Gimme five... adjectives!

I had a little breakthrough on reading Suz's post on style evolution

I've never been able to describe my style with much clarity. I tend all over the map in terms of presentation, a result of buying and wearing things I like rather than trying to get this or that look. What I realised today was that my style is in fact a result of what I aim for in my shopping and wardrobe management strategies, so I should just find five adjectives to describe those. 

So here are five words that apply to my philosophy:


Simple, classic execution in garments. When in doubt, I default to quality, craftsmanship, artistry. This goes for buying both new and vintage. There is also a retrospective element to this, insofar as I've held on to pieces for years that fulfil these criteria. 

Unique pieces, distinctive styling, originality in design and personal authenticity. I like wearing things I won't see on anyone else in a way nobody else would wear them.

Diversity in looks, silhouettes, combinations and personae. Varied sources and cultural reference points. 

An androgynous interpretation of womenswear. Anything from menswear head to toe to assertively ladylike but never girly. A more accurate way of describe this might be gender-bending.

No fuss. Simple execution, functional details. Weather appropriate!

Where is this heading next? I've seen others using these descriptors as a means to move forward. What are yours, and how do you use them?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • trekkiegirl replied 6 years ago

    That's great that you have identified these! I'm still working on mine, so I'll be following this for tips and ideas.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    These are terrific adjectives and very descriptive of what I have seen of your style so far. I might also add "urban" but I am not sure it is a required adjective because the others might encompass it to a degree. (I am thinking a sort of blend between practical and eclectic). 

    In terms of moving forward, I think you ask yourself if you feel comfortable with these as your descriptors or if you would like to add something or exchange it for another word. If it's not broke, don't fix it. :) 

    Style is ever-evolving, I suppose -- but those with an eclectic, arty style are less obviously swayed by trends (you may pick up on the ones that please you or work for you, but wear them in a different way than the trendsters). So in that sense, the evolutions may not be as obvious. Angie has often said that "arty" looks are quite timeless (another of your words). 

    I think for someone with your kind of style, the real push to change might come in a shift of lifestyle or geography. For instance, for a "practical" person, a change in climate can be a monumental style shifter. I know that would be the case for me. 

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    tr3kkie9rl: it's a challenge, no? Curious to see what you come up with. :)

    Suz: I'm in awe. Brilliant, perceptive and almost instantaneous! How did you do that? Anyway, thanks for a great post and a bravura collection of outfits today.

    "Eclectic" is the word I'm least comfortable with, because it seems like a catch-all for something altogether more subtle. It doesn't reflect the classicism I'm aiming for. I think that's the area I'll be working on. You're right that "urban" is most definitely in the mix somewhere. I'm going to sleep on that.

  • Caro in Oz replied 6 years ago

    Everything Suz said.

    I had eclectic as one of my adjectives too but changed it to creative. This shift may not mean much to anyone else :)  but I was so sick of having too much disparate stuff & my wardrobe just felt all over the place. Testing & refining my adjectives, as they apply to my wardrobe, has been a fantastic process for me - hope it is the same for you :)

    Here is my post:

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    Ah, we are all on the same wavelength today aren't we :)

    I like your descriptors, and really like what Suz and Caro have said. Creative is a fantastic word to add to your list.

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    I am impressed.  I am still working on putting words to my style.  I also keep clothes for years (actually decades).

    I might steal some of your adjectives.  They work for me too. 

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I love your style descriptors. You are an intuitive Arty Eclectic. 

    Practical is not a word that I would have instantly associated with your style - enough to list it here as one of the biggies, anyway. But as I pondered that thought further - I get it. You ARE practical because you have to walk and bike around in dismal weather in the Netherlands. You HAVE to be practical, and would be miserable if your outfit bossed you around.

    My style descriptors have been the same for four years:


    Equal parts Tomboy and Ladylike.

  • Tania replied 6 years ago

    Great list. 

    The following was my first stab a couple of months ago, when I started to build a cohesive wardrobe.  I've given myself permission to make a few mistakes and to explore a bit, so developing a list that truly resonates is going to take time. 

    Here are mine:

    practical, casual, capable, simple, modern

    I wonder if I am hitting the same concepts too many times!  lol.  I remember years ago assessing pant fit by whether it would inhibit my ability to deliver a solid side kick to the ribs or knees into the groin, but I was a bit martial arts obsessed. 

  • Joy replied 6 years ago

    Mine were:
    Surprise element

    Thinking about these now, I'd say that I want a wardrobe based on great classic pieces, but pure classic is not really my style.
    I want to look ladylike and feminine but need styles that work on an angular rectangular body.
    Accessorized maybe should be changed to Arty (but not boho) for the style that I aspire to. I have drastically cut back on accessories for a more simple look.
    Structure, I need it more than ever as I age.
    Surprise element is usually something questionable for an over 65er, like leather pants or plaid jeans. Maybe I need to reign that in and concentrate on unusual color combinations or mixes of casual and dressy, which I also enjoy.

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    I'd say dead on with your descriptors and calling it a philosophy. They're sort of like a process that produce a distinctive output.

  • DonnaF replied 6 years ago

    Bold?  Fearless?  I love your style!  I could see your descriptors within the framework of practicality, but is *practical* truly a descriptor for you?  Or just unfussiness?

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    I like your descriptors, particularly Timeless and Individual, which capture something special about your style. 

    I wrote this on an old thread about myself:
    Unexpected - I am always happy to include something in my outfit which is unexpected in terms of the piece (avant garde, vintage, unusual all work for me) or the combination (unusual juxtapositons, androgyny, etc.), but I am also:
    Restrained - I don't my outfits to be so out there that they draw scrutiny from afar, I prefer them to be subtly interesting (this is an ideal obviously, not necessarily an accomplishment!)
    Aware - I do pick up on a lot of trends lately (thanks to Angie) but I don't feel the need to jump on everything that comes down the pike, so I am will say I like to look like my finger is to the wind but not that I am being blown about.
    Pleasing - Well l think there could be a better word there, but in the end I want the whole effect to look good, at least to me.

    I think this still holds but maybe I want to move a bit further from restrained and toward experimental and bold (relatively). Yet, I am also being drawn to more classic elements. Need to think about this more. Thanks for the thread!

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    Again, I love all this reflection going on.
    Your adjectives are so thoughtfully paired with conceptual rationals. 
    I look forward to seeing more of your style as I enjoy the level of what I might call -- intellectual theatrics. It is so impressive.

  • Gigi replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for starting this thread! I went back to some notes I made several months ago about style descriptors, and when I thought about my current style, I found that most of the descriptors remained the same as previous. So I must be gelling my style. :) My adjectives are softly feminine, polished, whimsical, modern/streamlined classic, and sensual. Whimsical and sensual are more secondary components of my style; the other three are the main components.

    I like how you defined your "individual" style descriptor. :) And I too enjoy having a classic component to my style because as you say, those items can last for years in a wardrobe without looking dated.

  • Dimity replied 6 years ago

    I think about these words for me:
    I've been tossing these around and changing them and adding some and taking them away, so it's not really fixed, but that's more just the words than my style. I've recently updated my style and I'm really happy with the new look, which is just an updated and refreshed version of before, with less frump.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Thanks ladies! It's really interesting reading everyone's descriptors and seeing how it applies to their style.

    I'm still looking for a word more specific than "eclectic", perhaps one that encapsulates the considered integration of influences and styles from around the world. And Suz is very right - urban is in the mix somewhere. Even though it started out as a pun on age appropriate, the more I think about it the more Appropriated Edge feels like a bona fide style statement. 

    caro, jackiec: yes, isn't it just? :D I'm resisting the arty/creative moniker because it's such a no-brainer that it's no longer a useful descriptor for me. If anything, it gives me too much free reign to indulge myself and right now I'd like to focus on refinement. So I'm looking for something more specific.

    Style Fan: yes! Timeless is a great quality and it doesn't have to be boring. I also think it's deeply personal - an abiding love that keeps a thing in the wardrobe. 

    Angie: yes, you nailed it! Practical is an absolute necessity on the bike in Dutch weather. But my passion for the practical runs deeper than that. I've been making things all my life and I love a great design solution like a beautifully finished pocket.

    Tania: that is a great criteria for assessing the fit of pants! I like wearing chunky rings so I can throw a good punch. Not that I've ever needed to, it's just a nice feeling.

    Joy: I think you've summed up everything that is great about your style. Please never stop wearing plaid, metallic or leather pants. You look amazing and are an inspiration in them!

    rachylou: thank you! that's exactly what I thought!

    DonnaF: well, it is important to me. Great design will always combine form and function, and compromising on function for the sake of too much decoration is not great design in my opinion. Hmm...perhaps "functional" is a better word. 

    Shevia: I should have known you'd have some good ones! I particularly like "aware". Looking like I'm paying attention is important to me as well and I'm always up for a new trend if it tickles my fancy.

    AM: intellectual theatrics eh? that's a sure fire sign I've pushed it over the top :D That said, this is an art form I'm happy to pursue on an intellectual level. Theatrical, not so much :P

    Gigi: interesting what you say about the secondary components. It seems those are the things that would make your style your own. I'd love to see a picture, but sadly you haven't posted any. I can understand why, I'm still finding it a bit nerve-wracking.

    ETA: hey Dimity! Looks like we have some overlap in the timeless/individual/ simple arena. Too bad I've only ever seen pictures of your rain boots! But I sympathise, it ain't easy posting selfies. 

  • goldenpig replied 6 years ago

    I like your list and I can totally see that, those are great descriptors. I remember we were all trying to figure out our Style Rubric a few years back, with the five adjectives.

    Mine used to be in 2012:
    Color or contrast
    Matchy Matchy

    I think my new 2014 rubric would have to be revised to:
    Matchy Matchy

    I still like bright colors, but I've started dressing in more dark and neutrals. I've slouched into less fitted silhouettes (conveniently as my weight has creeped up!) so fitted doesn't seem to make sense anymore (though it sounds like Angie thinks fitted is coming back in style--I'd better start exercising more!). Ladylike is still at the core of my style. I didn't put it on there last time because all my outfits were so ladylike that it didn't help me pick outfits, but I think it needs to go back on so I can remember my roots. That is why my trousers section is so sadly neglected! Of course I don't feel like "me" unless I have some pattern on. The matchy matchy I think is the most distinctive element in my style and the most entrenched. Lately I've been moving in an edgier direction in my style. I like the juxtaposition between ladylike and edgy/tough. And I still included "flair"--the memorable statement piece, the classic with a twist, the bit of whimsy, something that everyone seems to notice and comment on. 

    This is probably one of my signature outfits that fits the rubric, which is what I wore to Seattle Shoptember Ingefest.

  • AM replied 6 years ago

    You have definitely not pushed it over the edge. And perhaps it is me that pushed it over the edge with "intellectual theatrics." You stand out. Your style is uncommon and looks like it would be impossible to recreate. And you should relish in that. Your sense of history and icons -- and your thoughtful interpretations are what is so impressive. Scrap my words. I think "individual" on your list is key! And that your baseline is always artistic. Sorry I made you cringe. My apologies.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    AM: oh that's so sweet of you! I know my style is unusual and I rarely get the kind of critical feedback IRL that I hope for on YLF. I like to experiment but I don't want to, y'know, frighten the horses or anything. Any feedback  in good faith is graciously accepted.

    So don't worry. No offence taken. Whatsoever. :)

  • Tania replied 6 years ago

    Ha about the chunky rings!  I only wear one ring- my engagement/wedding ring, designed by my husband.  DH wanted to make sure I could deliver a good hit with it.  A full ounce of platinum, built like a tank, but feminine too.  lol.   

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Tania: that's a seriously covetable ring. In fact if I had a button marked "covet" I'd be hitting it repeatedly now. Instead, I've marked it as a "solution" because it certainly will be for anyone on the receiving end. Compliments to your DH!

    And Goldenpig: sorry I nearly missed you! I like how your descriptors are so very personal and specific. Matchy-matchy is terribly underrated in my opinion, and it's wonderful that you've made it your signature. 

    I've had a few more thoughts on this, mainly to remind myself that these five words are derived from my thought processes when shopping rather than an explicit expression of my aesthetic preferences, which are much harder to pin down. It also doesn't fully address the design decisions I take when sewing. I need to explore how all of these factors relate to each other to understand further.

    Many thanks once again for so much constructive feedback. Lots to think about!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Here are my 5:
    medium to high contrast
    smart casual

  • Gigi replied 6 years ago

    approprio, I hope to maybe get a camera this year and post some pics...when I get the courage! I've got a lot of health stuff going on right now and don't always look so good.

    Regarding my secondary descriptors (sensual, whimsical), I called them secondary because I need to limit the amount of these types of items that I have in my closet. My whimsical items might be something like a sweater with a dog on it, or a polka-dot skirt. If I have too many of these things, I start to feel like I'm dressing like a ten-year-old. :) On the other side of the coin, if I have too many sensual things (body-con miniskirt, for instance, or leopard-print booties with stiletto heels), I look like a streetwalker, ha ha. But those descriptors are still very much part of my style, so I don't want to just throw them aside. I just have to sprinkle them judiciously throughout my wardrobe. A little goes a long way!

  • Summer replied 6 years ago

    I think your descriptors are perfect for you.  At present mine are:


  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Gigi: I'm now imagining a sweater with a dog on it with leopard print booties and thinking... I bet that looks pretty cool!

    Something I've learned in the short time I've been posting pics here is that when I put something up, I want to be sure works. It's already had the effect of sharpening up my styling, which is a good thing, right?

    And on the subject of five, I've thought over the feedback from this thread and substituted "urban" for "practical". It works, it encapsulates what I'm looking for, at least for now.

    So now I am: Timeless, Urban, Androgynous, Eclectic and Individual.

    I can live with that. Thanks, Fabbers!

You need to be logged in to comment