I’m not ashamed to admit that these last few years of cottage/coquette/fairy/balletcore have been some of the best of my life. During this time of the great feminine awakening, the fairy godmothers of sweet + dainty fashion bestowed upon us gift after puff-sleeved gift, and we’ve been serving pretty with the afternoon tea ever since. It’s like we came to realize that as much as we love a sleek cool girl look, all we really wanted was to waltz into the little girls’ section and supersize all the dresses for our grown-up selves. With the recent fanciful fashion renaissance, our wishes were finally granted. As a result, just like Halle Bailey in live-action, we’ve found our voice – and our favorite ribbons and bows vendor – and we’ve never felt more alive.
Ditching the Aesthetic Merry-Go-Round
But while the last few years have been beyond dreamy, after jumping feverishly from cottagecore to coastal grandmother to soft girl, we’re a little exhausted. Trying to keep up with the latest TikTok trend is giving anxiety, and can make you feel splintered. Which is why some fashion pioneers around the world are taking a stand – or rather, a seat. i-D, a British fashion magazine known for being a source of leading-edge inspo, recently reported on trendcore fatigue and made a case for ditching the aesthetic merry-go-round in favor of embracing personal style.
Similarly, Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder of the immensely popular – and immensely pretty – LoveShackFancy, is known for her indifference to trends and commitment to the brand’s personal style, regardless of the present trend du jour (some might even say that Cohen was instrumental in ushering in the era of ultrafeminine fashion with her uniquely consistent aesthetic).
Personal Style over Trendcore-phile
So it is, with the concerted permission of some true fashion greats, that we’ve decided to go all in on personal style over trendcore-phile, at least for the foreseeable future. And while we may cruise the trend scene from time to time (there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspo from your favorite fashion icon or genre), we’re no longer overly concerned with the current fashion thing, or whatever it is that Kenley Biebner stepped out in yesterday. In fact, you can heretofore mark us as blissfully ignorant of what’s up next on the never-ending trend-veyor belt. When it comes to getting dressed, we’re turning our attention to what best fits our personal style, and letting the ruffled chips fall where they may.
A Few Tips
So how do you go about ditching the trend-obsession and embracing personal style? How do you even know what your “personal style” is? To be fair, it can seem overwhelming if you’re just starting out on this journey. With so many options available, style decision fatigue is a distinct possibility. But in reality, when broken down into a few simple guidelines, it really isn’t too difficult.
1. What Sparks Joy?
Start paying attention to what sparks joy for you. What makes you stop the figurative (or literal) scroll? Which pieces, or overall looks, make you catch your breath and know instantly in your gut they were meant for you? Listen to that intuition, however quiet it may be at present. Following the deep knowing will always lead you to your best life, sartorially or otherwise, and heeding it strengthens your ability to hear it.
2. Know Thy (Fashion) Self
As the ancient philosopher Socrates so wisely implored, know thy (fashion) self. To better know yourself stylistically, answering a few questions might be helpful. For example, what is your body type, and style essence? (If you don’t know, here are some helpful tips.) Which colors look best on your skin tone? What elements of fashion are making you smile right now, or feel like you want to dance, or perhaps commandeer the stage of a random talent show and sing “Pop, Lock and Drop It” to an audience of confused, yet very entertained, locals? Again, listen to the wild woman here. She knows the way.
3. Mood Check
Finally, check your mood. How do you feel today? How do you want to feel? Do you want to feel carefree and comfy? Pretty and put together? Sensual and sultry? Crafting outfits around your actual, or desired, emotional state not only reflects your inner self, but can also give you a much-needed lift if you’re feeling blah. Honoring where you are emotionally with your outfit can be like giving yourself a comforting hug, or a friendly “get it, girl” booty tap – whichever the occasion requires.
My Personal Style: Cupcakecore
As far as my personal style goes, the sartorial answer to these questions usually looks a lot like a pink and white floral lace-pinafored cupcake (if clothes were desserts-core?). Yes, I will straight-up channel Marie Antionette no matter the venue, even if that venue is your garden-variety local supermarket.
Indeed, here at Julie Drake, Inc., we follow the four rules of feminine fashion: pretty, pink, puffed, and/or bows at every possible juncture.
Paradoxically, the trick is not to make it too sweet. You don’t want to be mistaken for an actual strawberry shortcake. By throwing in an edgy, elevated piece here or a minimalist accent there, you avoid frill fatigue (it’s real). For example, pair anything with lug sole boots, and you’ve got a necessary element of utilitarianism that keeps the look from going full Southern mother of the bride, bless her heart.
The vibe is over-the-top romantic feminine maximalism, if I had to core-ify it. Extra ruffled, extra flowy, and extra pretty. Excessive beauty just makes me happy, like I could take off in flight with the charm of a hummingbird, and flit about from bloom to bloom, without a care in the world. But that’s just me. You might recoil in horror at the thought of voluminous cascading ruffles, or all floral everything, and you’d be perfectly within your rights. In which case, what does speak to you stylistically? Which pieces make you feel like your happiest, truest self? Let this lead the way. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter what your preferred style is; only that it lights you up and sparks Marie Kondo-level joy, body and soul.
Just Close Your Eyes and Jump
Embracing your personal style is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and will most certainly easy-button your wardrobe – and life – decisions. But remember, don’t overcomplicate it. Fashion should be fun, after all. Approach it with the wonder and carefreeness of a child’s first foray with the high dive, catapulting belly first through the air, blissfully unaware of the consequences about to materialize. When it comes to going all in on personal style, like the brave future diving (or kiddie-pool) champions of the world, just close your eyes and jump.
*Stay tuned for Part 2 of this piece, which details every lace, floral, ruffled, and bowed piece I’m adding to my cart for maximum feminine style actualization. Warning – may induce fashion coma.
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