I’m probably one of the least fashion-savvy people you’ve ever met. I’m MUCH more proficient in home decorating than self decorating.
Take me to Ikea and I’ll flutter about in my fairy wings surrounded by pink and purple butterflies. (I’ll take that and that and that! I know exactly where to put them! Squeeel!)
Take me to the mall and I’ll be five seconds away from a violent rampage the whole time. (Who comes up with this shit? Do people actually wear this? And that perfume stench is KILLING me!)
So what’s the deal with this post then?
Well, a while back I did a grand reorganization of our bedroom and got rid of all the clothes I didn’t like. I was still left with a few pairs of shorts and some t-shirts, so all was well for a couple of months. But then fall came and the weather started hitting the 50s and I realized I was the proud owner of exactly three long-sleeve shirts – all black.
Clearly, I needed to go shopping.
But I kept putting it off, because I didn’t want to end up with another closetful of mistakes I’d end up trash-bagging in six months when I’d clean my closet again. I didn’t want to go to Target and grab whatever they had in black in a panic, because we still needed to get to the diapers and kid #1 needs to try on new shoes and kid #2 is working up a major meltdown… And where the hell is kid#3?
I realized that the reason I didn’t like anything in my closet was that I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted my style to be and I was buying clothes in a hurry and without a plan, so I was resorting to only buying black as the easy solution.
This has been my go-to uniform if I have to leave the house – black shirt with blue jeans:
I don’t think it’s the worst ever fashion faux-pas and I feel comfortable in it, but it’s boring, especially if that’s basically the only combination of clothes I ever wear.
And it gets worse. See, if I don’t need to leave the house (which is more days than not), I’ll usually just throw on that same black shirt (or one of the three similar) and a pair of black yoga pants. This is my daughter’s recent depiction of me:
Ignoring the giant hand and giant foot, do I really want my daughter to think her Mom is the Grim Reeper?
So, I decided to slow down and apply what I had learned about making over my house to making over myself in an organized way. And I was actually pretty pleased with what I came up with. And when I figure something out, I like to share it here with you just in case you are struggling with something similar.
(Although sometimes I do wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if I’m the only one who ever struggles with this stupid stuff and if everyone else has it all figured out by the time they are 15.)
With all that said, here are the steps I took to dig myself out of my wardrobe rut:
Step 1: Seek Inspiration
When you pop out a few kids in quick succession and then do your best to keep them and yourself and your marriage alive for the first few hectic years, it’s really easy to kind of lose yourself in the process. For example, I have a really clear idea of what kinds of clothes I like to see my kids in and I have fun shopping for them, but until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what style of clothes I would ideally like to see myself in.
Whenever I start thinking about re-decorating a room in my house, the first thing I do is go on Pinterest or Houzz and look at a ton of photos until a vision emerges of the feel or elements I want to incorporate in the room I’m putting together.
But where does one go for work-at-home mom wardrobe inspiration? I haven’t looked at fashion magazines in years, so I thought about going that route, but nixed the idea pretty quickly. Back when I still read those magazines, I always thought the models and photos were beautiful, but the clothes and outfits were so “out there” that I didn’t find them very inspiring for my own wardrobe.
Surprisingly enough (for me at least), I found a ton of inspiration for my wardrobe makeover in the same place where I find house inspiration: Pinterest. I searched for “casual outfit” and a whole lot of goodness popped up. I created a secret board and saved every outfit I liked. And soon enough common themes started emerging.
It turns out my preferred clothing style is very similar to my preferred home décor style. Very casual. Very simple. Lots of neutrals – grays, whites, tans, browns. No busy patterns.
Step 2: Create A List Of Ideal Outfits
Before this makeover, I would just go shopping for clothes without a plan and that’s why I think I had a closetful of clothes I didn’t like.
This is another area where I really needed to apply what I have learned about putting together a room I like. I don’t just say “I need some furniture” and then go to one store to buy furniture without a detailed plan of all the elements in the room and then buy whatever that store has in stock whether I really like it or not. No, I have a big picture plan for what the whole room will look like, and as part of that plan, I’ll say “I want a white couch” and then I go to as many stores as I need to, to find a white couch in a style I like.
No more shopping for clothes without a plan! The whole outfit needs to be planned out before buying separate pieces.
I decided a reasonable goal for my makeover would be to create seven outfits I liked. Seven would get me through one week without doing laundry (yay!) and would be a big enough number to really make a difference I would notice. But seven was also a small enough number to seem manageable in terms of time and money devoted in a short amount of time.
So with seven outfits as my goal, I created a google spreadsheet with seven columns – one for each outfit. And then looking at my Pinterest inspiration images, I wrote down what each outfit would consist of. A couple were an exact copy of the pieces in a Pinterest outfit and others were a combination I pieced together from multiple Pinterest images.
Here’s an example of what the list looked like for one outfit:
- Blue jeans
- White t-shirt
- Tan cardigan
- Blue scarf that matches jeans
- Brown ankle boots
- Brown aviator sunglasses
- Big brown slouchy leather bag
Step 3: Figure Out What You Already Have That You Can Use
Even though I had gone through the major purging exercise, I still had a few clothing items and accessories I was able to use for my new outfits. I went through my spreadsheet item by item and highlighted the things I already had, like blue jeans and black boots. Whatever remained unhighlighted after this exercise became my shopping list.
Step 4: Shop Til You Drop
The Huz and I arranged our schedules so that I could go on one luxurious 6+ hour shopping spree all by myself. In those six hours, I hit Target, Old Navy, Kohl’s, and even the dreaded mall. I’ll admit it was still pretty stressful even without the kids. There’s that “this is my only opportunity” pressure. And I forced myself to try everything on, which gets kind of exhausting after a while. But I did manage to cross several items off my list.
Whatever I couldn’t find on that shopping trip I ended up ordering online. Online shopping is by far my preferred way of buying anything, but it gets tricky with not being able to try things on, so I wanted to give the “real” stores a chance first.
Even with all this preparation, I ended up buying one cardigan that made me go WTF when I tried it on at home. But I guess one dud is ok – much better than almost everything being in the “I don’t actually like this and not sure why I bought it” category.
Step 5: Be Flexible And Compromise
One very important lesson I have learned with various projects and makeovers (mostly related to my house) is that you have to be able to let go of perfection and know when it’s time to be flexible and compromise or it all just becomes a no-fun, mentally exhausting experience. Maybe people with more talent or more money or more time can create end products that are closer to perfection. But I have serious monetary and time-related limitations. If I kept tinkering away until I got it all 100% perfect, I would be tinkering on ONE thing for the rest of my life. But not being able to make things perfect doesn’t mean I can’t make them good and a major improvement over the previous state of affairs.
The same thing kinda happened with the wardrobe makeover. I had to let go of one outfit idea completely because I couldn’t find what I was looking for and I adjusted a few of the initial ideas some because I couldn’t find something at all or in a price I was willing to pay. And some of the outfits just don’t look exactly like I had envisioned.
But guess what? I like them all much better than the Grim Reeper get-up! So even though I had to compromise some and move on to other projects before I got everything just perfect, the whole exercise was still well worth it and a major improvement over my previous wardrobe!
Step 6: Wear Your New Wardrobe With Pride
I considered not showing you the outfits I came up with, because a) the point of this post was more to tell you how I did it rather than what I ended up with and b) I’m majorly uncomfortable posing for photos. But I thought you’d probably be curious (I would be!), so I decided to be brave and show you.
I’ll list where I bought everything, so you can see that most of the items came from affordable places.
Ok, deep breath:
This first outfit was designed to gently tease me out of my wardrobe rut comfort zone. It’s the same black shirt and jeans as in the picture earlier in the post, but with different accessories.
T-SHIRT: Target, JEANS: Mudd from Kohl’s Junior, BOOTS: Bought in Finland years ago, SUNGLASSES: Target, SCARF: Tahari from Amazon, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
Ooh, how brave! A white shirt instead of black! And look I replaced all the black accessories with brown!
T-SHIRT: Target, JEANS: Mudd from Kohl’s Junior, BOOTS: Rocket Dog from Zappos, SUNGLASSES: Target, SCARF: Target or WalMart – I can’t remember for sure, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
You may be wondering if I always wear sunglasses inside. I don’t. But I have sensitive eyes, so I almost always wear them when I’m outside. And to be honest, they helped me be more comfortable posing for these photos. I’m really shy. 🙂
T-SHIRT: Target, JEANS: Delia’s, BOOTS: Rocket Dog from Zappos, SUNGLASSES: Target, CARDIGAN: Target, SCARF: Forever 21, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
This outfit is the clothing equivalent of comfort food. It’s the spaghetti with red wine sauce.
T-SHIRT: Target, CORDOROYS: So brand, BOOTS: Bare Traps, SUNGLASSES: Target, CARDIGAN: Forever 21, NECKLACE: Can I say it’s vintage if I bought it in the 90s?, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
T-SHIRT: Target, JEANS: Forever 21, BOOTS: Rocket Dog from Zappos, SUNGLASSES: Target, CARDIGAN: Target, NECKLACE: Vintage :D, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
SWEATER: Forever 21, JEANS: Forever 21, BOOTS: Rocket Dog from Zappos, SUNGLASSES: Target, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
T-SHIRT: Target, JEANS: Forever 21, BOOTS: Old ones from Finland, SUNGLASSES: Target, SCARF: Forever 21, BAG: Laurel & Sunset from Amazon
I also need a hair makeover, but that’s going to have to wait a while… I just think making over the house is more my jam! And I’m loving the fact that I can now get dressed on auto-pilot and direct my thoughts elsewhere.
What about you? Are you into fashion or do you struggle with clothes, like I do?