Defining My Personal Style

Filed under stuff i like

I think I have split personalities. At least when it comes to my personal style.

See, most of me likes kid stuff. I’m super-nostalgic and get a lot of joy from surrounding myself with toys and games that remind me of my childhood. I grew up wearing clothes other people described as “funky”: tacky plastic rings as big as my fist, polyester bowling shirts, patent leather sneakers, corduroy pants when tight-rolled jeans were cool. I’ve grown up a little since then, but I still like weird t-shirts, earrings made out of Barbie shoes, my bedspread covered in giant jewel-toned polka-dots, and my record player that looks like the hood of a 1950s car.

But a little part of me likes beautiful things, too. The brown brocade curtains my roommate and I picked out for our apartment, the vintage mink stole Kamran bought me two Christmases ago, lace dresses worn with crinolines, pearls and pearls and pearls. Part of me yearns to be someone people would describe as “put together”. But I’m too scared of being generic to shop for sweater sets and riding boots.

I reconcile these two sides of myself by buying frilly party dresses from little girl stores like Forever 21 and ModCloth, but I remain torn. When I go to all of these nice restaurants with Kamran, I feel underdressed in even my poufiest taffeta number. But when I’m out on a Friday night in Williamsburg or the Lower East Side, I feel overdressed in my satin-trimmed “Real Housewives of Orange County”-looking shirts. When I see older women on the bus trying to look like Betsey Johnson, though, it just seems so pathetic. I don’t want to still be wearing teenager jeans when I’m 50.

I want to look like the kind of girl who lives in NYC, dates a lawyer with a Ph.D., and goes to all of the best restaurants but can still hang out at a $10 rock show in the back of some ugly bar. Does that have to involve leather pants and six-inch stiletos? If so, I’m clearly a failure, because I tried to buy expensive-looking jewelry from Etsy for myself yesterday and ended up adding this to my cart:

Can my “personal style” be a mix of polar opposite things?


  1. Lisa says:

    I think you can definitely mix the two, you just need to find pieces that can be worn multiple ways. For example, you might get a simple black dress with lace detailing and wear it with nice heels and simple jewelry for fancy dinners, but dress it down at other times with a casual jacket or playful tights. Even something as simple as that Lego ring would make it less serious.

  2. Cassie says:

    Um, Ett, it’s called personal style. So you do whatever you damn well please. Ain’t no one gonna stop you. And if they do, they can suck it.

  3. Jessica R. says:

    I’m 100% with Cassie here. I love all the stuff you wear. Even those doll slippers. ;)

  4. Loren says:

    I think what you are striving for is ‘classy hot’. Which I think is the hardest type of look to pull off. You probably should have ordered the classy modcloth version of that ring

  5. Kim says:

    Just embrace riding boots and cardigans. They’ll change your life, I swear.

    I’ve never seen you wearing anything embarassing. Do you get dressed up for me? You were wearing an awesome polka dot dress that looked grown up last time I saw you.

    Anyway, I think a lot of the problem when people who had “funky” style as a teenager grow up is that instead of remaining quirky as adults, they just keep buying teen stuff, and that’s how you get on the path to those depressing 50-year-old wannabe Betsey Johnsons. Modcloth/Forever 21 are a weird animal to me, because, sure, some of their stuff is cutely twee and hip or whatever, but it’s also cheaply made and clearly sized for teenagers. I’m not saying it can’t be pulled off — it can — but I am saying I can see why adding a wrap and pearls to a Modcloth party dress could fall short of making you feel like you’re fitting in at the fancy peoples’ dinner table.

    Basically I have no advice, because I’ve never had cool or funky style a day in my life and own about 16 blue dresses and 7 pairs of black heels and not one single lego ring, but, I like what Lisa said above. You should do that.

  6. I’m afraid I can’t be of much help here – It’s a safe bet I’ll never be stylish. Unless a closet full-o-plain black tee shirts suddenly becomes… um… stylish.
    Also, Legos are still the best toy(s). Ever.

  7. Gena says:

    I think I’m at least…quite a few years older than you (you’re not even 30 yet, right?), but I see a lot of myself in this. I’m going to be 40 in 2012, so I’m wondering if perhaps I’m a bit old to rocking a rapidly fading Ramones t-shirt, but then it occurs to me that I’m probably spending way too much time overthinking such things, and that I should let my quirky personality show in the way I dress. As should you. A fine young lady such as yourself should be comfortable standing apart from the crowd as much or as little as you’d like.

  8. Girl your fashion sense looks fly as hell to me. Wear whatever you want!

  9. Babe, you always look stunning in your photos – I can only imagine you look even better in person. I’ve had my own sense of style for as long as I can remember. As I’ve aged, I’ve gotten MUCH more practical. Also, living in maine and spending much of my time outside necessitates trading some items for others. I rarely wear my “super nice” clothes, but that doesn’t mean I look like a schlub on normal days. You just adapt. A single piece of jewelry, a cool scarf or interesting pair of shoes can make an outfit out of everyday stuff. And frankly, I find confidence most alluring, far more than clothes, and that never goes out of style.

    Sounds like you’ve found a happy medium, Katie – rock it.


  10. tasha says:

    I’ve long been convinced that the trick to “pulling it off” is just thinking you can. And you could totally mix riding boots and cardis and that ring, and whatever else craziness you want . . . have you ever read That girl mixes the craziest shit, and it looks kind of awesome, and she kind of does what you’re talking about . . .

    I need to stop saying kind of.

  11. uncle bob says:

    hey! you live in the big apple where anything goes. you wear whatever you want. it’s not like you are going to run into aunt dorothy or any other relative. it was great to see you @ christmas