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Ask Aimée

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Fresh Start on Style

Q. I am bored stiff with my wardrobe and sense of style (or lack thereof). I am trapped in a vicious cycle of wearing a leggings-jeans-top combination. In a former life (when I had a career and no children), I was cool, chic and fun! What happened and how can you help?

Susan, Style Gone Astray, Slidell

A. It’s easy to fall into a routine and wear what you deem easy and comfortable. I understand your frustration and predicament. This crisis is not life-threatening and not difficult to solve. To discern if you have a problem, answer these four questions:

Have you been gallivanting around town in your staple black pants by J.Crew or Theory trousers circa 1998?
Did I see you at 3 p.m. car pool in the same tennis togs or Nike workout shorts you dropped off your kids in at 7:45 a.m.? Worse yet, you didn’t even work out!?
Do you stand in front of your packed closet—so packed in fact that it looks as if you tried to squeeze Orleans Parish into Algiers—yet you still have nothing to wear?
Does attempting to pull a simple outfit together to get to a Junior League or city council meeting cause you to pop a Xanax?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you most certainly have a problem, which means it’s time for you to discover (or rediscover) your individual style.

Finding your style is about learning who you are and what comes naturally. It is not about blindly following fashion’s rule book but about embracing your creativity and all the facets of your personality. Fashion and its trends are merely suggestions from editors and designers. It is whimsical and entertaining and does not need to be taken literally. Clothing and accessories are tools; use them to project your personal style.

Guidelines to define your style

—The modern woman is many things. We are mothers, wives, philanthropists, tri-athletes and partners in law firms. A good starting point for getting dressed in the morning is asking, “What am I doing today? Where am I going? Who do I have to be and who do I want to be today?”

—Make a list of people whose fashion sense you admire, both real and fictional (those who may be seen on the cover of Us Weekly). Who do you know that always looks polished and pulled together? Who are your favorite style setters? What celebrities or movies move you aesthetically?

—Start your own “Look Book.” Purchase fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle. Tear out pages of outfits, ads, people and items that inspire or appeal to you. File away any textile or color combinations, scenes or ensembles that help exemplify how you want to look and feel in your clothing.

—Consider what is “appropriate.” This word has nothing to do with your age. You look best or appropriate when you wear what looks and feels good for your lifestyle and your figure. If you are aware of what works for your body type and your daily activities, you will never have to worry about dressing “appropriately” for your age.

—It’s not rocket science. After you complete your “Look Book,” you might find that you fall into one of the following style genres. Like fashion and the seasons, our moods change and so should your outfits. It is fun to experiment with different fashion personalities and categories.

Style Genres

One must not pigeonhole themselves into any category; elements of each field should and can be blended to complete an outfit. Depending on your role and disposition, it is easy to flip-flop from one to another. On Monday you may feel like a “Classic” and choose a tailored navy blazer and Ray-Ban aviators, but on Tuesday you may be feeling “Minimal” so you opt for a black shift dress, black pointy-toe pumps and a bold printed scarf.

Here are a few icons or muses of the different style genres:

The Classics/Archetypes

Jackie O
Brigitte Bardot
Dorothy Dandridge
Tory Burch
Films: La Dolce Vita and Out of Africa

Bohemian/Haute Hippies

Diane von Furstenberg
Frida Kahlo
Joni Mitchell
Stevie Nicks
Janis Joplin
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Films: Cabaret, Last Tango in Paris and Almost Famous

Minimal and Modern

Georgia O’Keefe
Sophia Coppola
Angelina Jolie
Films: Gattaca, Contempt (Le Mépris) and The Matrix

It is a new year, so play dress-up with a new you! Break out of your fashion rut and test out textures (leather and sequins), mix prints and stripes (in the same color family) and add accessories (the more bling the better). I’m not proposing going avant-garde like Lady Gaga, but find your muse and resolve to be chic once again.