Personal aesthetic

shallow focus photography of assorted color clothes hanged on clothes rack
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Something I’ve been thinking about this year is my own personal style. With fast fashion becoming an outmoded concept, I get the feeling many of us are moving towards finding a classic look and keeping to it. Knowing what works for your body, lifestyle, and taste, means shopping becomes easier and helps with confidence.

As I move into my thirties I find some of the shapes and silhouettes I’ve always loved remain high on rotation, and some rarely see the light of day. Recently I’ve been scouring eBay and Re-Fashion for a wardrobe update, replacing cheap with more hard-wearing items.

Quite apart from the ethical and environmental positives of second-hand clothes shopping, there are a number of other benefits. Charity shops and online sources offer the chance to score something original or unusual, that as shoppers we might not have come across on the high street.

While I loved this forced experimentation in my teenage years – trying on different lives in the form of the fuchsia gypsy top, the quilted waistcoat – these days I am a little less patient. I know what looks good and what I feel comfortable in, and I no longer desire the cartoon-covered tee shirts of my twenties.

Shopping second-hand started to feel like a chore instead of a treat. Whipping around Shelter or British Red Cross looking for something specific was no fun. It didn’t help that, post-baby, my body is different and I’m still breastfeeding. There’s a certain level of access needed, and that’s before considering the activities we get up to: crawling around soft play, splashing in puddles.

I like dresses. I love chucking a pretty one on over bright tights with boots and a cardigan, or barelegged in summer. During my city life I wore short dresses almost exclusively as they were perfect for cycling to the pub, arriving windswept and rosy-cheeked.

I like tight jeans and camisole tops. A-line skirts with pockets. I’ve never stopped adoring the wide-leg trousers I discovered at 15.

None of these are particularly suitable for the life I lead at this moment. Sticky toddler hands do not go well with dry-clean only, country paths require rugged clothes.

Having a personal aesthetic can make second-hand shopping more difficult, and also less. I have certain rules: I never buy Primark, I prefer silk and cotton. I don’t mind repairing items, as long as they are suitable for repair. There’s no point in buying a poor quality piece, even if you love it on the hanger, because it won’t feel right on. There’s no point in housing pieces that don’t make you feel at your best.

For those who are ready to lean in to their own personal favourite style, there are a number of resources online. Capsule wardrobes are a great place to start.

Don’t fall into the KonMarie trap of throwing away anything that hasn’t been worn in a while, but instead pack it away. Next time you see it you may be excited or you may feel indifferent, and then you’ll have your answer.

My best tip is to have pictures of yourself wearing the clothes that make you feel your best. Capture that sense of confidence and keep it close to hand as a reminder of what you love, and it’ll feel easier than ever to avoid buying into unflattering trends.

Buying sustainably and ethically and avoiding plastic is great, but buying less is the best thing we can do for our planet. Knowing your own personal aesthetic is an easy way to opt out of harmful fast fashion and effect change.