THE STYLE ETHOS AT simply START living

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So here I am… settling into a new digital home - I hope you’re settling in too! Beginning again feels wonderful and I’m full of all those joys that accompany a new chapter. Whilst my content has a shiny new place to reside, there are things from Online Stylist that are inherent and that I choose to bring with me. In this instance, that would be my unending love of style. Understanding the impact of how we dress and how we express who we are through clothing is something I’ve always loved and always will.

During the process of getting to this point and figuring out what I wanted to do with the blog, I also had to acknowledge two events that seemed to be colliding directly above my head. In one corner was a world slowly awakening to the concept of fast fashion and the damaging effects on the environment. On a regular basis, we’re being shown the error of our quick fix, shopping ways and the whole world needs to sit up and listen… and make a whole lot of changes too.

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In the opposite corner is a raft of influencers, myself included, who are able to partially monetize their platforms by making affiliate commission from items they’ve recommended to readers and followers. When it’s done with authenticity, thought and care, I see no problem with this concept. In simple terms, the small amount of commission that I receive on the drip is the thing that helps cover some of my business costs and allows me to carry on blogging. But as I and a gazillion others slowly start to wake up to the effects of consumerism on our world, I’d be lying if I said that sometimes, the concept didn’t make me more than a little uncomfortable.

Whilst we’re on the subject, I’d also be lying if I said that my own past shopping habits didn’t make me uncomfortable either. As I admitted here, shopping was often about the buzz obtained from the process or the sticking plaster it provided (for all of about ten minutes), to heal how I was feeling. As opposed to it being about the love for the thing that I bought.

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When I began to envisage what this new blog would be like, I knew I still wanted to include style - both in terms of what I like to wear and in reader inspiration forms too. Feedback from my community who like the aesthetics that I’m drawn to has always been positive and encouraging, so I’ll still be producing that content here at simply START living. Just as I’ll carry on buying clothes occasionally. But in the same way that I won’t be taking a scattergun approach to my own future purchases, I won’t be needlessly featuring something here or on Instagram just for the sake of a potential commission. I never have done. I choose substance over strategy.

The thing to remember with any blogger or social media influencer who does their job well, or any shop owner who sells things that you might like to buy for that matter, is this. If you set out your stall, blog, boutique or online store with care and attention, surely you’ll attract the tribe who’ll purchase with care and attention too? I sometimes walk into a favourite store for the pure enjoyment factor alone or just to soak up the inspiration… and then I’ll leave empty handed. My visit is about the experience and that’s why I’m a loyal repeat customer. I wish the same for you here.

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There’ll be no arm twisting or telling you you must own this or your life will be incomplete. I truly hope you’ll enjoy the browsing experience too, maybe find some inspiration for something similar you already own and come back again soon. And if you do buy something I’ve shown you, I hope it brings you joy on repeat. There will always be the “Buy it cheap, pile it high and sell, sell, sell!” mentality from store owners, influencers and any other business you may care to think of too. But you can choose not to line their pockets… even if they are twisting your arm in the most persuasive of manners.

In terms of my own clothing purchases, since waking up to what’s truly of value, before I buy anything now, I consider not only it’s longevity, quality and wearability but also, why am I buying it? Do I need it or am I using it to make me feel better? Do I like it on me or did I prefer it when I saw it on my favourite style muse? Wherever possible I prefer to shop with stores who have clear and understandable sustainability policies. I aim to steer clear of items with prices so low that it’s abundantly clear the production of it is neither good for people or planet.

I don’t have the style nose for buying vintage or from charity shops - never have done. But I admire the hell out of those who do and look amazing on it. When I’ve edited the contents of my wardrobe I’ve passed on the unwanted pieces to friends in the first instance and the rest to local charity shops. I think pre-loved clothing sites are genius and clothing sales and swap events are the way forward. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t claim to know enough about all of this yet and this is not a sustainability or an eco blog. But I’m learning all the time and trying to do the right thing wherever possible. I feel this is as much as we can ask of each other and is way better than burying our heads in the sand and doing nothing at all. We all have choices and here’s the important part - we should be respectful of others choices… without the need to pass public judgement or partake in a team tearing down effort.

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Phew… that got a bit heavy there for a minute, didn't it? So do you mind if I go a bit woo woo on you now? For me, dressing is all about feeling. How does the piece of clothing feel next to my skin? And more importantly, how does it make me feel about myself when I put it on and look back at my reflection? Here's what I want to feel when I am dressed for the day.

Confident, peaceful, at ease, comfortable, effortless, uncomplicated, minimalist, worthy of a second glance, pulled together, calm, laid back. Some might suggest there's an element of vanity in putting so much thought into pulling on clothes. I don’t. I think of it as a form of self-investment  And I believe that wearing something you love and feel great in is completely transformative. I guess the style mission for simply START living that I’m trying to communicate here is this.

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There is no price tag on style. That black tux jacket you bought on the High Street some four years ago was the best quality tux you could find for your budget at the time and is still going strong. And when you wear it with a silk shirt underneath and a pair black crepe trousers, you wouldn’t know if it was £60 or £600. True story.

Some investments are worth it. Those leather leggings you coveted and eventually bought were worth the wait. They were expensive but they’ll last and they don’t make you sweat like those cheap knock off faux leather pairs that sag at the knees after one wear. False economy. Better to wait. True story.

The once in a lifetime purchase might not be life changing. Over the years you’ve toyed with the idea of owning THE bag but changed your mind several times about which one might be THE one. Good job you didn’t make the purchase as your style has evolved since then and now you no longer feel the need to own THE one. A simple tote from your favourite Scandi store does the job better. True story.

Wear what you love as often as possible. Get dressed like everyday is important enough to want to feel your best. We’re not talking working from home in a power suit and heels here. Maybe wearing that cosy cashmere sweater in winter or the beautiful white cotton dress in summer just because. Somehow you feel more valued and in turn that makes you happier. True story.

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Buy with care and know your reason why. You know you can’t afford to be careless when it comes to parting with your style sterling - not just for the sake of your wallet but for the sake of the environment too. Do you love it on you? Will you wear it on repeat? Will it stand the test of time? Will it make the self-doubt really go away? Clothes can make the woman but they can’t change her into someone else. True story.

Know your style… and stick with it. Others may bemoan the lack of colour in your wardrobe and wonder how on earth you can feel inspired by all the shades of beige to grey and back again. They may tell you that when you wore that red dress, it really suited you and you should “wear more colour!” And yet, whilst you enjoyed the compliment and the brief flirtation with different, the whole time you were wearing it something felt off. You wished you were in a black dress instead. And then you finally work it out… you know you best. True story.

If you're looking for simple style for the life you want to live, I hope you’ll find plenty of inspiration here!