Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Do you ever try on an outfit--maybe something you've seen other people wear, or maybe even something you've worn before--but when you look in the mirror, something just isn't right?  I'm not talking about pants being too small or colors not matching.  If you lay it all out on the bed or put it on a faceless mannequin, it's perfect!  All of the pieces evoke the "feeling" you were going for, but when you put it on, it just doesn't seem quite like you.  It might lead you to say, "I just can't pull this off." I've been in this exact situation numerous times over the last 5 years or so, and it generally seems to be when I try to create a bohemian inspired outfit.  I like to think I have a little boho spirit.  When I thumb through the Free People catalog, it speaks to me!  But should I listen?  Enter "The Boho Experiment."

A couple of weeks ago, I tried on this ensemble:

In theory, this should all be great together.  In fact, I anticipate readers telling me they really like this look.  Flowy silk dress + slouchy suede boots + wide-brim felt hat = Free People catalog, without a doubt.  But I was totally uncomfortable in this.  Though I've admired this very look on lots of other people, it felt like a costume on me.  So I started subtracting, and I got this look:

OK, better.  It's definitely more like just a cute dress with boots now; nevertheless, it still felt a little off.  Maybe the combination of the short dress and slouchy boots felt a little too young.  I honestly don't know, but I KNOW I wasn't digging it.  More tweaking...

Bingo!!  I swapped out the suede boots for these tougher leather boots with an edgy side zip.

That's all it took to make this feel like a put-together, non-costumey version of myself.

Flowy, carefree silhouettes, vintage lace, floral headbands.  That's "me," right?  Well, perhaps that's part of me.  But perhaps, I'm also a little girly, a little tough, a little #bosslady, and I need to temper that festival-goer vibe with some items that speak to the rest of my personality.

Three points I took away from The Boho Experiment:

  1. Personal style takes a little thought and a little work.  It's not always evident, even to a personal stylist.
  2. I am not cut out for a "capsule wardrobe."  Minimalism is great.  Knowing what you like and what fits you is great.  But I have too much fun playing dress-up and too many personalities floating around in me to narrow my choices too much.  And that's just how it's going to be.
  3. I like hats, but I think I need to stick to wearing them with jeans and a t-shirt!

Have you had similar experiences?  Maybe this will inspire you to conduct a little personal style experiment of your own.  Let me know!

As a personal stylist in Richmond, VA, I strive to make wardrobe choices clear and easy for women who are short on time, overwhelmed by their closets, or transitioning from one period of life to another.  Let's connect!  


  1. Love this experiment! I also find that I have purchased something off the hangar, having styled it over and over in my head perfectly, only to find that it doesnt work at ALL on my frame and I never end up wearing it. I love the idea of being more intentional with purchases and items getting their "cost per wear". I really enjoyed getting to see your process for making a perfect look! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! I have had your experience more times than I care to admit! Thank goodness for easy return policies, but better to be more careful and intentional with purchases in the first place!!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, lady! It's cute, for sure. Just need to tone down the rest of the look to pull it off;)

  3. Joanna-love the top with the un-slouchy boots. But, you look gorgeous in everything! xoxo Can you briefly explain a capsule wardrobe? It sounds way too confining for this dress-up-lovin' girl & all of her personalities, but curious, nonetheless. #commanderinchic