Do You Dress to Impress or Express?

Do You Dress to Impress or Express?

Happy Sunday ladies! Today I’m pondering one of my long-held beliefs and wondering how it fits into my wardrobe goals today. I dress to express myself, not to impress others. As I got dressed the other day I had to stop and consider my choices.

I’ve never been a fan of the designer knock-off handbags. I’ve been guilted into attending some home parties where they’re sold but never bought anything. I always assumed women buy designer handbags bags to please themselves and/or faux ones to impress others.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing Talbots tweed jacket and Chico's jeans

Until last week. I’d spent most of a day working on my computer, wearing a plain tee and jeans. Around 3, I needed to run some errands in town. I tossed on my pink jacket and favorite mules.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing Talbots tweed Jacket

As I added lipstick in the full-length mirror I realized I was wearing a Chanel wannabe tweed jacket and Chanel wannabe cap-toed shoes. These were dupes for designer items.



Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing tweed jacket and cap toed flatsI’d never considered them anything other than things I liked. I bought them because I loved the color and shape. Surely no one assumed these were authentic Chanels! Tweed jackets and cap-toed shoes are common today and available at every price point.


Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing tweed jacket and cap toed shoesNow I wonder if those women carrying designer knockoff handbags are just dressing to please themselves? Do they love the look so much that they buy an alternative at a price they can afford?

What do you think?

Do you dress to express yourself?


Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Affiliate links within this post may generate income for AWSL.





  1. Jane
    February 4, 2018 / 3:51 am

    If I truly love a style I’ll buy it even if it’s a ‘wannabe ‘. I dress to please myself, not to impress others. In Bangor,Maine nobody really notices what you’re wearing anyway! Haha!

  2. February 4, 2018 / 4:27 am

    I usually wear what I am comfortable in to please myself. I do like designer handbags, but saying that, I cannot afford Chanel or Prada or definitely not The Birkin bag! I have a few Brahmin bags which I love and a couple of really nice upscale bags I got at a crafts show. I do love a nice handbag!

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 7:39 am

      I love interesting bags too! They’re such a great way to add a creative touch to an outfit.

    • Gale
      February 4, 2018 / 12:06 pm

      I totally agree with Linda. I love my Brahmins, cannot afford Chanel. I have one knock off Chanel to use as décor in a room.

      • Jennifer
        February 4, 2018 / 1:38 pm

        I bet it looks amazing as decor Gale!!

  3. Pat
    February 4, 2018 / 5:14 am

    I like to be stylish but can not afford designers. I buy the best I can afford and enjoy my clothes. I try to achieve the look.

    • Karen
      February 21, 2018 / 7:57 am

      My thoughts exactly!! I need to feel like myself and look appropriate, not a carbon copy, and I know the brand or price tag are not many times the answer. Great article!

  4. anne shannnon
    February 4, 2018 / 5:17 am

    CBC Radio had a program on designer knock offs. Firms producing designer knock offs are commonly operated by criminal gangs. I don’t normally support criminals so I won’t be able to buy any more la pilage knock off handbags for $8 in the far east. I do think the real McCoy is seriously overpriced. I bought a genuine la pilage at Heathrow airport and after 2 weeks of use, it sprang a hole. I was seriously annoyed. I took it to the local seamstress for repairs. She wondered why I want to spend so much money on this piece of junk! It was “plastic”to her. She was amazed that I paid nearly a $100, which was a bargain price for it. Put me in my place. Why did I lust for a la pilage? It is just a bag.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 7:55 am

      They are all just bags to hold our things. They also express our taste and compliment our look. For some women, handbags are everything! For others it shows how much money they have and are status symbols.

  5. Evelyn
    February 4, 2018 / 5:39 am

    How do you streamline the changing of contents into different bags?

    • Sue Michel
      February 4, 2018 / 6:40 am

      You can buy an organizer at the Container Store & other places that hold all your essentials & you can lift to & from various handbags. They come in a couple sizes too. They’re fabulous!

      • Jennifer
        February 4, 2018 / 8:13 am

        I use a similar system.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 7:57 am

      I empty extraneous things out frequently.

  6. Susan
    February 4, 2018 / 5:51 am

    I dress to express myself,I am not comfortable otherwise.I like. The word relevant.I want to appear to be relevant

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 7:57 am

      I like that word too. Relevant goes hand in hand with viable and visible.

  7. Creal
    February 4, 2018 / 5:53 am

    Most of my wardrobe comes from outlet stores. Their not knockoffs, but not exactly the real deal either. I shop there because 1) the outlet mall is 2 miles from my house and 2) the quality at many of my favorite stores is good and 3) the price point is nice.

    I have to be very careful with outlet shopping though. Not every outlet carries good quality options. The fit at outlet or factory stores isn’t the same as the regular counterpart. Sales and selection are hot or miss. Also, you run the risk of walking away with a defective item. Since I live so close, returns are easy and I know which stores carry the best quality for the price. I have many Coach and Kate Spade handbags purchased from the outlets because I love then and the price suits me better than the real deal. Also, I’m a pocketbook junkie. I can buy 2 at the outlets for what I might pay for one at the regular store!

    • Creal
      February 4, 2018 / 5:54 am


    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:00 am

      Lucky you! We have a huge outlet mall about 30 minutes away but the parking is such a nightmare I seldom go. I do love the bags st the Kate Spade outlets.

  8. February 4, 2018 / 6:02 am

    I realize that clothing sends a message about who I am…so I have designed a formula to send the messages about me I want to send. I guess I am doing both…impressing and expressing at the same time. As a professional in the workplace during the week, I want to tell others I am intelligent, creative, strong, current, and approachable with the clothing I wear. When I am off the job, it is more about what pleases me.

  9. Roxanne
    February 4, 2018 / 6:08 am

    I now wear what I like, what makes me happy, what is flattering and yes, what’s is comfortable. Some people would say I’m overdressed, but I refuse to go to the grocery store without my makeup and hair done…it’s personal pride I suppose. I’m a handbag lover too, and all my nice bags were gifts! Since my shoe choices are very limited because of my old broken heel injury, I love to carry a beautiful bag. What is the appeal of Michael Kors bags? $300 for a plastic bag with his enormous MK on it?!?

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:13 am

      I’m not a fan of those huge MK emblems either. The monogram trend was an ugly one. Maybe he’s hoping to bring it back. Many of them are heavy too. I already carry enough stuff so I want a lightweight bag. Lucky you getting gifts!!

    • Karen
      February 21, 2018 / 8:00 am

      I agree! To me they are ugly and then he has you for a free, walking advertisement. ????

  10. MonicaR
    February 4, 2018 / 6:48 am

    I wear what is flattering and comfortable for me. I do love handbags too. You can find both expensive ones and inexpensive ones in my closet. Lately I prefer light weight bags so some of my heavier ones are not being used. I do like to match my bag to my outfit. Sometimes it is difficult to keep changing bags!

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:14 am

      I’m preferring light weight ones too! So much easier.

  11. Laurie
    February 4, 2018 / 6:51 am

    I think it’s probably a little of both and I have another viewpoint to add, which you beautiful ladies probably already know. Wannabes are fine but imposters (i.e. designer bags from those parties) are not. It’s illegal, but worse, it supports drug and sex trafficking. As for me, I just want to feel good in what I wear and try to be somewhat “appropriate” to the event…

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:16 am

      Great point Laurie!! Plus they’re stealing from the brand.

  12. Eileen
    February 4, 2018 / 7:17 am

    Guilty! I love beauty, in clothes, bags, flowers, everything. Even on a budget, I looked for real leather in a bag or shoes. I bought a more expensive bag recently, and I noticed it is holding up better, and liked it so much, I had the cobbler re-enforce the handles, so I could wear it longer! A friend said to me once, “ for what you paid for all the bags / things you bought, you could have had that expensive item you wanted!” What a thought! So, I buy where I can return items easily, if I get off track, as we all do, and take a deep breath, and start over.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:18 am

      Very smart Eileen!! I’ve had that same conversation with myself over the years. It’s called investment dressing and ends up being less cost per use and more enjoyable.

  13. Carol Khoury
    February 4, 2018 / 7:19 am

    Love this look and have worn a variation myself. My Chanel-ish jacket is a navy/white tweed trimmed with chain and purchased at JCrew years ago.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:20 am

      J Crew makes some beautiful ones!! I’d love a navy one with full length sleeves. Mine are cropped so it’s less wearable.

  14. Olwyn
    February 4, 2018 / 7:37 am

    Actually I only shop Thrift, I do not wear labels, and I pay attention to my silhouette to guide me. I only use cross a crossbody bag as I like my arms free and I need something that doesn’t slip off my shoulders. I don’t do v necks as they elongate my face. I check for quality material, how well made something is, and the fit – I would ‘t recognize a designer item to begin with. I do enjoy looking at how people put themselves together. I too, try to be presentable for the vegetable market I frequent.

  15. Nancy
    February 4, 2018 / 8:14 am

    A big pet peeve of mind is wearing something with a designer’s logo all over it. I hate being a billboard for anyone. If a designer wants that, I should be paid to wear it. Handbags are particularly guilty of that! I will shop for something that fits me, in style, proportion, color and comfort, but if the style is has the designer’s logo all over it, I will walk away. The way each individual mixes pieces is their particular style. That is why I people watch, and what I learn from others. I might not wear it myself, but I love that other people do.

  16. Joanna
    February 4, 2018 / 8:26 am

    Donning a nice jacket and mules really upped your jeans & tees. That’s exactly how I dress going out most days.
    I would say I dress to express myself. I know what makes me feel good and dress accordingly to suit the occasion. I don’t like all the names on designer bags, so I wouldn’t buy them no matter how little or much they cost. I feel knock offs are even worse, as one is trying to be someone they are not ( wealthy). And, those that can afford them recognize a knock off, so who are you really fooling? I feel they are bought to impress and that is not who I am. I invest in good shoes though. I love shoes! But, they must be comfortable as well. It is not very attractive seeing that grimace on ladies with sore feet but boy, their sky high shoes look good. Let’s keep it real ladies!

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 9:06 am

      Knock offs are so easy to spot. I love how quickly a simple jacket and shoes can up an outfit. So true about those heels but then when you see those ladies wearing open sandals they’ve got angry red marks and lumps all over their feet. Not attractive either.

  17. Penelope
    February 4, 2018 / 8:53 am

    As a former model, I have always felt I should be paid for advertising a brand via big ugly monograms and such! Never have understood the appeal. The only monogram I would sport would be my own and actually I don’t go for that either. For my recent 70 th Birthday, I bought my first designer purse, a little blush colored Valentino with embroidered butterflies which happens to be my personal symbol.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:58 am

      Belated Happy Birthday Penelope!! Your bag sounds drool worthy. My daughters symbol is a butterfly too! My mother’s was an owl. I have to ponder what mine is. I’m not sure I have one.

  18. Lynn
    February 4, 2018 / 9:05 am

    I dress in what appeals to me. I don’t like designer labels all over items and have not purchased purses I really liked because of the prominent label on them. I really like the outfit you are wearing. It looks great on you! It’ something I would wear for sure. I wear jeans and a great top often.

  19. February 4, 2018 / 9:11 am

    I only dress to express myself and I’m not impressed by expensive designers clothes, bags or shoes. I like what I like and will not buy something that I am not comfortable wearing. I do recognize and appreciate good quality, but I have also seen some very expensive designer items that I considered poorly constructed. I’m happy wearing jeans and a tee shirt around the house, but if I need to run an errand , I often just add a necklace to elevate the look.

  20. Linda
    February 4, 2018 / 9:45 am

    I used to be able to buy the “real deal” when I was younger and I did but, I wasn’t always buying to wear the “brand”, I was buying because I liked a certain look or style.

    Things have changed as I matured and buying the “brand” is out of the question for me unless I find it being sold as a “steal”. What has remained is my love for a certain “style” or “look” and I do go to places where I can afford a similar looking item. I do not buy from places that would put the brand logo on a fake made to look like what it is representing. I buy from stores such as Dillard’s, Macy’s, Target, J C Penney’s.

    In my opinion, to put a fake logo on a piece of clothing, shoes or purse is ridiculous! People can see its fake and will ridicule you behind your back.

    I don’t want to be made fun of. I just simply like wearing clothing that feels good on me, fits in with where I am and allows me to feel confident among my peer group. I guess circumstances and maturity have brought a better balance to my life.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 10:26 am

      I agree, fakes do no one any good. Age has given me a better perspective on
      most things. I like to think I’m less impressionable too.

  21. Jan
    February 4, 2018 / 11:02 am

    It depends on the occasion. I usually dress for myself, I make a lot of my clothes so I can dress in one of a kind.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 1:38 pm

      That’s the most fabulous benefit of sewing your own garments!

  22. Joycee
    February 4, 2018 / 12:18 pm

    I dress for me. Much to the dismay of my Mother, whose famous words were always *thats what your wearing*….Yes i own those purses with monograms
    The LV, F,G C and scarfs too. They are my trophy…i worked in male world…60s,70,80,90s..00..harder than *them* and if only to enjoy remembering the moments i was able to crack that glass…they are my moments. And i havent looked back ….and still love every minute i wear them. (Raspberry to every guy who thought he got in my way)….
    Onto jeans and tees and Chanel…wannabe…bravo …bravo…bravo

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 1:40 pm

      I knew you were a kick-ass gal! Way to go Joycee:) xx

  23. Diana
    February 4, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    Looking back through my decades of life and the women I’ve known, I think it’s safe to say more of the younger generations (20’s to late 40’s) dress to impress, more so. Many of them don’t even look good in what they’re wearing, but hey! It’s designer! I think by our 50’s we either fall into frump (maybe TOO much comfort) OR we take hold of what we’ve learned about ourselves over the years and tend more towards cuts, designs and colors that look good on us, rather than what is a fad or giving free advertising to designers. Personally, I won’t buy anything with a designer’s logo in plain sight. If it’s small and inconspicuous, then I will wear it or use it, provided it’s a good look on me and in my price point.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 1:42 pm

      I agree, Diana. So many young gals are more label conscious than aware of what looks good on them. Of course perhaps they like how they look:)

  24. Cynthia
    February 4, 2018 / 1:23 pm

    Have to say I love your oufit and never considered whether you were wearing real Chanel or fake Chanel — that never occurred to me. You just look stylish and confident. And that photo of you laughing is the best!

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 1:43 pm

      Thanks, Cynthia. My husband cracks me up:)

  25. Lori McClintick
    February 4, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    I try to dress the way I believe I look my best. I must admit before reading this article and the comments, That I assumed women only wore expensive clothes or carried expensive handbags because they had so much money that the cost of an item was irrelevant to them or they were dressing to try to impress others. I now see they might be dressing to please themselves. I look for styles I love, can afford, and flatter me. I must admit I get a lot of pleasure out of buying an item that meets those three qualifications and is also a bargain.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:45 pm

      I do too Lori! I think many women do.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:46 pm

      I do too Lori! I thing more are dressing to please themselves which I’m glad of.

  26. February 4, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    I have to say, yes and yes. I dress to please myself most of the time, but there are occasions I want to impress (which makes it hard to pick just the right outfit).
    I’ve been to a few of those “designer” bag parties, too. I would’ve bought something, but didn’t fine anything that met my needs. I now just assume it’s all fake! ???? Guess no one’s impressing me.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:50 pm

      So long as you’re happy with how you dress Susan!

  27. Julie,Melbourne,Australia
    February 4, 2018 / 3:08 pm

    I generally dress to express myself but sometimes I dress to impress myself.I sometimes look in the mirror and think how well something looks on me or how well I have accessorised an outfit.I like to be stylish but never showy and logo dressing has never been for me.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      Perfect! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Impressing and pleasing our self is most important.

  28. Cathy
    February 4, 2018 / 4:26 pm

    I dress to express myself. I try to find flattering stylish clothing, handbags and shoes. I look for quality of materials and construction, the label really doesn’t matter to me. In my younger years I looked at designer clothing and made my version now I look for ready made versions. I got spoiled with handbags and shoes at a young age my Mom sold cancellation shoes and handbags. Designer products aren’t necessarily quality products they’ve outsourced production without quality control. Don’t get me wrong I love shopping the new seasons and if it looks good on me it follows me home.

    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 8:54 pm

      That’s the criteria I use too. It has to look good on me to come home. Or make me happy.

  29. February 4, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    I dress for myself. I’m certainly not impressing anyone *else* with my wardrobe, that’s for sure! I’m not one for following trends or designers, etc. If I see something I like, I try to find it at a price that’s affordable to me. I try to buy the best quality I can afford.

    I saw your blog mentioned on Samantha Blair’s Fake Fabulous blog post about new favorite bloggers and I already see a bunch of your posts that look interesting and I want to read!


    • Jennifer
      February 4, 2018 / 9:04 pm

      Welcome Bettye! I’m so glad you’re here.

  30. Sue Lewellen
    February 4, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    My motto is: Never pay more for a handbag than you have in the wallet you carry inside! I usually go for color.

  31. Summer
    February 5, 2018 / 7:39 am

    I try to dress for both comfort and style as long as that style feels like ‘me.’ I do love a bargain, though, and don’t mind a knockoff as long as it’s well made and not a counterfeit (no fake labels). But no matter how stylish or comfy the clothes, if I catch a glimpse of somebody I don’t know in my reflection, I just feel awkward and phony. I’ve found that ANYTHING I buy for the wrong season — whether an impulse purchase because it’s on super sale or a high end item just to “keep up” — usually becomes closet clutter. Some expensive lessons learned!

    • Summer
      February 5, 2018 / 11:23 am

      *Ooops… I meant “anything I but for the wrong REASON…” not “season” 🙂

    • Jennifer
      February 5, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      I do hate those expensive lessons Summer. I think we’ve all been there.

  32. Susan
    February 5, 2018 / 5:36 pm

    I dress for myself completely. I’ll refuse to buy a handbag I like otherwise if it prominently features the designer’s name. (I’m looking at you, Michael Kors! Your clothes used to be great — why do they have to have your name all over them now?) One exception: if I’m uncertain about an outfit I’ve purchased, and my wonderful husband says “wow” with a gleam in his eye, it’s an instant keeper!

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