The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style (style)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #159
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Style trickles into everything you do, who you are, and who and what you attract in life. Whittle down your style to what matters and project what's meaningful to the world: Be the lighthouse. Be honest. Be real." —Kate Schelter

Settling on a style that is our own can be overwhelming. Beginning with the style that adorns our bodies, but also the style with which we approach life, our routines, our hobbies, our habits, our way of contemplating and dancing with the life we have, and journeying toward the life we want. With so many options, ideas, seasons, and lifestyle icons to draw inspiration from, there is such a thing as paralysis by abundance.

Creative director and stylist Kate Schelter understands the quandary which is why she wrote her new book Classic Style: Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear It Out. Having read through the style resource, I picked 18 gems of wisdom I have found to serve as trustworthy guideposts when it comes to homing in on our individual classic style. There are of course many more as well as a wealth of examples which is why I encourage you to take a look at the book, but until then, let me offer you a taste to assuage the fear that curating your style might be impossible. Quite to the contrary, you can do it, and these sage descriptors of classic style will help you do so.

~Be sure to tune into the audio episode of the podcast as I dive into each item on the list in-depth, sharing specific examples. Below merely touches on the surface of the content that is shared. 

Your classic style will . . .

1. Bring you joy

2. Be functional for your lifestyle

3. Be deeply simple 

4. Add a touch of a signature

5. Be unmistakably beautiful to you

6. Free you from constraint

7. Move toward what you fear

"The jitters are love in disguise, reminding you that you're getting closer to what you want. Face it. Go toward it. Do it. Dive into your most meaningful experiences and relationships —the ones that make you feel like you're alive. Don't worry if you can't access what you want just yet. It will come. "

8. Have no expiration date in sight

9. Be a reflection of your character

10. Will use a limited color palette

11. Offer proper proportion and scale

12. Will focus on less rather than more

Schelter suggests shopping like an editor, "Turn down the volume. Tune in to yourself. You really don't need much."

13. Involve creating your own personal classics

"Find fabrics, colors, cuts and shapes that work on you. Then Repeat-wear and rely on them without a second thought. Know that they are yours to trust."

14. Find a balance when it comes to personal grooming

"Just the right amount of grooming: not too much, not too little."

15. Require quality tailoring

16. Involve investing in what you love

With patience, saving up and waiting for what you know will work and what you know you love will earn you the reward of "quality, craftsmanship, and charm".

17. Require you to not buy based on the size, but buy what looks best on your body

18. Not knowing is actually a positive sign, so long as you keep your eyes open

"When you embrace not having a set direction, you may experience the "dead zone" (dormancy, fear, dread, confusion, self-doubt), but that always comes before the spark of spring . . . When you give up expectations and rules you sow seeds for creative thought; you give yourself room to find your individuality and your own vocabulary. You are no longer defining yourself in someone else's terms."

Listen to your life. Listen to what puts you at ease, what makes you feel beautiful, what fires up your confidence. And then ask yourself why. When you listen, when you tune in to what your life is revealing to you, your true personal classic style will come forth.

"The key to personal style is simple: Forget what's cool and trust your gut. The magic is in your mix. When you draw confidence from your classics — pieces that you come back to again and again — your style is your own. Classics let you do more, and be more, with less." —Kate Schelter author of Classic Style 

Petit Plaisir:

~Springtime Peonies
  • Best to buy in the bud stage as they will last longer; don't forget to cut an inch off the bottom and remove all leaves that might be submerged in water. Add plant food.
  • Common peony meanings include romance, prosperity, good fortune, a happy marriage, riches, honor, and compassion — but peonies can also mean bashfulness via FTD.com
  • Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”.
  • The peony is the state flower of Indiana.
  • It is also given for twelfth wedding anniversaries because the peony symbolizes honor, fortune, and a happy relationship.

Download the Episode

SaveSave

Direct download: 159ClassicStyle.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #149

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"What's true style? Knowing how to mix the right combinations of ingredients." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today?

Most of us have heard of and are incorporating into our lives a capsule wardrobe, but as much as we'd love to hire a stylist to tell us what to wear every day and how to style the clothes we've invested in, we either absolutely cannot afford such an extravagance or well, let's get serious. But the truth is, we can do it ourselves. Understanding how to cultivate true style into our lives throughout the entire year is completely possible so long as we learn the necessary tools and fail-safe combinations. Former Chanel model and the epitome of Parisian chic Ines de la Fressange has just released her new book to follow up her wildly successful first Parisian Chicand in it she does the work of the stylist. Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? does everything for you except the shopping. With nearly every page in the 130 page book filled with styled outfits and noted for which occasion they would be perfect for, this look book is your guide when you step into your closet. This look book is the finishing touch to building your confidence that you do know how to dress well without having too many clothes to choose from and feeling you have nothing to wear. What I would like to do today is share a glimpse of Ines' suggestions and my favorite outfits, and then I highly recommend you pick up or check out this book. If you are someone who appreciates the classic Parisian chic approach to style, if you adhere to a capsule wardrobe approach and if you want to keep it simple but mix high and low items ensuring you look effortlessly style, take a look inside the book and discover how to become the stylist you've always wanted to hire. 1. Stock your closet with the essentials

  • capsule wardrobe essentials
  • handbags
  • shoes
  • jewelry
  • lingerie
  • outerwear
  • scarves
  • belts

Often we have almost everything we need but a few finishing touches are missing. Take a look at her detailed list (above are just the categories) and find what you may need or what to look for the next time you are shopping or a wonderful sale on your favorite designer clothing or accessories offers a beautiful price. 2. Stick to a dress code unique to each general occasion

  • business
    • beyond the uniform that works for you, how to choose an outfit that transitions from one work place to another business appointment (applying for a loan, a business dinner, etc.)
      • "I Have a Tricky Day Ahead"
        • silk print pants
        • v-neck sweater
        • black velvet flats
        • classic watch
        • bangles

  • family gatherings
    • lunch with a family member, a great aunt perhaps?
      • high waisted pants
      • ruffled or signature blouse
      • pendant necklace
      • high heels or platforms
      • a scarf as a belt

  • personal get-togethers
    • a dinner with an old flame
      • over-the-knee pencil skirt
      • velvet jacket
      • camisole
      • heels
      • classic watch

  • evening attire
    • Dinner at Home with Friends
      • blue jeans
      • white blouse
      • black belt
      • gold bangles
      • black velvet flats

  • vacation
    • airport attire
      • stylish sweatpants
      • t-shirt
      • v-neck sweater (oversized)
      • flat slide sandals
      • navy men's overcoat

  • special, unique occasions
    • museum buff
      • black midi, (perhaps body-con) dress
        • denim jacket
        • lace up sneakers
        • saddle bag
        • bracelets

3. Stick to neutrals One common thread I noticed through all of the items Ines suggests is a neutral color palette. Black, navy, white, khaki/biege, gray, light blue, stripes. While there were a few signature pieces, a sequin gold camisole, printed silk pants, a hot pink sweater and a red saddle purse, these boisterous colors were few, but powerful. The mixing and matching becomes easier when you adhere to a neutral palette that complements your skin tone. Don't deviate from this. For example, the pop of color I often choose is blush pink: my skin instantly looks more bronzed and healthy and it pairs well with everything else in my closet depending upon the season and occasion. Other than that its navy, gray, black, white, stripes and light blue. 4. Finish with few accessories, but don't forget them Each of her looks as you pour through the book reveal typically one piece of jewelry being worn if any and an expected, but signature tote, coat or pair of shoes. 5. Purchase well and don't fuss The key with Parisian chic style is mixing the high and low: a beautiful white silk blouse from Saint Laurent paired with classic denim jeans and costume jewelry bangles. Knowing what you are wearing looks well on your physique will enabled you to say no to extra details and finish with just the right amount of detail. Then once it all comes together, you can relax and enjoy wherever you are headed. 6. Learn the fashion style tricks 

  • wear a khaki military jacket over a little black dress
  • wear a rock t-shirt with a pencil skirt
  • buy clothes in the men's department

A sampling of items that what works for me:

  • jumpsuit
  • denim jacket
  • pencil skirts
  • simple black dress
  • long shirt dress
  • black/navy v-neck sweater
  • black/white t-shirt
  • navy blazer
  • trench coat
  • blue jeans
  • slip-on sneakers
  • wellies (farm/ranch boots)
  • black tote
  • classic watch
  • brown/black belt
  • camisoles
  • black panties
  • black bra
  • men's camel coat (I actually wear a woman's but it is one size too large)

Ultimately, seeing how to pull something together, seeing it on a model is a useful visual we often do not see when it comes to basics and not all in one place. Covered in gold that shimmers, the book will be easy to spot on the shelf as you look to use it again and again and again until these classic ensembles become engrained in your memory. THe most significant take-away for me was a sigh of relief when I saw the outfits. The number of items involved were minimal, the key was quality items paired with finishing touches that worked with the woman's body and the other neutral pieces. So start with #1, begin to build the foundation which is the necessary clothing and then have fun and look forward to stepping into your closet again.

Petit Plaisir:

Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt  

Download the Episode

Download the Episode

Direct download: 149InesTartine_-_32217_6.34_PM.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #142

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 

"Individuals can take hold of [style] and make it their own. Style is about an individual and fashion is about an industry and [fashion] runs on insecurity." —Stacy London 

New York Fashion Week motors on as I tape this week's podcast, and for me, it is holiday and a celebration of sorts. While many trends will be on display, there will also be items that will speak to me as I continually hone my signature style. The priceless gift that style offers is being available to anyone. Each of us has a signature style should we choose to understand what it is. For each of us, this signature style will evolve as we too evolve as individuals. Therefore, the good news that Stacy London shared in a recent interview on Refinery29's Unstyled podcast is true, "Style is possible for everyone." Fashion, on the other hand, asks of us, and sometimes it feels as though it is demanding, to buy, to spend and spend again each season, attempting to keep up with the industry. But by simply understanding the difference between style and fashion, we can better appreciate and carefully select beautiful additions to our wardrobes that will enhance our style and not hinder unnecessarily our budget.

"In place of style we have honored Merchandise. Clothes. Style, on the other hand, doesn't demand a credit card. It prospers on courage and creativity." —Hara Estroff Marano

Courage and creativity. While it may be easier to pull on a ratty tee shirt and slip on loose, battered denim, choosing to craft your signature style offers a variety of benefits. And no, it doesn't require a gloriously flush bank account, but yes, it will require time, patience, thoughtful contemplation about who you are and what truths about your identity you want to reveal to the world. Owning your style is not for the faint of heart. No doubt it would be easier to revert to our youth when we were children, so young we couldn't dress ourselves and allow our mother's to make the decision, but then it wouldn't be our voice we were expressing. Often that is what fashion does, it tells us what to be; it tells us how we should look and by mindlessly following trends, we lose our identity. While clothing is reflective of the current culture, simply look back on your middle school and high school photographs. What did the clothes you were wearing reveal about you? Each of us will see someone different. Some of us will want the courage and confidence we exuded in high school while others will see a clone of the peers that surround them. As I have been pouring over each collection as it is revealed in New York these past few days, I am reminded of my vast ignorance in interpreting what I saw years ago and acknowledge how much more I need to learn; however, as I rest somewhere closer to the latter than the former, I enjoy each new collection like a short film. What is the designer's message, what was their inspiration, what am I drawn to, why am I drawn to it? Victoria Beckham's fall 2017 collection walked the runway on Sunday (today, just hours ago as I type), and it spoke to me. The hues, the lengths, the proportions. Nearly everything echoed the style that is me at this moment in my life: comfortable, yet elegant, feminine while ambiguous, modern inspired by classic and simple while being utterly luxurious. Can I afford Victoria Beckham when the line becomes available? No. Maybe, if the items go on drastic reduction next winter, but even then, most likely no. However, I wasn't considering buying her clothing, I was drawing inspiration. What do I have in my closet now (I do have a few) that fit her template? What items do I need to complete the look? The key understanding to differentiate between style and fashion is that style speaks your language to the world, fashion is in a tongue that is someone else's asking you to learn and be the follower. Style never follows, but is rather inspired by what excites them, speaks to them and then interprets it for themselves. Let's take a look at nine ways understanding how this difference and embracing and acknowledging your own style will change your life in magnificent ways.

1. Make a statement, reveal your identity

"Our wardrobe is our visual vocabulary. Style is our distinctive pattern of speech, our individual poetry." - Hara Estroff Marano

As Marano reminds, style is our own unique language, a dialect of fashion that we make our own so to speak. When we first learn how to speak it, we may feel intimidated to show it to the world, especially if it is vastly different, but the more we communicate confidently, the easier it becomes to step out in our own style each and every day.

2. Exudes security in one's self

An individual who is not afraid to take the time to pull a thoughtful wardrobe together understand the power of clothing. An individual who dresses in such a way that allows the person, themselves to shine, exhibits self-awareness and self-knowledge; two traits that take time to cultivate. And when an individual exudes these qualities it becomes clear that they are more secure than not in themselves. Sure, we all have insecurities, but part of embodying self-awareness and self-knowledge requires valuing yourself and in order to value yourself you must have at least a modicum of comfort in who you are without the external world telling you. That is security, not insecurity, that is being strengthened, and that is attractive.

3. Reveals discipline

Having style requires discipline. Discipline to say no to the trends no matter how much fun they may first appear all the while knowing our individual body, lifestyle, etc. wouldn't allow the woman to shine her brightest. Discipline is also revealed as to how we shop, being patient but determined. Knowing what we need in our wardrobe and taking the time to find it, perhaps tailor it in some instances and care for it properly. Discipline in how we invest, knowing the power of quality over quantity as well as cost per wear.

4. Presumed to be a person of interest

When we dress well, we suggest, however subtly, that we matter. And while the clothes we wear and the clothes others wear do not determine our placement or worth, human beings are visual people. We make quick, subconscious judgments about people, and yes, first impressions matter. Dress well and cultivate assumptions that work in your favor.

5. Separates you from the crowd

Dressing to stand out should never be the goal as it may push you to deviate from your true self, but if you dress well in a manner that aligns with who you are and you do so consistently, it will separate your from the crowd. Dressing well, no matter how casually or formally, involves not necessarily the label that is donned, but knowing how to pull together an outfit that looks good on your body, with your skin tone, hair color, expectations of tasks, etc. And as mentioned in #2 reveals your quiet confidence which brings ease to those around you.

6. Memorable

Wearing a uniform, a signature uniform, provides a simple decision when stepping into your closet. Maybe it is the color palette you choose from, maybe it is the skirt lengths and styles or maybe it is combinations you always gravitate toward. Once you find a style that works for you, stick to it until it no longer does. (I share a few of these examples for myself on the podcast). In doing so, people will remember you. Maybe it is something as small as an individual accessory that you always wear with your clothing, but own it. And when you do, with regularly wearing of this uniform, accessory, etc. you become memorable. Think Carrie Bradshaw and her flower broach or The Good Wife's Alicia Florick in Oscar de la Renta suits. Memorable. The shows are long gone, but the signature styles are remembered. They were worn well, they were worn with confidence and we saw them regularly.

7. Each of us can create a unique identity

"[style is] something recognizable and yet at an unexpected angle, with a surprising twist that both reflects someone's personality and expresses that personality to the outside world." -Joan DeJean, a professor of French language and culture at the University of Pennsylvania

The signature item discussed in #6 begins to establish our identity in others' minds. And while we are not directly dressing for others, we are creating an identity that is memorable. Interestingly enough, our identity will evolve as we evolve. That is the beauty of style. When we grow, our style grows, when our lives change due to decisions we make, different life stages we go through, our style must come with us and reflect who we are now becoming.

8. Alters your behavior

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed that by simply wearing a white lab coat to complete a particular challenging task, similar to that of a doctor, compared to participants who did not wear a white lab coat, those wearing the lab coat performed better. Now it may sound overly simplified, but adjusting and norming all other variables, they discovered that what we wear does effect our psychology, our minds and how we go through life.

"Your interest in fashion is not supposed to minimize your intellect. The same way your disinterest in fashion doesn't mean you're not invited to participate in fashion." -Leandra Medine, Man Repeller

I share Leandra Medine's quote to address the irony of clothing. The irony is caring about what we wear can reveal our intellect, as those who truly understand the power of clothing embrace it and utilize its powers. Yes, if all we focus on is what we're wearing and nothing else, that defeats the purpose. But in truth, someone who understands and respects the power of clothing would not toss its powers aside so blithely.

9. Visually reveals change is possible

"The reason [style] is such a great tool is a great anecdote. Because you do see it. It is visible. But when you see a very fast change and visceral change in yourself. Once you see that that's possible you begin to wonder what else is possible." -Stacy London

We want change in our lives: a better job, improved relationships, fewer pounds, etc. And deciding we want change is easy; the process that must be adhered to for it to materialize takes time. However, updating one's style: pulling on the right sized pants, paired with a flattering top, can take minutes to reveal that change is indeed possible when done thoughtfully.

"By changing what you see is the first step in changing what you believe." - Stacy London

And as Stacy London reminds, as we are visual beings: When we see it, we begin to believe it. If we are seeking change, no matter in what arena in our lives, how we present ourselves to the world can serve as a very powerful step in the right direction as we begin to make the change we seek possible. Wearing the right outfit will not magically and immediately lead to winning an Oscar or improving your bank account or [insert your dream here]. But it is the vehicle in which you begin your journey in the right direction. What you wear reveals who you are. And people want to know the who they are dealing with. They want to know if they can trust you (strong sense of self and confidence - see #2). They want to know you are worth investing in (see #3). They want to know that you are authentic (see #5). Let the world see the magnificent person that you are. Find her, dress her and let her shine without apology.

"Fashion is about clothes and their relationship to the moment. Style is about you and your relationship to yourself. Fashion is in the clothes. Style is in the wearer. The distinction could not be more revealing." -Hara Estroff Marano

  ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Utilize Fashion as a Medium of Communication?

~Why Not . . . Discover the Power of Style?

~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Dressing?

~View all Signature Style posts in the archives here.  

Petit Plaisir:

~La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life by Elaine Sciolino

*author of the New York Times best-seller The Only Street in Paris   ~Sponsor of today’s episode is Plum Deluxe teas. Based in Portland, Oregon, and offering handcrafted, fresh, organic fair trade teas. Join the monthly tea club and receive an exclusive seasonal tea, free shipping and more for only $10/month. Learn more here.

Download the Episode

Direct download: 142StyleOwnIt.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

Is effortless style truly ever effortless? In short, yes. Today discover the five steps to tend to to ensure effortless style that will become a habit worth incorporating into your everyday.

In this week's Petit Plaisir, discover a simple,  yet absolutely delicious recipe for two: Rustic Apple Tart for Two.

Direct download: 103Effortlessstyle_-_5-15-16_1.51_PM.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

A seasonless, classic wardrobe essential is the blazer. In today's episode discover the 6 reasons why a blazer is a must-have in any woman's wardrobe, and then learn 9 ways to style a wardrobe to align with your signature style.

In this week's Petit Plaisir, Shannon shares a simple decor trick to bring a bit more luxury to your bed without breaking the bank. 

Direct download: 58blazer.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

Building a signature style involves knowing who you are, what your physical assets are and understanding what works best with your lifestyle. In today's podcast, Shannon shares 7 specific ways to narrow down and discover what your unique signature style is so that your best self can shine.

Direct download: 15Signaturestyle.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 11:30pm PDT

1