration like that! Sounds cute :) xo, Caroline
Love that top!
Thank you for these ideas, Caroline! I’m a college student who is torn between having so many old pieces from middle(yup!)/high school that don’t fit properly/don’t match my developed style and wanting to invest in new staples that better suit my style. Right now, I’ve finally gotten rid of most of those items, but there’s a few that I’m hanging on to because I can work around them and avoid spending too much on new closet items right now. I like one of your past recommendations, to store certain pieces away — there’s some stuff in my closet that I could potentially wear to interviews/internships/jobs but aren’t exactly necessary in my everyday style, and I’ve convinced myself to save them in a small box for those unforeseen future opportunities :) <3 I LOVE your blog btw! It has seriously transformed my approach to not only my style/closet but also my life in general!! I'm considering posting more about simplifying and redirecting my life on my blog now too!
Hi Hannah! I’m so glad you’re finding your style and working towards it. It’s so rewarding, isn’t it? Enjoy the process, even if it can be a slow one. :) xo, Caroline
Lately my style has been shifting. I find I am less interested in all my long tops. Every time I get dressed lately I think my tops all seem too long and I have been racking my brain to try to find ways to make long tunics and long flowy tops work somehow. Just too much fabric to tuck in. In the meanwhile I have been sticking to a few newer pieces that feel just right.
So here is a question I have. When you feel you just aren’t finding anything new to do with a once favorite piece or your style has moved completely away from it, do you put it in storage for the future or do you part ways with it? I have been trying to consume less and discard less and I am interested what is your position on saving things in case they come back?
Hi Bronwyn! Thank you for your thoughtful question. That is definitely an ongoing struggle, isn’t it? Typically, if I know my style is moving away from it, I store it for a little while (just in the closet in our guest room). If I go through a few seasons, and feel like I still have no use for it, I’ll go ahead and let go of it. However, lately, I’ve been shifting a little more towards keeping pieces that “might come around again one day” especially if they are super high-quality or have a feeling of timelessness to them.
I, like you, am trying to discard less, so this process is a thoughtful one. And I try to be more thoughtful about where the item ends up. Instead of just donating to somewhere like Goodwill, a women’s shelter is a place that always needs gently used clothing, and I have more confidence they will be put to use.
One last thought: You might want to toss around the idea of taking your long tops to a tailor. They can shorten them or rework them a bit. I’m a big fan of reworking pieces so they feel new again.
Hope that helps! :) xo, Caroline
This. This. THIS. All of this!
great post, thanks. I see you tagged a necklace, but I can’t quite find it in the picture. Can you share more about the necklace? sorry this is in all caps, I can’t get it to un-cap!
Thanks for sharing these tips, Caroline! I never thought of accessorizing that way before! Brilliant!
I’ve been thinking about this recently and how to handle our changing style, so I’m glad to see your tips! I love your idea of adjusting what you’re already wearing by simply tying a knot. I think adding a belt or an accessory is another great option as well to switch up the look. Do you have any regret purchases? How do you handle items that ended up not working out for whatever reason (bad quality, no longer fit right, etc)? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Honour the existing pieces. Can’t agree anymore!
Love this! That shirt feels totally different tied in a knot like that, and I love it both ways.
I feel like the tip you mentioned about ‘pairing unexpected pieces’ is something I would use to actually described how I define my own style in general. I have always been drawn to simple, more classic pieces but don’t usually like to wear them in that way. So I can definitely attest to this bit changing the entire feel of a piece + look. :)
Also, I cracked up at all the comments inquiring about how your style has changed and whether or not you plan to elaborate. Don’t you ever do that again! ;) Haha! I too think it’s incredibly interesting to hear people describe their own personal experiences with shifts in style.
Talk soon! :)
I will change my hair soon -that´s the next step for me after i cleaned out my closet and started to shop more concious! I make lists now when i need/want something to make sure that i don´t buy too much anymore! :)
You look awesome by the way ;)
Andrea, changing the hair can be a game-changer. Have some fun with it! :) xo, Caroline
Hey! I love this. I am too finding my style is changing. I’m excited to see what you find! Also, if you need some hair inspo check out thesmallthingsblog.com. She is awesome!
I’m really trying to pair unexpected pieces with the ones I already own, and it’s going really well! xxx
Thank you for your honesty in posting this Caroline! I am almost a year into my capsule/thoughtful wardrobe and feel so much more confident in my style choices. Having gone through quite a style change to a much more simplistic, multipurpose collection, I am hoping my decision for quality over quantity will enable my style to change subtly over time without the need for a complete overhaul. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your style changes!
I dunno…I kind of like zany combinations. ;)
I have found my style changing too! Trying to find a balance between being stylish and still looking my age, versus appearing like an adolescent. Thanks for the tips. I’ll be sure to use a few. ?
I saw your messy French braid on Instagram. Would it be possible for you to do a tutorial? I l would love to see how you achieve that perfect un-doneness. Thanks!
Love everything about your style! Are these clogs the high or mid heel? And what color? Love love love them on you!
Hi Lora! It’s the high heel in bone :) xo, Caroline
Amelia Wasserman says
Thank you for sharing this Caroline. I am at the point in my capsule wardrobe experience where I have to start replacing things that don’t fit or have worn out. I am also finding gaps in my wardrobe. How do you prioritize replacing items so you don’t just buy a bunch of stuff at once?