Back in January, I gave up clothes shopping for a year. You can read about my journey here and here. This post is part of my effort to reinvent my wardrobe and look good, without being a rabid consumer of cheap crap.
I had a lovely lady named Liz (she spells her name like a normal person, weirdo) come over last week and help me learn how to dress. In addition to having really gorgeous hair and a spunky sense of style, Liz had all sorts of tips for me, which she managed to make them sound not like tips but like ideas I came up with on my own.
So, when I was all, “I want a green sweater!” She said, “That’s great. Perhaps something in this hue?” She pointed to yellow. And then I was like, “Oh, I thought those were the same color.” And she smiled really big, like I had just said something super smart.
She didn’t even judge my gross bedroom. Seriously. My baby has this lovely nursery of light and splendor and Dave and I live in squalor. I also eat her food off the floor. This is like some messed up reverse Cinderella. I think my fairy godmother might be Ronald McDonald.
Liz had clipped some fashion inspirations from magazines for me to look at and learn from. And you guys, I did not know things didn’t have to match. Also, it’s important to plan your clothes shopping trips as carefully as you plan your grocery trips. I know, right now, some of you are vomiting into your carefully accessorized barf bags, but be kind. I’m learning. Remember, I still like my pajama jeans. Baby steps.
Liz also didn’t give me rules for dressing. She said that she often toys with the idea of putting together a must-have list, but she thinks everything on that list could be debatable, so it doesn’t matter. For example, she recommended I rock the tunic trend, and thinks some good quality tunics should be in my future, but for her, not so much. She also doesn’t believe in rules. Wearing clothes in the Midwest isn’t like dressing up for NYC. If I wore heels everywhere I’d probably get uninvited from trips to the farm. Or playdates to the park.
Liz was very teach-a-man-to-fish. She suggested some pairings, but ultimately she walked me through how to wear my favorite pieces and suggested ways I could jazz them up. Belts. Hemming a dress. Bold necklace. Layered sweaters. Some things I can’t do until I can clothes shop again (January, you can’t come soon enough) and other things just blew me away, like putting a sweater over a sun dress and making it look like a skirt. You can do that!
But most importantly, just talking through the looks I liked with Liz helped me get a handle on how I like to wear clothes. Just articulating why I liked or didn’t like something made me understand oh hey, I actually DON’T like dressing like Audrey Hepburn. I like dressing like Audrey’s drug-addicted sister, Amy. So, I’m trying to pair basics with bold colors and coordinating (not matching). Using some of the tips, Liz gave me, I put together three pieces of my wardrobe in 4 different ways. The sweater was a gift and the skirt and pink button up blouse were from The Dave, everything else is from my horrible closet. So, without further preamble here is what I learned.
Note: That all-black outfit actually looks better in person. It’s just that by that picture I was so sick of standing in front of the cyclops eye of the camera and listing to the right. I don’t know how you fashion bloggers do it. Must be a serial-killer’s level of narcissism.
5 Things I Learned About Dressing Myself Like Big Girl
1. Know your assets. We all have our problem areas, but instead of hiding those, we should focus on playing up our good areas. You know what the best solution to stomach flab is? Showing a little cleavage.
2. Wear what flatters your body, not what flatters your ego. I’m a size six. But, I have no waist. I’m build like a Duplo lego. Well, a Duplo lego that eats too many tacos. So, when I was trying on high-waisted skirts, they all fit kind of wonky. I kept returning the skirt and trying on different styles, until finally a kind sales girl suggested a larger size. “It will hang lower on you and feel more comfortable and no one has to know it’s a size bigger.” Except, I just told the internet. So, there is that. But guess what. That skirt is so awesome now.
3. Plan your shopping trips. I’m too guilty of just going out to Target, grabbing whatever is on the clearance rack and saying, “good enough.” But part of dressing like a big kid is planning things out. One of the reasons, I’m such a big donor to Goodwill is that I don’t plan my purchases. So, I’ll wear something a couple times and then, a few weeks later I realize that OH Puffed sleeves aren’t a good idea?! Who knew?
4. Return until it’s right. I bought four different yellow sweaters before I found the right one. And yeah, it was just a Target sweater purchased on a gift card from an anonymous donor (Dave says this purchase makes my No Pants 2012 Challenge invalid, but I told him his face was invalid, so I’m clearly winning), but it’s the only thing I’ve “bought” in six months and I needed it to be right. And because of that careful planning I can basically wear this sweater with everything I own. It’s kind of magic.
5. One good piece makes everything else look better. That skirt pictured above is worth more than my life (which oddly enough is $59 at Banana Republic). But you guys, I love it. And everything I put on with it looked amazing. I don’t even like that green shirt much, but when I put it on with the skirt I was all “Green shirt, where you been all my life?”
I realize I’m not going to suddenly become a fashion blogger, but you guys. I’ve come from this to THIS, with no money spent, unless you count the $20 gift card. And quite frankly, before, that $20 would have been spent on two different items that would end up in the Goodwill pile next year. Now, it’s a veritable $20 wardrobe makeover.