TL;DR: I don’t know what to wear when I want to look chic but not too dressed up. I’m going to donate my aqua lace top, which was supposed to fill that role. It doesn’t work for me. So I’m going to need to do some shopping to fill the gap in my wardrobe.
btw, I hate shopping!
And now, for those who enjoy a long story about getting dressed…
Last weekend we were invited to celebrate a birthday with our extended family. We had a lovely dinner out at a nice restaurant, took some long overdue family photos, played with my nephew, and laughed a lot. Hubby had a chance to relax and have a drink and a chat with the guys after a very (VERY) busy week. We had a great time.
It wasn’t exactly a crisis. And the problem was mostly of my own making. I had a vague plan for what to wear, but I didn’t give myself much time to get ready, and when I rushed to get dressed, I discovered that the outfit I had in mind didn’t work at all.
My plan was to wear a fancy top that I bought for just this kind of occasion. It’s a lovely vibrant aqua color, lacy, something a little special for a night out. I have to layer it over something, of course, so I chose a black tank and paired it with my black knit jersey skirt. When I looked in the mirror the neck of the lace top was pulling down below the tank, which looked bad. The neckline has never sat quite right. The top is a bit too long as well, so I tucked it up under the tank top. There was no way to tuck it into the skirt, and fully tucked isn’t a great look for someone with my curvy short-waisted figure anyway.
So far, not too bad. But I didn’t feel my best, that’s for sure. I would have decided it was good enough… if it had been a warm night. I tried adding my black cardigan, but it’s far too faded to pair with a black skirt. It didn’t look good. Nor did any of the other cardigans I have. They are shorter so they look great with dresses, but they look a bit odd with a top and skirt/pants combo, which I wear several inches below my natural waist. They’re all very bright, rich colors too, and they were making more of a color statement than I was in the mood for.
Gah! At this point I was panicking a bit. I just couldn’t see any way to make this top work. What I wished for in that moment was either a dressy knit cardigan or some kind of black jacket or topper that would be appropriate to wear at the dinner table. I don’t really know what that would look like. Maybe a flowing knit cardigan? I don’t really like wearing structured jackets, especially not in relaxed settings.
(I should take a moment here to say that I could have worn anything. This town is not dressy. There were people in the restaurant wearing rain jackets. There was no dress code. And my family really doesn’t care what I wear.)
My sisters-in-law are both masters of the casual chic look. They don’t usually dress up a lot, except of course when it’s really necessary, like for weddings. They don’t often wear dresses, or even skirts. For this kind of dinner out I knew they would probably be wearing nice jeans or pants with cute, chic tops – something fancier than a tshirt, with some cute details, but loose and comfortable and still pretty simple. (I was right). I wanted to dress like that, but I also wanted to dress like myself.
By this point hubby was home and waiting for me to be ready so we could get to the restaurant on time. I stood in front of my P333 wardrobe at a complete loss. I had 5 dresses I could have chosen, but I had worn them so many times before in front of these people. They didn’t feel special. It’s not that I wanted anybody to think I’d gone out and bought a new outfit for this dinner, but I didn’t want to wear the same things I had worn so many times before (for work, gardening, at the beach, shopping, and babysitting) because I wanted to wear something “special.” I considered whether I should pull out the ankle boots I had just put away and wear the lace top with jeans. But I still didn’t feel like I would be warm enough or feel good. I didn’t have another “special” top to wear with jeans, especially not one that would be warm enough. I almost just gave up and put my black cashmere sweater on over the lace top, but it was covered in white dog hair… sigh…
So I pulled down my “emergency” box from the top of the closet – the things that I had excluded from my 33 but thought I might need to switch out as the weather got warmer (or if my willpower got weak). I had three special occasion dresses in there – one that’s very fitted (too fancy), and two soft chiffon-ish (polyester) styles that I got at Target a couple of years ago to wear to several weddings. I threw on the black and white polka dot one, paired it with my hot pink cardigan, considered getting out my nice shoes, but opted for my black/white/pink converse, which are much more “me,” and walked out the door.
The dress was fine. (Anything would have been fine.) I was annoyed by the static cling of the polyester underskirt which I hadn’t had time to notice and fix at home. I didn’t feel my best. (The weather was really wet and sad, so maybe nothing was going to feel right. I always feel better in the sunshine.) And then, when I was hanging the dress up later, I saw that the back neckline had several tears in the fabric that can’t be fixed. How depressing.
I decided that the lace top has been given all the chances it’s going to get with me. I’ve never really felt great in it. I always struggle to pair it with anything. I’ve worn it all of three times. I tried to make it work, but it’s not the right top for me. I’m sure someone else will love it. I can’t really donate the damaged dress. It wouldn’t be fair. Someone would probably buy it without seeing the flaws right away. Sooner or later it would (will?) end up in the trash. All I can do is try to arrest the fraying and wear it under a cardigan until it falls apart completely.
Now I’m determined to find at least one or two chic casual/casual chic tops that would work for this same type of scenario. I’ll have to do some uncomfortable shopping, venturing outside my comfort zone. Everything in my regular stores seems to be polyester. I don’t like polyester, and it’s a deal breaker if the style is fitted close under my arms – I hate that b.o. stink that never goes away. Silk or rayon would be nice, as long as it’s washable. I am really picky about the details that I like. My sisters-in-law both looked lovely, but I wouldn’t have chosen either of the tops they were wearing for myself. I’m really not sure what the top I want would look like. I’m going to have to do a lot of browsing and trying on, and I expect I’ll have to try shopping in some different stores. I really don’t like shopping very much, so I’m not really looking forward to this. I would like to be able to find something second hand, but that will probably require even more patience, persistence, and luck. I very rarely find nice tops at Goodwill.
I have to go into this process with a clear plan. I need one or two tops. At least one needs to be appropriate for cooler weather, which means at least elbow length sleeves. The fabric should be dressy, and there should be some interesting special details. It could or should probably have a print, since I plan to wear it with jeans.
Fingers crossed I find some nice options that aren’t too expensive.
Thanks for stopping by!