I got the idea for this post from Reddit (one of my favourite procrastination destinations on the web at the moment — welcome to 2010!), and thought it would be fun to attempt to chart my own style evolution here — mainly for entertainment purposes, but don’t be afraid to try this at home. The actual work was harder than I anticipated, because while this blog does memorialize for posterity my bad fashion choices, there is an over-abundance of such choices to consider and very little to connect them into any semblance of a coherent narrative. Simply put, my style has been all over the place in the last decade. With that said, I tried. And the main lesson I learned from the exercise was that I’m actually getting better at getting myself dressed. Not a moment too soon, considering I just turned 36.
Let’s start our journey together (you’re still with me, I hope?) back in 2009. It’s an arbitrary year from a sartorial point of view, but a necessary starting point practically-speaking; I don’t have any older photos on my current hard drive. You’re not missing much, in any case. I spent my teens dressed in Walmart and thrift clothes (back then, that meant 70s polyester collared shirts and mom pants, not designer anything), and my early and mid-twenties dressed in the cheapest mall couture I could find. I only really started to get interested in fashion towards 2008, when a friend introduced me to the joys of consignment shopping.
So, 2009. Picture it: I was living downtown, had recently started a new job, and was about to conclude a long-distance relationship — happily, by getting engaged and having my then-boyfriend move back to Edmonton. I was an avid reader of fashion magazines, but definitely felt alienated from the whole fashion world in my relatively small provincial town. (The Edmonton scene was definitely different back then; it was a HUGE deal when the first Coach store opened here, back in 2008 or so.) My outfits were pretty snooze-worthy:
2009: the pre-blog days
Like every other person who felt invisible to the fashion world back then, I started a blog in 2010. At the time, I thought it was a very avant-garde thing to do; I didn’t spend much time online back in those days. Anyway. The early days were filled with a whirlwind of experimentation — colours, prints, every and all styles (I wore harem pants uninronically once, you guys). I was all over the place, in no small part because I was shopping mainly secondhand and fast fashion clearance racks (H&M in particular) and snatching up “bargains” indiscriminately.
2010: early blog days
2011 was the year of my first pregnancy. (Technically, I was only pregnant for about 6 months of that year. The balance of the year was lost to a postpartum haze, the less of which we speak, the better.) I totally wanted to be one of those cute, stylish pregnant women, and at the time I felt relatively good about my pregnancy style for the most part. In retrospect, I did OK — a little over-the-top with the colours and prints, but par for the course for my then-sartorial persona.
2011: pregnancy #1
2012 was a tough year, style-wise. I struggled with my maternity style (and my maternity leave in general), and then I struggled with my back-to-work style too. I think that period coincided with my short-lived “must dress interestingly for the blog” phase, and the results were kinda, well, not great.
2012: back to work
2013 was the year of pregnancy #2, when everything went downhill. I had a rougher go of it (although I was generally healthy, thankfully) and struggled with dressing my pregnant body far more than the first time around. To be honest, in retrospect, I hate pretty much all of the outfits I wore during that time. My goal at the time was to dress like my usual self, so I resisted maternity clothing for far longer than I should have; it was a strategy that had worked fine before, because of the way I carried my first pregnancy, but didn’t work so well the second time (I gained weight differently, and experienced far more water retention).
2013: pregnancy #2
After I had my daughter, my body decided to surprise me and not do what I had expected it to do, based on my first go-round. The extra 20 pounds I was left with … well, they never really budged, even after I stopped breastfeeding. Since I didn’t have the time (or energy) to keep up with my previous fitness routine, that original 20 pounds slowly kept creeping up. Mentally, however, I was in a far better space than following the birth of my son, so I was able to devote some attention to figuring out how to dress my new body.
2014: the early post-partum months
By that summer, I had hit a good groove. I even started wearing shorts for the first time! It was my first non-working (non-pregnant) summer in many years, and I really got into my casual clothes. Let’s just say, I spent a LOT of time at Old Navy and the J. Crew Factory stores in 2014 — enough to get on a first name basis with some of the sales associates. Good times.
2014: the summer of casual
Then it was time to get back to work (and a new role), which meant trying to figure out a whole new wardrobe. More shopping was involved — a lot of it on eBay. That fall was also when I started to get back into thrifting. Style-wise, I was still floundering a bit, but my first priority was feeling comfortable and confident in my own skin (and clothes).
2014: back to work … again
In 2015, I feel like I started to really hit my stride. OK, not gonna lie: losing the extra 30 or so pounds I had been carrying for over a year and a half helped a lot. With a few notable exceptions, my body was more or less back to what it had been, pre-pregnancies. It’s a lot easier to dress a body whose proportions you know well, right? Plus, as one anonymous internet commenter once wrote in reference to yours truly (and I’m paraphrasing here), it’s not exactly a struggle to get dressed when you’re a skinny woman. She had a point, I guess. I’m fully cognizant that my sartorial “struggles” are of a very privileged kind — the result of having too many decent options, and an indecisive personality.
Getting back from that tangent, in 2015, I continued my refine my casual style — slowly moving closer towards what might ultimately be called a “colourful minimalist” aesthetic.
2015: learning to love (casual) pants
Due to a combination of weight loss and re-dedication to thrifting, there was a lot of turnover in my closet in 2015. Although I still did a fair bit of experimentation with my work clothes, I also began to narrow in on silhouettes and outfit formulas that made me feel most polished and confident.
2015: skirts & dresses
2015: work pants
Ah, 2016. At the risk of looking back on this and being embarrassed by unwarranted optimism, I will venture to say that 2016 has been the year of hitting my stride, style-wise. Not that there haven’t been missteps along the way, but I do think they are becoming more and more infrequent. I know, because it was really hard to pick just a few favourite outfits for purposes of this demonstration. So prepare for an onslaught!
First up, casual wear. I think I’ve finally nailed my off-work mommy uniform. My core colours are black, grey, white, blue, mustard, and khaki, and I’m happy to rock those every weekend.
2016: spring/fall casual
My “fun” weekend wear is a looser category, with a less well defined colour palette and a more pronounced boho vibe. Thanks to thrifting, I’ve cycled through a lot of cute summer dresses, trying them on “for size” as it were, before settling on a smaller core of favourites. As I “recycle” all of my (already preloved) clothes — through donation, swapping, or selling — this has been a relatively inexpensive and guilt-free experiment. I highly recommend using thrifting as a way to engage in a similar process if you’re still trying to figure out your personal style, or if you simply like a lot of variety in your wardrobe game.
2016: summer casual
In 2016, I have also hit a stride with my work clothes. As I mentioned above, I think my current style can be best described as “colourful minimalist”. I’m happy with that, though I doubt it’s the end of the road, err, evolution.
2016: work skirts
2016: work pants (and skirts)
But more than anything, I think it’s safe to say that 2016 has been the year of dresses. All the dresses. All of them.
2016: the year of dresses
2016: more dresses
2016: all the dresses!
Hope you enjoyed this visual trip back in time. I would love to hear your style evolution stories, so hit me up in the comments!