My friend Angela has always been a classy woman. The girl was reading about Princess Diana's fashion when she was 12. I mean – come on. I was still wearing platform shoes, flared jeans, and rhinestone belly tanks.
“Classy” has never really been a word that I would use to describe my style.
Wait, Shaye, did you just say style? What style is that?
Exactly. Thanks for making that point, reader. There is no style. Never has been. It went from said platform tennis shoes to overly tight Wranglers to hippy tees to whatever-the-heck-Stitch-Fix-sends-me.
Then, like a spark from the fashion heavens, it dawned on me: I HATE WHAT I'M WEARING.
Not this shirt. I love this shirt. But I was also dressed up for a photo session here.
(Disclaimer: YES the world is much bigger than fashion, and YES I'm thankful to just have clothes, and YES I realize this is pretty unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Just so we're clear.)
…but still, each day, we all put clothes on – do we not? And each day, how we dress affects how we feel – does it not?
I've been feeling rather terrible in my clothes lately. Even though I'm still nursing, fried eggs have replaced my once perkier milk-makers. The hips sit wider than they once did. Even my hair has begun to grow in differently post-bearing-children.
And thanks to my whatever-they-have-on-sale-at-Target shopping regimen, I felt like a 50 year old dressing in a 13 year old's body. Exaggerating? Only slightly.
And farm work is really no excuse to be sloppy. Not that I'll be wearing my Sunday best to milk the cow, but you get my point. I still interact with people – still go into public – still am a woman by-golly.
And it's about time I started dressing like one.
So, inspired by my (what shall we call her…) “Stylist” Angela I got to work on my wardrobe. But before that work could really begin, it was time to purge clothes.
And by purge clothes, I mean purging any piece that didn't make me feel joy.
I may love that sweater, but when I look at it, how do I feel? What do I think?
Too tight? Too loose? Bad fabric? Make me look six months pregnant?
This took an entire day to do. Every single item of clothing I owned was heavily scrutinized. Following some basic principles from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I've yet to read but heard enough about to implement), I got ruthless, man.
Here are some actual items I donated/got rid of:
– My middle school boyfriend's hockey sweatshirt (that, apparently, I've been clinging onto for the last 16 years)
– My little sister's Target dress, circa 2005
– A pair of jeans that I hadn't worn since nursing Georgia in 2011
– 4 black cardigans (I have no defense)
And that's only the beginning. Two entire garbage bags full. Some of the clothes were old, others were very new, but all had one thing in common: NO JOY.
After rehanging and folding the survivors, I counted. Less than 30 items remained in my entire closet. And that included shirts, sweaters, pants, pajamas, jackets, and blouses.
Can you believe that? Only 30 items out of my entire closet brought me joy?
On top of keeping only what I wore, I also willingly paired down stockpiles of clothes. So instead of 10 grubby, farm-chore teeshirts, I kept 2. Instead of 5 sweatshirts, I kept 2. Still plenty to get by with but much less to put up with.
When I got dressed the next morning and opened my closet…just like magic, HALLELUJAH! I felt JOY! I felt comfort. I felt ease. That's exactly what I was going for.
In getting rid of my clothes, I realized a few things about myself:
1. I don't like patterned shirts on myself. Almost every shirt that was solid, I kept, because I wore it. I never realized this before! Flannels are always a yes, but florals, weird strippy things, etc. just aren't my favorite.
2. I don't like loose shirts on myself. 99% of my shirts are loose because that's the style I kept buying… because that's the style that I thought I liked! Turns out, my favorite shirts that brought me joy were all form fitting shirts that pronounced my waist and were more feminine in their cut. Who would've thought.
3. Baby doll, maxi, and even some tea-dresses are a no-no for me. People, I've had 3 children in less than 4 years. Things ain't bad, but they surely ain't what they used to be. This style of dress pronounces parts of my body that don't need to be pronounced. Plus, I feel like a ten year old in them. I kept very few dresses, getting rid of many that I thought I liked for this very reason. Does this flatter my figure? Does this make me look like a woman? Great question, Shaye. The answer is no.
Now that the closet is significantly paired down, it's time to pair it with real pieces that I'll actually wear. This means neutral, universal, high-quality pieces that are built to last and are multi-purpose. I'm not interested in chasing the next fashion trend (can SOMEONE please explain these ridiculously ugly, patterned leggings to me?!?!) or dressing like a teenager. I'm interested in creating an ageless, timeless look that will carry me through my years.
I haven't restocked the closet yet, but I have set myself a few “rules”:
1. Buy it once and buy it right.
Even though I think I'm getting a screaming deal at my department store, I end up having to repurchase those articles of clothing fifteen times because they deteriorate so quickly. I love the French motto of investing in a lifetime piece that is multi-purpose and wearing the crap outta it for years.
2. Stop wearing poop shoes.
Yes, I have shoes that are covered in a variety of animal poop at all times, which from now on and forevermore will remain farm shoes. No longer shall I intermingle house, going-out, or fashion shoes with farm shoes. I bought myself a beautiful pair of high-quality flats that are my casual “fashion” shoe now and (mark my words!) will not ever be used for farm chores.
Or wait… am I supposed to stand like this? I can't remember what's “in”…
3. Stick with neutrals.
I always gravitate towards them – like my life hues. As much as I love colors, I don't love wearing them. So whites, blacks, beiges, browns, and earth tones will play a much more significant role.
4. Don't dress like a schmuck.
There may be days when it's not possible to get ready (like when the entire house has the stomach flu… or it's raining fire from heaven), but all other days I've committed myself to making myself feel good. This includes a thoughtful outfit (even if it's just basic jeans, a nice white shirt, and said “fashion” flats). It also includes doing my makeup (eyeliner included!), wearing lipstick, and using some of my favorite smelling essential oils. It means earrings. It means shaving my legs. It means taking care of myself and feeling good in my skin.
Yesterday we butchered chickens and I did in my favorite pair of casual jeans, a teeshirt that fit correctly, my favorite BOGS, and red lipstick. It was messy, but I didn't feel messy.
I'm thankful for being able to live in a land of plenty…. when getting rid of our clothes is optional because we have so many. I don't take that for granted. Take note of it.
I'm intersted to see how it plays out… Will Shaye, in fact, finally be able to dress like an adult? Will she look like a grown woman? Will she radiant confidence and poise?
We shall see me friends…
In the meantime, I'm hanging out at Angela's for inspiration and making her help me pick out big girl clothes.
How do you stay feeling beautiful?
More posts on motherhood and femininity:
- Mastitis and Moss
- Don't Remind Me of Her
- Wrinkles and Chin Hair
- Post Pregnancy Body
- Stay at Home Mom