Who am I?

Making style more personal | Raylene Harvey

Making style more personal

I’ve been on a personal style journey ever since the birth of my first “public” blog. Those that know since forever well know that I was a leggings, baggy tops and ballet pumps kind of girl.

My sister was always on my case telling me that I need to dress up more, and after getting married in 2013, I started a new blog and used it to document my evolving style. And my oh my, has my style changed a lot since then. I wonder if my style would be different today had I stumbled upon this Wardrobe Architect Worksheet by Colette Patterns in 2013 when I first started to take “finding my personal style” seriously. According to the worksheet, personal style is divided into seven topics: History, Philosophy, Culture, Community, Activities, Location, and Body.


I’ve decided to answer the questions in this worksheet here on my blog to help me gain insight into what currently influences the way I dress and how I could possibly refine it more.


HISTORY

How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize? Have they changed over the years, and why?

My Mom always used to dress my sister and I – she used to lay our outfits out on the bed, ready for us to climb into after taking a bath. I think I was about 6 or 7 years old when I went into my Mom’s room to ask her if I can “pick my own clothes from now on”. I vaguely remember the look on my Mom’s face – it was one of concern that her little girl is growing up.

Let me tell you this – I had awful “style” as a child. I wore the most hideous combinations of clothing and colours – I’m talking neon green and orange – in one outfit! Luckily for me, my entire school career was spent in a uniform, but it was on those “casual days” at school that got me excited to wear my new outfits.

Making style more personal | Raylene Harvey

That’s me on the right!

Back then, I used to beg my Mom to buy me outfits specifically for these occasions and I wouldn’t wear a particular outfit until I wore it on that occasion, after which I would wear it to death… literally. Yep, I was that girl that wore exactly the same outfit over and over, the same shoes and accessories, and didn’t have a clue about mixing ‘n matching, and I’d wear it until it was broken and falling apart! The crochet top in the photo above is one those items I wore all the time.

I’d say my tastes crystalized around the age of 30 when I started my personal style journey – shortly after I got married. In my mind, I felt that many people “let themselves go” after settling down and getting married and I refused to fall into that trap, which is why I decided to take my sister’s advice and start putting more effort into my appearance and developing my personal style.

So yes, my style has definitely evolved over the years. I feel like I know myself more now – I know what works for my body type and what doesn’t, I understand what colours work for my skin tone and what doesn’t, and I finally have a capsule wardrobe with items that I can easily mix and match. I have become a more conscious shopper. I no longer buy ten of the same item in different colours at a sale for cheap, I invest in one good quality basic wardrobe staple. I finally have a smaller wardrobe and I always know what to wear, whereas before, my closet was overflowing with clothes and yet I never had anything to wear! You know what I’m talking about, right?

PHILOSOPHY

How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

I don’t see any limit to what I can and cannot or what I should and should not wear. I am often inspired by others’ outfits and trends that come about, but I do not let those trends define me. I don’t go out of my way to be trendy, in fact, I aim to be a trend setter, and having my own fashion blog has allowed me to be that kind of influencer and it is truly amazing!

CULTURE

How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?

My Mom used to dress my sister and I in matching outfits (everyone thought we were twins even though we are 3 years apart) and back then, that was pretty much the thing in most households that had two or more siblings of the same gender. The matchy-matchy was a thing… often my parents would take us to go watch the wrestling at the Good Hope Center and we would all wear the same outfits. Do people still do this these days, I wonder?

Making style more personal | Raylene Harvey

Matchy matchy! Can you tell who I am in these pics?

I guess I was okay with the matchy-matchy thing for a while, but as I got older, I wanted to be able to make my own choices – even if that meant I’d have totally awful “style”!

COMMUNITY

How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?

My sister played a huge part in me finally pursuing my personal style, and I have always admired her fashion sense. I don’t know why, but I felt you had to have an interesting personality to be able to dress up, and she has an amazing personality, so naturally it made sense for her to dress up! There I was, introvert, not much personality (or so I thought), with a very boring style. I used to follow trends and would buy crap that I wouldn’t be caught dead in now. My outfits were never well thought-out like my sister’s outfits were, and she did it so well. She was the one who encouraged me to go on this journey, and I’m so glad I did!

Nobody tells you this… but dressing up totally changes your experience of life. I can’t help but wish I had “woken up” sooner, but it’s okay – better late than never.

Being part of the diverse blogging community and fashion world has allowed me to express my style in ways that I haven’t felt comfortable to do before! I feel like I’m in my element when I’m around like-minded creatives. No matter the sex, race, religion or age, the folk in this industry aren’t afraid express their personality and individuality through their style. It has inspired me to be a little more daring with my outfit choices, and realize that it’s okay to be who I am. No exceptions.

Let’s just talk about “age-appropriateness” for a minute here. Yes, there’s this idea floating around that you should dress a certain way when you are a certain age, but honey! Not me. I refuse to accept this. I’m going to dress the way I like and however I feel comfortable. I will not be influenced by what is socially acceptable. I think it’s only awkward if you’re not rocking it with confidence – that’s the key. You can wear literally anything, but rock it with confidence, then people will be cheering you on. If you don’t feel comfortable or good in something then you shouldn’t be wearing it, it’s as simple as that.

ACTIVITIES

How do your day to day activities influence your choices?

I have a day job, but the dress code is very casual. Even though I could pretty much wear flip flops to work and it would be acceptable, I try not to let that influence the way I dress. I still maintain my signature style.

However, if I know I will be running errands during lunchtime or if I know there will be lots of walking, then I usually swap out my shoes for more comfortable ones. Not sneakers, I’m talking booties still, but with lower and more block heels that are comfortable to walk and run around in. I once wore a hoody and sneakers to work and I couldn’t hear the end of it!

I usually work from home on a Wednesday, so naturally, I’d either rock my sleepwear or just chill in a hoody, leggings and Ugg boots (winter) or a comfy tank and leggings (summer).

LOCATION

Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

I live and work in the northern suburbs, and the fashion and style here is a lot more conservative than it is in the CBD or in the southern suburbs. I used to work in town (for more than 11 years), so I’ve definitely noticed the difference, and now that I’m working in the northern suburbs I don’t see that many daringly dressed up and street styled people this side of the world.

BODY

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

I have a pear-shaped body type, so I’ve researched the type of clothes that best fit my body type and experimented with different pieces to get an idea of what I feel most comfortable and confident in. I’ve also learned some styling tricks and hacks to enhance my outfits – my absolute favourite being the side tuck and rolling up my sleeves. Both of these bring the attention to my slimmer waist so naturally I don’t feel like my booty is the main feature of my overall look. Some of these hacks have become second nature for me and it’s amazing how simple little tweaks can completely transform – or put the cherry on top – of an overall look. In blog posts to come I could share some of these styling tips and tricks. I wonder if this is something you would be interested in? Let me know.

Phew! This post turned out to be a lengthy one.

Have you thought about how these seven topics influences your personal style? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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