This past fall, I outed myself in the local newspaper. The issue at hand was, on the surface, my cardigan obsession. Dig deeper into the closet and the real problem was a rudderless sense of style. Since that “reveal”, I’ve been working on a little personal style renaissance, trying to move myself past boring mom wear to girl with flair. This week, I am doing something a little different on the blog, I am telling my style story in a few parts. Today, I’m sharing that original “outing” with you. Tomorrow, I’ll share a piece from a column in January that shares what I figured out about style in general and my style in particular and then, on Wednesday, I’ll share where I am right now in my style renaissance! Here we go:
The seventeenth cardigan revealed my problem. Recently, I was unpacking my sweaters when I noticed that the bulk of my fall and winter wardrobe looked exactly alike. The Mr. Rodgers’ prop closet has nothing on me. Not only do I own an absurd number of cardigans, I have another problem. I own about 4 different types of cardigans, and I simply diversify my wardrobe by buying the same sweater in multiple colors.
My boring cardigan addiction isn’t my only wardrobe problem. When I wasn’t unearthing cardigans, I was unpacking things I had purchased years ago that still had price tags on them. All of these unworn garments were “breaking completely out of my box” rash purchases so out of character for me that I had nothing to complete the look- like shoes or the right blouse or pants- at home. I’ll find what’s missing soon, I’d tell myself. I never would, and then the item would sit in my closet past the return date, taunting me for not being stylish enough to own what I needed to go with it.
I am not just a boring dresser. I am an undisciplined shopper.
Surveying my closet, a few truths came to the surface. I hate shopping and because it is hard for me to make the time to shop, I waste an absurd amount of money by not trying things on before I buy, by buying something without the whole outfit in mind, or by waiting until the last minute to look for what I need so I end up acquiring out of desperation. When that happens, the best case scenario is I wear that item once and then can’t bring myself to put it on again because it is so not me.
Staring at my closet, it was clear I needed an intervention. A first step for me was reconciling the disconnect between what was in my closet and what I wanted to wear. I cleaned out the duplicated cardigans and never going to be worn items and took a trip to the consignment store.
Next, I asked some style savvy friends for advice. One friend suggested I make myself go shopping for one hour every week. I don’t have to buy anything, she insisted. I just have to check things out, see what I like, and maybe try some things on. And while I can’t imagine shopping weekly, I can make a commitment to at least go window shopping for two hours a month to peruse styles and get a sense of what my style preference might be in the winter outside of oversized cardigans.
Another friend suggested that if I am shopping for a non-basic item (and her basics list, unlike mine, does not include brown cardigan) that I only purchase it if a smile comes across my face when I try it on in the dressing room. No smile, no purchase. This standard might limit me to just buying one cardigan in a color I can’t resist, rather than going home with 3 cardigans that will do.
Those rules seem like easy enough strategies to help me develop a more interesting wardrobe that more accurately reflects who and where I am without breaking the bank. Who knows? Maybe next time you see me, I’ll look more like Kalinda from The Good Wife and less like Fred Rogers.
Got any style advice to share? Help a girl out!