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Where do you go, and what do you like to wear?

April 30, 2011

These are my original responses, slightly updated.

Question 1: Where Do You Go?

This list includes the places you go and the things you do on a regular basis, as well as unexpected events like funerals and weddings.  The list should include seasonal activities as appropriate.

My original list included the following:

  • Casual events: working in my home office, shopping/errands, meetings with academic supervisors, rock concerts
  • Dressy-casual events: out to lunch, the pub, church on occasion, dinner, movies, classical concerts, parties
  • Business events: conferences, interviews
  • Formal events: weddings, funerals, formal dinners/dances
  • Grubby events: hiking, gardening, fieldwork, DIY

I think I need to amend this, though, into more categories of “casual”.  Going to a rock concert or sitting in my pajamas writing is not really the same kind of wardrobe occasion as going to a meeting with my supervisors, and going to the pub is not the same as going to a classical concert. Really I need a “sexy-casual” category, for the rock concerts and going out with DH, and a “schlepping” category for working at home.  Or perhaps the writing in pajamas can go with the other grubby events.

Question 2: What Do You Like to Wear?

Next imagine getting ready for each type of event, keeping in mind the ideal outfit and the image you would like to project.  Image which existing outfit you would reach for first, and why.  What do you like about this outfit?  Why is it more appealing than other options?  Are the others unflattering, ill-fitting, out of style, not ironed, in need of mending, uncomfortable…?  Write down your preferences and evaluate what clothing works, and what doesn’t, and why.  The idea is to clarify what you want and need in your wardrobe based on your actual life and what you like to wear.  My responses included the following:

Casual:
Working in the office: pajamas, wooly sweaters, jeans, yoga pants, unflattering t-shirts, etc. is what I normally wear. For the most part it doesn’t really matter what I am wearing here as I rarely see or speak to anyone else while I am pottering around at home. It might be nice to feel a little bit more pulled together while I am working, based on the idea that being properly dressed helps you feel professional, even if nobody can see you.  Mainly I wear these clothes because I am usually cold in the office and sitting in the same place all day.  Other outfits are less appealing because they are restrictive, uncomfortable, or require some kind of effort to put on.

Other casual and dressy casual: jeans, t-shirts, misc. knit blouses, cardigans, pullover sweaters, corduroy jacket, sometimes a dress or skirt.  Ideally I would wear something flattering and slightly funky or edgy, showing more of my (hidden) personality and artsy taste.  Something like goth-y boots and a skirt, re-hashed t-shirts, jeans and low heels, a leather jacket, a nice black blazer.  Something that projects an air of confidence and a little bit of rebelliousness.  It might also be slightly sexy but I don’t want to look slutty or juvenile, just a little bit youthful and alive.  This kind of outfit appeals to me because it suggests a more outgoing and self-assured state of mind than what I currently have.

What I actually end up wearing is sort-of along these lines, but I usually feel very frumpy when I get dressed or else just totally frustrated with my clothing.  Everything seems ill-fitting, ugly, or worn out.  This is partly tied up with my poor body image and my ever-present desire to be not-fat (or at least less-fat).  I rarely see myself as pretty or attractive in the mirror, all I see is the negative.  I think this is why I am unmotivated to really change my look or my clothes.  At heart I don’t think I deserve to wear nice clothes, to fix my hair or makeup, or to spend money on myself.  The reason why I end up wearing the things that I wear is that they fit, more or less, and are the closest things to the look I want. Also they rarely need ironing or other special treatment.  Most of these clothes are definitely not as stylish or flattering as I would like them to be, and they are generally not trendy, but for the most part they are at least unremarkable in any given situation.

My summer wardrobe is problematic because I don’t like to wear shorts but I am often too hot in jeans.  The skirt and dress I took to Scandinavia last year were good options, but the footwear was a problem (couldn’t find cheap walking sandals or shoes that looked good with a skirt, wore Doc Martens, and ended up with blisters).  I usually feel self-conscious when my legs or arms are exposed.

Business events: black pantsuit, or the jacket with a skirt.  Some kind of rayon blouse under the jacket, or sometimes a collared shirt.  This kind of outfit is safe and conservative, and generally hides a lot of the figure flaws that make me feel self-conscious.  Wearing a rayon type blouse under my jacket is good because there is less stuff in my face and no collar conflict to deal with, as well as fewer wrinkles.  Sometimes I might consider wearing a dress or skirt to an interview but I haven’t yet.  In other business-type events a dress would be fine.

The problem with this outfit as it currently stands is that my suit is too small and the pants don’t fit well.  I have a skirt that kind-of matches the jacket that fits better but is a little bit too long and dowdy.  I have some other “business” trousers that might work with the jacket but I’m not sure if they actually fit me at the moment.

Formal events:  long black formal gowns, miscellaneous floaty summer dresses, little black dresses.  I think that most of what I have in this category is fine, except that I would like something a little more flattering than a plain black cardigan to wear to cover my shoulders and keep me warm.  A decent bolero or shrug would be nice.  The image I want to portray is usually sexy and elegant, although I think I mostly just fall into the vaguely “nice” category with these.  Again a lot of these dresses seem slightly frumpy.

An outstanding issue in my closet is that I have outgrown a lot of my clothes, especially my favorite ones, and this is horrifying to me.  I’ve been fat and hating myself for it for years and years, and I don’t know how I can deal with getting even fatter.  But I’m also afraid of failing on yet another diet attempt.  I feel too lazy to start exercising.

Updates:  I am happy to note that in the time since I first started this exercise (in January 2010!) I have managed to lose about 15-20 pounds, without really doing much of anything.  I’m not sure what was going on for me then and why I had gained so much weight, but fortunately some of these clothes fit me again (especially my black pant suit).  I have realized that the cut of many of these is still wrong and unflattering, but at least I can put them on in a pinch.  I also got rid of many things that were a little too big for me (well, I put them in the “donation” box anyway).

My next mission, which I might start working on today, is photographing those clothes that might be worth trying to sell on eBay and getting rid of some more that aren’t.  I might also think about totally revamping the closet layout.  I would like to have one normal-length rod for hanging long clothes and two short-length rods for everything else, one on top of the other.  I think these would work out much better if they were in either end of the closet in the “pocket” areas rather than on one rod running the length of the back.  I will need to think about this more, especially since I don’t believe any off-the-shelf systems will fit into the closet and I’m not sure how to attach rods that are strong enough.  But I have a few ideas.

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