Today is a departure from this blog's usual subjects, though it does go along with my living lighter plan for the summer. I've been thinking a lot about fashion or my lack thereof lately. I'm no fashionista or even an aficionado, but I do like to stay current, despite my stay at home mom status. But every fashion blog or magazine or book I read recommends clothes that are at once both too expensive and too impractical for my life, which has led me to a manifesto of sorts. Here are my 10 Style Commandments (with commentary, of course).
1. Dress the body you have NOW, not the body you wish you had.
Once upon a time I was very, very thin. I was also very, very sick. Then, I got better, more or less, and I gained weight, a lot of weight. I lost some of it through hard work and Weight Watchers, then gained it all back and then some with my first child, then lost some of it again, finally, and now I am at a stable weight I can maintain with my normal diet and lifestyle. Am I super thin? No. Am I happy where I am? Yes, though it's taken me a long while to get there. I've gotten rid of all clothes that are smaller than my current size, because they were just mocking me. But I have friends who refuse to buy clothes in their size because they know they will lose weight eventually, but, in the meantime, they are so miserable and their closets just make them feel badly about themselves EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's just not worth it!
2. Ignore sizes. Contrary to popular opinion, size does NOT matter.
Women's sizing is so subjective. Becoming fixated on size makes you crazy! In one visit to TJ Maxx, I'll walk out with something in a Medium, a Large, and an XL. In some stores, I can only buy XLs, even double XXs. And don't get me started on numerical sizes, in which I an comfortably fit into anything from an 8 to a 12 depending on the style and brand. Just ignore them, please!
3. Know your measurements (your REAL measurements).
Your best option, therefore, is to know your measurements. If you're afraid to measure yourself, and it can be complicated to do by yourself, measure a pair of pants, a skirt, and a shirt that fit you. Knowing your measurements is particularly helpful for ordering clothes online, which can be a lifesaver when you're short on time and mobility, like me.
4. Get the wardrobe essentials you need for your lifestyle.
I love Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear, but their recommendations are, in a word, ridiculous for someone like me. I adore Tim Gunn, but many of his 10 Essentials are just not workable for my life. The same is true of virtually every "wardrobe basics" list out there. So I ignore them. I have a closet full of great skirts that I wore every day while I was working. Now, not so much. Now, I wear jeans, the darker, the better, and t-shirts, the more disposable, the better, and maxi skirts when it's hot, the airier, the better. Some day this will change again, but not now.
5. Buy what works in multiple colors or lengths.
I have finally, FINALLY found a type of jeans that fits the quirks (and rolls!) of my post-baby body. I am in the process of buying as many pairs in as many washes and as many lengths as I can afford so I can toss all the rest. The same is true for shirts and pants other than jeans. Skirts and dresses are a bit more distinctive, so generally this rule doesn't apply to them.
6. Embrace color and pattern.
One of the wardrobe rules a lot of people live by is that black is slimming. Others believe neutrals are versatile, so you should populate your wardrobe with them. Both are true. But both are also so BORING!! Who wants to live like that, day after day?
7. LOVE it or toss it.
This is a hard rule for most of us. We all have things in our closets that we like in theory, though not perhaps in reality. Or pieces that look okay on us but not great. Or items we wished we loved but we really don't. Get rid of them. They can fool you into thinking your wardrobe is more workable than it really is. And they can waste valuable real estate in your closet!
8. Alter, alter, alter.
This one is new for me but a hold over from the past. Make it work! If you can't do it, give your things to someone else who can hem, take in, alter, and change your less than perfect clothes into clothes you want to wear.
9. Do your homework.
Discover what looks best on your body type. Think about which brands consistently work for you. Inventory your wardrobe. Have an acquisition plan. Budget.
10. Work with what you have (and lose what doesn't--see above).
This is one of the easiest rules to explain but perhaps the hardest to implement. I'll be the first to admit I fall into a rut with my clothing, wearing 20% if that, and pulling out the same combinations over and over. I have good pieces hiding in the back of my closet, things that fulfill the other rules but never see the light of day. I have stacks of accessories, bins of scarves and bags, even some jewelry, though that's not really my thing right now, what with the little hands pawing all over me. I'm getting rid of most of these accessories and pulling these clothes out and wearing them or moving them on to Goodwill.