When it comes to identifying your personal style, brutal honesty is crucial. I spent years being influenced by all the beautiful women styled to perfection in magazines and film, exuding elegance and grace.
Shaped by my love of old Hollywood and icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, my impression of what it means to dress in a feminine manner is defined by fitted waists, full skirts and structured dresses. But i’m not Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Marilyn Monroe in Some like it Hot, drowning in diamonds and pink gowns.
I would describe my personal style as quite androgynous and simple, containing almost solely monochromatic items (theres a wild Bretton stripe here and there). Boxy blazers, trousers, crisp white shirts, t-shirts and jeans are the basis of my wardrobe. I love it don’t get me wrong! It’s how I feel like my best self. But something was missing. Something to express my more feminine side which sporadically wants to surface, especially on beautiful, sunny summer days. Something more romantic to wear on those days where all you want to do is go out for a picnic and run around feeling free and effortless.
Thats where brands such as Reformation and Realisation Par step in achieving that light, airy, girly but mature feel, however, I’m not rich so I needed a more budget friendly alternative. Initially I considered Auguste the Label, however the brand leans a little too far on the bohemian side for my style as do most other brands on the market. The stand out turned out to be With Jéan.
With Jéan is an Australian label that was created with the timeless nature of denim as the focus point of their inspiration. They create unique pieces as opposed to collections and are not driven exclusively by trends. Their goal seems to be bringing a classic and timeless quality to their clothing. This, for me was a breakthrough. A brand that modernises the classic aesthetic and feel of the feminine, which would align perfectly with my personality and style, being right at home in my wardrobe. Less Woodstock, more casual Audrey in the summer of 2020.
With Jéan Dresses are feminine but understated. Beautiful but subdued patterns elevate the designs without going too far. Not all their designs are my cup of tea, but some of them fulfil my need for a summer dress perfectly. They are light and feminine in an innocent way and not overly revealing, making me feel confident, effortless and carefree. It is the brand that has reintroduced dresses in a wardrobe that had previously lacked any trace of a skirt or dress. And I actually wear them. Constantly. Me, the person who does not wear a skirt or dress. I now have dresses I feel confident in. Thats an achievement in itself.
They are also quite affordable which is a bonus. While Reformation and Realisation Par create beautiful pieces, for someone like me for whom dresses aren’t a staple of my wardrobe, the prices are unreasonable. I cannot bring myself to spend that amount of money on a piece I know wont get the love it truly deserves. If you live for dresses, I think the investment is worth the higher quality fabrics and designs. Keep in mind though, pure silk is also much harder to maintain than viscose which can be easily machine washed and air dried. For me, With Jéan is the absolutely perfect compromise. Reasonable prices, quality manufacturing and decent fabrics that are easy to maintain.
Here are some tips
A classic sundress is beautiful, but they often make me feel like a little girl dressed up in my mothers clothes. A slip dress is wonderful on some, but they make me feel shapeless and sloppy. Spaghetti straps are timeless, but a wider strap can make an item of clothing feel more modern and less conventional. Explore with lengths. Maxis, midis and minis can look completely different of each of us. Explore with necklines, strap sizes and silhouettes to find what makes you feel your best.
Find your kind of floral.
A print does not need to be your traditional floral to be feminine. Explore with prints reminiscent of that that may inspire you. Botanical prints are interesting as although similar to florals, they take on a more geometrical nature and can make an item of clothing more contemporary. A more subdued floral in a less flashy colour palette or even monochrome can introduce a classic look without the old fashioned feel.
If you literally just cannot stand florals, try broderie
Broderie can bring forward a feminine feel due to its delicate nature. It is also much easier to wear as most broderie anglaise items are monochrome, which make them more subtle and understated, less traditional.
If you feel that your brand of feminine is no longer marketed towards as I do, I would venture to bet there’s a brand out there with the same approach and aesthetic as yours. You may have to search a little deeper, but chances are, you’ll find a piece that reflects YOU in the end. Just stay true to who you are.
We are all different. Different sizes, looks, heights and personalities. No item of clothing will look the same on all of us. Therefore, there should be no one generic standard or look that we all try to fit into. Rather dedicate yourself to finding the unique that makes you who you are and venture into collecting standout pieces that make you feel confident and empowered!