In this episode, we’re talking about what Personal Style is, and how to get it!

In Lessons from Linda, I’m sharing the story of a Linda who carried a 20 year chip on her shoulder.

In Vocabulary, we’re talking about a popular summer fabric, one that I don’t love, and I’ll tell you why.

In current events, we’re going to discuss stores reopening, and what steps they’re taking.. I’m curious to know your thoughts.

Your homework for this episode is to work on those style guideposts. The 3 words that describe how you want to look. Come post them on our Facebook page–there’s a post already up, waiting for your words!  

Links & Resources from the show:

Discover Your Wardrobe Personality with this fun quiz!

A look at retail plans to reopen, here.

Get your free Mini Capsule Guide, and get on the waitlist for the full Capsule in June

Have a question you’d like answered in Office Hours? Email

Listen to the Episode Now:

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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 51 Finding Your Personal Style

Hey There! Welcome back to the Everyday Style School podcast where we believe style can be easy, and getting dressed should be fun! I’m your host, Jennifer Mackey-Mary, and today, we’re talking about personal style!

After recording the Office Hours episode for this week, I realized there was more I wanted to say on the subject of personal style, and with the release of our Wardrobe personality quiz, that you can find above, I thought we’d just keep the subject rolling.

Every week, I talk about style being fun and easy, and I think most people want style to be easy, but I know a lot of you don’t really think it can be fun. When you put your personal style into your wardrobe, that’s when it becomes fun.

So today, I’m going to share a few tips for discovering your personal style and bringing it to life.

Today, In Lessons from Linda, I’m sharing the story of a Linda who carried a 20 year chip on her shoulder.

In Vocabulary, we’re talking about a popular summer fabric, one that I don’t love, and I’ll tell you why.

In current events, we’re going to discuss stores reopening, and what steps they’re taking.. I’m curious to know your thoughts.

Before we get started though, your homework from episode 48, was to reflect on the style lessons you learned from your mom, and let go of the ones that are limiting rather than empowering.

I also gave you an extra credit assignment, which was to share with your mom, if you could, a memory of an outfit she wore that made her look beautiful. This was fun to do with my own mom, and the look on her face when I told her about that pink Liz Claiborne sweater with the deer on it was wonderful.

Then she said wistfully, oh, with the grey jeans. I could tell that was a favorite outfit of hers, too. So, if you didn’t do it yet, I really encourage you call you mom this week, and share a clothing memory.

And now–Let’s Kick things off, as we always do, with Lessons from Linda

We are heading way back into my memory archives for this one all the way to Chico’s in probably 2001, maybe 2002.

Now, I’ve got a pretty good memory, so that’s not really all that impressive, but I interacted with this Linda for maybe half an hour, tops.

And while I normally know the name of the person I’m talking about, and call them Linda to protect the innocent, I have no idea what this woman’s name was.

She could have really been called Linda, I don’t know I share this with you to highlight how memorable this short interaction with a stranger was. It has left an impression for 2 decades.

I was in my store, with a couple of employees and a few customers, and we were having a great time. There was always a lot of laughter, and camaraderie with our customers and to this day, I miss it very much. It was fun to be in the presence of women having fun.

Anyway the door opened and Linda walked in–and brought all the bad juju she could muster with her. It started when I called hello from the back of the store and she said “I’m just looking” without making eye contact.

The woman I was working with gave me a look like, dang, but I brushed it off. One of my saleswomen, we’ll call her Tina went to go see if she could help, and Linda told her in no uncertain terms that if she needed help, she would ask for it, and she didn’t want to be sold to.

We all gave her her space, but the energy was just different. It was a small store, and Linda’s hostility was like a cloud around her. She was mad when we had to open a fitting room for her.

She was irate that we didn’t have mirrors in the fitting room and that she had to come out to see herself. I was with my client, so I just kept an eye on this, but Tina was determined to kill her with kindness and crack that tough exterior.

Linda was trying things on, stomping around the store, making sure everyone knew she wasn’t enjoying herself, and Tina kept smiling and trying to help.

Linda came out to look at herself in the mirror, and the Tina said something like “You look great” or “that looks great on you” and then came the most epic meltdown I’ve seen in 20 years of dressing women.

Linda stood in the mirror and gestured to herself and said furiously “This is not great. How can you say this is great. Are you paid to lie to people so you can sell things?” It went on for a minute or two and Tina just stood there, stunned. I stood there stunned. What do you say to this?

Then Linda went to her handbag in the fitting room, brought out her wallet and showed us a picture. Of herself, probably 20 years younger and 30 pounds lighter. She kept going, saying“this was great. I looked great then. This (gesturing to body again) is not great”

Tina was amazing in that moment and said “Yep, you looked great then. You look great today too. I hope you see that”. I was so grateful for Tina, who was older, more confident, and bolder than I was at that time. She had the right words.

The fight went out of Linda, she very quietly bought a pair of pants, probably more out of embarrassment than actually needing the pants. and left. Not surprisingly, we never saw that Linda again.

There are two things I want you to take away from this Linda.

First We all go through changes in life. We age, our weight fluctuates, gravity relocates some of our parts…its part of life. But if we just focus on what’s “worse” than it used to be, we’d all be really unhappy people.

Now, I don’t know the rest of Linda’s story, but I wonder, in those 20 years, did she learn anything new? Did she travel anywhere amazing? Did she try a different career? You have to give at least as much weight (no pun intended) to those changes and experiences as you do your physical appearance.

Those things are much more important to your story than the number in the back of your pants. That day, Linda could have come in and had a great time with us. We were having a blast–and I bet you almost everyone in that room would have preferred to have the body they had 20 years ago.

But it wasn’t life defining. Linda missed out on a good day that day because she was focused on a good day 20 years ago. That seems to be a bad trade off.

The second lesson is that there are times you should not be shopping. I’ve talked about this before, but when you’re having any emotion other than “Hey, I need pants” or “Hey that blouse is pretty” you should stay out of stores and off the internet. I choose to believe Linda wasn’t that uh, emotional, all the time when it came to clothes or shopping.

She was dressed well, which tells me it didn’t always end in tears, and a “lets not talk about this again pair of pants” What probably happened was that Linda was having a bad day before she walked in, thought shopping would be a good distraction, and then it all fell apart.

When you’re unhappy, clothes and clothing stores can be landmines. Needing a bigger size can set you off, or crappy lighting can make you feel terrible. Shopping yourself out of a funk is rarely successful, and frankly never a good idea. Shop when you feel good, you’ll have a much better experience. And so will the store employees.

Ok, let’s move on to the word of the week

Today’s Vocabulary word was originally posted in our weekly Q&A thread in the All Access Community, but with summer coming, I thought it would be a great one to share with everyone. So, thank you Caitie for the inspiration.

Today’s term is slub knit. As in, can you explain what a slub knit t-shirt is? Indeed I can.

A slub is actually a variation in the fiber the item is made from. It’s a part of the thread that has a little extra thickness to it. So, a long cotton fiber that had parts that were thicker would be said to have slubs on it.

Make sense? Originally, these were caused by poor quality controls in the manufacturing process. When great great great grandma was spinning her yarn, it didn’t turn out smooth and even every time. Sometimes, it would have these thicker parts called slubs.

Now, with manufacturing being as automated and advanced as it is, slubs aren’t mistakes. They’re purposefully made to create a fiber that varies in thickness, to ultimately craft a fabric that has some texture and variation to it.

In essence, it’s an easy way to add a little interest to fabric.

So you can have a slub cotton t-shirt, you can have slub silk drapes, or a slub polyester tablecloth. It just means you have a fabric that has a slightly varied, and often nubby texture to it.

In the lightweight slub t-shirts we’ve seen become common over the last few years, the texture is pretty smooth, but the shirt almost has a faint burnout effect, where some parts of the fabric are thinner than others.

I told you at the top of the show that I’m not a huge fan of slub fabric, and I really mean slub t-shirts, and the reason is that they don’t seem to hold their shape as well, and in my opinion, they get sad frumpy after you’ve worn them a couple of hours.

I’ve found that the higher quality the t-shirt, the better it holds up. I have a boden tee that looks decent most of the day, but old target slub tees lose their shape quick.

When possible, I size down in slub tees. It’s kind of like my jeans trick–buy them anticipating the stretch. I don’t want you to be afraid to buy them or try them, but if you look in the mirror and think, why do I look dumpy a few hours after you got dressed, that’s why. Buy smaller.

So that’s what a slub tee is. For those of you who need a visual, I’ve got links in the show notes above.

Let’s talk Current Events, shall we?

So, Coronavirus is still a thing, impacting every aspect of life, but we’re starting to see some stores opening in places around the country, or at least rolling out plans for what their reopening might look like.

I don’t know about you, but I got pretty tired of every company I’ve ever done business with emailing me to say what their company was doing. Thanks, Christmas tree farm I bought from in 2014, I’m glad you’re washing your hands.

I gotta say though, I’m finding the emails from stores with their reopening plans to be much more interesting. Nordstrom sent one last week that outlined how they’ll keep customers safe, which includes quarantining each item that was tried on for a period of time, adding plexiglass screens at registers, not accepting cash, and closing some fitting rooms.

Macy’s said they’ll close every other fitting room, and quarantine each tried on item for 24 hours. I find the quarantining of clothes interesting, because no one knows how long the virus lives on fabric. 24 hours may be 23 hours too long, or 2 days too short–we don’t know. But that’s what they’re doing.

Chicos brands, including White House Black Market and Soma are focusing more on curb side pickup from stores, and shopping sessions by appointment.

Gap plans to have all 800 of their US stores open by the end of May, and will limit the number of shoppers in the store at one time. Retail stores were allowed to reopen in Minnesota just this week, and some stores were creating wait lists, and texting customers when it was their turn to shop–kind of like restaurants.

It’s a creative solution, I’ll say that. The Mall of America plans to stay closed until June 1, which makes me think how naive I was in late March that our April Mall of America retreat was really going to happen. I was younger and more optimistic back then.

I’m going to link to an article that shares the plans of quite a few retail companies, and it’s being updated all the time. It’s a great resource, so go check it out.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago we talked about stores who weren’t doing free online returns, and instead were extending their in-store return deadlines for a while after the store reopens.

If you’ve bought from any of those stores, and you’re in an area where stores are reopening, double check to see if the return clock is ticking for you!

When we come back, I’m going to share a few tips for creating a personal style you love.

Doors to the All Access Membership are reopening June 3, and I know we talk a lot about how your annual membership includes an entire year’s worth of done for you Capsule Wardrobe Guides., but today I want to chat briefly about the Masterclasses.

Our members get instant access to 4 Style Masterclasses to help you become an expert on building a wardrobe you love–one that defines and reflects your style, and helps you find your personal bests. We have classes on finding your best colors, and one for using more color in your wardrobe.

We have a class on finding jeans that fit, flatter, and don’t fall down. And, if personal style is something you really want to master, the Signature Style class is made for you.

With 4 video modules and a workbook full of exercises, it takes you through the exact process I use with my clients to help them create a cohesive style that’s as fabulous and unique as they are.

You have access to all masterclasses for as long as you’re a Member, so you can go back as often as you need to until you’re an expert.

Plus, if you’ve got questions, the members of the exclusive Facebook group are there to help and give feedback, and I answer your questions every week.

If you’re ready to get good at dressing yourself, and create effortless style, these masterclasses are invaluable. For less than the cost of all 4 masterclasses, you get the classes, the Capsule Guides, the exclusive facebook community and extra resources monthly.

Friends, it’s a steal Doors open again June 3, if you don’t get everyday style emails, head above to the show notes take the Style Quiz..that will get you on the list and you’ll be the first to know when we reopen. I can’t wait to meet you in the community.

Ok, we’re back, and continuing our conversation from this Monday’s office hours, where I shared with you that your wardrobe must haves have to reflect your personal style.

This is an area a lot of women struggle with though. They love the idea of having personal, or signature style, but they don’t know how to get there.

Today I’m going to share what personal style is, my trick for helping women figure out how they want to look, and share a couple of mistakes women make when it comes to personal style.

Let’s start with what personal style.

There’s a quote from celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe that says “Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak”. I like this quote, and think it is 100% accurate.

What you wear, regardless of whether you want it to or not, says a lot about who you are.

The challenge is, if you don’t know what you want to say, your how you want to say it, quotes like this are confusing, and unhelpful, as accurate as they are.

There’s another one from Diane Von Furstenburg that says “Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it.”. Listen, I love DVF and her wrap dresses as much as the next girl, but what if you think you don’t have style, or you have no idea how to find it?

Then what?

So, me being me, and a lover of making things practical and easy, came up with this definition. You ready?

Style is the way you want to look, expressed by the things you wear. I get that no one is going to be putting that on a wall quote and selling it on etsy, but you gotta admit, it seems a little more figureoutable, right?

Style is the way you want to look, expressed by the things you want to wear. The way you want to look part encompasses your personality–are you bold, or reserved.

Are you trend-driven, or classic. There are so many ways to put your personality into style, and thats the start of personal style. Then we have the second part, which is “expressed by the things you wear”.

Ok, we can do that. If you say your personal style is bold and trend driven, but all you wear is non descript grey t-shirts and ill fitting jeans, well, we’re not really going to get that message. Which goes back to Rachel Zoe’s quote about saying who you are without having to speak.

The grey tees and bad jeans are saying something, but its not that you’re bold and trend driven. What we have to do is figure out what do we want to say about ourselves through our clothes, and then figure which pieces say those things. That’s what personal style is.

Every once in a while, I’ll ask my community to describe their style in 3 words. Here are a few of the responses I got last time I asked. Mom friendly. Comfortable. Relaxed. Dresses. Fun Socks.

Now remember back to the first part of our definition, that style is the way you want to look. For it to be a style, it has to finish the sentence, I want to look_________. Let’s put some of those in there. I want to look mom-friendly.

I don’t know what that means. I want to look comfortable. We’re going to come back to that one. I want to look relaxed. Yes, that’s a style. I want to look dresses.

That’s not a sentence in the english language. I want to look fun socks. Again, that’s not how this works. So many of those answers skip right to the second part, which is expressed by the things we wear.

So, I want to look relaxed, could be expressed by fun socks and dresses, or by I want to look relaxed, so I wear mom-friendly clothes. I still don’t know what that is, but I don’t judge.

A few days after I ask people to describe their style, I’ll post again, asking people if their outfit today, reflect their personal style, and overwhelmingly the answer is No, because.

No, because I have kids, No Because I had to work today. No, because I go to the gym everyday.

This brings me to the biggest mistake women make when it comes to personal style, and that is thinking personal style is completely separate from lifestyle, and is something that happens when the right conditions are met.

Let me give you an analogy. When I lived in Virginia, and my girls were little, we would go to a pumpkin patch around Halloween, it was a great opportunity for those perfect fall photos, but every single year, we’d get a heat wave that week, and the cute flannel and fleece outfits.

I bought them would go unworn, and I’d be scrambling for something that didn’t have popsicles or flamingos on it for them to wear. I had the perfect style for them, but only if all conditions were right, which they never, ever were.

When you reserve your personal style for those occasions when all conditions are right, two things happen.

You go through the biggest chunks of your life in clothes that don’t express your personal style, and are a little less fun. I talk a lot about style being fun, and I know some of you don’t believe that’s s thing. But when you have a wardrobe that is personal and authentic, that’s when style becomes fun. But most women are going through the biggest parts of life not having any fun.

The other thing that happens is you don’t have anything for your personal style when all conditions are right, either. You know why? Because those perfect moments are few and far between and we don’t feel we can justify the expense for things we just won’t wear.

This is why we have a hard time getting dressed for date night, or moms night out–which should be perfect style conditions–but because they don’t happen nearly enough, we don’t stock our closets for them, and then we don’t have fun in the perfect moments either. This one makes me sad.

By the way, the last time we went to the pumpkin patch before my girls aged out of it, I didn’t buy them outfits, because i was like, forget it, they never wear them. And then it was sunny and 60 degrees. See what I mean.

So, what do you do instead? Well, you figure out HOW you want to look, and then you apply that to every single aspect of your life. You apply it to your work wardrobe and your workout wardrobe. You apply those words to your moms night out wardrobe, and your pyjamas.

Once you figure out those words, which I call style Guideposts, it becomes easier to have personal style no matter where you go, or what you do.

I wish I had time in this format to take you through the exercises to find your Style Guideposts that the masterclass covers, but that would be its own show, but in the end, you should have 3 words that finish the sentence, I want to look blank, blank and blank.

Maybe your words are bohemian, feminine and relaxed. Maybe your words are edgy minimalist and bold. Your words are completely up to you, and there are no wrong answers.

Finding the right style guideposts will help you in a few ways.

First, they make it easier to shop, and not waste money on things you never wear. If you find a clearance skirt which is a great deal but it isn’t boho, feminine and relaxed, there’s a good chance it will languish in your closet, if those are your words.

If you’re tempted to give into a trend of ruffles and floral, but your words are edgy minimalist and bold, your words will guide you off the ledge.

Style Guideposts help you refine your style too. When you get dressed, ask yourself, is this outfit edgy minimalist and bold? If not, what can you add, drop or swap. In no time, you’ll be putting together outfits that hit your guideposts without even thinking about it. That’s when you’ve found a signature style.

Finally, cleaning out your closet gets easier too. When you’re on the fence, run the item past your guideposts. If they don’t apply, chances are, you can chuck it.

Coming up with your Guideposts isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

I told you I would share a couple of mistakes women make when it comes to personal style, and the last thing I want to leave you with is a few words women choose as their guideposts that aren’t style words.

The first one is comfortable. 99% of women I talk to describe their style as comfortable. Remember that style finishes the sentence, I want to look blank? I want to look comfortable is frankly, not something you should be saying.

Don’t get me wrong, I want you to feel comfortable, but if someone walks up and says My you look comfortable, you’re probably wearing pyjamas. Focus on finding pieces that look like you want to look, but also feel the way you want to feel.

When you shop with comfort as your #1 qualifier, you get a wardrobe that looks comfortable. If you shop with your style as your guide, and buy comfortable pieces that reflect that style, it’s a different experience.

Right after “comfortable” is “Casual” this is also a word that describes clothes, but not style. Casual, and dressy, are levels of formality, not necessarily style. Women who say their style is casual, often have trouble getting dressed for anything that isn’t casual.

We all have casual events to go to, and we all have dressier events to go to. If your lifestyle is 90% casual, you should have 90% casual clothes–that reflect how you want to look.

My last pet peeve is another C word. And that is “Classic” this is actually a word that describes style, but so many women use it as a default word to mean “I shopped in 2004, and I don’t want to do it again”.

Just because you bought it, doesn’t mean it’s a classic. Just because you keep things for a long time, doesn’t make your style classic. Classic clothing traditionally means high quality, tailored pieces, neutral colors, and structured fabrics.

Usually, when I tell women that classic means tailored, tucked in tops and structured fabrics they say “oh, no, I’m not classic” Classic is not a catch all. I’m not saying your style isn’t classic–it could very well be.

But I am saying that if you chose classic because you don’t like clothes, or shopping, there are probably better words out there.

Ok, that’s all I have for you this week. Use what you learned today to create some style guideposts.

Finally, come join All-Access when we open June 3. The Signature Style class goes way more in depth. We talk about how to pick the right elements to bring your personal style to life, how to make a list of the key pieces your wardrobe needs, and as a bonus, I show you how to create outfit formulas that bring your signature style to life easier than you ever thought possible.

Seriously, the outfit formulas are a total game changer.

Your Homework this week is work on those style guideposts. Your 3 words that describe HOW you want to look. Come post them on our Facebook page–there’s a post already up, waiting for your words! Just find Everyday Style with jen on facebook, or head to our shownotes for the link.

That’s it everyone–I’ll see you Monday with office hours!

Class is dismissed for today, but the conversation doesn’t have to end.

And if the Everyday Style School podcast is making style easier and more fun, it would make my day if you would subscribe to the podcast, leave a review and share it with your friends, so women everywhere can have more fun with style. Thanks Style Sister.

I’ll see you next time, and until then, Stay Stylish!

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