the style mistake I keep on making

The Style Mistake I Keep On Making

I’ve come to the conclusion that autumn and winter just don’t suit me.

Actually, scratch that: over the past few weeks, I’ve slowly been coming the conclusion that clothes just don’t suit me. Er, I don’t mean to imply that I’m just going to start walking around naked or something – relax, people. Recently, though, I’ve taken quite a few sets of outfit photos, wearing clothes I thought looked perfectly fine at the at the time, only to get home and be all, “ABORT! ABORT! SOUND THE HORRIFIC OUTFIT ALARM!”

Sometimes I look back at the  photos I’ve taken, and it’s almost like I’m seeing myself for the first time – and it’s all because I keep making the same mistake over and over again: I basically look at someone else (whether it be in real life, or online), admire their outfit, and think that in order to look like that, all I have to do is buy the same – or similar – clothes.

But it doesn’t work like that, does it?

Take these boots, for instance:

office-lucky-charm-boots(I’ve already had someone on Instagram tell me they hate them, so there’s no need to pile on the biscuit if you don’t like them: I did, which is really all that matters, given that I was the one who was planning to wear them….)

I’d been seeing these boots (Or the Chloe ‘Susannah’ version, which they’re a blatant copy of) around the Internet for months now, and although they’re not at all my usual style, my “usual” style has been changing recently, and I’ve really been doing my best to start dressing for my REAL LIFE, (as opposed to that fantasy one in which I’m a cross between a Disney princess and Grace Kelly…), so I was oddly drawn to these. I resisted at first: I think deep down I knew they just wouldn’t work me, but they worked SO WELL on the dozens of super-stylish women I kept seeing in them, and, well, sometimes it’s good to try something totally different, isn’t it? So I ordered them, and then I sat back and started imagining the new, sleeker, more grown-up version of myself I was about to become.

You can see what’s coming here, can’t you? I mean, it’s as clear as day to absolutely everyone who’s ever met me, but the thing is, I ALWAYS do this: I get this idea in my head of how I’m going to look like Alexa Chung, or Kendall Jenner, or one of the women I follow on Instagram: the ones who aren’t supermodels, but who still manage to look effortlessly stylish ever day, in a way that completely eludes me, no matter how hard I try to emulate it. So I buy things I think will help me become this New Me I’ve been imagining – and then I’m inevitably surprised and disappointed when the things arrive, and I don’t look ANYTHING like I thought I would – and nothing at all like all of those other women, who make wearing that thing look easy.

So, surprise, surprise, that’s what happened here. The boots arrived, and they were gorgeous. On their own, I mean. As soon as I put them on, they were totally ruined, because, not to put too fine a point on it, but those boots made my legs look like tree trunks. I mean, I don’t have the best ankles anyway, but the boots turned them into cankle central: they made my legs look the same width all the way down – oh, and the low heel made them look about 3 inches long, into the bargain. It wasn’t good. It REALLY wasn’t good.

I’m not saying that to fish for compliments, by the way. When Terry asked why I was sending back those boots I’d been going on about all week, and I told him it was because I looked like a golf club in them, he was quick to assure me that why no, I DON’T have stumpy legs and candles and I can TOTALLY pull off those boots. But the fact is, I’m not saying these things because I hate myself, or need my ego massaged: the fact is that, yes, I DO, in fact have short legs and a long torso: that’s just a fact –  and it’s the type of fact that I really have to be able to accept about myself, if I want to dress well and feel comfortable in my own skin.

For a very long time, I just ignored these facts. In fact, going back a few years, I didn’t really even register the fact that my legs are “petite” even although my height isn’t. I just kept buying things and wondering why they didn’t look the same way on me they did on other people. Back then, I’d definitely have kept those boots: because they were awesome boots, they look great on other people, and I just wouldn’t be able to accept the fact that they didn’t look good on me.

It’s quite hard to accept those facts, though.  We’re told, after all, that we can wear anything we want (And so we can, obviously: it just might not look that great on us, is all…), and that we should be constantly trying new things and experimenting. I spent my entire working day online, looking at clothes, and the people who wear them: I constantly see things that I absolutely love – and it’s quite disappointing to realise that very, very few of them are things that I’ll actually be able to wear. For instance:

  • I can’t wear flat ankle boots, like the ones in the post, because they exaggerate the stumpiness of my legs, and turn them into one giant cankle.
  • I can’t wear any kind of ankle boot with bare legs (Like this, for instance: I LOVE this look, but, again, it makes my legs look about 3″ long…), for the same reason.
  • I can’t wear pumps in the winter (Like this) because my feet would turn blue from the cold.
  • I can’t wear head-to-toe black, no matter how stylish I think it looks, because I have skin like a vampire.
  • I can’t wear most of the pinks and reds I love on other people, because they look horrendous against my skin.

There are more, but I’m going to stop now, or this post really will start to sound like an exercise in me looking for head pats and reassurance, which it really isn’t. My point, though, is that, as harsh as it might sound, you really have to know this stuff about yourself. Unless, of course,  you’re one of those people who’s just all, “Screw it: I don’t care if it makes me look like a golf club – I’m going to wear it anyway!” I’m NOT one of those people, though – and that’s something you have to know about yourself, too. As unfashionable as it might be to say it, I DO want my clothes to be flattering – which brings me back to my current issue with autumn and winter.

The colder months of the year have always been the least stylish ones for me. I don’t like thick tights, I’m not a fan of the much-vaunted “layering” (Lots of layers just make me look and feel like a badly-wrapped parcel, to be honest…), and while I DO like the traditionally autumnal colours, I basically have around 3-4 outfits which I roll out every year, and once I’ve worn them (and blogged about them), I’m out. My dislike of tights, plus the fact that I’m the kind of person who feels cold even when everyone else is boiling, means I tend to retreat to trousers and jeans at this time of year: but trousers and jeans don’t really suit me very well, and give me a huge problem with footwear (it’s those ankle boots again, folks: I love them, they don’t love me…), so I end up feeling dull and frumpy, and just not myself.

Which is where we’re up to right now. I’ve finally realised that I have to stop making the same mistake, and just accept that I’m never going to look like the women on my Pinterest boards, even if I were to copy their outfits down to the last item. (Which would be super-creepy, obviously, but you get what I mean…) But I’m still left feeling in a bit of a slump, really: one in which absolutely nothing seems to suit me, and I’m not really sure what to try instead.

Outfit posts might be a bit thin on the ground while I figure this one out: unless, of course, inspiration is lurking just around the corner…

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  • You’re not alone! I’m not a fan of tights either although it’s still quite mild down here so I’ve not needed to wear them as yet. Also not a fan of layering to be honest, adding on scarves as well, it’s just too much stuff when I’m trying to get out of the house with two kids in tow.

    November 2, 2016
  • I completely understand where you are coming from because I keep on trying to wear full 1950s style skirts. I love they way they look on you and I keep thinking they are going to look like that on me. They don’t. I keep trying. It is an endless cycle of delusion and disappointment. I do love ankle boots though.

    November 2, 2016
  • I feel like autumn and winter are much harder for outfit posts too and it’s funny because my reasons are totally different. My big problem is coats – I have decided I have a small head and every coat and the excessive width and bulk it adds just emphasises this fact. Which is perhaps only noticeable to me, but I just feel like I look weird and out of proportion in every coat I ever wear. This is a problem when you live in this country!! I’m just trying to find ways round it that mostly = putting a hat on to exaggerate head size. But hey, at least there’s *something*. I guess you just have to work out what your workaround for your issues are… And if there aren’t any give up and move along to the next thing that *does* work!!

    November 2, 2016
  • Amber, I think you’re being way to hard on yourself!! So those ankle boots don’t work for you, so what! There are plenty of ankle boots that will…a little bit higher heel and matched or coordinated to your pants/jeans. Plus, you look amazing in knee boots. I love your personal style and love that even though you’re just as tiny as the countless fashion bloggers out there, you don’t look anything like them!
    Have you ever tried pattered tights? They’re surprisingly warm! (or you could wear nude stockings underneath and I don’t think anyone would be able to tell. Good luck on your style journey!!

    November 2, 2016
  • Myra Boyle


    I have a small head too, and unfortunately it’s the only small bit of me. Coats emphasise my small head so I prefer jackets. I love those ankle boots and whether they suited me or not, I would wear them.

    November 2, 2016
  • Myra Boyle


    I love your green and brown clothes, and they seem great for Autumn.

    November 2, 2016
  • I had a problem with ankle boots too. For years I’ve been searching for the “perfect pair” which didn’t make my legs look like stumps.
    I found a really good pair from Dorothy Perkins which were lower cut at the front which helps with stumpy leg syndrome.

    November 2, 2016
  • Annabelle


    That’s a themed week:
    – risk during the weekend,
    – taking risks with new lipsticks and showing the pictures to the world (many really great on you, especially the pink-brown, but yes some halloween-ish),
    – taking risks with ankle boots.
    That’s nice and brave from you to show us that some times we can be a little adventurous: even if it is to confirm eventually that certain things are not really for us, some others are nice discoveries.

    November 2, 2016
  • I can totally relate! I too have the short legs, long torso body type – the penguin as it should be called. I basically live in black skinny jeans and an oversized knit in winter, in the vain hope of making my legs look longer. ‘Tis a constant struggle.

    November 2, 2016
  • Anna


    It’s funny–I too am an average-height woman with petite legs and a longer torso, but I’ve never had a problem wearing flat ankle boots, and wear them almost every day in the colder months. Full fifties-style skirts, on the other hand (which I love on other people, and which look amazing on you!) make my legs look like little stumps.

    November 2, 2016
  • I hear you on this. I’ve got quite short, muscular legs, and it can be hard to dress them sometimes without looking stumpy or thick. I do think those boots would look amazing with a pair of black skinny pants, though, and if you don’t like wearing black you could balance out the top with a cozy sweater in a lighter color that suits you better. Just a suggestion, though; of course you know what works on you and what doesn’t. I do really love those boots, though, so I hope you find a way to wear them that works for you!

    November 3, 2016
  • What about a light tan ankle boot with a lowish heel chunky heel? Like say 2 in instead of 3. There are some that are tighter to the ankle that I bet would be super cute! (I said light tan because I thought they may work with bare legs.)

    I’m lucky in that I haven’t bought shoes yet I haven’t loved but I do go through phases with them and am usually very late to a trend if I jump on the wagon at all.

    November 3, 2016
  • Lily


    “…manage to look effortlessly stylish ever day, in a way that completely eludes me, no matter how hard I try to emulate it”

    I know you weren’t looking for reassurance here Amber, but just feel I should point out that I read your blog with a similar view – Amber is effortlessly stylish in a way that I cannot manage myself! I suspect we all have people we wish we could dress like, probably even Kendall Jenner has people whose style she envies. Although to be fair, people like Kendall Jenner probably have at least one stylist at her beck and call too.

    Re: winter clothing. Uniqlo sell really thin thermal layer tops that fit under almost everything without bulking out an outfit. I realise I sound like an advert here, but they were such a game changer for me because they fit under my work clothes and don’t disrupt the lining of them! This was especially important because any bulky clothing instantly makes me look like the michelin man. Anyway, as another chilly mortal, thought you might be interested. 🙂

    November 3, 2016
  • Lois


    I also have a long body and short legs and like you, I am 5 ft 4 and 8 stone. I have just returned, possibly, my 10th pair of ankle boots that look horrendous on me but great on the model. One suggestion for winter, have you tried shortish/mini skirts with black opaque tights? This look works well with flatter boots and shoes rather than heels which can look a bit tarty. The shorter skirt evens up the proportions. Secondly, I have recently bought a pair of M&S wedge black ankle boots that, surprisingly, look good with black jeans as they give you a bit of height but also feel as though you are wearing flats and are therefore walkable! In general, I agree though, I don’t really like wearing flat shoes with my jeans as they make my legs look short and a heel is just so much more flattering – which means a great deal of the ‘cool’ styles are out.

    November 4, 2016