Okay, let me be really clear. This isn’t a fashion blog. I’ve never been good at fashion at all. But I have been stressed about the way I dress and the way I feel about the way I dress recently, so that’s why I’m writing about it.
I’ve always just worn jeans and t-shirts, with only a little variation. My work “uniform” varied little from what my husband wears. Khaki or black slacks, a button up shirt (non-iron if you please), and flats. Now that I’m not working, I find myself wearing jeans that are either a size too small or a size too big, an old t-shirt from high school (you read that right), yoga pants, or just a plain old nursing tank top that probably has milk or spaghetti stains on it somewhere.
One afternoon, I found myself going out on a date with with my husband wearing a long sleeved t-shirt, a black maxi skirt, my faithful red Toms, kelly green knee-socks, and my red ski parka. I felt ridiculous. Was this how low I had sunk? Bless him, my husband had the grace to tell me that I looked beautiful no matter what I wore, but regardless of how he saw me, I didn’t feel good about myself.
It’s not that I’ve never noticed fashion. There’s always been certain looks that I’ve admired. I’ve just never thought, for whatever reason, that I could pull it off. I’ve always been attracted to pretty dresses and skirts that have a vintage-y feel. Like Amy Adams in The Muppet Movie or like Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) from Once Upon a Time. But I also like more modern looks, like Clara Oswald from the past season of Doctor Who. And don’t get me started on steampunk stuff. That Victorian-science-fictiony-adventurous mish-mash of awesomeness is just so, so cool.
But how do you turn all of that into a style? Honestly? I have no idea, but you know what? I’m old enough and confident enough that I want to start wearing clothes that make me feel good about myself, that are fun, and express my personality much more honestly than a ratty old orchestra shirt from 1997.
A friend of mine has been giving me fashion advice lately, and her idea was to think of dressing thematically. That idea has really helped me feel more self-assured in what I am choosing for myself. She’s kind, but honest, and not at all afraid to say, “Okay, you know, I really don’t think that’s going to work for you.” Everyone needs a friend like this. Someone you send a quick selfie to and say, “What do you think?”
Another thing that has helped me figure out some outfits is Polyvore. It lets me shop at home and play with multiple pieces from different stores without having to brave the anxiety-inducing mall. I can play with an entire outfit, all the way down to shoes and accessories.
Having these outfits put together ahead of time really helps me to find what I want when I actually go to the store. This way, I end up with a full outfit instead of a jumble of individual pieces that I don’t know what to wear with what. I also feel a lot more confident in my ability to, well, dress myself I suppose. I don’t worry too much about finding the exact same things as I put into the Polyvore collections, but it gives me an idea of what kinds of things I can put together.
Having these pictures to go off of gives me the ability to quickly dig through the clearance racks or go through TJ Maxx or Marshal’s or other discount store to see if they have something in the shape and/or color family I am interested in at the moment.
Below are a few examples of pictures I put together for myself to shop from.