Creating Personal Style With the Foundational Five

This Ralph Lauren Denim Skirt
is a recent purchase.  It had
to meet all five of the citeria..
how is it creative?  Well, I
can style it with creativity!

We are all blank canvases just ready to be painted by a master. That is what is so beautiful about all of us…we are different portraits…not meant to look the same. Personal style and fashion are so much fun for that very reason….it is PERSONAL…Unique to each individual.

At the time of my weight loss this past spring, I did not want to replace the oversized clothes with just anything. I wanted direction, so I gave the question of HOW DO I CREATE PAM STYLE?…much thought. I looked at magazines…considered trends…wrote down things I like and don’t like…but I kept coming back to this: WHAT DID I WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH MY STYLE?

Every time we get dressed each day, we are sending a message to ourselves as well as the outside world. If I throw on a large oversized T shirt and do not fix my hair or makeup, then the message to me and others is that I don’t care or matter. If I go to the wacky extreme, then I am saying I want attention and do not really feel confident in my skin…though it might appear to the outside world just the opposite.

WHAT DO I WANT TO COMMUNICATE WITH MY STYLE? I decided for me the best way to answer that question was with adjectives and descriptions. I narrowed it down to five…because if I focus on more than five then my style lacks direction, definition and gets, well, schizophrenic again.

As my style becomes more defined, my
accessories are fewer and with purpose.

Now, when I go into a dressing room I take with me THE OVER50FEELING40 FOUNDATIONAL FIVE
…how’s that for naming a plan?? When I try something on, it has to answer all five questions or I don’t buy it!! Since beginning to shop with this plan three months ago, I am leaving more behind and loving more of what I bring home. I am also testing this with friends and so far the response is great…they love having this type of direction when they shop!!

Because, we are all different canvases, our foundational five will be different. But, here are mine and I am going to spend five posts explaining them further:

1. Strong: Does the piece give me a feeling of strength…in charge…professional success?

2. Class: Do I feel classy, chic, dignified?

3. Creative: Is there a creative touch to what I am doing that is unique to my artsy side?

4. Youthful: Do I feel “young at heart” in the look in an appropriate manner?

5. Fitted: Does it fit my body in a fabulous way…not too tight or too big?

One of Gigi’s foundational five is SIMPLE. She desires her looks to be simple and tailored. You might add any of these to your lists: romantic, trendy, country club, preppy, bohemian….there are a plethora of words that could compose someone’s foundational five. But, I would like to submit to you that if you shop with five goals in mind, then you will begin to define a style of your own. You will also take less clothing to Goodwill and return less to the stores. You will have fewer moments of WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Since I began…I like it!

Please let me know what you think? What would your foundational five be? What do you want to communicate with your style?

This Ralph Lauren top stayed at the store. It did not
meet all five criteria.  The color and the ribbon
did not make me feel strong or classy.  The fit
was nice though.


  1. Pam, I love the idea of coming up with key points for deciding whether to buy or wear a piece of clothing. I'll need some quiet thinking time to settle on these. Thanks for another thoughtful and motivating post 🙂

  2. Great idea!
    I'll have to really think about this one!
    about the blog-roll (yes, you are on mine) LOL
    I just play dumb 😉
    PS, if a serious question e-mail me 😉

  3. I love this idea! Coming up with 5 points will help me to stop bringing home clothes that I buy just b/c they were in my size and fit. I've been known to buy clothes that I don't even really like because of this. :-/

    I generally have 2 types of clothing 1) professional work attire, which is business casual. 2) workout gear – think spandex capri & tank tops

    I really have nothing to wear for a causal look and I think coming up with the 5 points will definitely help me shop better and give me a more versatile wardrobe! Attempting to think of my 5 now.

  4. I really love this idea! I usually say "this is cute"…..and then what? I like to be classsy, but stand out also.

  5. I think you have an excellent point and I will try to define my 5 adjectives of how I want to look. but if by any chance an adjective pops in your head as soon as you see my recent posts please let me know.

  6. Pam, such a great idea to help others define their style and make less shopping errors!

    I'm not sure how I would define my style in 5 adjectives…I'll have to think about it some more. 🙂

  7. I love how you've conceptualized this. I tried to do something similar, following steps that I read in a style book, but that system involved writing a longer narrative. It was useful at the time but to cumbersome too carry with me or remember.

    I love the 5 questions because they're concise enough to be easy to use, but long enough to be comprehensive. (I've never been able to sum up my style in one short phrase — "casual classic with boho accents" is the closest I've come!)

    I really love this system and plan to try it. If it works well, maybe I'll put my list on my blog with a link to yours!

  8. I adore this idea – makes you think up front, and I need that so I don't wander the stores just buying 'whatever". 🙂

  9. Great post. I will have to think on what my own foundational 5 rules will be.
    I have a question for you. Do you think that your 5 rules will change in the future? I ask because I think that my rules will be different based on me being retired and I am wondering if as we move through life, will the rules change to fit where we are in life?
    I really like how you write things that make us think and challenge ourselves.

  10. I love that concept, Pam. When I try something on that makes me smile, I know I'm going to buy it. If I had to come up with my five on the fly, they would be: Happy, (do I convey happiness?), Flattering, (no need to point out the flaws), Creative, Confident, & Fun!

    Thanks for making me thing about it.
    xo, f
    The House in the Clouds

  11. That was fun to think about! I've always sew my own clothing (or a lot of it) so I already have a decent grasp of what looks good on my body shape. But that doesn't mean I always get it right! LOL

    So the five I came up with (for now..always subject to change) is:


    And I cheated here, #5 has options!

    d.Impress (work)

  12. I think this plan is wonderful. One thing to add, if that's ok. Here's something I always tell my clients when they're shopping on their own. If you can't imagine three outfits with that piece using your current wardrobe, don't buy it. Does that make sense? I can say it better than I can write it. ha.


  13. Interesting criteria. I think Creativity would be at the top of my list, but for the moment I'm clueless about the rest. I dress them, but haven't described…

  14. Hmmm… If I liked the color and fit of that Ralph Lauren top… I would have replaced that ugly ribbon with either nothing or a string of cool beads woven through like the ribbon is.

    My five would be:

    classic (shapes, can wear for years)
    flattering (duh!)
    sharp (I want to look pulled-together)
    twist (details that add interest to pieces)
    youthful (not aging or frumpy)

  15. Here are my five: 1.relaxed casual;2.approachable;3.modern;4.accessorized;5.flamboyant yet natural.
    Somehow I want to look like the girl next door but not too LL Bean or, I love the Chico's clothes but sometimes they are a tad to dramatic for me. I like the fall colors so I like more subdued colors. This is totally different than how I used to dress when I was working.
    Those guidelines were:classic, authoritative, modern, textured, separates. Or something like that. Great food for thought!

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