I took my suit, coat, extra toiletries and a handbag in to Dress For Success Seattle last week! I had to climb one of Seattle’s horrible hills with 2 big heavy bags being blown around by gusty winds, but I did it, and I felt good about it. It was a literal, as well as figurative, weight off my shoulders.
On the way into the city on the ferry I was trying to visualize my wardrobe for the coming warm months, and counter any nagging voices that might say “but what will you wear if you get rid of your good suit?”
I would never have worn my suit to a wedding, but that was the first thing I approached because it’s cheerful, it’s a special occasion that I can reasonably expect to encounter, and because the answer was easy – a lovely dress and a cardigan. I have so many choices. The question of what to wear to a funeral is not so nice to consider. I don’t know that I would have worn my suit to a funeral either, if I was unlucky enough to have to attend one. But I have plenty of black items in my wardrobe. The third question is perhaps the most relevant to the suit – and yet, it’s not. I don’t have any plans to be applying to jobs that require a person to wear a suit. Any one of my nice dresses would be more appropriate and more “me” for the interview as well as for the job. And I have colorful cardigans to go with each dress. I did consider a knit blazer. I’ve been seeing a more relaxed style of blazer around lately and I do wonder if it would be worth getting one. I hate jackets, blazers, blouses, anything with a collar really. But I’ve been thinking that a less structured blazer might fill a theoretical need for something “dressy,” you know, just in case…
I am well aware that I have managed just fine without a blazer for years. I last regularly wore my suit when I worked at a fancy department store and lived in the city (’02-’04). I wore the suit dress and jacket to my last job interview (before I started wearing dresses, ’07?). I might have worn parts of my suit when I was interviewed for US citizenship, but I don’t think I did when I did the oath ceremony. I wore a different black dress and jacket to the last funeral I went to, many years ago. I haven’t worn a blazer regularly since I was pretending to be a conservative teacher in Japan (’98-’02).
I’m not much interested in building a wardrobe full of “classic” pieces. I have always loved lists of “essentials every woman must have” but they didn’t really feel right when I imagined my life and style – let’s face it, I am not a single magazine intern in NYC or assistant to a senator (or even a manager). I live in a blue collar town near a western city where people wear fleece jackets to the theater, even though they might be (tech) millionaires. I guarantee that fewer than a dozen people on my street own a crisp white blouse or a navy blazer. I really need to be realistic about who I am and how I live. And what I like. This is a great discussion about classic wardrobe pieces.
I tried to list my key wardrobe pieces for spring on the right side of the page, but I couldn’t really get a sense of them in a list like this. So I tried a kind of mind map format.
(btw do you like my Walls notebook? It was a gift from B and Jools, and it’s a fun place to collage and doodle and paste in photos of street art!)
I don’t know that this format worked much better. I love mind maps but I think I might have needed a separate cluster for each bottom. I was trying to show the connections between the various parts of my closet, but I think I’m going to have to try on outfits, or lay out outfits, and photograph them to really get a clear sense of what goes with what.
And yes, I’m going to do that. Just as soon as I do laundry. Tomorrow!
I am trying to imagine a wardrobe where everything goes with everything, but I think I need to let go of that. I like variety, and I like mix and match, but I also love distinctive patterned pieces that aren’t going to mix with everything. I love bright colors and I’m pretty flexible with wearing them together, but I also have plenty of simple basics like black tees, a navy cardigan, and denim pieces that bridge the gaps. I also love dresses, which don’t require much mixing or matching, which is wonderful. Style-wise, I’m probably more like Xandra than Coco (isn’t it wonderful that minimalism can look so different?! I love both of these blogs.)
I’ve been enjoying wearing my skirts and my blue and purple maxi dress this week. It’s been warm enough to wear a knee length skirt with leggings and a cardigan (and a light jacket at times) or a maxi dress with a half sleeve cardi and a denim jacket. I’m so done with certain winter items, so they’ve gone into the wash and will be put away.
Sorry if this post feels like treading water, stalling… I promise I will work on my outfits just as soon as they are clean and the light works. I have some resistance to the process because I don’t have a really good place to hang or lay out the clothing to photograph it and I don’t really want to do dozens of self portraits. I’m over-thinking it. But I’ll get it done when the sun comes out.
Oh, and I have some “bits and bobs” decluttering and rearranging to share soon too, partly inspired by a closet tour video by Coco. I’ve made a lot of progress on finding homes for random things that were hanging out in random places.
I’m excited for spring!
bye for now,
Sounds like you have a plan and that is the hardest part sometimes. Making lists didn’t work for me either (although crossing off what I got rid of really made me happy). To find good combinations I really just had to play a little dress up and put things together. I have two hangers outside my closet door to do just that.
Love this. Living in the west does seem to burst the seams in regards to what is acceptable, even in a work environment. I like being casual! Your mind map is adorable by the way.
Thanks. I LOVED mind maps when I was in college – haven’t done one in ages!