As far back as I can remember, finding a balance of personal style has always been a top interest to me.
I was born and raised in Northern California. I grew up with an affinity for sports - I was not a girly girl and was often told, "You're such a tomboy." The title is one I was was happy to keep, although my mother must have seen things differently. When I was 9, she enrolled me in etiquette and modeling school. Even then, I would add my personal flair to the wardrobe choices provided for me. I clearly had a need to do things my way (of course, I still do).
Given the choice to wear rompers, I was sure to add leggings underneath. Given a monochromatic outfit, I would add a pop of color.
By the age of 11, I was able to fit in my Grandmother Anita's shoes, and I would often pair her shiny gold loafers with stripes of all kinds, and use her scarves as headbands.
Grandmother would often refer to me as her "glamour girl." In so many ways she reassured me that having a bold personal styled was not only ok, but important.
Thank Goodness my style as a teen consisted of 90's clothing picks: bright colors, and big, baggy, comfortable clothing. I loved over-sized cardigans, basketball jerseys, and jeans and t-shirts. It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I donned dresses and skirts, but my Nike's, basketball jerseys, and jeans were never too far.
In college I became even more comfortable defining my own style.
I found an appreciation for more feminine clothing choices, though I'm sure 100 degree weather during the summer in Sacramento, CA, helped me with some of those choices.
Like most college girls, my friends and I shared clothing, and my friends often tasked me with putting together outfits for them when we would go out.
Every phase of my life has demanded transformation in how I presented myself to the world. I'm thankful I've been able to embraced my own personal style evolution (most of the time) through because it has allowed me to be the best version of..... well, me.
Air Force Years
When I was 19 years old, I began my career as an unsure semi-adult. With time, discipline, and a plethora of great mentors I became a confident young woman. Serving and proudly wear my military uniform daily for almost 7 years was an honor. I wore BDU's (Battle Dress Uniforms - affectionately known by some as fatigues or cammo pants) most days, and Dress Blues (more of a corporate look) were always in rotation, but the most fashionable wear to me was the white utility uniform since I worked in the hospital.
My "off-time" wardrobe was a little less impressive. I, like many others in my situation, had moments of over-compensation as a counter to the often masculine military environment.
My desire to display "who I was" didn't always come across the way I planned. I sometimes wore half shirts, and occasionally clothing that was a bit too snug.
My "civilian" clothing was a mix of who I was, who I was growing into, and who I used to be.
Of course, there were influences of whatever I could find at the Base Exchanges of wherever I was stationed at the time (Can you picture it? Yup - it was a MESS!).
The reason this time is so important to me to mention is that in our uniforms the other women and I were polished and pristine, but in our civilian clothes, we were quite the opposite.
Fast forward to transitioning into civilian life.
We were given lasses about what to wear when re-entering the corporate world. We were told to purchase "respectable clothing" such as closed toed heels, and to be sure we had a black suit off the rack. This was how professionals dressed.
I followed this advice, but still felt uncomfortable and wondered why I couldn't add a pop of color or purchase suiting and professional clothing separates that fit me better.
While the information I received was not wrong, it just wasn't particularly right for me.
I loved the time I served my country, but when it was time to put that uniform away.....I needed to find out how to present who I was again, and that was going to be an interesting journey.
I look forward to sharing more of my "Styled" Story with you in the next blog post!