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Featured Article

My Personal Style Journey

Article by Robin Moyer Chung

Photography by Ashley Armstrong Skatoff

Originally published in Westport Lifestyle

I moved from Kansas to a Boston suburb right before 7th grade.

In Kansas, we bought our clothes at Macy’s and our girl scout uniforms at Litwin’s. To me, Izod was the height of style. I strutted around in shirts, shoes, even socks tricked out with small green alligators.

But in Hingham, far from the flint hills and fields, schoolmates breathlessly discussed “Laura Ashley,” and “Gloria Vanderbilt.” I wore heart-print turtlenecks, LL Ben duck shoes, and whatever coordinating outfits my mom loaded into our cart at Marshalls.

My first brush with serious style was a few years later; a friend of the family was wearing a double belt. I had seen these belts in Vogue and Elle. I had no idea regular people could actually wear such high-fashion accessories.

In record time, I owned three of them. I had tasted blood. I saw someone wear a cummerbund so I sewed my own awkward cummerbund. Someone else wore a cute little stuffed mouse pinned to their shoulder. I made one of those, too, and smugly affixed the crazy thing to my shoulder. If I wanted to wear it, I made it happen.

Homemade Pierre-Deux-like purse (DIY!), scarves (vintage!), boxer shorts (repurpose!) duck-taped penny loafers (repair and rewear!).

By college, I had acquired a taste for clothes I couldn’t afford. No matter; I raided the sales bin at Betsey Johnson, wore ties as belts, and Levi’s jeans like the ones the French guys wore.

After graduating, I scoured the sales racks at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, buying cut-rate treasures, some of which I still wear today. I trolled consignment shops; then a nascent and disorganized industry.

I couldn’t pay full-price for the designer togs I wanted, not on my advertising salary, but sales shopping taught me the actual, not the intrinsic, value of good clothes.

A fringed Missoni dress for $35, an embroidered Prada coat for $60, a Thierry Mugler trench coat for $70. Do I ever wear it? Not really. But it was only $70, I don’t have to wear it.

I cobbled together my style on discarded frocks, sweaters no one else was buying, and pieces I was determined to acquire. In the process, I stumbled into sustainability. Did I have any idea I had? No!

Today, my shopping habits haven’t changed, although I’m often bothered by how much packaging I toss out every week. One bad habit replaced with another.