False Positives for your style

On lisap's thread (https://youlookfab.com/welookf.....what-to-do), Greyscale said the words 'false positives' talking about near-miss styles on the way to determining one's own and ... ding! ding! ding!! ... I have so many of those.

Probably first up is Punk... I'm only punk in the way Deborah Harry is punk... sorta frowsy DIY normcore motivated by philosophy...

Next is Preppy... because my fam is Preppy and my parents dressed me... and that's just on autopilot.

Third is Hipster... because the power of the $5 donut is overwhelming... eat one and you're wearing a mustard sweatshirt under a denim smock pinafore...

Fourth is Country because Hipsterness leads to Urban Farming and gets entangled with Prep in the Country... and I still hang on to that, driving around in a station wagon with faux corgi...

Then comes Swedish Milkmaid and Alice in Wonderland in Black and White... it's an easy leap with the smocks...

Fifth is Rocker... when I try to get back to punk and miss ...

Same with UWP and Steampunk and Post Apocalyptic and Lagenlook and Avant Garde...

Which brings me back to Native Wear... because that's practical and is influenced by all of it...

And all the while I'm really too cheerful and light in my loafers to be as angry and sober and sophisticated as I aspire...

The result is really none of those things and is as Angie describes... Quirky Folksy...

... So I want to know what all y'alls false positives are/have been... and what you do to stay on track...

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • kkards replied 5 years ago

    Rachylou--thank you for lightening up my day! You always have a way of making the abstract totally concrete, and with such a gleeful and playful way
    Anyway Talbots's is totally my false positive. It's classical, but modern, preppy but not, you know, vineyard vinesy about it. Except, every time I buy something from Talbots's I end of feeling like it's just a shade "off". Close to me, but not me.

  • replied 5 years ago

    Hahahaha - I can't top this. Sorry.  

    I get stuck on classic  being false for me - happens every other year or so when I forget where I live for a moment and go all New England waspy.  That lasts for 5 minutes or until I catch myself in the first public mirror somewhere.  

  • Jazzy Dance replied 5 years ago

    What a fun topic! Your post is very funny, too. 

    I shudder when I think of my style over the years.

    When I became a college professor, I initially sweated it out in cheap synthetic twinsets and trousers every day, until I realized it was very uncomfortable and started teaching in baggy jeans and bike jerseys. I considered bike jerseys the ultimate teaching wardrobe item because of all. the. pockets! One for your eraser, one for your dry erase marker, one for your calculator. I am MORTIFIED thinking about it. Is there even a name for that??

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    I've 'been taken in' by Talbots, lol! All that Preppy... too easy to swing by Ralph Lauren, then Laura Ashley, and then Talbots... and then all of a sudden, you're not even Preppy. Which is interesting about Talbots... it's 'this close' to (New England) Preppy, but it's also 'this close' to the Good Morning America Show... which is modern and classic yet not Preppy.

  • Kari replied 5 years ago

    This is one of those times I have nothing valuable to write but just need a "like" button.

    As Lisa wrote, I can't top this, and I'm chuckling on the ride home.

  • Greyscale replied 5 years ago

    Can't stop laughing.

  • rachylou replied 5 years ago

    The forces of New England Preppy are probably up there with the $5 donut... it really does not help that my parents were from the East Coast/UK. My mother has just been refreshing her wardrobe from Land's End...

    Lol, Kari... and Jazzy, we will find a name! :D

  • Sal replied 5 years ago

    Maybe retro for me....I do like touches of retro, but I can go too far and fall into the Mad Men set...

  • Angie replied 5 years ago


    I am constantly wrestling with Tomboy. The items - clothing and footwear - fit me like a dream because of my body type - and that's maybe why I am attracted to them. The comfort levels too. Plus my short hair can make me look more boyish. Yet my short hair makes me FEEL feminine. But I am VERY girly, feel a billion percent woman, LOVE pretty things, adore eye makeup, and make a point of amping up the Pretty as much as I can (WITHOUT HEELS!). Does that make me a Tomgirl? I don't know. But I am more and more aware of the antithesis of it all. 

  • Tanya replied 5 years ago

    Rachy, this is the funniest post I have read in a while.  Thank you for brightening my evening.

  • LaPed replied 5 years ago

    Omg rachy this is too good and so true. I know exactly what you mean about all of these. I try to think about punk in terms of closet punk/punk-on-the-inside. I feel it's not a look that can be actively shopped for, or you'll end up in Hot Topic. I try to nod at prep and country as I pass by, without embracing them fully. I recently got into a long conversation with someone about Hunter boots, how only rich people wear Hunter boots, and real farmers wear the $10 rubber boots from the feed store, but both count as Native Wear here, so you can't turn your nose up too much at either one...

    My own greatest hurdle was boho -- the Free People look, the Anthro look. All that texture! Earth tones! Feels like a long time ago, now. Certainly pre-YLF. I used to covet maxi skirts and wrap skirts like nobody's business. And then proceed to never wear them, or feel silly when I did. I finally got rid of my sole Free People garment last year -- stripy purple cardigan that actually got worn a lot, all things considered. Still have one purple maxi skirt -- use it as a beach cover-up, but I may let it go next summer. I'm feeling a little revulsion towards it just writing about it... Purple and I have had a real falling out this year. 

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    Jubilation, you did it again, I fall on the floor and I’m laughing....

  • Janet replied 5 years ago

    Oh, I love this and am laughing, and I can relate!

    I have a lot of false positives myself -- arty, rocker, preppy, boho, sporty... I like a bit of all those, but if I go too far into any of them I feel all wrong. My style seems to be a balancing act!

  • Brooklyn replied 5 years ago

    Ha ha ha!

    For me it's hard edge/rocker style. I like a good Moto jacket and Moto boots but if I go too far - say with studs and distressed jeans and a graphic tee - it starts to feel wrong.

    Similarly I love a 70s influenced look but if I go too peasant-boho style...nope, it's not me.

    And I am also drawn to a Swedish milkmaid folksy look too! And sometimes to avant garde. And to post apocalyptic!

    It's all good, ha ha!

  • Aquamarine replied 5 years ago

    Boho is my false positive. I get the Sundance catalog and forget I am not a tall, willowy blonde on the sunny west coast.

  • Brooklyn replied 5 years ago

    Now I am laughing at how similar I am to Janet. Again.

  • Elizabeth P replied 5 years ago

    Oh, Rachy, Rachy, Rachy...
    Picking myself up off the floor while a few lightbulbs are going off. It really is about finding that balance.

    Style soup.

  • Jaime replied 5 years ago

    Oh my I could only dream of dissecting myself this brilliantly. The closest I can think of is button down shirts!

  • unfrumped replied 5 years ago

    Aquamarine said it for me. I look at the Sundance outfits and get all dreamy....
    Also classic business formal with crisp shirts and full- on suiting. I can and do wear specific pieces of same but if I do all of them at once I’m total frump.

  • Deborah replied 5 years ago

    Lol Rachy you are a funny woman.  I think maybe modern classic, it has it's appeal and there are elements I love but I never really feel like me.  If I go there, I have to add an unexpected touch, edgy shoes, .. something.

  • Laura G replied 5 years ago

    Whatever my false positive is, I'm probably wearing it right now and don't know it. Well actually...right now I'm wearing pajamas and a cat, but you know...when I do get dressed.

  • Runcarla replied 5 years ago

    I'm best with a suitcase full of black, grey, blue, and cognac, but every now and then I fall off the Natural/Neutral/Tomboy truck and end up in Maximal Land. If I'm not careful I'll end up featured in 'Advanced Style' in 10 years...

  • Jane replied 5 years ago

    So good to read and so so true.

  • approprio replied 5 years ago

    Yeah that balancing act. Or is it more like a minefield? Don't step on the 1980s bomb....

    Let's break this down.

    A conflation of British street styles born out of good old class anxiety. Far too easy to call it Punk - too much Mod for that. But what about glam? Rave culture? Fun times.

    Ill advised DIY. What started with Issey Miyake for Vogue found its way into deconstruction and wearable origami.

    An endless internal conflict between a grubby teenage boy and the kind of girl Frank Zappa was always singing about.

    Trying not to look too much like my mother.

  • Gigi replied 5 years ago

    Ha ha! Love the $5 donut.

    My false positives are preppy and anything androgynous. I have wandered a bit into androgyny-land in the past and ended up regretting it. It always looks so cool on models but makes me feel not-so-fab.

    "Girly" can be trouble too. I already look like a little girl, so when I start dressing in ruffles and bows and polka dots, I look even less like a grown-up! But I do love the odd little girly touch to things--I just have to keep it in balance.

  • Ginger replied 5 years ago

    SO funny, Rachy! And a good tool for analyzing style, and then being aware of pitfalls and unwise buys.

    My false positive is definitely boho. I very rarely buy it, because the pieces simply never work. I can try on 15 things and quickly reject all of them. Yet I'm drawn to it because of the flowing fabrics, the interesting prints, and detailing (the wild card discussion really helped me figure this out).  My feet wander toward the Free People area at the department stores, and if Anthro were more conveniently placed I'd be browsing all the time.

    30s/40s/50s Retro is always calling. (Not Pinup or Rockabilly, though.) I have to ask myself: Is this piece something I can integrate into outfits now, or will it look too much like a costume? I have a lot of absolutely smashing costume pieces, so I have to rein in the acquisition of more. The printed corduroy quilted circle skirt I'm wearing today? Not Retro. Wearing with a Uniqlo sweater and riding boots.

    I could do Swedish Milkmaid, too. Or Highlander. And basically anything that has Romantic and Sweeping attached to it.  So I have to watch that.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 5 years ago

    So I’m not quite clear on the concept.

    Is it something like my “favorite mistake” of getting big, swingy boho tops that just sort of hang there when I don’t have a fan and a photographer at my feet like in an Anthro shot?

    Or is it when something checks off all the boxes for what should work for me in x situation, but when I put in on, I feel ... nothing. A whole lot of nothing? That’s the rayon top that I just returned. I’m not sure what style it was, other than dutiful career restarter.

  • cindysmith replied 5 years ago

    I desperately needed this this morning. I'm feeling my weight gain hard in my emotions today, and your humorous self-assessment has reminded me to
    * not take myself too seriously
    * be glad I'm not stuck in one of the false positives from my past

    About 10 or 11 years ago, I fell into a time warp and decided that I wanted to look like halston and I had just staggered out of studio 54.That worked great until I realized I was ripping all of my wide leg pants to shreds on my own stinking fence around my yard when I opened the gate to enter or leave. When I destroyed a fairly new pair of Armani pants with super-wide legs, that was thenough end of my 70s phase.

    I also went through a phase of total Americana (for lack of a better word). Liz Claiborne separates suitable for a modern southern career woman, bright bold colors a la Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren paisley prints... Thank heaven I finally realized that argyle and paisley just weren't my colors!

    Then there was my biker phase in the 90s. Combat boots with jorts, lots of spandex, concert tees, skinny jeans, crop tops, cowboy boots with rubber half soles for traction while flying solo on my Harley...

    And my gawd the 80s... I vaguely recall some of it. Unfortunately, my mother has pictures that remind me of all the stuff I legit wore but can't remember because mood-altering substances have erased much of my past. The clothes don't necessarily stand out to me as being particularly awful, but the HAIR.... bangs that required me to duck when I was passing under a ceiling fan, giant bows, banana clips, perms....

    When we first moved here to the middle of nowhere, I tried to prepare my wardrobe for the lifestyle change. I bought some boring basics, normcore type stuff. It didn't work. I dreaded getting dressed in those clothes and wound up reaching for the 'cool' stuff that was a mix of post-apocalyptic and Gothic street ninja, which has led me to where I am now.

    I understand that our styles evolve, change, whatever. But some of this feels too very "walk of shame" to me LOL

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 5 years ago

    Cindy Smith, you’re one of the coolest people around! I love your writing, and the way you are living your convictions about a smaller footprint is admirable, approaching intimidating.

  • Joy replied 5 years ago

    What a fun read this morning. My false positives have been many. My mother wanted me to be a Shirley Temple little girl, but my stick- straight hair and body did not fit the light curly top, pink ruffled image. Even as an adult, Mom wanted to see me in pink ruffles.
    Tomboy or androgynous does not feel quite right either. My East coast college roomy tried hard to bend me to Preppy, but no. The earthy Boho colors looked good, but not the style. Not being tall or big foils draping and SantaFe and other arty looks that I admire on others. Eclectic is my best and I need to stick to finding balance.

  • Christina F. replied 5 years ago

    Oh I flirt heavily with a lot of styles but never want to go all in on any of them.

    Currently it's boho, which was a false positive in the past but is speaking to me a lot now. I still don't like too much of earth tone, fringe, or looseness, so I do temper the full boho look. I also like a rocker edge, which works well.

    I used to go a lot more for preppy pieces (though not a full preppy look), things with anchors and so on. I still love a motif, but I've moved away from that stuff.

    I also do like the occasional retro look (50's-early 60's), but again have trouble going all the way with it.

    I guess I'm just eclectic at heart?

  • Jenn replied 5 years ago

    Oh boy, do I have false positives, and they're not all that different from yours, rachylou.

    PUNK - I used to have a black leather moto jacket that caused my brother to say, "I wouldn't want to mess with you." I really don't want to look like I just stepped off a motorcycle. I'm terrified of those things.

    RETRO/ROCKABILLY - A-line skirts and dresses work well on my body (the opposite of Angie's tomboy problem), so it's tempting to just buy them when I try them on and they look so good, even though it's not really my thing.

    TWEE - I make crafts for a living. This makes me think I should dress like Zooey Deschanel. I should not.

    BOHO - So close. So so close. But I only need a dose of it and it's easy to go too far.

  • skylurker replied 5 years ago

    Hilarious, and poetic.

    To stay on track : I don’t switch off the autopilot - like yours it’s set on preppy.

  • replied 5 years ago

    My false positive is voluminous, unstructured garments like COS.  I love them on everyone else.  They just don't seem to suit me.  

    A second false positive is the belief that I am a minimalist.  I love the idea of tight wardrobes that meet every single need.  For years, I tried to accomplish just such a wardrobe (lots of trial and error and failure).  I finally came to the conclusion that I am a wardrobe middle-ist.  Next year I might be saying I am a maximalist (although I hope not)  

  • Suz replied 5 years ago

    Rachylou, this is the funniest thing I've read all month, and I desperately needed a laugh. Thank you! 

    My false positives: 

    Preppy -- as for you. J. Crew is my autopilot...but I can overdo it and feel bleah. 

    Docent lady -- see, I coined the term. :)  EF and "arty" accessories. I might get there in time, but let's just wait and see. 

    Avant-garde -- more sophisticated version of above, which I really like in theory but does not work particularly well for my lifestyle and often tends to overwhelm me. 

    Tomboy -- which I'm completely drawn to, but need to moderate or I feel  completely unfashionable. 

  • Dianna replied 5 years ago

    Rachy, thanks for the laugh!  I have had a couple of stressful days and this thread made me laugh so hard, I forgot about everything else for a While.

  • Style Fan replied 5 years ago

    OMG you are a funny woman Rachy!  This is so much fun.  I can certainly relate to a lot of this.  I am not sure what was false positive and what was the real thing.
    These are mine:
    Flower child.  Well that might have been the real thing at one time but now I try to steer clear of Free People, etc. but that look does call me and try to take over my wardrobe.  I only allow one ring now on each hand. 
    Edgy Avant Guarde.  It is just too much work. 
    Classic.  I can`t wear button ups.  <br>Tomboy.  I miss the accessories.  <br><br>There are probably more that I can`t remember.  

  • Barbara Diane replied 5 years ago

    Heading into crafty instead of artsy. Heading into preppy/tomboy instead of incorporating only one such item. Too much black.

  • JAileen replied 5 years ago

    I love the docent lady. Thank you, Suz, for coining the term. I might be heading that way. I do have a few EF dresses, plus weird shoes.

    Preppy is just traditional, pre 80s. One day when I was ten years old, or so, at the public library, another kid asked me if I went to the parochial school. I was dressed in a pleated plaid wool skirt, wool sweater, white shirt, knee socks, penny loafers. Everything was chosen by my mother, and pretty much what she wore when she was in elementary school in the 30s. It wasn't a uniform in the normal sense, but it was what I wore nearly every day.

  • The Cat replied 5 years ago

    Classic and Ladylike. I feel attracted to these styles and do have strong elements of them in my wardrobe. But when dressed in Classic/Ladylike styles ONLY, I look and feel stiff and boring. I need elements that are playful, gamine, relaxed and maybe a little unexpected. And though I adore elegant updos, my hair needs to be cut relatively short--that always looks and feels best.

  • anne replied 5 years ago

    Lots of fun here.

    I think my false negative is the 50's full dress look. Have been drawn to it since the  revival in the 80s's and more recently when watching "Call the midwife". But I don't really have the body to look great in it (by which I pretty much mean a decent bust waist ratio!) and so when I wear it  I feel shapeless.

  • Jenni NZ replied 5 years ago

    Yeah so funny! I'm with Aquamarine. I want to be a willowy 70s blonde with Farrah Fawcett hair when I'm actually a short middle aged apple-shaped woman with a grey pixie. Or I want to be full-on Maxi Amberville "fall of 1984" in New York ( heroine of Judith Krantz's novel "I'll Take Manhattan") with all the colours. Or I could try to pretend I can do "professional dress" but no-one would be convinced. Just gotta hope the content is there if not the image!

  • Astrid replied 5 years ago

    I'm with Suz on the Tomboy - I used to dress like that when I had no clue because it was easy and comfortable, so in a way this kind of look feels very familiar and safe. But too much of it and I don't feel happy. But I still love it when it's the right amount and I'm in the modd.

    Another false positive for me was bright colors and "loud" clothes I was drawn to when I was trying to define my style. I wanted more color and interest because I lived in boring dark navy, brown and black (nothing interesting, no texture, few patterns) but then I went totally overboard with it. I toned it back down and now I feel much better about my clothes.

  • lyn67 replied 5 years ago

    My false positives are "DIY drama" which then realise it's more DIY than I would like to show:-) and the dreaded white button down shirt-which I find so glamorous (and feminine)  thus never could do work for me!:-((.
    This thread made my day, thanx Rachy, and all!:-)

  • AviaMariah replied 5 years ago

    Very funny read and very good reminders as I read through the replies.  I won't go into detail but like so many others by false positives are usually boho, arty and rocker.  I can do a tiny taste of each of those in my outfits but too much and I feel like an imposer.  The simpler I dress the better I feel.  My maximal is most people's minimal.  

  • DonnaF replied 5 years ago

    Classic as in Talbots. Classic as in great prices like Lands End. The colors and sometimes patterns draw me in. But I am uncomfortable these days wearing much color. Boho.

    I swoon over The Good Wife’s Diane Lockhart’s costumes including jewelry. Christine Baranski was so lucky!

  • 3style replied 5 years ago

    So funny about Talbots. I thought I was the only one. I think that their clothes are always just a little bit less versatile than similar clothing from other retailers. Also I have been confused by their store lighting. The one I go to has very warm colored lights which make black look like navy and hot pink look more like coral. Likewise the website colors are either more faded or brighter than in person, more than other brands.

  • replied 5 years ago

    I’m late to this thread, but I agree about Talbots. It’s never totally me.

    My false positives are boho and romantic. I can’t totally pull off those looks, even though I like them, so I wear clothes that just have touches of those elements.

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