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Paralegal Career Dressing: My Life is Half Over

Paralegal Career Dressing:  My Life is Half Over

“I’m ten years old. My life is half over and I don’t even know if I’m black with white stripes or white with black stripes!” ~ Marty the Zebra (Madagascar 2005)

If I haven’t figured out my signature blog pose, I sure haven’t figured out how to hide the remote.
The Deets:  Zoa cardigan (old, likely Marshalls); UK boatneck blouse (Sears two years ago); Vintage Key West pants (thrifted and cropped); Softspot flats (old); Multi-chain necklace (old, Burlington Coat Factory)

I’ll be fifty next year. Even though one of my grandmothers lived to be 101 years old, I’m pretty sure my life is well over half over.

Even the dog needs coffee. Morning might provide great light, but I find it hard to open my eyes and mouth.

I’m not griping about being middle-aged, but recently, I had to reluctantly admit I still don’t have a definite personal style, say like WendyB, Amber, Judith, Dylan, LisaAlisonCatherine,  Megan, and many other fabulously real and stylish women whose blogs I follow. What evolved from a paralegal news blog into a budget career style blog to show it really is possible to have your total work outfit cost less than $50 on most days, and that thrifting can stretch a limited budget, like, forever, has turned into an exploration into my personal style.

What’s definite is I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe if most of what I wear isn’t really me, or me anymore. I have lost some weight, though, and could definitely afford to swap or thrift a few smaller-sized key pieces that might pull it together more than it is now.

Normally I delete the bloopers so the family won’t use them in a slide show at my funeral. Because that’s just who we are.

Some days I think I have a clearly defined style I can live with, other days not so much. For example, I think I thrifted these zebra pants, heavily influenced by animal prints on other style bloggers. I do like them, and I’m pretty sure they make quite the first impression, but I’m not sure I would have bought them if left to my own devices. Maybe I shouldn’t be left to my own devices…

So are they my personal style now, or did I just adopt someone else’s?

36 Responses to Paralegal Career Dressing: My Life is Half Over

  1. Thrifting makes experimenting to find our style affordable. But what that style is always seems to be a moving target for me. I turned 50 this year and I feel more confident than I did at 30.

  2. Personal style is constantly evolving I believe, as it should. It's a fun exploration of who you are and how you would like to portray yourself to the world. I like to read books and do tests and all these tell me a little bit more about myself. Although it's nice to have a true personal style, it's also nice to enjoy the discovery process and continually evolve your style. I think this current outfit looks fabulous. Very well styled!

  3. I love today's outfit and omg puuuuppy!!

    I think they work for your personal style. I've definitely watched your style evolve very quickly, and that does come from an influence of being a blogger. I think what we see sometimes does push us outside of what may be 'us'.

    I think in my case, I've come full circle. I went through a lot of outfits that weren't me, but now I generally feel like I've got a style forming out of my insane shopping style. Of course, I'm also dealing with the same problem of losing weight. I actually picked up a pair of black/purple polka dot pants and another printed pair because my pink ones no longer fit (they started out a size too big, now 2 sizes too big!)

    I think some of us are just chameleons. We shift our styles a lot, but everything does kind of "go".. I wish I could put a definition on my style, but it's all over the map. At least yours is still defined by your work and the standards you need to dress to for that!

    • I can tell you've lost weight from your recent blog pics, and you are smaller than me! Will you take in the pink printed pants again, or will they be "goal" pants to get back into? Eat, eat, eat! πŸ™‚

      You are definitely right that working in offices since I was 18 years old has had some influence on my style, and is likely the reason why deep down inside I feel best in very simple outfits.

  4. Lynne, how totally flattered I was to see my name! Thanks so much! As far as personal style, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have purchased things before, got them home, had fun wearing them, and then wondered if I'd have ever bought them if I had not been thinking about this person or that person in the back of my mind. I do think YOU have a personal style. You always look sophisticated and put together. You look business in your posts, but always with a sense of playfulness, in my opinion. But I guess if we are talking about the very fine specifics of it all, it can really come down to individual pieces in our wardrobes and whether or not they fit in. That really is an interesting thing, you know. You may take a piece that you were influenced into buying by someone else, but then take it and wear it with your own style and it becomes something else. In other words, another animal altogether. (pun intended!) πŸ™‚

    Lynn Dylan

  5. I'd say they are your personal style. I know my style is all over the map, but then so am I, so I guess that's my personal style. I like your blooper comment! You take great shots with that remote.

  6. Well, it's tricky, isn't it? I am only a year behind you, so I too have had half my life, and I don't think I have a Signature Look, that Holy Grail of personal style everyone seems to be after. I have things I prefer to wear (frocks) as opposed to things I don't (jeans) but that's about it! Does it matter? I don't think so, it would be a shame not to try different looks and experiment a little, wouldn't it? Does it matter if the zebra trousers are "you" or an experiment borrowed from other bloggers? Isn't the question really, "Do I like them? Do I feel good in them?"
    I think the reason why I like a lot of the vintage-wearing gals is because the whole trend thing is of minimal impact. Their style doesn't depend on what's available in stores, it's a crazy eclectic mix which shouts individuality and personality (you only have to look at Desiree of Pull Your Socks Up! to see that!)
    I DO think you have a particular style, Lynne, it's always recognisably you wearing the clothes not the other way round. It's chic, elegant, fitted, often classic, colourful, but sometimes quirky and experimental. And what I really love about your blog is that you are an authentic human being, living your life, acknowledging your struggles, including your out takes (love that photo!) and you seem like someone I would have a good chat with over a beer/cocktail (you choose, I'm buying!) Now THAT's style! xxxx

    • Totally agree with this: your style is instantly recognizable without being summed up in five words. Even though I don't know you face to face, sometimes I pull something out of the rack at TJ Maxx and say, "This is so Lynne!" Something about the way you fit things to your waist, aren't afraid of color or pattern, have a great collection of fun and funky jewelry, and rock a practical cardigan like its nobody's business.

      You've come a long way from your days of black and gray! And who else poses with corgis, skeletons, and smiley Teens? πŸ™‚

    • Curtise, I realized after reading your comment that the bloggers who don't seem so on-trend oriented are actually my favorite. Many of them are aware of what's on the runways for a particular season, but stay true to their own style or find a way to work a trend, such as a seasonal color, into their wardrobes.

      I love the same things about your blog, your outstanding dress up days (I loved playing dress up as a kid and always used Halloween as an excuse to go over the top but lost that somewhere along the way), your family, your garden, your keen mind and artistic aesthetic, and your ability to say exactly what is on your mind. Having a drink with you is definitely on my Bucket List πŸ™‚

  7. Aww Lynne, I know exactly what you mean because I feel the same way. But whether you realize it or not, you do have a signature style. Heck, I could pick 'Practical Paralegalism' out blindfolded in a room full of blogs!
    I was wondering when those zebra pants would appear again. They're so you.
    Isn't Madagascar hilarious? I especially like the penguins…smile and wave boys, smile and wave…

  8. Wow! Thank you for including me on that tremendous list!

    A drawback of having a very "defined" personal style is that it can be limiting. I must tell you that there are many elements of my style (types of garments I wear a lot) I never would have imagined or tried without the inspiration / influence of other style bloggers, particularly those with similar body types – I often still feel kind of feral and that I'm only just now figuring out now how to dress myself.

    Regardless of influence or source of ideas, that you like the (totally awesome!) pants, enjoy wearing them, and they work for your body are good to know. You remind me of Gracey at Fashion for Giants in terms of your skill at putting together such a wide variety of looks which are amazing on you. You are both also especially good at working with fit and the proportions of your bodies, articulating your process in a fascinating way, and letting the force of your unique personality shine.

    When other things in life (body size, health, work stuff) are in flux, it's not surprising for us to question these matters too! When and whether something becomes "our" style, how we negotiate "ownership" – is an extremely interesting question. Thank you for talking about this.

    • Amber, you're right about where we are in our lives influencing our style. Right now, it's probably clear I'm in an incredibly anxious period, trying to count my blessings but feeling a little overwhelmed. When I wonder why I care so much about what I'm wearing on a given day, I think I just like the fun of it – or making the effort to feel confident even if I'm not necessarily feeling it at the moment. I also learn so much from all of you. Maybe one day I'll get the courage to post the outfit pics I haven't shared; they are truly awful! But they are proof that I'm learning more about myself through blogging.

  9. Personal style is a tricky thing. We make choices but are heavily influenced by others. Ultimately what matters is if we're happy with our choices. If our clothes make us proud, we're doing the right thing. It doesn't matter where the ideas came from or if they're original.

    For many women (including myself), turning 50 is a major turning point. We seriously reassess our lives and, sensing mortality, face the big questions on whether to continue the same path or make changes. Welcome that juncture as an opportunity for improvement and greater happiness. It's possible to be INSANELY happy in our fifties, especially if we shed our insecurities and anxieties from earlier life.

    • Ally, I love that you are reminding us that middle age can be a very freeing and creative time in our lives. I'm not nearly as scared of becoming fifty, as I am scared of just always being scared. I know that admitting that is the first step to a greater feeling of security and acceptance. I have always been one of those insane worriers about things I have no control over, but I am working hard to change that.

  10. i love the last one – i like that the bloopers are really who we are. i have tons of those with my dog being really strange. and i believe personal style comes with life experience, some people don't really find themselves until much later. and maybe style doesnt have to be so clearly defined. less 'in a box' or something like that.

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails

  11. Lynne, I love those pants. And I love them on you.

    Personal style *is* strange. I don't have a clearly defined personal style, but I very clearly know what I like. I just like different things on different days which makes me seem a little schizo. Which, I guess, could be my aesthetic; schizo style.

    And blogging does make it more difficult. You see things on others and it can influence you to give it a shot even if you wouldn't necessarily because it's not *really* your style. But, I think that can be a good thing. There are definitely things I wouldn't have tried if I didn't see them on other bloggers and I've like some of the results. Others, not so much, but that's okay too.

    Wow. That was wordy. I guess what I'm saying is I feel your pain, I like your pants and I find you quite stylish.

    Also, can you email me your address (to fashionforgiants (at) gmail (dot) com)? I have something to send you.


    • Gracey, "shizo" is the perfect adjective to describe what I've been feeling as I've attempted to edit down my closet to an easier to define (and get dressed in the a.m.) style. I paid super close attention to your no shopping and wear everything in your closet process, as well as to others' six item challenge and thirty day capsules. I think I did the newbie-to-thrifting over shopping for a little while, but now am settling into more of a don't buy anything unless it plays well with others and helps pull what I already own together.

  12. My first thought when I saw this post was "Oh! I love those pants! They're so fun."
    I definitely think you have your own style.
    I'm still honing my styling skills…and that's okay.

  13. Well you certainly look fabulous in those pants (and the canine companion's pretty cute, too). I can't advise on personal style, I buy what I see in charity shops and go for what makes my heart race that bit faster. xxx

  14. You look so cute and relaxed walking your cute dog. He is so beautiful and foxy. Your pants are so cute. Love the colors and simple straight-leg crop. Also, I love flyaway cardigans and a black one is always a must for a simple, casual-chic style for a woman's closet. I need a good, comfy, new pair of Ballet flats this Fall/Winter. Yours look awesome. =) Last but not least, love how you styled your hair, here.

  15. I realize I am younger than you, but I have to say, I struggle with the question of "how do I define my personal style". I never know what to say. I think it is still evolving a bit and I don't know if I'll ever know the answer! I can say that I like what I see you do, for whatever that is worth!

    Hello to your cute puppy!

  16. The great thing about style blogs and following others is that you see pieces of clothing that you might not think would work for you. Fashion is supposed to be fun trying out things you might not normally try. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. These zebra pants definitely work on you! They are so fun but not too crazy and out there. You and your dog are adorable by the way πŸ™‚

    Sorry about the word verification on our blog when you tried to comment. We have been hacked twice, so it's just a security measure. It's a pain in the butt! Thanks for taking the time and effort to comment though. Heather

  17. I too think you have a style of your own, and it's got color, shape and a lovely mix of solids and prints. There are many things I could say are "NOT" you – like a stiff button-down suit, or leather mini — but maybe they are? : > The experimenting is so much fun. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and fab look with Visible Monday. Oh, awesome goggie, too.

  18. It's your style now! Inspiration is so wonderful – just take it all in and process it and make it yours.

    Awesome outfit. Those pants are hilarious.

  19. These thrifted zebra prints may be one of the funkiest prints I've seen in a while- love! I think you have a great personal style (plus your dog makes a pretty cuddly looking accessory!)

  20. I like you find clothes that remind me of my blogger pals- that's so Sacramento, or Vix, or Desiree, or Helga, I'll say, and plan to make an outfit out of it. But it always ends up being you. You may be influenced by your blogger buddies, but your style is exceptionally you.

  21. I think that it is more difficult to have a personal style when you work in a profession that doesn't encourage it. I am not sure if I have a personal style and I am almost 61. I think it is a work in progress.

    I do love your pants! They rock. I really think that when you feel great in an outfit, that is style.

    Your dog is so cute!

  22. Well, I think they are very cute! That is a nice outfit with the pop of fun from the pants. πŸ™‚ I think I am still working on my personal style, but like yourself as a whole…that is something that is always evolving a bit. Some days I feel put together and some days I feel like a train wreck. Experimenting with different styles helps us understand what we like. If you felt uncomfortable in them, then they should go in the donation pile because they aren't "you". Otherwise, they are keepers! πŸ™‚

  23. I am honored by the mention. Thank you! Lynn, I love your style and I believe that we all influence each other. It's fun to experiment, and shopping recycled items makes that possible. Great cropped pants!

  24. First of all, I love your style. I think that no matter the age, a woman can be her own in what feels good to her and what she feels great in. These zebra pants are super cute. I really love them on you and your hair looks GREAT in these photos! Also, I laughed at your "so my family doesn't use them in a slideshow at my funeral". It totally sounds like something my family would do.

  25. Oh, I get the "I'm so old!" feeling too, especially when college kids comment on my blog. I think my style has evolved based on what I see on other blogs and in magazines, but I try to choose what looks good on me, not just what's trendy.

    All of the photos on my site look like bloopers–even the good ones! Just go with it! πŸ™‚

  26. Aw, it's kind of nice to leave a few goofy pictures for your loved ones. When I helped collect pictures for my best friend's memorial, I DEFINITELY threw the hilarious ones in with the plain cute ones. I like to think she would have appreciated it, and in any case she couldn't stop me!

    Anyhow, if you like 'em, they're part of your style. If you look through my outfit pictures from the last year-odd that Tia and I have been blogging, I still haven't really figured out a cohesive style, and I definitely "borrow" style ideas from other bloggers who seem more with-it than I am. As long as it's fun, who cares?

  27. Defining your personal style is tuff. I still haven't defined mine but picked up a phrase that someone else coined because I liked how it sounded. I think the slacks you are wearing are really chic on you.
    If you think about it we can only purchase the merchandise that is available in our community and what we find on the internet. Although that has broadened our selections there are really not that many 'in' pieces each season. So I think that I'm not all that unique if I buy ready to wear clothing.
    I once lived in Africa for a year and when I came back to the states I made a buch of clothing using the materials I bought there. People did not respond to it well at all. I looked too weird (not what you normally see in the US) I gave that up and bought the standard clothing of the US at the time. All of a sudden I was stylish.. So it taught me that fashion and what is in isn't all that unique it's more like a variation on a uniform. Go too far and you are outside of what is in. Just a few thoughts on the subject.

Contact Info:

Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

Meet Lynne:

Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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