Musings: Personal Style

Today’s topic is: “What are you wearing today? Share your outfit and tell us about your personal style.”

Oh dear… this is a topic that makes me very uncomfortable.

I suppose my personal style can be summed up with two words: OLD. NAVY. That’s not to say that everything I wear is from a vintage store in a deep shade of blue. In actuality, every shirt and pair of jeans in my wardrobe is from Old Navy.

It all started in 1998, when my then-boyfriend took me shopping for ‘girl jeans’. That’s right, up until the age of 22, I had been wearing baggy (i.e. very comfortable) men’s 30×30 Levis. (I must mention that I have always loathed shopping, especially for clothes.) But when a trendy new store called Old Navy announced they had four styles of jeans (playfully named Flirt, Diva, Rockstar, and Sweetheart), one of which was guaranteed to fit any woman’s shape, he insisted we check it out. After a seemingly endless session of trying on pants, which probably lasted about 22 minutes, I bought my first pair of Sweetheart boot-cut jeans, in light blue, as was the fashion of the times.

Fast forward to 2012… my original girl jeans had finally worn out and needed to be replaced. So I went online and ordered the same style, size, and color, only to discover that they no longer offered the light blue color and that the sizing had changed significantly during the previous decade. I was forced to go back to the store and try on new jeans. Ugh! Eventually, I found the right size and bought three identical pairs, in dark blue, as was the fashion of the times. These are the same three pairs that I now wear every day between August and April (except on Friday’s when I get to wear black yoga pants to my evening yoga class in town!)

Sidebar: While looking for a link to attach to this post, I discovered that Old Navy no longer makes dark blue Sweetheart boot-cut jeans! Their homepage ad boasts “lighter, brighter colors for spring” and four new categories: The Rockstar (super skinny jeans that very few people can actually rock), The Boyfriend (which is just baggy and comfortable again), The Flare (apparently hideous 70’s bell bottoms are back and bigger than ever), and The Curvy (I hadn’t thought of myself as curvy, but given the other choices…) I am already dreading the day when I will need to shop for jeans again.

The rest of my closet is a rainbow of Old Navy Perfect Tees: red, pinks, peach, salmon, royal blue, navy, turquoise, light gray, dark gray. Long sleeves for the coldest part of winter (October through March), tank tops during our short summer (June, July, and August), and short sleeves for the rest of the year.

I don’t know why but personal style has never been easy for me. In my early years, I wanted to go to private school, where everyone wore the same plaid uniforms, day after day. As a young adult, I briefly considered becoming a nun so I wouldn’t have to think about what to wear, which apparently isn’t a good enough reason to become a nun (#AwkwardInterviewMoment). More recently, while working in the corporate world, I finally felt like I had figured it out. I had a closet full of pre-matched business suits. Black blazer with black skirt. Gray with gray. Navy with navy. All I had to do was pick a color, select matching shoes, and remember to make regular visits to the dry cleaner. But for now, in my role as a wife and mother, this single brand of jeans and t-shirts is as good as it’s going to get.

My super-stylish sister Sarah sent me a wonderful Australian book called Wardrobe 101 for Mums. It talks about choosing a celebrity style muse and how to select a few key elements to mimic their look. I’ve decided that if I’m going to have a style muse, it’s going to be Kate Middleton.


Even when she’s casual, she looks amazing.


I love how her simple yet elegant clothes flatter, yet don’t over-accentuate, her feminine shape. One day, when I have an unlimited budget and a staff of hairstylists, designers, nannies, chefs, personal trainers, and who know what else, it will be easy for me to look that stylish too. My only departure from the Middleton Way will be the shoes. I’ll stick to flats (except for special occasions that don’t involve standing or walking). I know they don’t look as sexy or as elegant as 3″ heels, but I believe that a genuine smile in flats looks better than a painful scowl in fabulous (yet uncomfortable) shoes.


If you have helpful tips about expressing personal style, please share them in the comments below.

~ Phoebe DeCook

(P.S. If you missed my introduction to these “Musings”, you can read from the beginning here.)


One thought on “Musings: Personal Style

  1. Diane says:

    Yeh, you are one of few people with a figure that could pull off the Kate Middleton look. I have “No style”….anything goes….as long as it’s comfortable. If I had a career I would definitely consider a “capsule wardrobe.” I don’t like shopping either.


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