That Crafty Fish! said... I demand that you take photos of lots of your most colourful clothing / outfits in a 'teen style' wardrobe ramraid and talk about how great clothes are....
Ok, but let me just start by saying that I would never regard myself as any kind of style guru. My 'look', if you could name it so, is based on an inherent fear of beige, and the need to blend in and disappear that I personally associate with such an insipid hue. It is a shade that screams, or whispers or rather mutters under its breath "Please do not look at me. I do not wish to offend you by seeming to actually be happy with myself." Beige is often termed as 'neutral'- it sits mawkishly on the fence, comfy in its middle ground, eager to not displease anyone.
My own haphazard sense of 'style' is a look born out of necessity (that is, to stay warm, to not be naked and to not let people know that my underwear doesn't match) (oops) and limited funds. This, coupled with an inane hatred of clothes shopping, means that my 'wardrobe' is pretty interchangeable. I do not have a winter and summer wardrobe: winter is the same as summer, just with more layers. I love Ebay, if only for the scroll down menus that are so less humiliating than wading through a rail of clothes looking for the hallowed size 16. Its got to the point now that if I should ever find myself in Topshop, and I happen upon an outsize (ha!) garment, I will purchase the fecker on principle. Luckily, for my bank account, this doesn't happen often. There's a lot of layering going on, with contrasting colours and patterns. I have learnt to never buy lambswool (I always shrink it) and that you can often wash dry-clean only clothes. I'm all about the comfort, baby, but even I know never to buy anything with an elasticated waist unless you are pregnant. I know that I am safe with Monsoon jeans and that I'm bound to find something wonderful, that fits, in Debenhams (their website has a fab feature where you can search for clothes by size: saves soooo much time and disappointment.) M+S is always a disappointment, but I have faith and so keep checking.
And then, of course, there is Etsy. I currently need this dress (actually, can I have all of Pamela Tang's womenswear range please?), with this top underneath (by some bird I may have mentioned a few times, but seeing as she's a bit stingy with the royalty cheques, I shan't this time :-P ) and this hat (from that Empress of Yarn, dollyknits) if its a bit perky-nips out. Socks would come from Sock Dreams, of course (or one of those sellers on Ebay that sells 15 pairs of stripey socks for £10.)
Life is short and we should have fun with the way we look. Dame Vivienne Westwood is credited as saying 'When in doubt, overdress.' Now, whilst I haven't yet achieved her level of bravada with attire, I aspire to it (clearly in a very beige way.) and I don't keep any items for 'best', preferring to mix different clothes in order to convey the depth of importance of the event. I find it hard to leave something plain: I am a keen proponent of a well-placed badge or brooch. (particular favourites are summersville fabric badges, paperfish and, without the merest hint of arrogance, my own!) I do think that I dress, to coin Crafty Fish, if not like a 'teenage ramraid', then certainly as '30-something ramraid who'll wear what she damn well pleases', which is quite similar, just with nicer fabrics and better posture. I certainly dress for comfort to the point that, when I do make 'an effort' (translation: I wear a dress, without trousers underneath, with heels and tights instead of stripey socks.) I am seranaded with a chorus of 'You scrub up well!', a phrase that has me scuttling back to my Birkies / Docs / Crocs (ahhh, bite me!) quicker than you can say 'mahoosive support knickers'.
Now I don't feel original and stylish enough to really dispense sartorial advice to you, but this is one of my favourite divine sources of inspiration.The Black Apple may be the Blessed Mother Mary of Etsy, but this is where it's at! I deeply love this girl's style.
Also worth a look is, of course, The Satorialist, showing time and time again that it's not what you wear, its how you wear it.
If I were braver, I would dress like this, or, braver still, this, although I think the nipple tassels may contravene many health & safety regulations.
So, in answer to Kirsty's original brief, clothes can be great, wonderful, life-enhancing, mood-altering, warming, enticing, repelling wonders of fabric cacophony. If they're not, mix them up until they are. Like any good cake, the ingredients are often better chucked together than on their own (although let that metaphor end there: I don't want to be held responsible for the agony self-inflicted by you lot, setting your outfit in a 200oc oven for 20 mins)
What are you wearing today?
(by the way, you need to read this book. I know it's about men's fashion, but it is is utterly wonderful, as I have mentioned before. What do you mean you haven't read it yet?!)