Three birds

I had a light-bulb moment about style personae, and how they relate to my life, my interests and my general character. In very simple terms, it breaks down into three, which I named the parrot, the magpie and the crow. 

The parrot is outgoing and confident and looks good in a blazer.
The magpie is creative and curious and kind of arty-retro-boho. 
The crow is a shy and serious nerd who overthinks everything. She's an avant garde minimalist.

Each of these characters find expression in my style. Sometimes they work together, sometimes they don't. 

I began writing a reflection on this little trio which I'd intended to post here, but over the course of a couple of evenings it turned into something else entirely so I put it on my blog instead:

(I don't know what to call it. Is it an allegory? A fable? It's definitely some sort of shaggy dog story. You don't have to read it. I should send it to my shrink. She'll have a field day.)

Anyway, I was wondering if there are any other similarly split personalities out there, and how they express themselves. How do your style personae correspond to aspects of your personality?

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.


  • Helena replied 5 years ago

    I love this post so much! Your analogies are terrific. Looking forward to reading on greater depth. And your style definitely does justice to all three aspects of your inner self. To me this is the while point of this style journey!
    I am very influenced by four types personality systems, so my self-description reflects that bias - but I am primarily serious analytical shy person, with a hefty secondary dose of outgoing giggly optimist. I think my best outfits are grounded in the first, and augmented by the second. Bird wise, I'd say crow with a huge side of hummingbird :)

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    A loaded and fun question! I've run out of time, but I really enjoyed reading about the parrot, magpie and crow. Be as proud as a peacock about your bird style, Liz. It suits you!

    My friends say I'm like a humming bird. Relentless energy and slight in size. I'll leave it at that.

  • Helena replied 5 years ago

    Lol, Angie, so you are now my hummingbird role model ... No wonder you inspire such an improvement in my style!! ;)

  • Angie replied 5 years ago

    TG, birds of feather do flock together. 


  • rabbit replied 5 years ago

    I loved reading your extended fable, it really resonated with the different lanes/hats/animagi(?) that a creative person inhabits, sometimes simultaneously.  there is a chaos and dissonance that can happen with the split but they also are tremendously helpful to each other when they all decide to point in the same direction on a particular project. :)  The birds are a wonderful analogy.

    I'd thought of my style persona as having something to do with feeling either expansive or contracted with regards to exposure to the outer world, and having my clothes reflect that on particular day -- feeling outgoing and sunny might lead to bold colors and patterns - a bit of parrot, versus another more indrawn kind of day that calls for soft neutral dark textures - a bit of crow.

    hmm I need to think about it.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Angie, TG: thanks! I love that you're both hummingbirds. They're such beautiful creatures. I can see it in both of you :)

    Thanks rabbit, I'm so glad it made sense. I'd never thought of it as a tangible, situational expression of distinct impulses working in different directions before, but I think that's what's happening. Hm... therapy by wardrobe. Let's work that through:

    The crow is rational and philosophical. She likes order and simplicity, elegant solutions and high art. She's a little bit aloof. Hence, minimalism, limited colour palette, bold silhouettes. 

    The parrot is social. She always wants to fit in and look impressive, like Don Draper in his awesome suits. So, classics, tailoring, a nice watch.

    The magpie is experimental. She's up for more or less anything. She's responsible for the missteps and the breakthroughs. She's the one in vintage kimono, faux fur, pirate boots. 

    Dang. How does this even make sense??

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    I look forward to reading your blog.  I have had many style personalities over the years but I always seem to return to the Yin Natural one.  Something like your Crow.  I like to experiment but always come home.  I went through a period in the mid 90s when I only wore black.  Like a uniform.  Black jeans, black T shirts, black Docs.  I eventually started to wear brown.  Bought a pair of brown Doc Martens and a Navajo blanket coat. 
    Then there is the avant guarde period.  I dabble in that occasionally.  I have pieces in my wardrobe.
    Same with boho.  Always have some boho kicking around.
    I have no idea what birds these are.
    DH wears all black most of the time.  Hello I'm Johnny Cash.

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    I just read your blog.  You are a brilliant writer. 

  • catgirl replied 5 years ago

    This is the best!  My friends and I once chose spirit animals for each other after a lot of wine.  No picking your own, or we'd all be unicorns, dolphins and otters.  :)

  • Missey replied 5 years ago

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    Good story. I'm thinking, because I've been on a quest to have a consistent, clear, consonant style... Which at this point might make me Franken Bird... I'm both a person who likes things silly, light hearted and straight arrow ... and also jaded and spooky. I really have to think.

  • skylurker replied 5 years ago

    Read the allegory with great interest (a fable should have a moral punchline if I remember correctly).
    Debating if I should feel offended to be called internet parakeet, lol.

    As for style personae, that's the kind of intuitive, artistic thinking very foreign to me.
    I'm comfortable wearing clothes I wore in my youth, I felt disguised in every thing I tried since : looking more feminine, looking professional, whatever, it all ended up feeling inauthentic and uncomfortable.
    Is there a bird who never leaves its nest out there ?
    Don't answer internet parakeet :)

  • Beth Ann replied 5 years ago

    In the most difficult days of my adult life, in New Jersey (insert rimshot here), a nightingale would perch on the window unit A/C in my bedroom and sing to me every night.  His repertoire was wide and varied, and he displayed impressive breath management and flexibility with his trills and cadenzas.  It was strange, really, because he sang far too late in the night for a typical bird --- usually starting at 11:00, just when I came up the stairs for the night.  I called him Fidelio, and I have identified with Nightingales ever since.

    It seems that your birds are a pretty well functioning ensemble.  They have frank discussions with one another, and seem to take turns "singing lead."  Of course, birds are not the best in business.  You need the proverbial "ant" ("Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise") for that.   But the birds would probably eat her anyway.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Missey: thanks! Bob Marley is a wonderful way to begin the day!

    rachylou: you need something light and sweet that comes from very dark place. Some kind of cat maybe?

     that must make me some sort of parrot/corvid hybrid. I have a thing for Kea parrots. I'll keep that in mind.

    skylurker we have a large population of rose-ringed parakeets here in Amsterdam and I can't think of another flock I'd rather hang with. But if you prefer, my spellcheck seems to think you're a songbird that nests on the ground. Here's an ode to you.

    Style Fan, there has to be a core of consistency throughout our lives, so even if we keep trying out new stuff the things that stick with us will be in keeping with those intuitive preferences. I'm nevertheless attracted to the idea of situational identity and how that plays out in personal style, which I suppose is where this little story comes from. 

    And Johnny Cash is a raven. Most definitely. 

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Beth Ann that is a beautiful story! We've had blackbirds nesting here a few years running and they're very fine singers. Ants may be hard workers but they're only effective when they number in hundreds. With regard to my flock, I'm hoping the crow's back in charge for now. She's usually pretty smart.

  • gryffin replied 5 years ago

    Approprio - what a wonderful adage!  I thought you might enjoy this book.  A friend and I used to discuss what animals the people in our residency would be.  According to the book, I'm a meerkat, a curious animal.  That feels about right.  I wonder what animal would be a match for you!!  Anyway it is quite fun and definitely entertaining!!

  • UmmLila replied 5 years ago

    I claim kakapo. Just kidding. Maybe a hoopoe.

  • Runcarla replied 5 years ago

    Love it!

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    Ohmigosh, Approprio, I love your brilliance. Just the idea of something sweet and light coming from a dark place - it's like Heidi or Secret Garden. I am already pondering cats :)

  • shevia replied 5 years ago

    Love this and even more the one on your blog. I identify more with cat than bird, but definitely a vegan cat that would not bother you birds nor your eggs. I might be tempted to bring you things I find as presents though, stare in admiration and then I will curl up and take a nap.

    Aspirational styles include elegant cat and dandy cat.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I think your birdies do work together really well, at least in terms of your style.
    I find what you wear to be very cohesive.
    I'm a magpie at heart, with a strong dose of crow.

  • Firecracker replied 5 years ago

    Okay, I just went to your blog. I love the story--love it! So you are writing a book? Way cool, and I want to read it! Your writing is so fun and engaging.
    I love the faux fur number, and I identify with the magpie.

    I want to answer your question about personalities, because I do often feel I have split style personae (classic, boho, refined, sporty) but I don't know how to reconcile them except that I fall into the "elegant eclectic" group here on YLF.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Thanks ladies! I was nervous about posting this but I'm very glad you've enjoyed it!

    gryffin, that looks like the kind of very fun book the crow would sneer at but the parrot would enjoy reading anyway ;) 

    rachylou: I was thinking of Trevor Noah when I said that if it helps at all. He's so funny and sweet but underneath that sparkling wit lurks something very dark and angry.

    shevia: my last cat (now deceased) had a very stand-offish relationship with a jackdaw who lived in the garden behind our then-apartment. They never exchanged gifts but I like to think they showed each other appropriate respect. It might work. I love the elegant cat.

    Firecracker: yeah, I do have an idea I'm researching at the moment, and of course I'm working on my writing. I'm not sure yet if it's a book or a piece of scholarship wrapped around my teaching work. I'd like it to be some kind of creative non-fiction or long-form journalism, if that makes sense. I'm pretty sure sewing for a living isn't going to work, but I'll keep working on the designs anyway.

    And I think you have a similar approach to your style in that it merges the athlete with the polished creative. 

  • Runs With Scissors replied 5 years ago

    approprio, I loved your bird allegory, and immediately wanted to claim my own bird fashion identity.  My first thought was to run though my favorite birds and find one that seemed to fit, but that was a no go.

    So, I asked my husband.   I wasn't expecting him to take the question seriously, but he gave it some thought and came up with two perfect candidates:  Senegal (parrot) and Nanday Conure.  Why?  Because they both have plumage that mix neutrals with a dash of bright color, and have playful personalities.  

    Here is a Senegal:

    And here is a Nanday:

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