How much do you adapt your style to the people around you?

by Sylvia

How much do you adapt your style to the people around you? |

As I’m going through the first 4 steps of the 21 Steps to a More Stylish You style course with the participants, it’s clear that many women struggle with adapting their clothes to their environment.

How much do you adapt, if at all? 

On the one hand, you want to stay true to your style and show your unique personality. On the other you may want to fit in and not stand out too much which may mean that you dress more casually or in more neutral tones than you may otherwise have done. I have already written about the latter in my article Why do we all want to blend in so much so you may like to go there after reading this article.

How much should you adapt your clothes to your environment or the people you meet?

It’s very normal to adapt your clothes to your environment or the people you meet. I noticed for example how my style changed with every country I lived in.

You often see that girlfriends are dressed in a similar way too.

I often take into account who I’m meeting and may dress a bit more colorful or a bit more arty. For example when I knew I was going to meet women like Sue Kreitzman and Diana Gabriel, I want to make an extra effort to embrace color and print.

Embracing color and print |

Notice how I blend right in! This is definitely a bit more colorful than I usually dress, but these items are still from my wardrobe and pieces I love, even though I normally would not combine them together.

Here is that same pant which I wore for a gathering of style club members in LA. This is totally true to my style. A bit of asymmetry, a bit of color, paired with a statement necklace and fabulous shoes. Note how we all ended up mostly solid color on top with quite a lot of neutral thrown in.

Embracing solid colors |

When I met up with Rosemond to go for dinner in Los Angeles, we both had the same idea of wearing pants and a top. Even though I’m a bit more dressed up than her.

I did not completely adapt to Susan’s style which I know is more neutral. Still we blend in quite well together as we both embrace big sunglasses and accessories.

Embracing sunglasses and accessories |

It’s funny how every time I meet Teresa we always end up in a similar look blending right in. Even though we never discuss outfits beforehand and colors are always totally different.

Combining hues of yellow and print |

Looks like we are all got the memo for a printed top for the Style Club meetup in New York.

How girlfriends dress alike - Embracing printed tops and statement necklaces |

Definitely blended right in with these colorful ladies Leslie and Dayle.

Embracing print and color |

Pure coincidence that we ended up looking very similar in this meetup, although I know that Diana loves to wear black and white every now and then.

Graphical in black and white |

The trick though is to not be a complete chameleon so that you can stay true to your style. Even though I dressed with the people I was meeting in mind, I still dressed completely true to me.

How to dress more polished when you live in a very casual environment?

If you live in a very casual environment, it’s tempting to just blend in and dress in a very casual and neutral way.

However, if you start blending in too much and just adapt completely to your environment, you also lose touch with yourself if that casual style does not reflect who you are.

Let’t use myself as an example.

I’m often (one of) the best least casual people in the room. Last week I went to a business conference with predominantly men in attendance, whose dress code was t-shirt and jeans.

I instead opted for my crop flare jeans or cropped pants in black or white with an arty top and a nice jacket. I wore jewelry on all days and wasn’t afraid to wear color too.

Did I stand out? For sure. Was I staying true to myself and totally ok with that? Absolutely!

Of course I adapted a little bit to my environment as well. I did not wear my most colorful or trendy clothes. But my ‘blending in’ didn’t take me away from my own style. If I had gone too far in that regard and just opted for the blend t-shirt and jeans that most wore, I would not have felt like myself, which would not have allowed me to shine.

How to get the confidence to stay true to yourself?

Staying true to yourself is a process. You may find yourself a little bit uncomfortable at first when you are wearing a statement necklace and you don’t see any other women in the room wearing any kind of jewelry.

So take baby steps at first. Start adding just one little accessory to the grocery store or an informal meetup. Once you’re totally comfortable with that, you can take it up a notch by wearing a colorful top.

You will find that people will just start accepting you for who you are and even take delight in the fact that you’re just putting a little bit more effort into your everyday outfit.

If you’re not sure what your true style is or if you want a little help with getting comfortable with your style, you will love my FREE 5 day Find Your Style Challenge. You can join here.

How much do you adapt your clothes to friends you are meeting?

Photography of photos 1,2,6,8,9 by Denton Taylor

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Denton Taylor

This was a great article and NYC fashion rocks 🙂


2 Sylvia

It sure does Denton!


3 elle

I agree with you. There is a balance point between blend in and stand out. Hopefully it is the real ‘me’.


4 Sylvia

Yes, not always easy to find the right balance…


5 Diana Gabriel

What fun to read your style advice and see these fabulous women in fabulous attire. Also big fun to see myself included in this great company. Thank you Sylvia.


6 Sylvia

Had such a good time in New York Diana and spending time with you. Such a shame you’re so far away.


7 Diana Gsbriel

Yes we live at a great distance but have these magic devices that keep us connected. Then there’s Denton Taylor who is another link in our chain. Know you will return to NYC to visit with us again. It’s amazing to me that style has greated a web of wonderful people around the world. I love being a part of it.


8 Janice Bird

I love your site Sylvia & the wonderful style advice you & the other beautiful women share.
I recently went to a night in the city with a group of almost all young women. I dressed to blend in knowing they would likely be wearing dresses, I bought a simple well cut maxi dress to wear & wore no jewellery or pops of colour. I ended up spending the night feeling out of place and plain. When I saw the group photo that was taken of us it confirmed how I felt about myself, I looked like I just blended into the surroundings. It was a lesson learned. I need to follow my instincts, I can dress to fit in but I can still let my own style shine.


9 Sylvia

Great to read you enjoy the site Janice. Thanks for sharing your story. A great lesson to learn!


10 nancy

First thing that popped my mind was : no. I stay true to my style. But…..I do addapt. When I’m going to a meeting of my volunteer work, I keep it a bit low profile, casual but not jeans, sweater, sneaker kind a casual. When we visit family, I dress not to sexy. But otherwise I dress how I feel!


11 Sylvia

Yes we adapt in all kinds of subtle ways 🙂


12 Natalie

Thanks Sylvia for this post. I seem to stay pretty true to myself and usually am the one who is styled up a bit more in a room but I’m ok with it. You’re right about how people will get use to you representing your true self.


13 Sylvia

They do and they will love you for it!


14 Ruth Anya Kalu

Thanks for this !I love it 🙂


15 Sylvia

Glad you enjoyed the article Ruth!


16 Elaine

I love this article. The photos are fabulous and if these women are influenced by each other I say bring more! I found that after I retired I adopted a much too casual style which was no longer true to myself. Part of the problem was the lack of local shopping options and a region where recreation, farming and a university set the work clothes/casual style for most people. I now wear a classic american style with a few current trends each season. I am often more dressed up than others without standing out too much. Sometimes our friends and community can inspire our style and that’s OK with me as long as I know my style and dress in what makes me happy.


17 Sylvia

Good realisation Elaine and great to read you found the right balance!


18 Greetje

Those photos were very good illustrationsof your points. I do take into account who I will be meeting that day but I always stay myself. The only thing is, I am like a chameleon. You mentioned that word too. I like so many styles (I often say I am all over the place). When I am in Haarlem or Amsterdam I tend to wear a lot of trousers, mostly jeans. When I visited Maastricht I felt totally underdressed and corrected that immediately (I will be paying back into my savings account till March…). I bought more elegant clothes. And that is me too. I just lost track of this part of me because my surroundings are not elegant. Difficult point.


19 Sylvia

It was surprisingly easy to find the images. I wanted to write about this topic, then browsed through my images of the last few months and found so many great examples! It’s very natural to adapt a bit to your environment. We all do it. I find myself making slight adaptions to each city I spend a bit of time in.


20 Lady j

Sylvia you and two ladies look like sisters Leslie and Dayle. Especially lady with curly hair in middle she has on blue top with red assorities you have blue skirt and redassorites. I love one you in ladyboth have on black white. My favorite is one with you and lady who has I think it pale yellow dress with flower. Is color yellow? It is hard tell in picture. I love that dress she has on how each match pink shoes and blend it with blue clutch. I love her dress its cute,classic, and timeless.You look cute in Ivory pants and colorful top.You to look similar and blended but both your individual styles come through .

I agree with you Sylvia blend but stay true yourself. I work I can wear jeans and tee. But like you did at meeting with mostly men. I wear flare cropped jeans, nice top and my jewelry.I blend but I am still me.


21 Diana Gabriel

Love this article…especially love the photos that illustrate your concepts. Many years ago I was a minimalist who wore black and gray. Wore some color in the summer. Slowly I was influenced by the Advanced Style group and specifically by Lynn Dell Cohen who was an icon. Today I wear color and pattern. My patterns are largely abstract and I love red. Black and white are staples in my wardrobe.

Think blending with different groups is not something I do but I am definitely influenced by women with fabulous style!!! Thank you Sylvia for including me!


22 Trisha

Since my husband and I moved to the country on retirement, I have mixed with new friends who generally wear jeans, checked shirts and waxy waterproof jackets – and admit they have no interest in clothes! As someone who worked in a famous art gallery and museum and then taught textile design for many years (I wore mostly fitted black dresses or discreet minimal skirt suits with a bit of an edgy cut) I am having a bit of a meltdown deciding what to wear! I wear my remaining wrap dresses when going out for special meals etc in nearby town, but have been caught out when asking people around for a drink/meal at our house. Generally I thought a knitted black dress and flat shoes not too dressy, but felt over dressed and awkward when people turned up in the same jeans they wear all day. I have one friend who likes to be smarter and we do shop together in nearest town and wear smarter things at each others homes, also one who lives in jeans by day but wears quite old fashioned, flowery (almost wedding wear) after 6.00, that looks kind of frumpy (a waitor asked me where to sit my mother, although she is only 5 years older than me). I would have called myself pre-retirement, sort of casual elegant (which I came up in your style personality quiz too), but am a bit lost for now, one of the reasons to join your website for help!!


23 Greetje

Oh Trisha, you make me dread retirement which will be in two years for me (I am now 64). Like you I wear fancy clothes to the office and high heels. I call my colleagues “my public” and the work floor “the catwalk”. Kidding of course but there is some truth in it. If I am at home all day will I still be wearing pencil skirts and high heels? I cannot imagine. On the other hand I do not want to lose my personality. That is who I am. And I love jeans as well, I am even more a jeans girl than a dress girl. But I need the alternation, the variety. So I think I will be taking on another, less stressful job, after retirement. And I definitely wouldnot like to blend in with jeans and checked shirts. I would lose myself. You are what you are, people will accept that you are “overdressed” in their eyes. Because it is you, your personality. Besides I don’t think one is overdressed very easily. Probably just looking bloody good. OK when you turn up in your ball gown, loaded with jewellery, at the sports game of your son.. maybe that is overdressed haha.


24 Lady j

Trisha I say to keep wearing your dresses and wrap dresses. Just because everyone else is in jeans and tee shirt don’t mean you have to be. I had this same problem I work as a receptionist. Start new job I had bought a whole new warbore skirts, pantsuits, dress slacks blouses, purses and shoes. I got to work boss say could wear jeans and tee. I asked could I dress up. He say yeah but you be in dusty file room. I did adapt sort of. I wore jeans shirt in winter. I got trouser jeans, wide leg jeans, straight leg jeans, in dark washcolor,I wear urban Kati jeans, white jeans , gray jeans and black bootcut jeans. I wore button up shirts and blazer. I still was in jeans and tee shirt. I was just more dressy than other three ladies work there. When I wore jeans and tee shirt and sneakers I didn’t feel like me. I wore my clothes. Because I am very fashionable, friendly and people person. I wore what I had . What I had was clothes I like to wear. As far as your two friends one you go shopping with keep her . Keep other one who is only five years older wears jeans but after 6 PM wears dress that frumpy. I say be yourself and wear your clothes. Because you go buy new clothes dress like them are you going like clothes.


25 Trisha

Thank you both ladies for your replies! Actually, I am 64 now and retired early due to my husband selling business and moving, don’t get any pension until late next year! Its not that I am very dressy type, I don’t go in for sparkly bags and shoes or fancy clothes, they are all quite minimal. I am quite likely to wear jeans by day, or black leggings or stretchy pants, but they would be skinny and cut to skim the ankle and show my trendy little boots. I am quite happy to wear a sweater or casual top with these, but they would have to be well cut and a fashionable colour as well as quite feminine casual. I cannot conceive of wearing baggy or shapeless jeans or anything checked at all. Nor would I wear my husbands old sweaters or (yes at least one lady locally admits this!) – his underpants, when they run out of clean underwear – where is their pride? Sorry, I am shocked by that last thing I have heard ladies say; do you know women who do this, or am I out of touch??!Just my luck, that would be the day I get run over and have to go to hospital!


26 Greetje

Minimal clothes which are good quality and are well cut ooze sophistication. Easy elegance. Just go on wearing them. Consider moving again haha.
And the thing about the underwear? Never heard that before. I am the fancy lingerie type. Bra with matching briefs.


27 Lady j

Trisha congrats on early retirement. Keep wearing your clothes. No I never heard of wearing my husband underwear when I run out of clean underwear. I wear matching set bra and underwear.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: