Friday, June 29, 2012

A Working Wardrobe - My Thoughts After Two Years of Focus

I wanted to capture these thoughts before I lost them....

I have found some clues to a working wardrobe and I have never read them in any other publication.  I follow's youtube videos and have read Carol Tuttle's book.  I am a Type 1.  Here is what I have found that really works for me:

There are some prints that can be relied heavily upon to fill in wardrobe gaps.  I have found them to be bretton stripes, paisleys, and polka dots.  These have drifted in and out of current trends for decades because they ALWAYS work!  I think you'll notice too, that women rarely get rid of their garments in these prints - unless they are the wrong color schemes for their skin coloring or they no longer fit.  Now, when I see one of these prints at a thrift store and its not in black, I buy it.  I think toile prints fit into this category too, but I don't have enough experience with them yet.   

Chambray is wonderful.  Watch for chambray items - but not the typical mens style shirts or womens camper style shirts.  There are some wonderful pieces in wrap tops, sleeveless tops.  Also, there are good options in button down shirt dresses or wrap style dresses.   These seem to always be worn.

Bras that fit.  Shapewear that I feel completely comfortable in.  Nice socks.  Thick leggings in dark colors.

Natural fabrics, avoiding polyester if at all possible.  I have found that the pieces I wear again and again are the natural fiber blends - silk, wool, cotton, linen, rayon.  The more I focus on the fiber content of the garment before buying it - the happier I am in the end.

I like side zippers.  I watch for them.  Many well-fitting garments are designed with a sneaky little side zipper that fits under your arm.  I find that in the long run, I like these garments.  I am not sure the direct connection, but there seems to be a more important focus on fit in anything that was created with a side zipper.

Belts are important but tricky.  I am still working on this one.  Not only do you need to get the placement and width of the belt figured out, there is the sneaky little skill of working with texture -  stiffness, softness, thickness, swoopiness, type of material.  Buy every belt you come across for a while and keep trying.  Every outfit you put together, take an extra minute and try to add a belt.  Most of the time, you won't leave the house with the belt but this helps to see possibilities and hone your eye. 

Layer your summer tops.  If I would have known this years ago.....   For decades, I never wore sleeveless tops.  I'm too busty, my arms aren't toned, I look ridiculous in spaghetti straps.  Unless I just grab two tops and layer them.  It doesn't seem to matter too much what the colors are or the style.  Just put the one with more coverage for bra straps and underarm bulginess on the bottom and add a second something on top.  The double layers help to smooth out lumpiness and help disquise muffin top.  I feel cool and confident.

With shoes, I have learned that brown leathers are my absolute favorites.  And I had just a few pairs a couple years ago.  Believe it or not, it seems like if you are specifically looking for them they are scarce.  I like brown wedges, brown sandals, brown boots, brown pumps.  I like them in different textures.  I need them to be basic enough to be worn for several seasons.  Another thing I have found is that I love suede shoes!  Chocolate brown suede peep any you'd like to sell?    I'm the one trolling ebay.  Or taupe suede anything (except platform stilettos) my dreams!   

As I have written many times before on this blog, I got rid of the black clothing in my closet (three years ago this was 70% of my clothing).  I tried browns, grays and navys for my replacement base color.  I have since settled on navy.  The aha moment arrived recently when I recognized that I need several navy dresses, several navy skirts, several navy blouses, on and on.  It has taken over two years of collecting to finally replace the black with navy.  Belts, sandals, boots, slips, bras....think of all the places in your closet that had been filled with black because you were sold an idea from the fast fashion industry that every woman looks good in black.  Even after I KNEW in my heart that the black needed to be purged, I resisted buying multiples of things in other colors.  The surrender to this concept has finally completed my closet and makes dressing a breeze.  For example, I have a straight navy pencil skirt that is of a twill type fabric - not denim - great for casual summer outfits.  But this is not the only navy skirt I need.  I need calf length choices, I need frillier choices, I need a few simple prints on some navy skirts that will coordinate with other blouses.  I allowed myself to do that with black - why was I resistant to doing it with any other color?  When I purged the black from my closet, I had capri pants in several lengths, regular pants in several lengths and fabric contents, wide legs, skinny legs, pants for boots, pants for sandals.  Now I freely buy those things in navy when I come across them and finally, finally, finally I have a happy working closet!

What things have you learned on your journey to loving your closet? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Visible Monday - Reflections

This is my third week to participate in Patti's group of Visible Monday bloggers.

The reason I decided to join the effort was to test myself - how much have I really changed my style?  I've been working from home for over two years now.  Some days I never get out of my pajamas!  One of the most rewarding things about working from home is that I have discovered it's the perfect way to road test an outfit.  Some days I put on some fancy stuff, including heels and shapewear and just see if I am comfortable in it for eight plus hours.  What a luxury!  If something begins to tug, bind or slip - I dismiss it from my closet immediately!  This is much better than making the same discovery while I'm too far from home to make a switch.

Lately, it's been hot.  I skip the makeup unless I'm going somewhere special.  And most days my hair is pulled back shortly after I step out of the shower.  I love that it stays completely out of my way all day.  But, I can see that it's not all that socially appropriate.  In fact, I can see lots and lots of problems with this look.  I can say that it was completely comfortable and feminine feeling all day.  I am enjoying my new collection of thrifted "day" dresses.

Hmmm......  I guess this every Monday photo thing might nudge me into an upgrade.  It's tempting to just quit posting photos!  But I think - this is the real me - so I'm going to see what happens when I focus on this for a few more weeks.  Change is a process.

Sundress worn as a skirt - thrifted for $1
Worthington scoop neck t-shirt, old.  I think needs to be donated now, I've never noticed the pull across the chest before, because, of course, I never take photos!
my favorite new suede boots, thrifted for $2  

We're in the final countdown for my daughter's move.  My accomplishment of the week was feeding 12 to 25 people (depending on the day and time) throughout the weekend and providing beds for half of them.  Everyone wanted to be together before the family gets split up again.  My biggest challenge was strategizing how to feed all these people when 1) I'm not working so throwing money at it isn't an option, and 2) I and my daughter have been gluten-free for over a year now, so cheap filler foods or carry-out are no longer options.  Proud to say that I made it work out beautifully and no one was the wiser!  Well, unless they read this blog!

Are You Still Grabbing Black First?

My thought was always, "I'll get the black and then if I really like it I'll come back and get one of the colors."  And of course, I never went back.  I never really loved the black piece.  And I was stuck in this spiraling circle.  I was positively confident that if I filled every gap with a black item first as the basic foundation of my closet - that eventually I would have a well-coordinated and easy to navigate wardrobe.  So I bought more and more black.  And spiraled into a bulging closet with nothing to wear. 

Today, I would recommend that you take a tour of Carol Tuttle's blog and website over at  Carol has so many free videos and articles on youtube.  This is how I found her energy profiling system and the related system of Dressing Your Truth.  And I immediately recognized myself as a (very sad and depressed) Type 1 energy. 

I wrote about my release from corporate black in the summer of 2010 at my other blog

I've never went back.  Now my shopping is so much fun!  My closet is so much fun!  Even on a badly rushed day, I end up wearing something I feel good about.  That never happened before.  My basics now are navy blue, denim-y color blue, periwinkle blues, plum purples and cranberry colors.  I am working on some dark chocolate browns and experimenting with gray but I haven't been as happy with them as of yet. 

I wonder how long it will take before women feel more confident in making their own choices about beauty?  I spent years trying to learn and adopt all the advice given by fashion experts.  The more money I spent the more unhappy I became.  Why did I wait until I was over fifty years old to decide that I should buy what I liked?  Now when I shop, I immediately dismiss black, white and khaki as choices.  This uncovers a world of very interesting and exciting options.  Just because it's on the rack, doesn't mean it has a right to my attention! 

Through Carol's videos and articles, I was encouraged to just give the "no black" thought a try.   What was there to lose?  (except many dollars spent on clothing I wouldn't wear again)  I went upstairs to my closet.  I pulled everything black and put it in a crate.  I realized I needed more crates.  The more I pulled, the better I felt.  As the black was lifted, the colors that remained popped out; cheery and happy.  Remember the movie, "Hook" where one of the lost boys grabs Peter's old wrinkly face and squishes it around until he "sees" the Peter he remembers?  There I was!  I saw that I might put these things together in interesting combinations; that the combinations wouldn't have to be perfect; that they just naturally went together.  I saw things I loved.  I remembered that at one time, I loved getting dressed.

I am a bright and animated type 1 personality in Carol's energy profiling system.  It's no wonder the black felt heavy and constricting on my life.  Now, I love buying clothes on ebay and at thrift stores because I know what I like and I know what I need.   I'll never go back.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Visible Monday - 70's Knits

It's Monday again and I am really trying to become visible!  Last week my head was chopped off in the photos.  This week my head is there.....but it's a blur!  Visit Patti's blog and see all the visible women here

Oh, well.  It's probably because my husband is taking the photo for me as we are watching the granddaughter and getting ready to go inside for supper.  And I am talking - saying something like, "Will you try and get a picture of me this time?  Not the entire prairie panoramic with me as a dot in the middle?"  Maybe next week will be better.

This dress arrived in the mail (via ebay) and I immediately put it on and wore it all day.  It began with a strange listing for a 99 cent red dress by a famous Italian designer from long ago.  The seller also had this dress for 99 cents so I splurged and combined shipping - wondering what would actually arrive!  I was the only bidder.

I was very happy with my impromptu purchases!  This dress is by Dawn Joy and is most likely a 1970's knit.  It's one of those early-day knits that was a bit scratchy. It's a true wrap style which concerned my the first five minutes.  After that, I forgot I even had it on - it fits snugly enough that the flap stays close by.  And I was wearing my slimmer slip type thing underneath that I know always stays put.

I have on Skechers sandals that my mom gave to me and a camisole top from Nine West.  No jewelry, hair pulled back.  Just a day of trying to get 1,000 things done! 

The red dress that came with it is a 1960's red wool, drop waist, shirt dress with a pleated skirt - made by Louis Feraud.  According to his company website he began in the 1950's.  He designed for Brigitte Bardot for many of her movies.  Of course, since it's not a recognized name by the usual crowd of ebayers - no one had even bid on it before I plopped down my 99 cents.  I am going to take it to the dry cleaners to be pressed and ready for Fall! 

In other news, we are just counting down the days now until half of our family moves to El Paso.  Plane tickets are $250 and up, and the drive is a miserable 14 hours across the dryest and most deserted parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.  The granddaughter who has lived with me most all of her first three years will soon be very far away.  Neither of us is prepared.  I'm trying to enjoy each day and not get depressed unless absolutely necessary.

Here she is fishing with Grandpa at our ponds over the weekend while Momma and Daddy were packing boxes for the move.

She's wearing whatever Grandpa could find in the drawer of odd clothes left at my house.  Her sweatpants are size 18 months and we keep them handy for just such emergencies.  The boots she found in the closet in her room - among the thrifted items I buy and put away just in case.  She was very excited that they fit and they're purple!  She calls her hairstyle "wild and free" and that's the way she likes it!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Visible Monday: Seersucker Dress

I thrifted this seersucker dress recently, but it was just too big.  I did take a photo of it so I decided to join Terri of in her quest for seersucker.  And shoot, might as well make an appearance at Visible Monday - Patti at Not Dead Yet Style.

Cute, easy summer dress but I decided to just resell it rather than take the time to do alterations.  And the shoes....and lack of jewelry.....well, I was taking photos of lots of things to resell so I just grabbed some shoes that were neutral and left off any noticeable jewelry.  I'll try harder for next week's Visible Monday, maybe even adding a face!

Thanks to Reva at for jogging my memory about dressing up flip flops.  My granddaughters were here over the Memorial Day weekend so we picked out new pairs at Dollar General for $1 each and the girls tied on pieces of silk fabric.  They were excited!  Now, I just need to locate a pair with a sling back like Reva had for myself.  I just can't get excited about $1 flip flops anymore.  Here are our results so far:

A big thank you to all of the bloggers over 40!  Now, when I start feeling like I am really, really too weird - all I need to do is check my google reader and see other creative and fun ideas!