Where you’re from instills a lot of things in you – your accent, your first sports allegiance and, I’d argue, your style.
Growing up in the Midwest (Wisconsin, specifically), I never really thought much about the influence my roots had on my personal style. “Wisconsin” and “fashion” aren’t usually uttered in the same sentence. But upon further reflection, I see that growing up where I did influenced me in several ways. Here’s what I learned about my style, growing up in the dairy state:
Fashion must be functional
If you can’t push your car out of a snowbank in what you’re wearing, you have on the wrong outfit. This early lesson about the utility of clothing has stayed with me. Now that I live in New York, I’m still adamant about wearing the right shoes – a pair of stilettos simply won’t do on a city sidewalk filled with subway grates.
Go your own way
As it turns out, living in a place not known for being fashion-forward furthered my style in its own way.
In a state where sports apparel rules at school, the mall, even at church, pushing the fashion limits is as easy – and as scary – as simply trying out trendy looks. When everyone around you is decked out in Packers gear, you have to be pretty self-assured to go against the, well, pack. Thankfully, I was surrounded by friends and family who loved me and indulged my forays into fashion, for better or for worse (and trust me, some of them were definitely for worse). Today, I’m comfortable and confident in wearing what I want to, even when it’s not the norm.
That’s probably why now I’m so adamant with readers reluctant to try new styles. Yes – it’s OK to dress up more than your peers and – yes – it’s OK to make an effort to up your style game even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone. Even when (sometimes) the results aren’t perfect. There’s always tomorrow’s outfit to try again.
The power of a dollar
Finally, growing up in the Midwest I learned to be very conscious of how much I spend on clothes – as in, the less money spent, the better.
Dropping an exorbitant amount of money on one’s wardrobe was just not done growing up – not in my household, and not by my friends either. While this thriftiness has mostly served me well, I’ve had to get it through my head that well-made clothing that’s a little pricier is not necessarily the enemy.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ll always love getting a great deal on the clearance racks at Target, but I know that investing in beautifully made clothing and accessories is just that – an investment. I will never be someone whose closet is stocked with all high-priced clothing, but some items are worth the extra zero on the price tag.
That’s why you can be sure that when I recommend you buy something – shoes, a suit, a cashmere sweater – that makes your eyes bug out of your head a little, I don’t do so lightly. I would never spend money on something I didn’t think would really go the distance, and I wouldn’t tell you to do so either unless I really believed it was a worthwhile way to spend the hard-earned money in your wallet.