I used to be a cute dresser. I didn’t live for fashion, but I knew the latest trends and dressed accordingly. There was a time when I wouldn’t even wear jeans because … jeans, ew. I had awesome hair, I carried cool purses and wore kick-ass shoes. I was always … “put together.”
That was all BM–you know, Before Motherhood.
For the last four years I’ve been ponytail girl in yoga pants and sandals or tennis shoes. And, I didn’t even care. However, recently, I’ve started to care again. Over the past couple of months I slowly began to realize that I didn’t want to be this person anymore, the one who says no to going out to dinner with her husband because she didn’t put on makeup that day or declines invitations to meet up with her girlfriends because she has nothing to wear. No, I want to be the woman who gets excited to dress up and go out again … the one who feels semi-fashionable and can prove to everyone around her that she really has more than black yoga pants and sandals. (Seriously, I do. I have some gray ones, too.)
But then a sudden dose of reality hit: I have no idea how to dress anymore. It sounds ridiculous (even to me writing this), but I really don’t. I stood in my closet and–with anxiety–realized that I had absolutely no idea how to put some of this stuff together now. What am I supposed to wear with that shirt? How can I dress cute now that I’m a, er, different size? And, is any of my stuff really fashionable anyway?
I started looking online for much needed help. I may not have the knack of putting an outfit together at a moment’s notice anymore (I blame that on baby brain suckage), but I can have someone else show me–kind of my own personal stylist. It was then that I realized that I can make my own personal fashion lookbook to get me back on the style track.
In case you’re not familiar with it, a “lookbook” is a fashion term used to describe a book made by photographers or stylists or designers to show off something–their clothes, their models, seasonal “looks” and things like that. There are so many clothing sites that now offer full outfit coordination (or the ability for you to combine looks on the site) that all I needed to do was look for the stuff I liked, print it out and voilà, I have my own lookbook. Now, instead of spending (what seems like) hours in front of my closet wondering, “What am I going to wear today?”, all I have to do is grab my personal lookbook, flip through the styles and recreate the outfit from what I have in my closet.
Magazines and/or computer with printer attached
Printer paper or blank (unlined) 3×5 notecards
LookBook Tip #1: Start online.
I started with sites like Pinterest and Polyvore. Don’t panic if you’re not someone who can put together looks or outfits. Many users on these sites have done it for you. Just scroll through looks that people have created and bookmark the ones that you like. Also, online store sites like Old Navy, Lane Bryant, Bloomingdales, Macy’s and many more have fashion areas demonstrating complete outfits from their stores.
LookBook Tip #2: Look in magazines.
Although I found all of my stuff online, don’t forget to look in the magazines that you have at home. You may not get ItalianVogue delivered to your door, but I guarantee you that you’ll find cute outfits in those parenting or health magazines you get.
LookBook Tip #3: Print out (or cut out) pictures of the completely assembled outfits that speak to you.
I even included some outfits that I’m afraid to wear, but loved elements of that style. Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
LookBook Tip #4: Assemble your lookbook.
I cut out each outfit as one “page” (or small square), or you can paste outfits onto notecards. I also left some room around the pictures in case I wanted to write notes like “wear my mustard scarf here instead of black” or “looks good with my brown bag and brown boots.” I then put a reinforcement circle label in the corner of each, hole punched them and strung them together with a book ring. I found one of those stick on hooks and put it in my closet and hung my lookbook there so it’s always handy.
LookBook Tip #5: Recreate the outfits.
You may not have all the elements of the outfits in the picture, but my guess is that you have some. You may not have those exact brown boots, but you do own a pair of brown boots. Sure you don’t have that sweater in gray, but you have a very similar one in black. I was stunned at how many things I actually had that were close to the looks that I chose for my lookbook. I guess that’s why I was attracted to them.
LookBook Tip #6: Shop the look.
Love one of the looks from your book, but don’t have anything close to it in your closet? Then splurge on the outfit from that site. Or, buy one designer brand piece from the look on that site and shop for the rest of the elements at your local discount, consignment and thrift shops. (Don’t forget to take your lookbook when shopping. Make one small enough to pop into your bag when you’re going out!)
LookBook Tip #7: Make multiple books.
Right now, I have a Fall season lookbook and a “Tips” book. For the tips book, I’m including any fashion tips or articles I run across–how to tie a specific style of scarf, how to do a smokey eye, or even a messy bun hairdo that was super cute. You can make a book for every season or even different occasions–work looks, weekends, girls night out, PTA meetings–the possibilities are endless. You can even make one for your husband to give him tips when you’re not around!
Now, go forth and fashion.
Originally published September 2011