Imani Smith


   Hello again and thanks for checking out the second installment of Elements of Style. In part 1 I explored what I deem to be the internal elements of style: a sense of self and confidence. Knowing exactly who you are, remembering to take inventory of your regularly evolving opinions and preferences and loving yourself are the keys to mastering those internal elements of style. Maintaining your sense of self and your confidence are both full time jobs that never end. Although invisible, these elements are vital. Paying your electricity bill is no fun, but you reap the benefits of doing so every single day. Being confident and self-aware is exactly the same concept: you have to pay the cost to be the boss.

   In this segment, I will discuss two additional elements of style. These elements are external and are just as important as the internal ones. When you examine your wardrobe and determine which pieces actually fit well and serve your lifestyle needs, you may realize that you have considerably less than what you thought you had. After you determine what needs to stay and what needs to be removed from your closet, it’s time to breathe new life into your wardrobe. When you feel that you’re ready to start shopping, the following external elements of style should be considered.


   When it comes to shopping, it’s important to understand that clothing isn’t always designed with YOUR particular body type in mind. That doesn’t mean that your body is the problem, it simply means that your garments may need to be altered. It’s just that simple! Don’t take it personally if a pair of jeans doesn’t fit you right off the rack. If alterations aren’t in your budget, try shopping at a different store. The sizes of mass produced clothing vary so drastically from brand to brand that it’s almost unbelievable. If it fits you properly, is well made and you like the way that it looks there’s no sense in getting caught up in the size of your clothing. Never let anything as trivial as numbers on a tag define your self-worth.

   In regard to clothing, it is also important to understand that fashion is cyclical. This means that everything old eventually becomes new again (whether we want it to or not). When applying this logic to the process of cultivating your personal style, it’s important to understand that a well-rounded wardrobe contains both classic AND trendy pieces.

   Knowing the difference between what is classic and what is trendy is vital when it comes to style. Do you ever notice that you see some of the same prints or cuts year after year? Think classic khaki trench coats in spring or tartan plaid scarves in winter. Some things never go out of style, and those are classics. Classics that you can effortlessly work into your looks year after year are the secret to a well-rounded wardrobe that does all of the hard work for you. It’s important to invest in good quality basics because you know that you’ll be getting your money’s worth if you continue to turn to them time and time again.

   Trendy pieces are fun and a great way to freshen up your look with a contemporary twist. If you’re in the beginning stages of revamping your wardrobe, it may not be the wisest decision to invest in a trendy piece that will be looking dated within 6 months. I would advise spending a little less on those impractical items that you can only see yourself wearing only a few times in one or two specific settings. Just imagine if you spent $1,000 on a pair of Kanye inspired striped aviator sunglasses back in 2007.

   Keep in mind that fashion changes constantly. That’s what makes it so much fun! Your style is how you choose to incorporate fashion into your everyday life. Stylish people don’t always have to follow every trend, and following every new trend doesn’t always equate to stylishness. Create a balanced look by combining your trendier pieces with your tried-and-true basics for an individual yet timeless feel.


   The second external element of style is developing an understanding of quality versus quantity. Would you rather have a closet overflowing with dated, ill fitting, cheaply made pieces OR a curated selection of pieces perfectly suited for your lifestyle needs that you can’t wait to wear? I hope the latter was more captivating. Having too many clothes can become overwhelming. A high quantity of clothing, shoes and accessories does not directly translate to a high quality of style.

   If something no longer fits you properly, is damaged beyond repair or hasn’t been worn in over a year that item no longer serves your wardrobe and it must go. It’s easy to hold onto something for sentimental reasons, or because you love it or even because it was an expensive purchase. All of those reasons lose their meaning when every time you challenge yourself with the task of getting dressed you find that you have ‘nothing to wear.’ Don’t be afraid to let things go! Fill your wardrobe with well- constructed pieces that will serve you over a long period of time. Working with a stylist can help you determine what kinds of pieces are essentials to a well-rounded wardrobe.

   Working with a personal stylist isn’t just for the rich and famous, style is for everyone! In the spirit of normalizing the concept of working with a stylist, I asked one of my clients to outline her experience with working with me. Marchè Gendrew is a social worker and graduate student who was in need of a wardrobe overhaul. After an initial consultation to discuss her needs and expectations, we spent hours sorting through her wardrobe and determining which pieces should stay and which ones needed to go. After she was left with only a few essentials that served her current lifestyle and mindset, we had two personal shopping sessions. Here are her thoughts on the experience:

What made you want to start the wardrobe overhaul process?

Marchè: I’m in a place where I want my clothes to reflect how I feel. I’ve lost over 25 lbs and nothing in my closet fit nor was for me anymore. I’ve had many of those pieces for years and it was time for them to go.

How were you feeling throughout the process?

Marchè: It was an easy transition for me. Although, after I didn’t have anything left (after the purge) I got worried but Imani assured me that it was ok. She gave me advice on how to shop moving forward- most importantly to go through everything, take my time and to select solid pieces.

What did you take away from the experience?

Marchè: Not to be afraid to take chances with my wardrobe and that I look great in stripes!

   If you’ve entered a new chapter in your life, maybe it’s time to consider updating your wardrobe to reflect the new you. Working with a personal stylist is as easy as scheduling a consultation. Remember, with a strong personal style, anything is possible.

Imani Smith

ImaniSmith.FolioHD.com StyledByImaniS@gmail.com

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