2022 recap: My year of taking fashion seriously, trying to buy more fun, and being told my style sucked

As I wrote early in 2022, my style resolution for the year was to have a bit more fun with my closet and stop buying only neutrals. But my style goal kind of took on a life of its own and what I really ended up doing was seeking out and learning a lot more about the fashion/trend industry this year. Here, I share some concluding thoughts for 2022, along with my favorite outfits of the year!

I’m just gonna break this down into categories of things I did that I think helped me to be more personally satisfied with my style. The word me is embedded in that sentence a lot because I really spent the year toggling between what fashion influencers/stylists/etc think we “should” be doing and what my inner voice was telling me.

Style Words

The first thing I focused on was style words.

Style words is a concept promoted by a couple of very smart stylists and designers. Allison Bornstein has a whole series about this concept on TikTok, and Amy Smilovic, designer/founder of Tibi, talks about it also. This is the idea that you should have 3 guiding words or descriptors of your style that direct your shopping. And the words should be more specific than classic, casual, or cute.

When I first tried to decide on my style words they were all over the place. I made a big big list of words, and then I applied my qualitative researcher brain to it and start coding the words. I realized quickly that I might be listing 5-10 words that really all fell into the same general vibe and I started to consolidate.

I don’t think I have “perfect” style words, but I was encouraged by this idea, and especially discussion about how the style words shouldn’t totally mesh–what makes personal style interesting is that you are a person with a lot going on and some friction between words and styles is what makes fashion feel cool.

But the real “aha” moment for me about style words (and I can’t remember who to properly credit for this, sorry!) was the idea that when you’ve picked good style words they convey how you feel inside that you would like to convey to the outside world.

This was a big breakthrough for me where I realized that I often gravitate toward very serious/sharp/architectural/modern vibes, probably because being a young woman in academia is stressful af, and I need people to take me seriously. But one thing that brings me immense joy in my job is actually goofing around/being friendly/reminding students that empathy is important in all scholarly pursuits. And while I was good at shopping for “serious” I often felt guilty for buying “fun” even though fun is part of who I am and should be allowed in my wardrobe. I mean, I’m not going out to buy everything in neon colors, but this directed me to embrace and wear fun things I’ve already bought as part of who I am.

Follow stylish people and do more research

The next thing I did is I started thinking about going straight to the sources of trendsetting in fashion. Don’t get me wrong, following influencers is great! but I wanted to feel a bit more proactive about knowing what is happening in the fashion world and deciding for myself what I like and want to wear.

I don’t want to sound snooty by recommending you go out and follow more fashion people, but at the same time, I realized that in most areas of life I allow myself to read and research, and because fashion feels feminine and therefore unserious I have probably accidentally internalized that taking fashion seriously is bad. But it’s not! Fashion is also art and there are artists and creators I can follow who will show me how to style things and what they are excited about and wearing right now.

A few favorite accounts:

-Designers: Anine Bing, Olympia Gayot (J. Crew women’s designer), Amy Smilovic, The Row (the row is everywhereeee omg I didn’t realize all my favorite stores are basically inspired by what the row is doing and now I know)

-Influencers: Tamu McPherson (boutique owner), Charly Goss (will be mean to you about skinny jeans but has an interesting perspective), Karoline Dall (such fun colors!!)

-Stylists: Rebecca Grice (styles Maya Rudolph and Haim), Sylvie Mus (Parisian vibes!!), Maeve Reilly (styled Hailey Beiber until recently), Karla Welch (currently styling Hailey Beiber), Morgan Stewart

And some interesting articles I read about style:

– A primer on style words

-Why Tibi’s style series is ruling my closet

-Dana Covarrubias on Only Murders in the Building (I google every show we watch now + costumes and usually find fun interviews with the costume designers and Trevor has to tolerate me announcing 10+ fun facts about the outfits as we watch)

-Rebecca Grice on styling funny women

Play with more clothes!

The third thing I did that was immensely helpful is I started renting clothes. This allowed me to try some more interesting items before deciding if I wanted to keep them forever! I went the Rent the Runway route and am on the $99/month plan (you get 4 items to rent for the whole month).

I’ve also been excited to find some interesting designers that I would not have known about before renting, and now browse for those brands secondhand as well!

The style crisis

Naturally, after doing all these things all year, I had a total style crisis. I’ve mentioned this already, but in August, this little blog started getting a LOT of traffic, and curious, I clicked on the referral source and found…a chat board full of people saying my style was awful! I won’t lie to you, it made me feel like total shit.

I leaned on my friends pretty hard for the week after this happened, and they, being great friends, told me I’ve basically made it if people hate my clothes online. But I sure don’t feel like I’ve made it and boy did these strangers have a lot to say about my outfits!

Two things got me through this:

1) honest reflection where I asked myself if I hated my current style (answer: no! I’m having fun!).

2) and this is much funnier, I wore the outfit below to a coffee shop the day after discovering this discussion board, and the barista out of nowhere was like, “This is the best outfit I have seen all day! You look incredible!” Somehow one real-life stranger balanced out a lot of online strangers and inspired me to stay the course. Take this as a reminder to compliment other people’s outfits.

Alright, this has been a lot of words for the end of 2022. I’m not saying I’m a style expert at this point, and my style certainly isn’t done growing and changing, but picking outfits from the year to put in this post was a joy for me, and that’s exciting!

Hope you had a stylish year and are wrapping things up with some relaxation! Here are my previous style goal posts for the year: why capsule wardrobes messed me up, my fun buys halfway through 2022, and interesting basics.

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20 thoughts on “2022 recap: My year of taking fashion seriously, trying to buy more fun, and being told my style sucked”

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter 🙂 Just wanted to say that the stuff about the chat board disgusts me. I will never understand people who spend their time talking crap or just saying rude things. Style is subjective, but in my subjective view, your style is great.

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  2. Same as above! I am a HS teacher and found your blog sometime in the last year (don’t remember exactly when). I love your style and have gotten a lot of inspiration form you! (And I get complements from students all the time, so…) 😉. Anyway, thank you for all the practical and fun inspiration!

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  3. I started following you some time in August because I, as a high school teacher in a fancier school, wanted to dress nicer- but not generic nicer. You gave me the push I needed to look both professional and fun. I have received compliments on the outfits I wear – many inspired by you- 3-4 times a week all year. You definitely have my favorite style blog on the internet. 🙂

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      1. Love the reflection and perspective. Sometimes I get so tired of trying to “figure out” my style but these are solid suggestions.

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  4. I have been following your blog for a few years now, and the only reason I’m still reading is because your style is awesome! Very few bloggers balance professional, affordable, sustainable and stylish so well. I also love your writing, your reflections on working in academia, your packing guides, your project planning advice… You were my go-to when doing application/interview prep. So while you are still writing I for one will still be reading and enjoying!

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  5. This was some great reflection and perspective. Sometimes I get so tired of trying to “figure out” my style, but these are some solid ideas!

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  6. Yuck, why are people so insecure and mean on the internet? I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I’m glad you have such supportive friends IRL!

    It has been so interesting watching the speed of trend cycling over the past couple of years (I mean, skinny jeans were back at Celine’s SS23 show!); renting is such a smart way to indulge!

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  7. A fellow young woman in academia working in Europe here! I just wanted to tell you that I love your style. I learned a lot from you that fashion style in academia doesn’t need to be boring. 🙂 I especially love the one in the dark green leather shirt!

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  8. I have been following your blog for a while and find it really inspiring. I do work in academia, but unfortunately most of the brands/items are not available (or delivered) to Easter Europe. But still, I like your style and approach to balancing fun/serious. I am sorry that you encountered such a flow of negative comments. Just wanted to share a positive one, although I usually do not comment online. All the best for the new year!

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