Reader Question The challenge is reinventing my style without completely replacing my wardrobe for a distinctly new phase in my life. I’m moving from the corporate world to going back to university as a very mature age student. I want to feel comfortable and self-expressive without either standing out too self-consciously so the clothes are wearing me or entirely effacing myself so boring t-shirts and jeans. lifestyle transition Reinvent Your Style
Going into a very casual university environment, back to being a student after having been in the corporate world is a big transition – emotionally, psychologically and even physically.
Your Personal Style
Defining your personal style by creating a style recipe is the first thing you want to do. Your style recipe is will give you the ingredients for your new wardrobe. It will stop you going off track and help you create a wardrobe that you love.
If you’re not sure how to create a style recipe I’ve got masses of posts about this essential wardrobe tool here.
Your style recipe will be your key touchstone and should work for your entire life, not just your work life or your home life or your student life. You know you’ve nailed your style recipe when it works for the whole of you.
Your style recipe is something you should reassess every year or two as your circumstances and lifestyle changes. Your Style Recipe is part of your style journey, not a destination.
Before she passed, the late and wonderful Brenda Kinsel would often talk about that she was in a process of reassessing her style recipe. I do remember over many years, she’d talk about reassessing her style recipe because she’d noticed something new come into her life that she appreciated and wanted to encourage more of.
In my personal style recipe, I added the word glamorous. I’m not overly glamorous but I’ve been incorporating some swish and swoosh in my outfits. The thing with any style recipe is what does that word mean to you? It’s your own interpretation of the word and it doesn’t have to be a dictionary definition. So for me, glamour can be flair or fabric movement. It can also mean adding some sheen or shiny texture such as sequins or patent. There is also an element of the word glamour where I wanted clothing to have more flow and movement to them where I have previous ended to wear fitted items.
If glamour is important to you then adding elements of texture such as fur, feathers, sheen and sparkle will elevate an outfit. Incorporate this element into each outfit so even when you’re really casual there is still a glamour aspect. For example, I’ve got a really casual t-shirt with Crazy Whippet Lady written across the front in pink glitter. Even though it’s super casual, it’s got that glamorous sparkle and it doesn’t look like I’m trying to wear evening wear in the daytime.
If you haven’t developed a style recipe, don’t aim for perfection to begin with as your recipe will change and refine over time. Start with something and try using it as a touchstone when you go shopping to help you make better decisions. Use it as a touchstone when you’re creating outfits every day
Your style recipe does not have to include things you do automatically. Jill Chivers doesn’t need to have leopard print in her style recipe because a leopard print is a given, it her Signature Style. It’s the other things that she wants in it that she has to be reminded of that form her style recipe. If you automatically choose comfortable clothing and comfortable fabrics and comfortable shoes, then you don’t need to have comfortable in your style recipe because it’s a given.
Rework Your Wardrobe
As a mature age student, the young students aren’t expecting you to dress like them. There is an expectation that you’re going to be a little bit more put together as a mature age student. You’re going to have a more exciting wardrobe; you might have better jewelry as you’ve had a lifetime to build those things up. There’s no necessity for you to dress down to fit in with someone who’s just come out of high school who is still learning who they are. They may have been wearing a school uniform all their life and they may not have had the income yet to even create themselves a wardrobe
Once you’ve figured out your style recipe, you can then create casual outfits that still represent who you are out of the clothes you already have. You can adapt some of your corporate clothes to a more casual look but that still reflects your style recipe.
You don’t have to wear the whole corporate suit to class but you may be able to incorporate the individual pieces if that feels comfortable for you – jackets with jeans; pencil skirts with t-shirts and flats. Aim for smart but not overdressed.
I might go to the bank in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt but I do not want my bank manager to be wearing the same outfit. I expect my bank manager to be dressed more conservatively and in professional attire, promoting the business brand or the style recipe of that business.
Thinking about mixing up your corporate pieces – taking those higher level of refinement items and add something a bit lower. Once your add accessories and assess your outfit as a whole, suddenly that that ex-corporate world piece of clothing, no longer appears so corporate.
It’s going to be important for you to feel comfortable in this new environment and also to be able to communicate with people. Figure out how you want to be perceived so that your style recipe adds little details to an outfit that are the expression of you.
More often than not, many university classes have quite a number of mature age students in them. Don’t underestimate what you can offer your fellow classmates and lecturers by expressing your true personality – the diversity of university students is one of its greatest strengths. You know you could be an amazing role model for all those younger students who may be looking for their style and who are slopping about their t-shirts and jeans because they feel like they just have to wear what everybody else is wearing.