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:

the pre-blog days
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.

early blog days
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.

pregnancy #1
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.

back to work
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).

pregnancy #2
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
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
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
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: casual
2015: casual
2015: learning to love (casual) pants
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: skirts & dresses
2015: work pants
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: nailing casual pants
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
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 skirts
2016: work pants (and 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: the year of dresses
2016: more dresses
2016: more dresses
2016: all the 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!

36 Comments on My Style Evolution

  1. aaah early 2014 when I first discovered BCRL, good times! I love this sort of post, looking back over however many years worth of outfits. You’ve had some seriously lovely haircuts / styles over the years.

    I stopped my first blog in 2011 during pregnancy #1 and then came back with a new one when she was a year old as I was in such a rut wearing the same things all the time, hence the 365 bit. To blog about what I wore for a year and see what worked a year post-pregnancy as a part-time office worker, part-time SAHM. Saw the year out then just decided to carry on! I still wear a lot of the same stuff although now I’m another child up and in the office 4 full days a week, sometimes 5. To that end I’m not sure if my style has evolved at all tbh, I’ve parted company with a lot of the twee Anthro stuff but still wear Boden stuff from 2009.

    • I think you have a very cohesive style, actually. It’s a style I adore, even though I don’t feel as “me” wearing it as I used to. I think it’s because I love it so much on you that I sometimes have trouble letting go of certain Anthro pieces …

    • Lou, I’ve just spent a good half hour nosing at your website and outfits when I should have been working – oops! Really love your style, and always nice to find a blogger who lives in the same area and is therefore dressing for the same weather as me! (you mentioned running along the Basingstoke Canal – I’m just outside Reading!)

      • * waves * Hello! Just spotted this at my desk (in Aldermaston), small world isn’t it! I live in Basingstoke so just down the road. Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say 🙂

  2. I love this post! Very interesting – It makes me wish I took pictures of my outfits to make a similar comparison of my evolution!

  3. I always love your style! I have to ask, though, as a woman who is still carrying some baby weight (and my “baby” just turned 8), what did you do to lose the weight, and what are you doing to keep it off? Just looking for some motivation…!

    • I wish I had a good answer, but I honestly don’t. I think I got lucky with my metabolism allowing me one last kick at the “low calorie, Whole 30-ish” can. I used My Fitness Pal to track calories, and avoided processed carbs and sugar (i.e. desserts) as much as possible. Now, I just try to eat in moderation, especially things like bread, potatoes, and chocolate (my weaknesses, basically). Luckily, my body seems pretty good at maintaining a status quo. I do wish I had more time for exercise, only so I could get more fit — but, IMO, diet is like 80%+ of losing weight.

  4. I really enjoyed this! Made me wish I had better documentation of my style “evolution” through the years. Although I think I have been all over the place without a set style for a while though!

    • I’ve been all over the place for years too! I think it’s perfectly normal and actually quite common. Plus, we evolve and change and it’s only natural that our style would do the same, no?

  5. I started my blog in 2009, shortly after giving birth to my youngest daughter. I feel like I’m finally getting my style groove–give me a bright punchy color, funky pattern or texture and I’m in love!

    • Doesn’t it feel so great when that happens? I know a lot of people still think it’s frivolous, but feeling good about what you’re wearing and how you’re presenting yourself to the world is such a mood-booster.

  6. I love the way you approach your past as a style anthropologist! I don’t have comprehensive photo records of past “normal” outfits (as opposed to myself dressed up for special events) but from what I can tell I think my taste (i) has gotten more lux/expensive (ii) has become more concerned with fit and getting things tailored (iii) only started really embracing prints in the last year or so. What hasn’t changed is my love of jeans, handbags, and shift dresses =)

      • Thank you!! I am definitely inspired, I just need to figure out how to organize the jumble into a coherent post!

  7. Loved this post! I enjoyed seeing how your style evolved over the years and absolutely agree that you’ve now hit your stride in terms of colours, print and silhouettes.

  8. I adore your blog! I think you’ve got the best style on the web. I have major closet-envy.

    I’ve been a thrifter for some time now (since college when I realized I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, but loved clothes, and no longer cared if people knew I got my clothes 2nd-hand). Your posts always inspire me about the gems that might be waiting out there.

  9. I love your blog! I think it is fascinating understanding how one’s style evolves over time. I love clothing and fashion and I am currently 6 months post partum and can’t wait to lose the 20 lbs that are really impacting my sartorial choices. The LOE involved in getting back to shape seems daunting and exhausting. I am in a similar situation that you were in around 2015 and I am just trying not to be too hard on myself.

    I like you feel like I have evolved in my fashion choices significantly over the years. I used to love the boho chic appeal of Anthropologie and preppy look of J.CREW (back in the good old days with quality materials) and now I love a more minimalistic look with a biker edge. I have purchased some fun pieces on ebay/poshmark (my version of thrifting as I don’t have the time to go in real-life right now) for fantastic prices. I focus on quality and construction and have found that older pieces from contemporary lines are a good way to get beautiful clothes relatively inexpensively. I can’t wait to wear them (once I drop the weight). I also love dresses as they typically work well on figure (I especially love a good wrap dress). I am sad to see Marc Jacobs get rid of his diffusion line, I loved the MBMJ bags. I bought a couple at good prices before he moved to his new line.

    I need to figure out what to do with all of my clothes that no longer work with my new aesthetic. I will probably end up donating most of them. I have a stupidly large closet and I know I can’t keep on buying more things if I don’t get rid of some items I currently have.

    I have enjoyed reading about your style evolution. I think your more recent choices read more sophisticated. Do you think age plays a factor in your choices? At 36, and a mother of 2, I feel like I will want to project a different look than what I enjoyed in my earlier adulthood.

    Finally I love that you haven’t fallen prey to the monetization trend of blogs (which I totally get as I imagine you spend a significant amount of time on updating your blog) but adding a financial focus seems to be to the detriment of the quality of the content (a month ago, if I saw one more blog about NSALE – how boring).

    • I feel like I had a similar style trajectory (and I love MbMJ bags!) Minimalist with a biker edge is totally my weekend go-to look (when I’m wearing pants). I’m still working on refining the rest of my looks (work and “dressy” casual).

      Don’t be hard on yourself. Back in 2015, I worked hard on embracing my “new” body on the assumption that it would not change again. Having clothes that fit and that I loved helped a lot, actually. Losing the weight, eventually, was a bonus but it happened long after I had given up expecting it. I’m still surprised, to be honest, that my metabolism allowed it. Regardless, I think being in my mid-30s helped my mindset a lot; feeling good about how I looked was a lot less dependent on external factors, and more on my own perspective. I will say that I stopped reading fashion magazines completely around that time, and maybe that helped too.

  10. I absolutely loved this post, and, like others, wish I had taken more photos of my outfits over the years to see how things have progressed! I may have to go back and look at regular photos, just to see…

    Thank you for writing about the postpartum struggles (where I’m currently sitting)! Ugh, its hard. After I gave birth 5 months ago, I felt so skinny (compared to the 41 weeks pregnant I guess hah!) and thought the rest of the weight would come off pretty easily but I’m still struggling with an extra 10-15 that doesn’t see to be budging despite my best efforts. It’s really putting a cramp in my style. I’ve worn the same few things all summer long. Anyway, your post makes me see a little light at the end of the tunnel. I’m so looking forward to either a) losing the weight and getting back to the body I’m comfortable dressing or b) becoming comfortable in this body and learning to dress it the way it is now.

    Thank you for all of this wonderful (free) content you continue to put out there for all of us!

    • Thanks, Kerri! The postpartum struggle is real. After my first pregnancy, I struggled a lot mentally/emotionally; after my second, I struggled with body image — luckily, I never had to deal with both at the same time. But they were both challenging in their own way, and my heart goes out to all women who go through the experience of becoming mothers and find it less “perfect” than advertised. I think it’s amazing that more and more women are willing to share and be open about the struggle, because I think it helps tremendously to normalize issues that so many of us have to deal with. I’ve never been really comfortable with sharing a lot of my personal life, but I admire and applaud writers who can do that (and I do try to share as much as I can with friends who are going through similar things).

      I think either options that you mentioned are good ones — it depends on what works best for you in that moment. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing to want to lose weight (and for purely vanity reasons at that), but the key for me was having that desire come from a place where I still cared for and nurtured my body, not hated it. I know it might sound like a meaningless distinction (how can you love your body and want to change it at the same time), but it made a huge difference for me (I have a history of ED, and am always wary of changing my eating habits). I was committed to trying to lose weight, but my relationship with my body didn’t hang in the balance, if that makes sense. Anyway, I guess I’m just saying – go, you!

      • Thank you for this response Adina! I have a history of ED as well so I tread carefully when it comes to body image/weight loss. I actually found those issues triggered more during my pregnancy than postpartum, surprisingly (or not?). Possibly because my sweet babe keeps me from thinking about it too much now haha! And maybe puts things in perspective, too. Anyway, thanks for your input on this. Very good points for me to think about.

  11. I love this post! Thankfully, I can only do a recap of my hairstyles (although I’m sure there’s a terrible style slideshow in my future somewhere if I get married), but even that is something I don’t think I would have the courage to share online, so kudos to you.

  12. I love seeing how your style has evolved! I’m another one who’s in the throes of postpartum weight-loss (put on about 40 pounds – yikes! – and nearly 12 months down the line I only have another 8 or so to lose, which isn’t bad I guess).
    Personally, my style journey consisted of about ten years of completely random, hit and miss outfits between the ages of 15 and 25, and then I got a bit more cautious and – let’s face it – rather boring in my clothing choices. I think back to some of the stuff I wore in my early twenties and I cringe (there were a LOT of gypsy skirts), but at the same time, at least I was making a statement! Whereas the last five or so years have all been fairly run-of-the-mill “safe” choices, which was probably born out of trying to copy other people’s styles, not feeling confident in those outfits because they didn’t suit me, and ultimately going for something a bit dull.
    I actually feel like I’ve really started to find my own style again in the last few months. Losing weight and feeling more like “me” again has helped, and maybe the confidence I’ve (finally!) developed after having a baby has helped too. I mean, if I can push an 8pound baby out of my body, I can surely wear some funky patterned trousers without worrying what other people think, right?!

    • I’m a big fan of patterns so I say YES to that! The nice thing about getting older, is giving less hoots about what other people think, and being more confident about what you like and want. I’ll take that any day, even if it comes with a side of wrinkles 😉

  13. Hi adina!! Love this post, and I’m really loving your colorful minimalist style right now. I’ve kind of lost touch with fashion blogs since I stopped blogging myself (I’ve stopped reading any blogs at all because I didn’t have the interest) and now I’m in a place where I’m struggling to dress myself everyday and I end up wearing the same jeans and plain t-shirts everyday because I have no desire to try to be stylish, yet I’m hating it. Thank you for providing a bit of motivation! It probably doesn’t help that I quit my job and now a full time SAHM so I don’t really have anywhere to dress up for or impress anyone when I’m just chauffeuring my kids around to their various activities. I may have to hit up my local thrift shop (first time in years… Used to frequent them when I was blogging). I wish I at least was able to keep up with daily outfit pictures so I can see what kind of patterns and trends there are in my daily dressing and also keep up a motivation to stay interesting. thanks for being inspiring!! 🙂