How getting dressed is a lot like cooking

How getting dressed is a lot like cooking

This story starts with a big mistake.

Last year my friend came home from a great vacation, which she spent lying on the beach, eating great food, watching Mad Men reruns, and perusing the What I Wore blog.  I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up.  This is what I looked up.  (It’s a parody of a daily style blog—almost every photo is a guy in khakis and a corporate polo.)  I thought my friend must know either know the guy or have an ironic sense of humor.

I didn’t realize my mistake until last month, when I spotted What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style among other newly-released books at the library, and instantly remembered my friend’s vacation.  Turns out, the What I Wore blog is on tumblr, and you can find it here.  Big difference, huh?

I snapped up the book, and browsed through the blog, and I must say, I’m impressed.

Jessica Quirk has been style blogging since 2008, and she compares getting dressed to cooking.  You don’t develop personal style overnight; first, you have to learn the basics.  You start by learning techniques and following recipes.  Once you develop some foundational skills, then it becomes easy to improvise.  Jessica says:

My goal with What I Wore is to help you create your own twist on a basic recipe–to take stock of what’s in your closet, help you with a shopping list, and cook up outfit after outfit that makes you feel great about yourself.

Really, it’s the fashion version of learning to cook without a book.  Now that is an analogy I can work with!

I loved this book for its quick and easy introduction to the world of What I Wore.  I really like the blog (now that I’ve arrived at the right What I Wore), but Jessica is now in her fourth year of style blogging, and the amount of content is a little overwhelming.  The book gives a nice little overview that you can hold in your hand.

The book is filled with fashion sketches that look like this:

It’s packed with tips and tricks like the cost per wear equation, the rule of three, and the guide to storing jewelry, hosiery and accessories.  (That last one is a killer for me, but the recommended clear plastic trays are now on my Target shopping list.)

(And I loved that Jessica is a big fan of slips.  I have quite a collection, but I rarely wear them.  But after reading someone under 80 say that slips are worth wearing , I’ve resurrected my collection from the back of the closet.  Thanks, Jessica!)

The book is a lot of fun….but really, you should check out the blog.  Jessica is a daily style blogger: each day she posts a picture of her daily outfit with sources and commentary.  A typical daily outfit might look like this:

photo via What I Wore

(To all you sewists out there: the What I Wore blog has a whole section devoted to sewing, and it’s pretty fab.)

I’m glad I finally found the right What I Wore.  Because I can cook.  I learned the recipes so well that now I hardly need them.  And if great personal style can be had by learning the recipes and improvising from there, I think there’s hope that I can develop great–instead of passable–personal style.

And I’ll enjoy looking to What I Wore for inspiration along the way–the blog and the book!

What are your thoughts about developing one’s own personal style?  Have you visited What I Wore? Post fashionable thoughts to comments!

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  1. I will definitely be checking out the blog!

    I have a friend who has an excellent sense of fashion. Last semester I asked her to go with me through my closet and make suggestions of different ways to wear the clothes I already has, because I have a lot. She gave me a lot of great ideas, suggesting I put things together that I never would have dreamed of, but it really worked!

    I’m pretty happy with the way I dress. I couldn’t give you a definition of my own “style,” but I feel good in the clothes I wear. I think that’s what really matters. 🙂

    However…I will definitely be checking out “What I Wore”! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Jaimie, it must be so fun to have a friend like that! And feeling good in the clothes you wear sounds pretty stylish to me.

      • Anne, it is! 🙂 Pretty much every outfit she wears is an inspiration. 🙂

        I have to tell you, after seeing all the fun dresses on “What I Wore” that she wears EVERY day, I put on one of my favorite cute dresses to wear today. My husband really appreciated it, and I love how I look. 🙂

  2. Audrey says:

    What a fun site (and I that’s pretty funny about the *other What I Wore!).

    I’m really impressed by some of the clothes that she made herself! I really need to learn to sew! 😛

  3. The two style blogs I am the most familiar with are What I Wore and Kendi Everyday. And I like and admire both of them, but as a short person, I sometimes have trouble finding inspiration from women who legs go all the way up to their armpits. 🙂

  4. FishMama says:

    After I posted about Hallie’s shopping trip for me, a reader pointed me to What I Wore. (I also took a detour by the wrong blog, LOL.) Between Hallie and Jessica Quirk, I’ve been able to look at my closet with new eyes and see how I can put stuff together that suits me. It’s really been fun.

    Since the archives are sooooo vast, as you say, my 2yo and I are spending a few minutes every couple nights looking at clothes. It’s precious as she sits on my lap, looking at “pwetty dwesses.” She’s a tot-sized fashion maven so it’s hilarious to see which outfits she points out in the sidebars and stuff. She already has more sense of style than I do!

    • Anne says:

      Jessica, it cracks me up that we both ended up at the wrong What I Wore. At least you knew enough to not give up–unlike me!

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