Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fashion and Happiness

So those of you that know me in real life I'm sure are surprised by the title of this post. I certainly am not a fashion plate. And since moving to Beantown, whenever I'm bumming around, my mom's always like "really? I'd've thought that living in a city you'd be more fashionable!"

Yeah, fashion and I aren't always best buds.

But I've realized a lot of things about myself in the past few years, and quite a few have to do with appearance. For one, I tend towards pack-rat-itis. It's a hereditary disease. K, you are the only one among us who cleans out their closet regularly. For two, I feel AMAZING whenever I do dress up. For three, I always feel like a bum whenever I'm wearing ill-fitting clothes, no matter how nice they may be. For four, heels dress up any outfit and encourage me to stand up straight and walk proudly.

Knowing all of this, I went through several purges of my wardrobe, the most recent being prior to moving. Why move what I'm only going to get rid of? So with that in mind, here are a few of my own fashion rules.

-- Pick a look and maintain it. And then be able to change the look if it winds up not working. For example, my summer uniform was a cute summer dress and strappy sandles. This requires me to have a selection of cute summer dresses to choose from and said sandles which will look good with pretty much anything. I also wore a few pairs of shorts and tees for working at the Farmer's Market and light weight skirts and tops to round out the wardrobe. But it is both hot and humid in my area during the summer (think 90% humidity and 92 degrees. It sucks.), so it requires lots of bare flesh. I chose light summer dresses that, being small chested, I don't need a bra for. I searched for about three summers to have my full wardrobe of summer dresses. I now have about 10. It meant that I was wearing only two items of clothing in the heat -- a dress and undies. It got to the point where Mister was highly jealous of my wardrobe and wanted a male equivalent (but didn't want dresses... :-P).

-- If you don't love it, toss it. I stuck to this pretty strictly. Anything that I did not LOVE the way I look and feel while wearing it, I got rid of. Cute skirt that needs that tiny bit of alteration that I haven't gotten around to for three years? Gone. Cute summer dress that really needs that little bit of work that I absolutely love? Well, lets do the work NOW and see if that makes a difference. (Answer: it did.) This made the most recent purge the time that I finally got rid of most of my theatre shirts and bumming-around-the-house tee shirts. I have tank tops for that if I really need to bum.

-- Only buy high quality and only keep high quality. I recently removed the majority of the acrylic sweaters from my wardrobe. I think I have one or two that I just love the fit SO MUCH that I'll exempt it. This also meant that I got to be a lot pickier in the thrift stores that I frequent. I didn't even pull off of the rack anything that had ANY acrylic threads in it. Cashmere sweater? C'mere you! Ugly color? Well... maybe. By not actually looking at the sweaters until after looking at their fibers, I didn't allow myself to fall in love with a shitty but beautiful sweater that ultimately would not keep me warm and just take up closet space.

-- Know how to layer properly. It's cold in the north east, and my campus is RIGHT ON THE OCEAN. It gets really windy and cold. And I swear to the gods they don't actually heat those classrooms. So! I wear high boots (leather of course), knitted tights, leg warmers, slips, wool skirts, tank tops, underarmor, blouses and sweaters with a cardigan. I layer like it's my job. But, I also try to make sure it never LOOKS like I'm a bundle of clothing. The trick is again, high quality items. The thickest acrylic sweater will not keep you half as warm as a cashmere sweater with or without an extra cardigan. (Yes, I am sadly aware of the thinness of most cashmere sweaters.) Wear an extra thick sweater with your coat that STAYS with your coat (I did this one winter to get the most mileage out of my leather jacket). Scarves, hats and gloves are your friends. I wear them constantly in the colder months. This also gives me layering options from classroom to classroom as they are often up to 10 degrees different. I also wore thin gloves under my fingerless armwarmers/mitts so that I could wear my armwarmers if needed but still use my hands.

-- Know what tricks keep you happy. For example, these days my nails are always painted and I only wear heels. Why? Bright happy colored nails (often red or gold) make me smile whenever I see them and heels make me feel really sexy and give me confidence. They also help my posture by reminding me that it's a thing. Why yes, I do strut when I walk (not ridiculously) but enough to send the signal that -I- know that I look good and feel good and I don't care who knows. Not everyone feels that way in heels. It just happens to be -my- instant boost. For some women it's lipstick. For some it's a hat or scarf. But once you pay attention to what aspects of your outfit really boost your mood, try to incorporate that daily. How I incorporated nails and heels is simple. I removed all flats from my closet and I keep nail polish by my computer. I go down to the bare nail once a week and start over, and touch up chips while checking emails. And red nails DO require maintenance!

You might notice that I have yet to mention anything about make up and accessories, usually the staples of any fashion post. I wear a bare face daily (if I'm lucky, I remember to wash it) and I never remove my jewelry. Occasionally I'll change up earrings or a necklace, but I pick a pretty solid every day look and leave it. I DO however wear belts. That is pretty much my sole exception for accessorizing. I might also occasionally wear a scarf on my head like a headband (I read lots of vintage blogs this summer). The reason why I don't dwell on accessories is I find that with my now-fabulous wardrobe, it invites me to make each outfit interesting just because I love my clothes that much. Or I'll build an outfit around a certain piece. For example, today I wore new shoes which are a brown tweed heel with a bow on a mary-jane strap. This dictated that I wear browns today. So I pulled out my beige heather cashmere tunic sweater and brown pinstripe light wool dress pants. With the green beads that I wear daily and my bright red nails, it's an outfit.

The other thing that I do not mention is where to shop. Personally, I shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores. Why pay more than $10-20 for a cashmere sweater? But not everyone is as lucky to have awesome thrift stores nearby. Also, not everyone is looking for cashmere sweaters. So I think it's up to each person to find what stores work for them. I personally do not recommend shopping online, as the fit of any article of clothing is too important to me. I also find that a lot of the "cute clothing" shops use really shoddy workmanship and poor materials. But they're great source material and inspiration!

And here lies the majority of my new fashion rules. I now only have cozy sweaters, good-fitting clothing and heels in my wardrobe. And every day I get a boost of confidence from my clothes. Knowing that I look good every day gives me a lot of security. Now I only have to worry about what people think of me by what I actually say and do -- for I know that I look good. And I can b.s. my way through the rest. :-D




    For you, yes. So happy. Isn't finding your own personal style just super awesome? You just feel so much better, and you get a ton more compliments, even when you're having an off day, because you're wearing your own style, so you are more confident and more you!

  2. This is super lovely and everything, but how've you been generally, young lady? Aunty Rimi has been worried about you.