More style musings--I figured out why I love style labels!

With all the discussion on what constitutes bombshell style and whether my style is really bombshell or not, some of you expressed concern that I was getting "hung up" on labels and that I shouldn't try so hard to put a name descriptor to my style. Well, I respectfully disagree! I love style labels and naming style personas. It is so much fun for me. I always read Angie's style persona posts and any forum post having to do with someone trying to define their style. I find it fascinating! And several of you made excellent points which have given me a lot of insight as to why I love it so much.

First of all, I think I'm a left-brainer and analytical by nature. I love to categorize things and figure out what makes things work. Also I think I'm a little more verbal than visual in my learning style, so style descriptors really help me hone in on what I love about an outfit. If you're right brained you may not need labels and just do it intuitively but for me it helps to spell things out.

Then Meridith1953 astutely said that labels are "doctor's shorthand", which made me realize that yes of course, doctors like to name things! We like a diagnosis...we don't like to leave things vague and open-ended and undefined. Doctors see a collection of symptoms and want to put a label on it to figure out what it is. And conversely if someone has a specific diagnosis we know the thirteen findings that go along with that syndrome. So now I realize that the same applies to how I approach fashion. If I see an outfit I like I want to know what is that style and what are the key elements in that style. Then I can analyze what aspects I would want to try or incorporate into my own style. And style names help me keep everyone's else's style straight. Like if MaryK says "business bombshell", I instantly know what she's talking about and can picture what type of outfits she would be wearing.

Also, Zapotee very insightfully pointed out that the personality of the wearer infuses the outfit with its style and that the same outfit can give off a whole different vibe when two different people wear it. Therefore if I understand someone's style, I can see what makes an outfit work for them and how it would look differently on me.

Also, I love juxtaposition, which is why I gravitate toward style oxymorons like demure bombshell or urban warrior bombshell. I think it's so much more interesting when outfits mix up different styles and bring opposing forces into harmony. Tough and ladylike. Yin and yang and all that. I love the creative tension!

Finally, I don't feel like naming your style persona is limiting at all. I don't feel boxed in by it, I feel like it's very freeing. It's like a home base from which you can explore multiple style personalities. I love playing dress up and exploring new styles and mixing different styles together. And Una had a great observation that no matter what style I try, it always remains feminine and ladylike. So whatever I'm wearing, I'm still remaining true to my style. My own, unique creative Natalie style!

Thanks for letting me ramble! Can you tell I'm having fun with this?

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.

24 Comments

  • suzanne m replied 6 years ago

    Yes, it is obvious you are having fun! You go at things whole hog. :-) Pun intended, GP. I enjoy reading your musings and seeing your WIWs, etc.

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    All makes sense to me! Interesting to read your perspective, as I tend to avoid labels (I always hated to be pigeonholed in any way!). I'm also more visual than verbal. But I have pinpointed some labels and hallmarks of my style, although I don't want to shut myself off from other interesting pathways.

    Even though I have a very strong analytical streak (the almost-lawyer in me), I always approached dressing and shopping in a very non-analytical way in the past -- perhaps the only area of my life in which I'm highly impulsive. I think the injection of some analysis into my style has actually helped open up my creativity. I've always flourished in activities that balance left and right brain, so it's fun to bring both into developing my style.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 6 years ago

    I love your rambling Natalie! This makes perfect sense to me and helps me to understand why it's important to you. And your post is very well written BTW!

  • replied 6 years ago

    That is brilliant analysis/diagnosis of how your fashion brain ticks, Natalie! You are so great at explaining things. I also appreciate that you understand why some people like to dress intuitively and don't want to pin their style down. Isn't it great that we can even switch directions at anytime and choose (or figure out) a completely different style persona!

    I am still muddling around and trying to figure out a style persona that would be good for me. I've been doing some major thinking and I'm still at a loss for how to get the effect I want. Like you said, the same outfit would look different on each of us, so it's not like you can just follow a recipe and get what you want. Well you can, but you might need to *adust the seasonings* at the end to make sure you are getting the flavor that you intended. I'm learning which elements add what flavor so that I can get an end result that I like. SO much to learn!

  • nancylee replied 6 years ago

    I appreciate everything you said, Natalie. I love how YLF encourages us to examine and play with (and even label) our style!

  • Claudia replied 6 years ago

    That's a great explanation Natalie and makes a lot of sense. I also think that when people post things here, or anywhere with written words in a brief couple of sentences or paragraphs, it is not the same as a real life conversation where things could be clarified, expanded upon, etc., so sometimes the full meaning or intent of a comment or post is lost or easily misconstrued. Thanks for elaborating on your thoughts and thought process about your style and labels.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, I have clients who feel just the same way as you do. AND clients who feel precisely the opposite. Some people are just more analytical than others. Some like labels - while others loathe it.

    At the end of the day, a label makes communicating about fashion and style so much easier because its *practical*. The only big problem I see with labeling really, is when the receiver does not like his or her label. You happen to be very open and a sport about this type of analysis, Natalie- and that's why labeling works for you.

    As long as this process stays fun - you are 100% on the right track :)

  • Jewell replied 6 years ago

    As a fellow left-brainer who loves to analyze things, I feel the same way! Labeling and categorizing (my own style at least) has been extremely fun and helpful. I love the comparison you drew to doctors. I got a good giggle imagining a conversation with my physician: " I see a little bit of ____ and a little bit of ___. You definitely have something, but I don't think we should get too hung up on giving it a name so long as you're happy with the treatment I prescribe."

    Like you I don't feel boxed in by my self-imposed labels. If anything I feel more free to focus on what I like without a lot of purchasing mistakes. Having words to describe my style also helps me explain (to myself) and others why certain things do or do not work for me. Shopping has been an absolute treat since I defined my style, because now I take one look at something and know whether or not it will gel with my predominant style persona and/or help me accomplish my style goals. I know instantly if I'm going to feel like "myself" in it or not.

    I mention a predominant style persona, because I recognize that I'm drawn to other styles that I don't wear as often such as preppy. I almost made the mistake of buying a lot of clothes for this style before I realized that it wasn't my primary style. Obviously having a defined style doesn't stop me from injecting a little bit of other styles into what I wear.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Great post, Natalie! I really enjoyed reading about your thought process and why you find it helpful to come up with an accurate style descriptor. I think I'm really similar to you in this way. I truly enjoy the process. I don't feel as if I have nailed my own as accurately as you have, but I'm happy to be learning.

  • Michelle replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, even though you're a science girl to the hilt and I'm a word nerd to the marrow, I feel like you tapped into my brain when you wrote this post. I feel precisely the same way about style labels. For me it becomes part of my identity. Most people have descriptors for their personality or adjectives they use to define their character traits, whether it be optimistic, emotional or detail-oriented. Since style is an extension of my personality, for me it's imperative to find ways to describe that extension. I also have the extra impetus to come up with verbal ways of communicating my style goals to the sales assistants on whom I must rely whenn shopping alone, but I know I'f operate this way even if I was fully sighted. It's just a helpful exercise, one that helps me stay focused and keeps me from descending into style chaos. And since I don't feel good if I don't look right, this can only be a good thing. :)
    *high five*

  • mrseccentric replied 6 years ago

    Yay gp! Heehee yr loox sho rt brain v strong as well!agree w Janet that using both sides strengthen whole.

    At times u do sound so flustered i think people don't want to see you upset. Good to know ur having a blast!!!! Steph

  • HelenInCanada replied 6 years ago

    Excellent post, Natalie! Of course it makes sense that you enjoy analyzing and strategically narrowing down labels and descriptors - brilliant! And because you are so articulate and open in sharing the process, your style journey is so enjoyable and educational for others. Keep on doing your thang, GP! :D

  • rae replied 6 years ago

    Fabulous ramble! I especially like the part about your style persona being a home base - it is very freeing to me as well. I feel like I am free to NOT get every style down pat, but to pick and choose what works for my style. Much more manageable.

    I also suspect that I sometimes dress a little UWB, so your quest to find your style descriptors actually helps me as well. And of course it all started with Una concocting the label of UWP - where would I be without that? Label away!

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    I agree. I'm still not happy with any turn of phrase I've come up with, and I want one. I'd still have a style without one, I'm sure -- hilariously, I had my magazine clippings all over the floor and my neighbor saw them, and she was all "This is all SO you!" But I'm analytical too, and I want that satisfaction of intention and grasp. LOL.

  • MsMary replied 6 years ago

    Natalie, you are so much fun! I think you are the poster girl for one of my favorite sayings: "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess!" ;)

  • MNsara replied 6 years ago

    Love your ramble, Natalie! I can only stare in amazement (twinged with envy ;-) at your analysis ;-) I love the doctor/diagnosis analogy too!

    I read this and *wish* I had the inclination to analyze, but I think I'm still muddling along (somewhat) happily. *waving at Claire -- my muddling twin*

  • jayne replied 6 years ago

    I want to join team Natalie...team analytical!

  • Jonesy replied 6 years ago

    I appreciate your thoughts about this, Natalie! It's funny: I am very analytical, but I still have no interest in naming my style :). I guess we all have different elements that make us tick and really get us interested, you know? The bottom line is that you are obviously enjoying the process and having a sort of style re-birth, and it's wonderful! I think many of us here at YLF are, just at varying stages of the process, if that makes sense.

  • Scarlet replied 6 years ago

    I also find a label really helpful for myself. I enjoyed reading your analysis of your situation.

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    Okay, right brain over here, being a lefty. :)

    I love making up labels but not for the reasons you've stated - I just like the creativity of the wordplay involved. I'm a total stickler for the right word. For instance, I feel weeping is different than sobbing which is different than crying. I'm highly annoying in that way.

    Today's label, Butch Brando Bombshell, is courtesy of all of you. I'm not even sure any other outfit would personify that label! It was just fun to come up with something off the wall.

    Natalie, as long as you're having fun and not getting stressed by the whole idea of a label, your musings are insightful and so much fun to read!

  • Meredith1953 replied 6 years ago

    Natalie,
    This was such a great post. I have just started reading the book Style Statement and want to spend some time THOUGHTFULLY writing down what I believe my style to be. I have a "gut" feeling of it but I know that exploring it more fully with language (that doctor shorthand) will help me stay focused and true to myself and my style....as soon as I have actually nailed it down. I don't mind labels because it is just a way of naming a concept I have of something. I want to name, and claim my authentic style and my journey towards it has been enlightening in many ways.

  • cjh replied 6 years ago

    But Una, as a lawyer, I bet your analytical bent is toward exploring all nuances and possibilities and what makes each tiny difference in any situation that comes up in your life. You want to know What if, because that is where you get the ammunition for argument. You analyze one thing, or statement, to find all the possible paths and branches, to leave no argument or definition or outcome unconsidered, whereas Natalie analyzes all the details she is presented with to make a concise statement. Just the opposite way of looking at the world, maybe?

    I can relate to Una's way of thinking, rather than Natalie's, but that is what makes life interesting - each one is so different and unique and wonderful.

    Sorry for the little dose of sappiness there... :-)

  • Mochi replied 6 years ago

    Oooh oooh! Another leftie over here. So I'm right-brained...but why do I also get so analytical so often? I think I have both traits pretty strong.

    I found your analysis fascinating, not to mention extremely well-thought out and communicated. I need to reread it (read it last night and was too tired to comment then).

    For me, one advantage of having a style label, even one that I'm not 100% sold on ("romantic punk") is that now, when I'm considering anything for purchase, I do it through the lens of determining whether this conforms to my label or not. Or even conforms in any kind of spirit or mood to what I'm taking a stab at with the label. It's far from a science. But it helps build a context in which to think of one's image and goals.

    I think for me, I may be idealizing the image...it's more what I would like to be than what I am? I'm not sure where I am with that yet! So glad you clicked immediately with "demure bombshell"! :)

  • Fruitful replied 6 years ago

    I love your self awareness Natalie, and I think your reasons for seeking labels make perfect sense!

    I consider myself very analytical too, however the style labelling thing hasn't sat well with me to this point. I'm not sure why; I think there are some things in life I choose not to intellectualise (although compared to the average person I am still somewhat cerebral about it!). I have also found in life I get analysis paralysis, where my energy gets used up thinking about these kinds of things. I need some energy left for actually getting dressed. At this point I feel I'm best served honing my non-verbal sensibilities about how to choose my wardrobe, and I'm back to prioritising "connectedness" as a key motivator in what I wear (does this feel like me? Will it give me a sense of integrity going about my day and connect the days to other days and finally to my memories? Will it anchor me, and also allow me to move forward?). So I'm compensating my analytical bent rather than utilising it, and focusing on feeling.

    At the end of the day I think a lot of us here have analytical tendencies (to even read and talk about fashion is something a lot of more sensory, instinctive fashion oriented people don't seem to do). I think it's fascinating and wonderful that our mental approach intersects with our approach to dressing in such diverse ways, where for one person, analysis brings joy and pleasure to dressing, and for another, dressing challenges us (or even affords the opportunity) to step away from analysis.

    Oh yeah, and I'm left handed too. I don't think the relationship between brain hemisphere activity and handedness is altogether direct though. ^_^

    Great, stimulating post!

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