Discovering Personal Style

crochetblazer

Jacket: Theory sz 00  Shell: H&M; sz 2  Sandals: Target sz 5.5 (similar)
Akoya pearls: eBay  Ring: YSL Coral Arty
Crochet skirt courtesy of Modcloth (very similar)

A few months ago, I entered a contest for which I had to define my personal style. Although I’ve had a keen interest in clothing since my early teens, and gleefully took home fashion superlatives in HS – I never really had my own sense of style. It was hard enough to find “adult” clothing that fit, without paying an arm and a leg for alterations. Whine whine whine.

crochetblazer4
Coming out of college, I wanted professionalism during the week, yet short shorts on the weekends. I wanted to look more mature, but not plain. With these goals in mind, through personal trial and error and the encouragement of friends (both helpful blog friends and a super-critical-but-well-intentioned friend who mandates accessorizing), I’m slowly developing a style that is my own.

These days I combine feminine details with tailored pieces, pair bargain finds with investments, and mix fast fashion with classic staples. I strive to look put-together, yet practical for my everyday life. 
crochetblazer3
While writing up this post, I noticed how eclectic the brands were within this outfit. Theory – my all-time favorite brand for tailored suiting. H&M; – fast fashion (and select work pieces) that often come in teeny sizes. Target – adore their cheap and trendy shoes starting in sz 5.5. Modcloth and ebay – supporting independent designers and small businesses. The mish-mosh of brands in this outfit represents just a tidbit of options out there that petite women have, and confirms that size should not be used as an excuse to not have personal style.

I also noticed that none of the pieces in this outfit are in petite sizing. I stress the importance of simple alterations, especially on items in non-petite sizing. For the jacket in 00 regular, I got the sleeves shortened. For the blouse in sz 2, I took up the straps. And for the skirt in a generic sz Small, I did some DIY slimming, and am hoisting the waist up with a snug belt. I wish I had a “before” photo to show what a difference these small adjustments make, collectively.
crochetblazer2
Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve come a long way in dressing since early posts. I hope that you guys have gotten as much out of the online community as I have.


Readers – Can you define your personal style? What factors have influenced it?
 

52 thoughts on “Discovering Personal Style

  • mai May 26, 2011 at 1:34 am

    LOVE your skirt!

  • Angie May 26, 2011 at 1:40 am

    this is a wonderful post jean. i love that lace skirt on you and am proud of how far you've come as well as a blogger. there is no excuse to feel confident about having a sense of style and personality in our clothing because we're too short, tall, skinny, fat, boyish, curvy. i'm glad you emphasized that we have to respect what we're given and work it!

  • the little relax bear May 26, 2011 at 1:44 am

    so informative as usual! Keep up the good work! Wish I could still find your skirt…any ideas?

  • kileen May 26, 2011 at 1:47 am

    i love this lace skirt and you paired it so well with this light green top and blazer. i agree that blogging really has helped me define my own style too and it always amazes me to go back and see how a blogger's style develops over time.

    this skirt is so lovely on you!

  • Amy May 26, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Love this post! My entire blog is about personal style–yet I still haven't perfected it. My style is more rocker and sometimes cutesy, but I'm starting to favor feminine and mature. I'm in the process of marrying the two!

    I have to say that I really admire your style, though, perhaps because it's different from my own. You make it look so effortless!

  • makeup,hauls, and anything under the sun! May 26, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I love this look! You're awesome at posing! Stay pretty!

    http://pastelbluejacket.blogspot.com

  • Rainy Days and Lattes May 26, 2011 at 2:39 am

    You are amazing, I've followed your blog since the earlier days and you have come so far, not that you were EVER lacking style! I do see a lot more color in your wardrobe and it's inspiring to see your accessories paired w/work clothing. I especially love the blue ring you have on 🙂 And the beautiful skirt and blazer combo. You are simply flawless in every sense!! 😛

  • Michelleesque May 26, 2011 at 2:40 am

    This was truly an inspiring post. I can't even come up with words to explain how inspiring it was. Though I've only followed you for a couple of months now, I could already tell that your style is very unique – very you.

  • Really Petite May 26, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Oh Jean…I'm a long time reader and def know that your taste and style has evolved! But I've always been a fan from the beginning:)

    My personal style hasn't really changed changed because I've always loved feminine looks with skirts and dresses BUT my shopping has definitely done a 360!

    I mostly have you to thank! You really are amazing:-) I love this skirt and can't believe I snagged it! Lol I would have loved to see your DIY on slimming the skirt because it's so annoyingly big in the waist but I refuse to invest in taking it in.

    Thanks for all your hard work blogging and helping all of us (bloggers/non-bloggers) dress better:D

  • couturecoco May 26, 2011 at 4:29 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post as a relatively new reader. Your journey, trial and errors really help us all. It must be something in the air as I've written my first post about how I'm reassessing my closet to better reflect my own personal style.
    I've always been a classic dresser and as I've grown older I realise this can be ageing so one of the aims of the reassessment is to rejuvenate my look a little and to eliminate clothes that don't earn their keep anymore (or never did as the case may be!).
    My investment pieces have stood the test of time and fashion cycles but I've added more colour and feel things work so much better. Next is getting the right balance between everyday, weekend, special and any future additions to my closet.
    Thanks so much!

  • modniza May 26, 2011 at 4:39 am

    love your style! outfit is soooooo beautiful! xoxo

  • Nancy May 26, 2011 at 5:28 am

    This was a great post! I went back to your older posts and you're right, your style has changed a great deal (besides Theory). I guess I've liked fashion since high school, and mine was quirky, but I quicky felt like others (the science community) viewed it as a complete waste of time in college so I dressed in a hoody and jeans for a great deal of college. Then by the end of college, I started reading blogs, and although I don't have a job yet to need to dress more professional, I read yours and Anh's blog for professional style and Kendi for more everyday as well as Rumi's and Clothes Encounters more urban stuff… so essentially I'm liking everything haha. Right now I'm a mashup of everything and every day is different, but what I want in the end is effortless style. The end ;]

  • Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 8:38 am

    I love your blog! I just stumbled across it and it's been a great resource seeing as I just started working in a corporate job as well. You have some really great ideas for outfits!

    I was wondering if you could give me any feedback on these NUDE flats I just bought off asos: http://www.asos.com/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=1438749

    I wasn't really sure if they were work appropriate but they were cute as! Any thoughts? Keep up the good work! 😀

  • Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews) May 26, 2011 at 8:40 am

    You've definitely given me something to think about! If I were to be asked today what my personal style was I really wouldn't know! I guess my generic answer would be that I like to feel put together and classy while adding twists with accessories. I definitely have an inner rebel within me 😛 but I think I get more creative with makeup or hair colour when the mood strikes me.

    I think in the end there are so many women I admire in my real life, in my blog life and just random stylish ladies I see on the street. I think my goal would be to be one of those girls, that other girls look at and want to know how I put that outfit together. STanding out from the crowd but still being appropriate.

    You Jean are definitely one of my inspirations. I love how you are trying new things, mixing and matching textures and pieces in unpredictable ways 🙂

  • Nancy May 26, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I'm so glad I found your blog because you inspire me especially as a petite gal myself. You have a classy and elegant style with a little something extra thrown in. I look forward to reading your blogs. Keem 'em coming.

  • aneetac May 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I loved this post. I've been quietly following your blog for some time now, and you have been very inspirational to my personal style as well. You always look classy and put-together, whether it be with work-wear or casual-wear. I love the color of the green silk shell paired with the Theory blazer. I look forward to reading more posts in the future 🙂

  • Elle May 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Great post Jean! As for personal style..I think my personal style can't really be summed up in a word (or even two or three). I know what I like and my style often times lacks a cohesive theme (which I am ok with). I think it's hard trying to describe perfectly anyone's personal style and I think life is more interesting because of this. That said, I draw a lot of inspiration from you because I can identify with your style in parts. I think blogging definitely helps though sometimes I still struggle with finding my distinct voice, no one wants to get lost in the crowd (kwim?). I really enjoy reading your blog because you are adventurous without compromising the integrity of your style. 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  • Magda May 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Magda May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

    every your outfit is perfect!
    great skirt / dress 🙂

  • Bruna Correa May 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I loved the lace skirt!
    That's so cute on you!
    Beautiful, young and trendy!
    Kisses

  • Cadrommy May 26, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I absolutely LOVE this post! One idea I've been toying with myself – how to define my style. Like you, I've had people comment on my sense of style and that it very defined and distinct…yet I have NO idea how to begin describing it myself. When I was younger we had very, VERY little money to spend on clothing. I wore a lot of things my mom sewed for me and a lot of hand me downs from people at church. As soon as I was able to make my own money, I spent it on clothes because I always wanted to dress nice, but never had the means. As I bought items, I made mistakes and also learned what I like.

    My style has also changed because my lifestyle has changed. Doesn't that play a huge role in how we dress? (You briefly touched on this above.) I'm a corporate professional, although we're business casual. I work in a marketing department consisting mostly of younger women, which means we're also trendier business casual. I'm a mom of two so my outfits also have to be kid-friendly. I have definitely grown into a more mature and sophisticated style from my pre-mom and college years!

    To me, you have a very sophisticated and feminine style that suits your personality – at least what I know of it from your blog. 🙂 I love your style and find it similar to my own, but not exact because your style still inspires me!

    Again, love, love, LOVE this post! Great job!

  • OSeñorita May 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I love your crochet skirt! No, I haven't found my personal style yet. Still discovering it.

  • Jackie May 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Finding the online petite community was awesome! It's jut nice to know that I'm not alone and that there are things I can do to project the image I want to.

    We both have come a long way =)

    I LOVE the green color of that top with the white skirt and beige blazer. You have always had excellent style; changes and all.

  • PetiteLittleGirl May 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I think my personal style is a bit more on the casual side. I’ve learned so much about styling since I started my blog. You’re definitely one of my inspirations. You are not afraid to go out of your comfort zone but still manage to look classy and professional.

    I can’t really describe what my personal style is. Not sure if I even have one but I am working on it. Thank you for sharing your personal style with us, Jean. Your outfit is well put together as always.

  • Alterations Needed May 26, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Your style has evolved quite a bit from the olden days of "Petite Asian Girl". I still remember your first photos, headless, just like mine used to be! 🙂

    I used to think of my personal style as "classic with a twist", but I really think I'm heading more in a "tomboy, country club chic" direction. I'm not quite where I want to be stylistically, which is really the girl version of those ridiculously dressed old italian men on The Sartorialist with fun patterned suits and bright purple socks. If I could figure out how to be that…but a girl version…I'd be really happy. LOL.

  • Diana May 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I really like this outfit of yours. It makes me wish there was a Theory outlet near me. (Although it's better for my wallet that there isn't.) I'm still on a quest to find a nice jacket that looks right on me.

    I've started reading your blog recently and I think you do a great job. My wardrobe isn't as nice and put-together as yours, but I am always conscious of the need to "dress up" since I look so young.

    But I still do like a lot of the more feminine, "young" details – for example, pink is my favorite color to wear and I love soft, flouncy skirts. I'm learning to balance this out with looking professional. The result is that I have a lot of classic pieces that serve many purposes, but not too many pieces of clothes that are interesting, expensive, or risky.

    I recently started my own business so I have been trying to define myself in other ways. One thing I have read about defining your "brand" is to pick three adjectives and try to make sure they show through everything you do. Right now I'm going with simple, smart, elegant. I guess my style ideally would fall under that too… although my first priority right now is to get my business in order, I think it's always important to present a good image. (The other day at work I forgot to put on my high heels after lunch, and I got "Whoa, you're tiny!" Like they hadn't realized it before. 🙂 )

    Style-wise, I suppose my goals are to get fewer pieces that I can get a good value out of. Also, I need to dump some of the things in my closet that are holdovers from high school, college, or earlier. Just because they still fit doesn't mean I should wear them!

    Anyway, thanks for all your hard work on this blog. You do a great job.

  • Erica May 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    The thing I've noticed the most about the evolution of your blog is not so much a change in style, but… that you smile so much more! 🙂 Your increasing confidence has really shone through.

    In my personal style, I like to combine casual/youthful pieces with more adult/tailored pieces. For example, at work today, I'm wearing a Fox Clothing striped graphic tank top with Loft trousers and cardigan, and heels. I'm a graphic designer, so I like to keep some elements of casualness and fun. But depending on my mood, sometimes I go more casual/youthful, and other times I'll go more professional.

  • Mae Lu May 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I'm STILL trying to figure that out.

    I just realize slowly, the things that work with my body (waist cinching belts, circle skirts (since I have no butt), and try to mix them with things I absolutely love, lace, leopard, stripes, blazers, poufy sleeves, leggings… I feel that, as long as I stick to thinks that please me, things that I adore, while remembering the silhouettes that suit my body–then I don't have to worry about defining and claiming a certain style as mine. The true nature of the human condition is change. Might as well go with the flow.

    I love your style, though. I think it's very inspirational for tiny girls like us (tho, I'm a bit of a giant for a petite–5'2"–C Cup, 26" waist) to learn from those who chic professionalism with flare very well.

    xx{ish.},
    Mae Lu @ thereafterish.!

  • SugarNikita May 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Love this. That shell is gorgeous!

  • Maeve Rachel May 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    This is a great post. I feel like that a lot of the time, I'm so small that I can't find great clothes so I end up resorting to second best. So it's great to hear your success story =) I hope someday I can truly find my own unique style =)

  • AubreyOhDang! May 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I really like it when you bring back really old pieces like this mint shell.

    I dont know what my style is. I only know what it's not. HAHAHAH.

  • Rainy Days and Lattes May 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Btw, what kind of blush are you wearing? You look GLOWING!

  • Alexis May 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I would love to see a picture of your closet! Blog post? <3

  • New Petite May 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Such a classy look! Love it! I agree blogging has helped me dress much better. Things I once thought look good on me I realize don't!!! you see and understand it only when you see yourself from someone else's eyes! Thanks to you I'm into blogging and paying much attention to what i wear 🙂

  • cryskay May 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    i am in love with your blog and style. you always look so effortlessly chic. xx

  • Petiteélégant May 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Your style=sweetness

  • a rose May 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Your blog is one of very first blog that I followed. Before that, I actually read it for a few months and just tired of refresh the page lol, so decided to follow your blog properly. My impressions about it were:

    -Your writing is concise and informative.
    -You dressed classically and functionally.
    -You didn't smile in the picture, which made me to be curious to keep following lol.

  • Anonymous May 26, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I'm a long-time lurker and first-time commenter. I'm so glad you wrote this post. In the few months that I've been following yours and other petite-style blogs, I've noticed that there is a certain blogger who seems to run out and buy the very same pieces you have right after they show up on your blog. Now I realize certain items may become popular and create a stir within the blog community, but it's somewhat creepy when this blogger mimics not just your clothing choices, but your poses, photo backgrounds, etc. HOWEVER, I'm very glad you haven't let things like that stop you from blogging. This really is one of my favorite blogs and I have really learned so much from you.

  • Rinny May 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I love the lace crochet skirt! I actually just saw it on another petite blogger's OOTD post and was wondering where she got it from 😀

    I think you have a great sense of style – you always look so sophisticated, elegant, and modern. And it is very clear that you have great self confidence just looking at the way you smile and carry yourself in your photos 🙂

  • Olyvia May 27, 2011 at 12:37 am

    I first found out about your blog when I was google-ling for covergirl mascara review, but instead I was immediately drawn to your outfit posts, and I was most excited that it had a petite theme, which I'm one and always had trouble finding grown-up clothes that fit…from there I got sucked into this whole petite and non-petite fashion-blogging community. But you were the first who got me into this 🙂 I also don't think you have ever lacked in style, even in the earliest posts (unless you really do dress like the "before" pictures…like when you did the what-not-to-wear before and after pics….I miss those posts). I think you naturally have good taste. But what has dramatically improved is your photographs and how you model the clothes for sure!

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