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Style Transformation Before & After

Happy New Year! Two years ago I wrote about my plan to start a new wardrobe that better represents me; more functional clothing and elevated looks. My sense of style had taken a backseat to the rest of my life, but now I’m trying to be more intentional and put together. Now to show you the progress!

It’s felt like an episode of “What Not To Wear” with philosophical turns and an empowering reveal. Are you ready to see some truly heinous Before photos? 😂

Below are 5 changes to my style over the course of my 2 year fashion experiment.

#1. Got a Haircut

Can a haircut change your life?

It seems overly dramatic, but it’s true- the difference in emotional energy is like night and day. I looked tired and haggard in the “Before” photos because I was. Trying to maintain long hair while it was against my nature contributed to that. Now it takes very little effort since my hair is basically always done without having to do anything, so I can enjoy focusing on my outfit and makeup.

Long hair vs short hair

Still shocks me when professional hairdressers, strangers, and people I haven’t seen in a while compliment me all the time! The angular cut frames the face, accentuates the cheekbones/chin, and shows off the neck. I feel fresh and ready to go, even when I don’t style it or wear makeup. It’s easy to cut, and Jer helps me straighten the back.

I love how this hair makes me feel bold and carefree! That confidence spills into my clothes. It improves every outfit even with the same clothes (see the visual below).

Who wore it best? Same shirt, new ‘do 😛

Check out Justin Hickox’s videos, which helped me choose this hairstyle and cut my hair at home.

#2. Switched Color Palettes

Having a color palette has made it so much easier for all my clothes to go together even though they are not neutral colors, I’ve loved the simplicity! For a while I was struggling with indecision because I had so much blue that didn’t seem to work. Then I noticed in multiple years of family photos I felt my best wearing the yellow pencil skirt pictured below. It was a strong indication to me: try some warm tones.

The magical yellow pencil skirt

I went out of my comfort zone and bought my first reddish piece, a linen pant with burgundy stripes. I loved wearing it and how it matched a lot more than I expected. I felt like shining in warm yellows, reds, olive, and even purple. I didn’t reach for my blues anymore, so I passed them on and felt good moving forward with my very Fall colors regardless of season.

The linen pants in red

Now I can see that the trendy colors from recent years like mint green, neon, and pastels sucked all the color from my skin!

Compare it to the similar looks in Bright Warm Deep tones that make my skin glow in a good way.

YourColorStyle with the Color Analysis Quiz gave me the best insight on figuring out colors. I got Bright Warm Deep and finally thought, “YES!” to the results. The free visual guide was so helpful when shopping.

I’m so glad I took the time to consider other colors and not rely on only neutrals or black.

#3. No More Loosey Goosey

BEFORE: Relaxed looks. I did not like or feel cute in them, but wasn’t sure why or how to fix it. Flowy, loose-fitting, long clothes with other long or loose items that cover and swallow my small frame. Big jewelry + casual flip flops 😅.

Comfy Loose & Flowy vs Comfy Fitted

AFTER: Shorter cuts. Stiffer fabrics. Smaller jewelry. Still comfy but clothing is more fit to my size and shape. Comfy shoes with small heel elongate.

I learned to look for clothing that has shape and structure which complements my body.

#4. Shorter Lengths

Length makes such a difference on a petite person (see pic below).

LONG (Left): I appear bloated, squat, and wider than I actually am; the lacy ruffle details at the front of the shirt and all the extra fabric create bunching around my midsection where my top overlaps my jeans. The blazer visually cuts off a third of my leg length. Even the colors bleeding into each other draw attention to the middle and create a shapeless blob of an outfit where you can’t tell where things begin or end.

Long everything vs. Cropped everything

CROPPED (Right): Cropped top with high waisted bottoms highlight one of my best features: the waist. The smooth lines in pants, hair, and top with some roundness in shoulders and the flip to the hair are balanced. The top’s neckline draws attention towards the face and complements the petite necklace symmetrical with the jawline.

#5. Upping the Gamine.

There was a lot of experimenting before I figured out my style. The Kibbe system helped me with “shortcuts” to what might suit my face and body, as it is designed around body types.

In the pics below, the overly feminine looks of intricate lace, dramatic ruffles, and delicate romantic details were so pretty, but at odds with my face / size / body lines / age. I felt like I looked like a little girl playing dress up, a wannabe folk singer, or an old lady about to kick you out of the Tea Room… 😅

Natural or Romantic Kibbe clothing on me 👎

I’m likely one of the Gamine types based on my petite stature. Below are some of my favorite latest looks. They lean retro and tailored! Clean lines, slightly sharp silhouettes with small fun details like tulip sleeves, floral socks, delicate jewelry, subtle lines in the texture, or an unforgettable color / mini pattern. Straps create angles and more structured feel. Apparently high necklines and shorter hems work well, too.

Gamine-ish Styling YEP 👍

#6. Relaxing the rules.

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Pablo Picasso

Two years ago I insisted on No dry cleaning, no crazy patterns, and no bold colors for this new wardrobe so that it could be a Capsule Wardrobe. I’m eating my words!! The checkered jumpsuit above is a standalone so I don’t wear it with anything, it’s not something I can wear everyday (although that’s a possible future challenge!), and it’s dry clean only. From a purely logistical standpoint it shouldn’t be part of my wardrobe. However, it fits like a comfortable glove, I feel fierce and ready to party in it, it’s in a classic cut with a versatile pattern, and it can be dressed up or down for many occasions. I plan to have it in my wardrobe a long time, and am happy to say that this $140 showstopper cost $20.

My philosophy is a bit more relaxed now. Not everything has to go with every other thing, but it definitely should have a place and make sense in my real life (not that fantasy one I’m only experiencing in my head). I feel prepared for dressing in most situations that would come up: working out, date night, carpool, meetings, camping, snow storms, and formal events.

Shopping and trying on clothes are a continual learning experience for me because we will always be changing and going through phases. The eye gets more refined and better at recognizing with practice. It’s wonderful when everything in your closet is something you’ve chosen and feel great in! Even if a piece ultimately doesn’t stay in my wardrobe, I’ve learned something valuable and specific about what works or not for me. When there’s a shift happening in my wardrobe, it might be a sign that I’m transitioning to a new stage in life. I’m so glad that this latest stage is allowing me to rediscover what makes me happy, appreciate all that my body allows me to do, and feel beautiful.

Love, Kat

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