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How to Define Your Personal Style

2024 Style Series
Comments(54)
January 15, 2024
2024 DFMD Style Series

Taking the time and putting in the thought to define our personal style can help us shop smarter, dress more authentically, build a more cohesive wardrobe, feel more confident and enjoy getting dressed for our day. Stylish women have intentionally and thoughtfully defined their own personal style and lean into it consistently, expertly and confidently. So how can you and I do the same? Read on and I’ll walk you through, step by step, how to define your personal style.

Your personal style is the story you want to tell about yourself through the clothing and accessories you choose and the way you wear them. So to build your personal style you’ll want to shop with certain parameters in mind. Then you’ll want to learn to put together outfits with that curated wardrobe that truly reflect your style.

But before you can get started on all of that fun, we need to put in the potentially hard work to define your personal style. That takes some thought, involves a little research and requires some decisions. But you’ve got this!

Blouse and Pants and Jacket
See the original blog post for details.

First, begin with a little research…

I began defining my personal style by doing a little research. I did three things that really gave me the perspective, focus and creativity I needed to get this right.

  • I took note of images I saw on Instagram, Pinterest and even on television shows and in magazines, that reflected a style that appeals to me. I focused on outfits I could see myself wearing and feeling authentic in. I began to get a feel for what I really liked…and why. Asking the “why” is important. I took the time to break down the elements in the outfit, the way they’re put together, the colors used and the accessories. I noted style hacks that appeared repeatedly in my favorite looks.
  • I looked over photos of my own outfits from the past year and selected my favorites. Then I listed out the common elements in my favorites. I also noted what I didn’t see among my favorite outfits. And I noted the outfits that didn’t feel like me and why. You can see my blog post on My 23 Favorite Outfits of 2023 HERE.
  • I looked through my entire wardrobe and selected favorite garments and accessories that really resonate with me. I didn’t give myself time to talk myself into liking things. I made snap decisions. If you feel you need to, you could take a second tour through your wardrobe and do the same, once again not giving yourself time to talk yourself into things.
See the original blog post for details.

Throughout that little three-step research process I simply took some notes. I jotted down words that described how those outfits I loved looked to me. I noted style hacks, color combinations, textures, garments, accessories and formulas I saw over and over.

I’d like to suggest you do the same. There’s no need for me to hold your hand through that process. It’s work, but you absolutely can do it all on your own. In fact, I’d resist getting help from anyone else at this point in the process because you want your own thoughts to speak louder than anyone else’s opinions or input during this exercise.

Phone camera selfies of your daily outfits can help you determine what you really like and what feels authentic to you.

What if you don’t have photos of your own outfits to review? That’s understandable. But I suggest you start taking those with your phone today or as soon as possible. In our previous Define Your Style…Refine Your Wardrobe blog post I shared the simple, inexpensive equipment I use to take my own selfies. It’s really worth the investment and the time to take these photos and look back through them with a critical eye periodically.

Meanwhile, you could look back at photos you do have from events and occasions. Consider your outfits in those photos with the same critical eye.

Striped Sweater
See the original blog post for details.

Get the Defining Your Style worksheet

SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE! Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with the process of defining your personal style? I have a worksheet for you in the Printable Library. Yay! It walks you through the research and the next steps as you define your personal style. You’ll need the Subscriber Password to enter the Printable Library. It’s always located at the bottom of the most recent daily or weekly email. You can access the Printable Library here, but you can always find it in the top menu of the blog, too.

Next, select your 3 Style Angles…

To define your personal style, proceed to select 3 Style Angles. Use the research you did already to make sure these Style Angles reflect the styles you love and that feel authentic to you.

Style Angles are what I call the descriptive words or very short phrases that say “what you want to look like” to other people. The Style Angles can change over time; you’re not locked into them forever. And they only have to make sense to you, no one else. But they need to be firm building foundations for you as you plan your seasonal wardrobes, shop and put together outfits.

double-breasted wool-blend coat // black slacks // red turtleneck // black block heel booties // earrings // similar shoulder bag and more economical option
See the original blog post for details.

Your 3 Style Angles

  • should be descriptive words that resonate with you and that you can remember.
  • should describe how you want to LOOK, NOT how you want to feel.
  • should be just that…three, no more, no fewer.
  • will help you shop, build a wardrobe and create outfits that help you look like you want to look and tell the story you want to tell.
  • have NOTHING to do with your body shape, proportions, budget, location, lifestyle or age.
  • have everything to do with your personality and the way you relate to the world and other people.
Classic Elevated Effortless
See the original blog post for details.

You can choose any 3 words or short phrases that describe how you want to look as your 3 Style Angles. However, I encourage you to steer clear of “functionality” words like comfortable, affordable, washable, durable or travel-friendly, as well as “formality” words like casual or dressy. Those words don’t describe how you want to look on a daily basis; they describe function and formality levels, not styles.

Remember, you want to “tell a true story,” so lean into words that resonate with your personality and describe the style that makes you feel your most authentic and best self.

denim jacket
See the original blog post for details.

In the subscriber freebie downloadable and printable worksheets found in the Library, I give you a list of options to look through for your 3 Style Angles, but they’re just a starting place. You can use any words that make sense to you and describe your personal style.

After you determine your 3 Style Angles, you can draw a triangle and put your words in the three corners like I did below. I provide you a similar graphic in the printable.

These 3 Style Angles now form a triangle that will help you put together a wardrobe and create outfits that reflect your personally defined style. We’ll later talk about the edges of that triangle, but for now those 3 Style Angles should act as a barrier that keeps out garments, accessories and outfit combinations that do not resonate with your personal style.

Every item you buy and every outfit you put together should, ideally, reflect all three of those Style Angles, or at least two of them. Some outfits and garments or accessories may speak to one or two of the 3 Style Angles more than the other(s). That’s fine. You’ll still have your triangle intact; it will just be shaped a little differently. Some days your style will reflect all three of those Style Angles evenly…

Personal Style Angles in Different Proportions

And other days your outfit may reflect one or two of them more than the other(s). But ideally all three or at least two of your 3 Style Angles should show up clearly in all of your outfits.

Silk Slip Skirt
See the original blog post for details.

Not only should those 3 Style Angles show up clearly in your outfits, but you’ll want to use them as guards to keep other style elements out of your wardrobe and your outfits. For instance, since my 3 Style Angles are classic, elevated and effortless, I don’t want items in my closet that don’t fit those descriptions. I don’t want items that are fussy, complicated, faddy or busy. You may want to write down “opposites” like that for your own personal style in the margin of your paper so you can remember them.

Obviously, how strictly you enforce the 3 Style Angles is up to you, but I find that I am so much happier with my wardrobe and my outfits if I keep this triangle stationed as a guard over my wardrobe and a police to my outfits.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

I hope this step-by-step process for how to define your personal style has been helpful to you. Remember, if you subscribe to my daily or weekly emails you have access to the Defining Your Personal Style worksheets in the Printable Library. You’ll find the password at the bottom of your most current email. I think those worksheets will prove beneficial.

But also remember that this is a year-long series. We’re in no rush here. Let me know if you have questions in the comments section. Just click on JOIN THE CONVERSATION below. That way I’ll know if this was clear as mud and I need another post on this particular topic or if we can move on. I’ll get in the comments and respond to questions as soon as possible, so watch for those and we can all help each other out.

Finally, if you’d like to share your 3 Style Angles in the comments, that would be great. But that is, of course, completely voluntary. We will not judge each others’ selections because, after all, they only have to make sense to you. You do not need to impress me or anyone else with your 3 Style Angles. But I’d love to hear about yours!

Check out all blog post in the Define Your Style…Refine Your Wardrobe style series HERE.

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If you like what you’re seeing here at Dressed for My Day, I invite you to subscribe to my email list. You can receive an email each time I post (about 6 times weekly) or just on Saturdays. You choose! But you’ll also receive the password to open up all the subscriber freebies I offer.

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next up, How to Express Your Personal Style (click to access)

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Blessed for My Day

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that if something becomes difficult it must not be God’s will for us. But the truth is that the Lord does indeed give us hard assignments sometimes. The path God puts us on will not always be smooth, but we can trust that He will walk it with us and guide us through each twist and turn. There may even be obstacles in the way, but even those are not necessarily detour signs. We may have to lean into the Lord as He navigates the way around the seemingly impossible thing.

If you are running into obstacles today, ask the Lord to show you if they are detour signs or simply challenges that He will help you face. But also trust that even as you face the hard thing, you are not alone. God will make a way, and He will also give you wisdom, comfort, courage and strength for each and every step.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.” ~ Matthew 10:16

xoxo, Kay
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54 thoughts on “How to Define Your Personal Style

  1. My style objectives are to always appear classic, confident, and elevated. Looking forward to reading how others describe their fashion goals.

    1. Hi Nancy. Those are great words. Just to clarify, does the word confident help you to select clothes when shopping? You want to make sure those 3 Style Angles are words you can use to help you select items and put together outfits. If so, that’s great! Go with those. But I just want to make sure you have words that can accomplish what you need them to do.

  2. I believe I am writing a comment at the end of the e-mail. I am looking for the password for the printable library and I don’t see it.

    1. Hi! This is the blog post you are writing your commment on. It’s at my website. The emails appear in your email inbox. The password is at the bottom of your email, never here on the blog post.

  3. Kay, I know the password for the Printable Library but I didn’t find it at the bottom of today’s post. Is it hidden?

    1. The password is always at the bottom of the subscriber emails, not the blog post. Please check your most recent email from me for the password.

  4. I think when a style resonates with you, it is love at first sight! My favorite outfits make me feel like I could wear them every single day forever! Being authentic is happiness from the inside out…

    1. Hi Beverly. The password is not here at the blog, elsewise everyone would see it so it wouldn’t be exclusive. It’s located at the bottom of your daily or weekly email that I send to you.

  5. Kay, I’m loving this new series. I just turned 60 and I’ve lost 30 pounds in recent years, gone through a double mastectomy…so life has changed. This is a perfect time for me to focus on my style and my presence. A challenge for me is that I live in a fairly small town and I’m retired..so at home most days I’m in my exercise or loungewear. I’m going to try to get out of that rut and make more effort for days I’m just at home. Thank you for all you do!

  6. I would say my style is casual, classic and colorful. I’m retired and spend most of my time working on DIY projects and hobbies – gardening and quilting. But I still want to look nice when I do leave home!

  7. Kay, thank you SO much for the example Style Angle words in the printable. I’ve had a terrible time trying to pin down my style words. It’s like I know what I’m NOT, but I can’t quite come up with the right descriptors for what I AM. Your list will make for a great jumping off spot (or maybe that should read jumping IN) for my word search.

  8. oh, Kay, how this resonates with me! I just ordered the selfie stick tripod with remote to begin taking daily outfit photos. I looked back at photos from 2022 on (not dailes, just at holidays or at events, etc.) and I could definitely see certain styles look better. I’m going to pick those clothing items that looked great and put them on a clothing rack to “see them more clearly”. Once I took photos while trying 5 tops in a dressing room — same body, same day, but some looked fantastic and others I could not take off fast enough – yuck! That was an eye opener. So far I resonate with the words Elevated (meaning better fit, better for my shape, and better fabrics); Polished (meaning accessorizing outfits and careful attention to consistent nail, skin and hair)..but the third is eluding me so I’m still processing.
    Q for you: on the style triangle words, some of the sample words are odd to me. “Crunchy”? How does that look? And soft – isn’t that how it feels? Regardless, I LOVE this series.

    It took me a moment to realize the password for the printable library means I have to get out of the blog and go back to your email – and there it was. Of course. 🙂

    1. HI Nancy, I’m glad this is resonating with you. It sounds like you’ve made great strides. Way to go! Remember, the style angles can mean different things to different people, so those definitions are really up for grabs. I just collected all the words I found all over the Internet on similar style lists and put most of them – not all – on mind. To me, crunchy would mean earthy, hippie. And to me soft means soft on the eyes, so lots of softly draping fabrics, soft feeling fabrics, maybe soft colors. So to me soft is very visual as well as tactile. But really, everyone is going to choose words that resonate with them and that’s all that matters in the end.

    2. To further illustrate: I like crunchy, but would use the word granola. I love that word, but I am neither earthy nor a hippie. For me, it would reflect my ready attitude toward getting outdoors, hiking, etc. And soft makes me think of a guideline I have in my mind that I call “too much fabric” because it overwhelms my frame. I would not wear hippie clothes and I do like soft cashmere sweaters. So as Kay is saying, these words mean different things to different people.

  9. Hello Kay,

    What exactly are “gimme tees”? (Cheap & sloppy ones?)

    Some of the wardrobe essentials are regional (NO ONE wears pencil or pleated skirts in my area, for my 50+age group)

    It would be great if you could add these words to your Style Angles: approachable, stylish, flattering

    Thank you for the printable worksheets! They really made me think about the best pieces to have in my closet.

    1. Hi Nancy. I’m not sure where these questions are coming from? But gimme tees are those you get from running a race or attending an event or being on a team, etc. Yes, absolutely a lot of wardrobe essentials are not only regional, but also specific to different personal style aesthetics. So if you read those off of my wardrobe essentials list, please keep in mind that the list hasn’t been updated recently and, yes, they are meant as a guide, not an exhaustive list of everything any one person should have. You are absolutely free to add the words you mentioned to your list. I definitely agree with “approachable” but I’m not sure I’d consider “stylish” or “flattering” to be very directive. I’m glad you enjoyed the worksheets. thanks so much for sharing.

  10. I am soo excited for this journey Kay! Thank you for all the hard work that went into making this post. Much appreciated!🥰

  11. I am rapidly approaching 70 and your style sensibilities have helped me distill my style to these three words: Modern, Classic, and Quirky. Yes, I believe that quirkiness can be seasoning to the classic and modern aesthetic I’ve been rocking lately! I have a question for you, Kay, about your AYR Port Tee: do you find that it runs roomy or TTS? Thanks in advance!

    1. I love those! They actually resonate with me, too. I find that my Ayr Port runs just slightly roomy, but fits very true to size for me.

  12. Kay, this is fantastic and I am taking it seriously. I have printed out the worksheets and have a notebook I am using for this. Thank you! My angles are outdoorsy, uncomplicated, fun

  13. This was a fun exercise and I can see there are a lot of missing items in my closet. My 3 style angles are easy, cute and chic. I love clothes and I love dresses but in the winter ( I live in the south) I get lazy when the weather cools and I start wearing cute tops or sweaters with jeans which is much less polished than I like. Thank you for this exercise. Hopefully I can improve my wardrobe. On a whole other note I love Blessed for my day at the end of each post. They are very good and my favorite part of your posts.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Sherry. I’m so glad this was helpful to you. I am a little curious as to why you’re making “cute” one of your style angles if you don’t really like that you default to “cute tops” in the cool weather. And in my mind chic and cute are quite opposite from one another. That said, I did say that these words only have to make sense to you. so that definitely stands. I just thought you might want to make sure you have words that describe the wardrobe you want, not necessarily the one you already have. Just food for thought.

  14. Hi Kay,

    I like the idea of style angles. If I had to choose three words/phrases, they would be “classic, feminine, well put together”. I’m sure there’s a one word synonym for well put together that would appeal to me, I just haven’t found the right one yet. 🙂

      1. That might work, though when I think “polished”, I think of an appearance a little more refined than what I tend to be. I tend to fall somewhere between casual and formal, balanced between relaxed and refined. 🙂

  15. Hi Kay, I think my style points would be classic, easy, (effortless ? ) and I want to look put together. does that count!:)
    I think this is going to be fun, and a good reason to clean out and organize my closet!
    Thank you and have a great day!

  16. I like what you are helping us with in this series. My challenge is eliminating too many words that I can somewhat identify with. The best I can come up with is 4 words: effortless, modern, classic, and elevated. But since I rarely dress up, except for worship at church or maybe a shower or wedding (which mostly can be casual now-a-days) I probably can eliminate “elevated.” ??? But this has been a fun and helpful exercise for me. I’m going to look up these words to get the opposite meaning–I think that will be useful to me.
    I enjoy hearing how the other ladies are faring with this exercise.
    Thank you Kay.

    1. Hi Jane. I ran into the same quandary. I could have used all four of those too. But I decided modern would just be understood for me. So I went with the other three since I know without even thinking about it that I want to look modern. Anyhow, thought that might help you out if one of those could just be “understood” for you as well.

  17. Note to all: I printed and 4- hole punched the first two posts so they could go into a notebook. I have a feeling these posts are going to become a long term resource. Reading they with a pen and highlighter. Still working on my 3 angle words.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Is there a trick to printing out the blog posts? I can usually hilite all the text and then print. Am unable to even hilite to print 😊. It doesn’t matter if it’s on my phone or desktop computer. Thanks!

  18. Thank you, Kay. And thank you everyone, for sharing. I love reading these!

    My three words are:

    Polished – meaning put-together, finished, fitted
    Feminine – meaning touch of feminine charm, feminine cuts, using jewelry, etc…
    Sporty – meaning active, comfortable, cheerful

  19. Love this, Kay, thank you! My top 3 are casual, classic, and active. I am assuming current is understood, at least for me. I want sustainable also to be understood: to me this means making an active choice to purchase from retailers who make the environment a priority; it also means relying as heavily as possible on natural and recycled fabrics. I do have a question for you, though. Maybe it falls under current, I’m not sure, but how do we accommodate stepping out of our comfort zone? For some women, this may be wide-leg pants, but for me, it’s florals. I am not a floral kind of person at all. However, when I bought a conservative navy trouser suit a while back, the sales associate brought me a crepe navy blouse, with ivory florals, and really pretty delicate buttons / button loops. It wasn’t authentic for me, but I looked really nice and felt confident. Any thoughts?

    1. Maeve, I completely get what you mean by something authentic vs “the Look”. I have mistakenly purchased items because they really worked with the one outfit, never to wear that item again. In my most recent closet purge, I found 3 such items, printed pants and 2 trendy tops. So, my advise is to really consider the future life of a particular garment for you and your existing wardrobe.

    2. I’m not sure why you feel the need to step out of your box into florals. If they don’t resonate with you, you shouldn’t feel the need to wear them. Florals aren’t particularly on trend right now, so I don’t see any need to push yourself toward them. I think there’s a difference between pushing yourself to be open to new silhouettes, lengths, design features and such if styles are moving in that direction. But we shouldn’t feel we have to try every print or color. You said you’re “not a floral kind of personal at all.” So I would keep them out of your wardrobe. The whole purpose of defining our styles like this is so that we can have the freedom to not wear certain things and the conviction to wear the things we love all the more.

  20. I really enjoyed this post. It made me think. I did look back at some pictures as suggested. I found it difficult to narrow my style angles down to 3 words….so many words fit…classic, “classy”, elevated, fun, modern, simple, undone. I ended up choosing classic, classy, and young-at-heart. They make sense to me. I think classic incorporates simplicity, simple lines, “staying” power. I think classy includes dressing for the occasion and being respectful of the venue, which is very important to me. And I think young-at-heart incorporates fun, modern, and undone. My work wardrobe was always so professional but now that I’m retired, I strive to get some fun pieces in there, combine classic pieces in a fun or unexpected way. One of my favorite outfits as I did my look back included wearing classic pieces, accessorized unexpectedly with pink and red. Thank you for a great post Kay. I’m looking forward to this series.

  21. My style angles are Classic, Tailored, and elevated. So excited to finally have my three words! Really appreciate the worksheets.

  22. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and my initial words are active, effortless, relaxed, and easy. I think I may need to eliminate effortless, which I take to mean not fighting against my clothes (see below).

    I chose active because I want to look like an active person. Outdoorsy and crunchy are too far to either extreme of my vision of what active means for me. I love structured blazers (and resulting looks) and I have a few, but when I take photos in those outfits, I look uncomfortable. Even when I feel *really* good, a photo shows me looking like everything is constricting me in some way. I have a theory about that:

    Surely everyone thinks this, but hear me out. I have such a hard time fitting into clothes.

    The entire right side of my body is observably larger than the left (my grandmother had this issue, too). You can tell just by looking at me that my right arm is heavier, my thigh, calf…everything! That makes my clothes twist on my body. I think that is what makes it all look constricting. Plus I’m short waisted, which doesn’t help clothes hang, so I have real challenges looking effortless. I appear to always be in that struggle against my clothing and I believe the twist is what makes it so. My mom and both think that twist of our clothes is probably why my grandmother would never wear anything but a dress. Dresses are absolutely the most comfortable thing I can wear IF I can get something that actually hits my waist properly. That’s not typical, so I go with a skirt and t-shirt in the summer.

    I realize ya’ll might have different thoughts about the words effortless and active, so I hope I’ve described my meanings well enough. For what it is worth, I did use the word heavier because *in context* to my arm, leg, breast, rear, it is true. But I’m pretty average at 5’6″ 140-145 pounds on a small-medium frame. I’m a replica of my grandmother.

  23. Hi Kay I Loved this Post . Thank you for explaining it so well about defining our personal style and for the downloadable pages . After much thought and looking through my wardrobe like you said and making notes , plus looking at photos and remembering some of my friends comments , my Style is : Classic/ Romantic/ Minimalistic , I have realised I love clean lines with not too much fuss but the Romantic Style I love plush and luxurious fabrics like velvet/silk/satin (but not with fussiness) and I adore 1940s Vintage which I add into my more Classic and Minimalistic pieces such as my jeans and classic pants . I loved this exercise it was so much fun . I also realised my wardrobe consists of the colours Navy/Mid Grey/Claret/Blues/some Pinks/Dark Purples/ and the only patterns I have are a Paisley and my much loved Breton Stripes. Thank you for your Inspiration and Guidance and Good Sense ❤️Oh and I Loved todays Devotional , I have saved it to keep in my notes on my phone , just to remember how grateful I am to God for All his guidance and love and strength for me ❤️.

  24. Hey Kay! Right now, I’m in a style rut. I am 74. I have fairly good posture. I do have a little curvature of the spine but not bad. I have shrunk a little. I am 4’11”. My inseam is 28″. I’m am top heavy. I wear a size 8 pants/jeans, Med top and 10 dresses. I am working on my wardrobe right now getting rid of old stuff and I getting ready to start your program. My thing is, I love the basic classic trend. But it seems that when I put an outfit together, I have seen on other petite women that i like, it looks awful on me. It’s just a pair of jeans, a blouse or sweater. I have tried the 2/3 proportions and that helps some. But it looks like it’s lacking something. I have been wearing these combinations since I could wear jeans. I will be following your program. I appreciate your utube videos and yiur Blog. Have a great day!

  25. Thank you for this series!! I am trying to rebuild my wardrobe and look forward to incorporating the steps in that process.

  26. The style angles are really helpful! As a former scientist and now pastor, I picked classic and hospitable, My past life it would have been elevated for the third angle but that does not fit now. I really struggled with the last angle. Is it fun -I love color or effortless. I decided on effortless at the risk of just copying Kay. However, one of the reasons I love the channel is I love the clothes you pick!
    Blessings! Sandy

  27. Hello Kay! I am so happy I found you. I am nearing 70 (!) and am determined to flourish as I age. I am working with my daughter, a transformational nutrition coach to eat clean and work on my emotional eating. Along with this your style conversation resonates with me. I have never considered my style but am determined to do so with your help! Tomorrow I will begin to define my style using your worksheets. Thank you so much!!

  28. I have just begun this exercise and look forward to things I will learn and discover while doing this.

    I have selected two angles: classic and casual. I am working on a third. I might say”pulled together” or something that indicates I put thought into what I’m wearing and how I accessorize it.
    I like the photos of Kay’s elevated style outfits. I’m not sure if elevated is the word I’m looking for.
    Kay I recall you gave a definition of elevated but apparently I didn’t write it down. Would you refresh my memory?

    1. Hi Phyllis. That’s great. However, I do encourage you to choose a word other than “casual.” That’s a function word, not really a style word. For instance, you may generally wear casual outfits, but you probably also have some situations when you need to dress up a bit. Then that word wouldn’t apply. So you want to choose three words that you could use for almost every outfit on any given day. I just encourage you to think of a couple more words to go with classic that more define your style, not the occasion or functionality. I think of elevated as a little extra, pulled together and polished. But you get to define these words, so choose some that resonate with you.

      1. Kay,
        Thank you for your thoughts on my choice of casual and you definition of elevated.
        I think I will keep classic, add pulled-together and drop casual. I’ll have to give more thought to a third angle.

        Blessings

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