Why is it so hard to clothe myself in a way I like? And why do I even care about clothes?
I am not a flashy or sophisticated dresser. If you asked my family or coworkers how I dressed, they would probably have to think about it because it is not especially noteworthy. They might struggle to be kind and say things other than Functional or Neat. But I care how I look and what I wear. I’ve realized I do care how people “read” me, fashion-wise. In the past 10 years, my style has ranged from Middle Aged Rocker to Lesbian Chic to Worker Bee to Tacky Vintage and who knows what. Even when I wear the plainest clothes, I am always making a statement about what I am NOT. There are so many styles I won’t wear and don’t relate to: for example, floral garden party, Coachella/Boho, nightclubber, beach bunny, and Ladies who Lunch!
I am slowly giving up some of my non-work clothing fetishes. I am down to 8 hoodies now (only 3 in heavy rotation) and 22 non-work T-Shirts: cartoon characters, rock bands, etc. That is a big change! You know what it is? I have been an empty nester for 4 years now and I no longer feel the desire to look like the Cool Parent; the one who keeps up with their kids. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been “coupled” for 7 years and I’ve dropped the Youthful Dating look 🙂 But I still have a pop culture thing going on, so I will not be giving up my Keith Haring T-shirts.
Occasionally I see my wardrobe in a new way. Last year I realized that I don’t have a ton of work-appropriate clothes, just 59 items. That sounds like a lot, but it covers 4 very distinct seasons, and some of those things can only be worn 3 months a year. I also have an interesting range of things to do at work at the library, from interviewing job applicants to meeting with the city councillor to taking apart shelving units or taking my turn cleaning the staff room fridge! Maybe I need a lab coat…
At the start of 2012, I started to pare down my wardrobe with the goal of reducing it by half. I had a motley assortment! Skinny clothes I hadn’t worn for years. Stretched out big clothes I hoped never to wear again. Holiday outfits I’d only worn once. Sentimental stuff like concert T-shirts I couldn’t part with. Expensive items I wanted to get my money’s worth out of. Worn out things I couldn’t replace, but refused to quit wearing. Clothes for my fantasy life. I estimated I could get rid of half, so that only items I liked and would wear remained.
Over the past 3 years, both my size and my life have stabilized! I no longer feel I need a Clothing Contingency Plan for every possible size and circumstance. I know myself better. I can make do better. I would rather have 25 items that feel good, than 50 I can only wear occasionally when they fit (you know, those two weeks a year when the stars align).
Now that I think about it, maintaining the same weight has probably been the key factor. I have fluctuated by 10 pounds, but in the past, my weight had gone up or down by 30 pounds. So by acting quicker whenever there is a shift, I have been able to wear the same clothes longer. I no longer punish myself by saying “You don’t deserve any nice things until you lose some weight,” nor do I say “You’ve stayed the same size for a year so you deserve a whole new wardrobe!”
Revisiting my clothes inventory this week, I couldn’t bring the numbers down much. The era of impressive decluttering is behind me! It looked like this:
|anexactinglife Clothes Inventory|
Wardrobe items are: coats and jackets, shoes and boots, sweaters, shirts, T-shirts, pants and skirts.
Other is: workout wear, night wear, underwear, socks, belts, gloves and mitts, hats and scarves.
I’m within 10 pieces of halving my main wardrobe. Looking closely, there is nothing that desperately must go. So I have “earmarked” 10 items on my inventory list. If I don’t wear them this year (or even sooner, depending on the season), they can go. I am not concerned about the small stuff. I will just keep it all until it wears out, and try to avoid accumulating more – although I constantly get gifted with socks and scarves!
I will sum up by telling you about my fashion purchase hits and misses this year. I make so many mistakes when clothes buying! My pitfall is buying new clothes to wear on vacation, knowing full well I will not wear them when I get back home. I guess I like being another person for a few days a year? Recognizing that, I should do it cheaper – such as thrifted-only.
I have spent $784 on clothes so far this year, of a supposed $900 annual budget. I expect I will overspend greatly and make it up elsewhere.
|anexactinglife YTD 2015 Clothes Purchases|
|Shoes – black flats||103||?||Have troubles with shoes/sizes/quality…|
|Jeans||92||Yes||“Statement Jeans” (see Ramones T-shirt photo)|
|Shoes – brown, for work||76||Yes||See above under black flats|
|Dress for vacation||75||?||Probably only one wear. Gulp!|
|Brown sandals||48||?||Vacation purchase. Never wear sandals. This year?|
|Black crop pants||46||No||Wrong length, need to alter, second thoughts|
|Blue boatneck sweater||43||Yes||Like it|
|3 bras||41||Yes||Trying out a different style|
|Sheer layer shirt||40||Yes||Vacation again – but will keep wearing|
|Navy linen pants||40||Yes||Good find. But very seasonal.|
|Skidoo mitts||35||Yes||A lifesaver this past brutal winter|
|Skort||34||?||Seem to buy one every summer…|
|Blue tunic sweater||30||Yes||Allowed me to wear stretchy leggings more|
|3 tank tops||29||Yes||For layering|
|5 pairs of socks||21||Yes||50 pairs of whimsical socks; none OK for work!|
|Canada Day T-shirt||7||Yes||Replaced last year’s ill-fitting one|
So my quest to feel comfortable in my own skin – and my own clothes – continues.
Have you made peace with the way you dress?