The Secret of a Successful Appearance

“Why not be oneself? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance.
If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekinese?”
~ Dame Edith Sitwell

Clothing mistakes. Who among us hasn’t made them? If our clothing is a metaphor for what’s inside us, why would we want to keep those blunders?

The more comfortable I become in my own, changing skin, the fewer faux pas I make.
I’m fairly certain what I want people to know about me, when I walk into a room, based solely on my clothes.

I no longer make the age appropriate mistake.
I don’t need to wonder if something is too young for me.
My idiot meter, mercifully, screams loud and clear on that one.
And yet…I now have several impostors in my trunk heading back to the store.

Someone else will look and feel fabulous in the patterned, flowy skirt.
The structured blazer belongs in another woman’s wardrobe.
And the shockingly bright, sweater that called to me from the escalator…is not me.

Those siren calls don’t usually grab me, but this week I was an easy mark.

I’m packing for an upcoming holiday. But nowhere in my life would these garments work for me. They grate on my eyes and sensibilities in the clear light of my mirror.

Do you keep the impostors you buy? Try to make them work for you?

Perhaps you don’t make those mistakes?


  1. The last two years have shown me that the business suits I used to wear are no longer me. I’ve also learned I’m comfortable in leather pants. Think I’ve already told you, the biggest problem I now have is I’m crazy… mad crazy, crazy about Brunello Cucinelli. I just can’t afford it. Perhaps I should take up bank robbery as my next reinvention.

  2. Coming out of my writers cave, where I spend 9 months writing a book in my pj’s , and suddenly having to dress for a book tour is always so stressful, thank goodness for stylists!

    1. It’s great to have a professional help in areas we’re not. Can’t wait to read your book Doreen!

  3. I’m still trying to figure out my look! Maybe one day when I finally grow up I’ll get it together until then I think I;m just chasing the imposters!

    1. Do we have to grow up? Darn, I’m kind of enjoying, feeling like I’m a work in progress. Those imposters can get expensive. Any time you’d like some help, just let me know!

  4. Love this Jennifer. Something many folks find hard but so important to be true to ourselves in all areas of our life, including how we show up on the outside. Having been in the business world in some way, shape or form most of my adult life, I used to conform to the status quo on business wear. I few years back I decided “no. No more business clothes.” They are not who I am. Still working on getting there with my clothes to truly represent me but it is liberating to have taken steps in the right direction.

    1. It does feel good. And it’s a process. Heck, I’m still morphing mine:) Nothing stays static, not even our personal style.

  5. I recently let a dozen hats leave my collection, bound for my cousin’s daughter’s wardrobe and for the less fortunate. My collection feels so much cleaner and more logical now.

  6. Kathy A Delightsome Life says:

    Yes, and it seems my daughters are grateful for those things that just don’t suit me – always works for them. Though, I’ll always love feminine, flowy skirts. I hope if I live to be 100 that I’ll love the look and feel of flowy skirts.

  7. I’ve probably made every clothing mistake there is to be made. I’ve also gone in and out of “this is how I’m going to dress, like it or not.” Still making mistakes, hoping to make less of them and just trying to STOP in general. 😉

  8. Ha ha – yes I am guilty of making mistakes from time to time (my post before last tells of two recently!) but thankfully they are few and far between. And I love the quote at the beginning of your post! Too funny… ! S x

  9. Impulse buying.. I have done it and sometimes regret it. As I’ve gotten older I’m more selective and do a bit more layering. Fortunately I live in a climate that works well for me in that respect. My daughter can wear anything and it’s a reminder of how our wardrobe choices change over the years.

  10. I love your description. “Capricious whims” sounds so much more elegant. It is all about fine tuning, isn’t it?

  11. pve design says:

    I find myself craving some sort of uniform with a few accents tossed in for flair.
    When I was pregnant, I found that the limited wardrobe worked well. There was far less selection at that time….
    Some items are not necessarily regrets, but “capricious whims” that keep me fine-tuning.

  12. Eh…it still happens I regret some buys, one should think I would be more secure never getting it wrong now at the age of 41…but clothes are too fun to not sometimes go overboard and make the wrong decisions. Great post and subject! xo Caroline

    1. So long as we return the mistakes! I have a friend who will not return anything. Consequently she has thousands of dollars of unworn garments in her wardrobe. It’s ridiculous.

  13. I love the expression “clothing imposters.” Yes, I have done it and it’s usually something trendy. It rarely works and I return it to the store. The classics have staying power and are always my go to choices. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. I agree about the classics. I occasionally toss in a small interpretation of a new trend. But very carefully.

  14. Heck no – the imposters go right back to the store! 🙂 (So nice that there’s no limit on returns.) It helps that I don’t shop much, not having the money for it. So the tried-and-true items tend to stay in my wardrobe.

    One benefit of aging is learning not to care what the trends are, but being content to wear what works on me, even if it’s not currently in fashion. I think the biggest difficulty is my dear husband, who would love to see me still dressed in the styles of the 80s and early 90s (nostalgia, I presume), and doesn’t seem to grasp that some of them are no longer appropriate for someone my age. 🙂

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  15. A little bit of synchronicity seems to be at play here – I’ve spent the better part of the early morning on this Victoria Day cleaning out my closet. Gone is the turquoise car-length blazer that just makes me feel short – gone is the black tweedy suit – gone are several pairs of uncomfortable shoes. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile one’s inner vision of oneself with what the mirror shows. Of course, age has brought a little more self awareness too.
    I echo the Hostess’s invitation!

    1. That is a challenge. But I realize I will not wake up 6″taller or with narrower shoulders so some things just have to go to a better home.
      I’d love to meet for tea. I’ll let you know when I plan to come down for the day!!

  16. I haven’t bought too many impostors in the past few years, but I did go through a period where I bought items for who I thought I should be, instead of who I am. Virtually all of those are gone now, and while it was fun to try on a different personality, I am back to my true style. Where I find I have problems is, if one is good, let’s get another in a different color. Crazy ridiculous, and just how many navy, grey, and white shirts (all in different fabric variations), and grey, navy, and black sweaters and pant does a person need? Seriously absurd behavior.

    1. It’s true that when we go shopping, we bring baggage with us. Knowing ourselves is a constant learning process. I know exactly what you mean…how many pairs of black cigarette pants can one woman wear/own? For me there seems no limit.

  17. oh i do…..but less and less these days. i tend to wear the same classic pieces and know that peaches and navy blues are good for me. i love a white shirt – but on someone else. i tried on a really cute top the other day but the ruffles screamed so i knew it was too young. Imposters end up being a waste of money so i’m slowly learning to stop the insanity.

    1. I just adore crisp white blouses…on other women. That doesn’t stop me from bringing one home every few seasons, just in case it works.

  18. Bourbon & Pearls says:

    Oh less and less now, but I am drawn to pencil skirts, heels and very ladylike looks, I don’t buy them much now, I’m really a gym clothes, jeans and sweatshirt type of woman.

    1. Yes but you know your style very well Tabs. Pencil skirts just aren’t that comfortable to relax in.

  19. I’m interested in your Vancouver Island style as I live here too…
    is it more relaxed or do you feel more authentic when you are on vacation?

    Style is something that seems much more important when one is living in a bustling city…at least for me.

    I think I’ve come to terms with what clothing works best for my body and the image that I want to portray…but every once in awhile I’ll buy something horrid and I never really know why!

    If you get to Victoria perhaps we can meet up for a walk, tea or lunch?

    1. My Vancouver Island style is much more relaxed. I totally agree about style and bustling city life.
      I’ll make a point of getting to Victoria. I need to go to Beehive :-)) love that shop.

  20. Madame Là-bas says:

    As I get older, I become more aware of who I am and how I want the world to see me. I still make an occasional mistake but I have favourite shops and lines of clothing that reflect my taste and lifestyle,

    1. You’re lucky to have narrowed the lines down. Most of our little shops are gone now and department stores are just too generic. Too much of everything possible.

  21. Yes, I’m VERY wary of clothing that catches my eye in the controlled environment of a store. And, thankfully, have learned to avoid it for the most part. BUT, I do think there can be a freedom in aging and I’m not ready to give up all experimentation because ever so often, I do discover a look that DOES feel like me.

  22. I feel myself settling back into a more confident and relaxed sense of my own style lately, and I hope this lasts . . .

  23. vintagefrenchchic says:

    I so “get” this. And I am afraid that I have been unduly influenced by what I see fashion bloggers wearing or doing. I have bought new things because I loved them on someone else…but on me? Not so much. I spent a lot of time today changing out my summer wardrobe with the fall/winter. I really want to pay attention to what I wear, what I reach for often…and what just stays in the closet all the time. And I REALLY don’t want to buy anything new/new to me this season. Happily, I do have a small load ready for Goodwill after my season transition purge today.

    1. Loving things on others is always a terrible temptation. I was on a shopping diet for a year to see what I really loved. It was eye opening…just not quite foolproof.

  24. Oh could I tell you about all of my mistakes. It is usually something I saw someone else wearing. That is an accident waiting to happen. Yes I frequent the return counter. Enjoy this lovely weekend.

  25. Oh, this hits home for me. Trying to figure out my own authentic style has taken me on many twists and turns, with many mistakes and “almost-but-not-quites” along the way. It’s really about learning to trust our own taste, isn’t it?

    1. It totally is! I’m always surprised when I get seduced by something way off course for me. You’re a great inspiration.

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